Petrichor

Storm just about to hit. Notice the weeds. Beyond that is a sugar beet field.

The distinct smell of rain this morning. Last night we had a thunderstorm move through. Actual rain. The ground is yet wet this morning. Normally, storms here that produce any rain last about five minutes, if that. The ground seems a sort of polka dot vista before the dryness wins again. It’s nearly true that when it rains here in Eastern Oregon, that you can actually walk between the rain drops. I’m not talking about the mountainous regions, of course. I did hear that Sumpter, Oregon, got two inches of rain and then some, in short measure this past eve, which prompted flooding worries. Flooding. When the heat has baked us into fire-exploding potential fuckholocausts from end to end.

I have been busy submitting, trying to ‘get my stuff out there’. That’s my vague yet precise goal, after all, as a writer. Getting my stuff out there for rejections galore or the rare acceptance.

It’s humid, I’m not used to humidity here and it’s befuddling me as I wring sweat from my shirt. Heat, fine, whatever, I can deal. I LIVED IN LAS VEGAS. I know heat! I also lived in SoCal, cheek and jowl against the Mojave. Heat, pavement, Joshua trees, oh yeah, baby. Humidity, no thanks. I’d like to speak to the manager in my most Karen of ways, please.

Submissions. It rained. I have lots of cucumbers and my pumpkins are ripening. I prepared one already for fall pies and such. I discovered my local PBS station GOT RID OF THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW because it’s gone. It’s not in the usual 4PM slot on Saturday. WTF is happening?? Oh the humanity! Yes, I know it’s streaming on blah blah, go slap yourself with a catfish. It was something I looked forward to every week. A little lovely treat, a visual delight. It’s seemingly replaced by some travel show. You have enough shows on travel, PBS. Bring back TGBBS. How dare you???!! It’s popular and kid-friendly, hello. I know, compared to real troubles and the world at large, this is a tiny nonsensical wail. But it seems that everything that makes life even a bit bearable gets canceled or ended or ruined or stopped or…Yeah, that’s just life, okay. Okay.

Started the FX series, the Americans. I’m enjoying it so far. Reached season two. Enjoying it is maybe not the right phrase. It’s pretty grim, serious, layered and complex. You have to pay attention. There’s also all the 80’s stuff that seems relevant now or always. Escalation with Russia, who’s got a nuke, who’s a real American, mouthy teenage kids. I’m really impressed with the two leads so far. Also some applause for whoever did the wigs for that show. It should be called Americans in Wigs.

I’d go into the return of masks but fuck me, it’s exhausting. The left needs to work up a public campaign that makes it seem that wearing a mask, getting the vaccine will own the libs like there’s no tomorrow. A 24/7 campaign, as relentless and tireless as anything from the right wing garbage-spewing factories. Facts and logic and reality, no. Tricks, psychological warfare, bribes, yes. That’s where we are now or have always been. People do no operate on logical, realistic lines. People who claim to do that…BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Please, just don’t. Have you met people? Go hang out on Twitter for a bit. Or peek at the comments section under anything.

Rain , submissions, no Great British, masks back, wigs on the Americans are outstanding.

Oh, also, on that show. Martha. She drives me batshit bonkers. Hate her. I hope she dies in a Russian industrial accident. But I adore Claudia, or Margot Martindale. More of her, please. She’s fantastic, fun to watch. I just want a show of her and Kerri Russell exchanging threats over plates of scrambled eggs. And then they solve crimes or something because you can’t build a series over two characters doing that, right? Right?

Oh hey, I have two short stories about to hit the indifferent public spheres. City Full of Rain, by LitMag and Blood and Bread will appear this October in Hellhound Magazine.

Carnivale!

HBO’s Carnivale

June! 2021 already feels eight miles long, if ya catch my driftwood. Geez. Alrighty.

     I have been rewatching an HBO series from the early 2000’s called Carnivale, about a showdown between good and evil played by the chosen ones of God and the Devil. At least, that’s what I garnered from it the first time around and pretty much this time, too. It’s all set against the Great Depression, pre-WWII, post WWI, the ‘war to end all wars’. It ran two seasons. 24 episodes. Very well done, quality stuff here.

It featured Clancy Brown and Amy Madigan as a squirrelly brother and sister team, where he’s Brother Justin and she’s the alleged submissive elderly spinster takes care of the house and does a lot of church work drone. Of course, we get intimations early on that Brother Justin ain’t the godly sort, that he might be working for the Other Team. We also find out the sister ain’t so, uh, yeah. No spoilers if you haven’t found this odd little gem of a series yet.

Tommy Dolan, Iris Crowe and her brother, Justin Crowe. Robert Knepper, Amy Madigan and Clancy Brown.

Of course, the carnival itself. Colorful characters! Freaks but no geeks. That’s where a man or woman eats a living creature, usually a chicken, as an audience watches. It’s just as gross, heartless and terrible as it sounds and yes, actually took place. We have the family of whores and chooch dancers! Boy howdy, does mama Rita Sue, Cynthia Ettinger, have the goods. She’s actually fleshy, earthy and exudes real actual sexuality—a sort of Marilyn Monroe type twenty years before MM was a thing. Maybe she’s a Mae West-ian type? Okay! She’s also one of my faves from this show. Stumpy, her hubbie and father of their two dancing daughters, is also a fave. He’s walking a knife edge between wanting to keep on feeding himself and his family and walking away from what he clearly thinks is emasculating him in the eyes of everyone. And it’s fascinating to watch all the dynamics at play in this family, which faces a tragedy pretty early on.

There’s also the snake dancer, played by the fantastic Adrienne Barbeau. There’s a bearded lady, who’s in cahoots and in bed with the blind seer, Dr. Lodtz. Who’s a treacherous bastard in the manner of Littlefinger from Game of Bones, er, Thrones. But oddly, lacking the real charm that Littlefinger had and the subtleness that so underlined one of the archvillains of King’s Landing.

Suffice it to say, there’s a great cast here with some truly fun parts. And hoooo boy howdy, is a lot of that just enjoyable to watch. Carnival folk struggling to make ends meet during the Dust Bowl years. That would have been a great series. Just real people fighting and scrapping to fill the kitty each night they got the whole shebang set up in some field or outside a town.

Sigh.

Now, I am not against all the magic-mystical-religious overtones in Carnivale. Because they’re graphic, sexual, ghastly, bloody, beautiful, strange and at times head-scratching.

So now let me go over the lead character, Ben Hawkins as played by Nick Stahl and one of the featured females, Sophie, as played by Clea Duvall. As they seem to be one and the same character.

Thoroughly unlikable shits that get chance after chance after chance for some reason. I mean, after a while, shouldn’t people listen to Ben Hawkins telling them to leave him alone and, well, leave him alone? Or figure out that Sophie isn’t likely to feel anything for you, Jonesy but a contempt? Move on, Jones! Jesus Christ, move on. It’s also a creepy relationship, as Jonesy is a grown man in his thirties who played with Sophie when she was a kid yet…mmm. Now he’s hitting on her and wanting to get in her panties. She’s it for him, as he confessed to our resident lady with a lot of gentlemen callers. Why?? Sophie, as written, has no redeemable qualities and is pretty much a lesbian. She showed more want and desire for Libby, daughter of Mae West-ian earth mama, than she had ever displayed for lovesick Jones.

Now, Ben is allegedly the hero here. The reluctant savior type, as he’s called by Samson, the little person who’s second in command. Samson takes orders from Management, who seems invisible and might be God? Mm. Management tells Samson that Ben is important, they have to take him with them. This is after we see Ben not save his own mother with his magic healing powers. He’s a gruff, ungrateful, thoroughly repellent character as written and played. Is this deliberate? Are we supposed to warm up to ole Ben? Cause. Yikes. I had this same problem first time I watched this. I grew impatient and then numb to whatever Ben was going through or had to do or was forced to do or whatever. Fuck off, Ben. I kept wondering why these savvy carnie folk didn’t shuck him like a bad oyster already. So what if he’s the savior-chosen whatever. So? Apparently this same fight has been waged since ever. It’s not like it’s unique. Drop Ben like a bad habit, Carnivale denizens!

To me, if Ben and Sophie had been culled early, I’d not have missed them. I was far more interested in the life of a circus performer set against such a harsh backdrop. Sure, you can throw in some magic and whatever, but oh my God, make the main character a bit more rounded than LEAVE ME ALONE I’M SUFFERING HERE. Fuck me running. I started to root for Brother Justin, played almost note-perfect by Brown, to win at whatever game this was. Blow the whole world up, you crazy bastard! Totally Team Justin here. I also wanted Sophie to meet her end so Jonesy could move on, steal Rita Sue from Stumpy and…yeah.

All in all, it’s a pretty good watch if you’re up for it. You might like Sophie and Ben more than I do and hey, that’s fine. I just found them both so utterly repellent on every level. Be warned, it’s HBO so there’s nudity, cussing, rape, violence, drug use, a scene where rabbits are beat to death and some other assorted stuff and things that might not be your cup of dust. Get it? Dust Bowl? Cup of dust??

This has been my brief, hasty take on Carnivale.

Some of the Carnivale crew from the HBO two-season series. Sophie and Ben are dead center.

A Gritty Christmas Carol

Breakfast was so gross. Rice, leftover gravy, eggs and insanely spicy hot dogs chunks. Oh gag me with a spoon already. So! Let’s purge that plate of Not Ever Gonna Eat That Yuck with a talk about a version of a Christmas Carol I happened to catch on FX.

It stars Aussie Guy Pierce in the role of the rich curmudgeon. And there’s this odd sexual smolder going on? Um? Have I wandered into some weird mashup of CC and Jane Eyre?

Maybe. Because this three hour plus offering also descends into actual horror movie territory, with the ghost of Jacob Marley thrusting his severed jaw back into his face, watching a child drown and the general overly dreary settings. Scrooge’s house is kept so dark and shadowy I kept waiting for Game of Thrones characters to wander through drinking mulled wine and speaking of their sexual conquests or why they deserve the Iron Throne.

Basically, it does follow Dickens’s storyline. We meet Scrooge, who’s a real awful craptoad, hellbent on making everyone around him suffer because money is king in his brain. Orphans and widows and beggars can all suck it, yeah, same ole shtick here that’s, um, oddly relevant right now, or always. Charity never seems to actually do anything at any time in history; okay, Dickens, yeah, we know this already.

Pierce can’t hide that he’s a sexy dude, even when frosted with age makeup a bit. I haven’t yet found a production or a movie where Scrooge is, um, sexually active or could be some sort of Victorian era stud. Kind of weird at first and then it descends into HE’S A RAPEY POS FUCK HIM kinda reaction. And we get the backstory about the school, and how his dad basically sold Ebbie into some sort of sexual slavery with the headmaster and…Not even kidding. I just…mm. This was to save money. See where Scrooge gets it, my lovelies???

Mary Cratchett goes to Scrooge for money to get the operation to save Tiny Tim. Now, was it just me or was Tiny Tim about the creepiest thing in this entire three hour plus retelling??? I…damn. He looked like one of those haunted dolls who goes about at night with your sharpest butcher knife clutched in his doll fist. His dialogue was also unnatural and stilted, compared to the actors around him. That might have been Dicken’s fault but still. Make him sound like a kid, not some killer doll who sucked helium from the balloon that will be used to strangle you as you bleed out from the butcher knife stabbings…

Where was I?? Oh yes. Mary, who usually doesn’t get much to do in this story besides bake a goose or shake her head over how mean Scrooge is…goes to the steely-eyed sexy master of Thornfield Hall for a loan. Sorry, no, that’s Jane Eyre! Anyway–

She posits this as a loan, where two shillings gets subtracted from her husband’s salary. Scrooge, cruelly good at math, calculates this all up, adding interest even, and figures, ha ha, it would take about six years for his employee to pay off a thirty pound loan, plus something like 4% interest. This is of course not a good scenario for smoldery slinky Mr. Scrooge! We then get subjugated to about the most gulp-inducing WTF, is this a Christmas movie?? scene where Scrooge offers Mary the money outright if she…lets him do whatever he wants to her. On Christmas Day, no less. She can earn the money on her back is the gist of that scene and she, being desperate and not wishing to watch her child die, agrees to this. As Scrooge taunts her, in that quiet slithery way Pierce can deliver so well, about what a good wife, mother and Christian she is. It’s…it’s unredeemable. There isn’t a coming back from this. I don’t care…it….fuck.

So here Mary returns, and Scrooge toys with her, then tells her he doesn’t want a thing to do with her. As she stands there nearly naked. He’s more interested in torturing people because he’s a scientist at heart or some such unjolly shit. She’s still violated and demeaned, she takes the money because it’s her kid and there’s no way she can get the money otherwise. She also curses Scrooge, telling him she’s a woman and she has the power to call spirits…ah. Ah! Interesting.

Vinette Robinson as Mary
Andy Serkis as Main Ghost/The Ghost

So the spirits.

The main spirit of Christmas is played by Andy Serkis, of Gollum fame. And yes, he knocks it out of the ballpark. We get to see a lot more of the spirits and Marley outside of their usual show up and spook Mr. Scrooge bits. There’s this giant, visually stunning, bonfire. The main spirit, who also seems to be all the other spirits as well, has strange pale eyes, a wild Santa Claus-like appearance and speaks about how this thing with Scrooge is more of a game than…any actual effort to save him. Ouch. That it’s the challenge presented by Scrooge’s stony unfeeling heart, not any actual need to save the man himself from a hellish fate, such as Marley earned. That the gods play with us rather that love us is very much the theme here with the ghost/s.

Now, this is a new one to me. Scrooge displays kindness only toward animals. He draws a blanket over two carriage horses, who are shivering in the snowy air. He remarks about the ponies used down in mines, rather than the children he watched cough and choke with utter indifference. And then there’s this pet mouse his sister gave him, with a little gilded bell about its wee neck. The ghost of this mouse shows up and we get to see Scrooge’s horrific father cut its head off. We see this framed as a shadow but still. Just a jarring, take me out of it, why are you including this, moment. In a Christmas movie.

I guess this slight care toward animals is supposed to make Scrooge a bit sympathetic and redeemable? That there is something still, um, good left in this sadistic snotwaffle?

So the three ghosts go to work on Scrooge and the way this is done is quite okay. The ghosts change and morph and dig into his memories like surgeons. The mine disaster was especially hard to watch. The young Scrooge being almost dragged to an older man’s bed was surreal and the sister arriving to save him…as Scrooge admitted in perhaps the most gutwrenchingly honest scenes about child sexual abuse, far too late. The ghost of Christmas Future, the one who decides if Scrooge is ‘saved’ or not, seemed a zombie or some sort of undead victim of the Inquisition. Blue skin, lips obviously sewn together at one point, silent.

Tiny Tim, Lenny Rush and Guy Pierce as Scrooge.

Here we get to watch Tiny Tim drown. He speaks the entire film about wanting to go skating. So this death of his is framed over the head of Scrooge and the ghost, who watch from below. As if both stand beneath the pond, looking up. The ceiling of the room Scrooge stands in becomes that treacherous ice sheath. Tim breaks through, weighted down by the borrowed skates and his clothing. He’s too weak to pull himself out so we watch him stop struggling and just hang there until a hook yanks him out and up and up…Such a well done scene yet so horrible.

Of course we get to the ending where Scrooge goes manic. He steals the gravel of an old lady, who’s been graveling the icy walkways, to make it so no one can skate on that bit of pond or river, then runs over to Mary and Bob’s to terrorize them with his manic promises that he’s changed and…yeah. It’s such a joyless, grim, abrupt ending. We also don’t get any reconciliation with his nephew. And we’re made to understand that maybe Mary is working with the Christmas ghosts? Wha…?

That’s what is missing from this adaptation. Joy. That redemptive joy of someone who decides to change who they are for the better. We saw this in Scrooged, with Billy Murray’s version bringing us to tears with his speech at the end, because he meant it, he had experienced an actual revolution within himself. Here, in this Guy Pierce led shadow-filled morality play, we get a grim character with very little or no redeeming values sort of…not be so awful for a bit. Will it even last the day? I’m not sure it will. Someone peeing on your gravestone is not really a life-changer, not for someone like Scrooge who went to court to make sure the families of those who died in his mine never got a ha’penny for those deaths.

Dickens wrote about a man who got a wake up call, so to speak. Who learned and grew and changed, due to three spirits, his old business partner and his own sense of conscience, guilt, shame and remorse. And how it was the light in his heart that got kindled toward others that made him over into a better version of himself. That light lit by his own willingness to face his past, what he had done to others, what he had allowed himself to become.

We do not see that so much in this version of Scrooge. This is a horror story, not a Christmas tale. If the goal here by the main ghost was to destroy Scrooge’s sense of self, then leave him with nothing much after that, then…hey, well done?

It was a well done production. Acting was first rate. The ghosts and other supernatural elements didn’t seem jarring or out of place or not to fit this Victorian setting. Making Scrooge into a rapey creep…just took me out of this and I could not wander back in with any sort of ability to care about Scrooge in any way. Too many women face this sort of crap, yes, I get it. It gave Mary real motivation and explained, maybe, the ghosts. She was able to see Scrooge when he and the second ghost, his sister Lottie, visited the Cratchett house. Get out of my house! might be my new go-to anthem when things get terrible, dark and twisted in my head.

But I think this production also missed the joy, love and light that are so rewarding in more traditional retellings of this well-known Christmas staple. It’s famous for a reason. I don’t want a gritty reboot of this one. No thanks. I admit it. I want a silly, happy, joy-filled, bedizened ending that fills me with happiness after watching a somewhat horrible man, a stand in for most rich people, let’s be honest, ahem, learn that others suffer and can’t get the help they need so often. So he can help the man who works for him and reconcile with his nephew, cause family family Christmas, the end.

Sorry, this was long. But the movie was long. And I wanted to write this all up while it was still fresh in my head.

Jason Flemyng as Ghost of Christmas Future

Happy Endings

Daniel di Tommasso as Matt and Ali Stroker as Izzi in Lifetime’s Christmas Ever After

I’ve been perusing the usual holiday fare on the telly! Which is…Hallmark and now, the Lifetime Channel. The syrupy, always ends happily, tales of Christmas, and yes, I saw one advertised, Hanukah.

I even saw one with, gasp, gay people in it. I know! Hallmark is woke, y’all! Though, I have seen several with a gay sibling or a friend but those characters were very much side, seldom mentioned at all and generally kept off the main stage of shiny scrubbed lovers staidly hurtling toward love’s destiny. As the titles all run together in my head…Ah, okay, that was a Bride for Christmas. Her sister was gay, as played by the same actress who was in one of my all time Hallmark faves, Nine Lives of Christmas. Which features cats and firemen, hello! Kimberly Sustad is that actress. Brandon Routh was the fireman who got adopted by a cat, and she was a vet student…you’ve seen this one, right? Right?

Yes, there is backlash to all the ‘wokeness’ being inserted in the shimmery holiday fare. Mostly directed at all the GAY STUFF. Which is so absurdly tame and not at all cause for alarm. Surely, surely, you can just find another movie to watch, cause there’s the Up channel and Ion and AMC is showing holiday flicks and the ABC Family Channel which now has a new name and…okay. I’m SERIOUS here. You can flip over and find Elf 24/7 right now.

If you, um, watch television. I hear there’s some new-fangled stuff called streaming where you don’t have to flip channels or something. It’s just so futuristic. Yeah, I’m almost a Luddite. Yep. Back to the rambling–

I think the freak out was over the new one called the Christmas House, which features a gay couple trying to adopt a kid. Um? Thousand Karens Upset Enough To Call the Managers were clutching pearls over this. You just wanna…ask them why they can’t turn all that hot outrage toward an actual good cause. Like ending world hunger or save the bees.

So.

I happened to flip to Lifetime, to check out their VERY SIMILAR, EERILY SO fare last Sunday. Six at night, it’s called something like Christmas Ever After or Christmas Happy Happy Nice Nice.

Okay! I’m rather charmed by the blond perky, not model thin and not runway in Paris looking, lead actress. I do mean perky with a capital P! She’s a writer! On her way to finish her book! In a very Christmas-positive place! She sees someone who resembles, or, hey, looks exactly like, the man on all her romance novel covers. As she writes a series of time travel romances featuring the same two characters. Got it? All righty.

Oh my, he’s rather handsome! She nearly runs him over, what an almost meet-cute this is. Usual opening to the Life-Hall oeuvre, and I am down with it, baby. Bring it on! Got my ratty purple blanket, the dogs are snoozing, the cat has her butt in my face, it’s a low key Sunday eve and I am determined to see how this ends.

I keep hoping it will all end badly and she will find out he’s a serial killer or a Trump supporter or some sort of conspiracy nut living out in the woods afraid of Bill Gates and Big Pharma. A perennial watcher of the Hallmark stuff can hope, damn it. One time they’re gonna slip there at the Hallmark factory and a gruesome awful ending is gonna escape in a shower of blood or even just a ‘not gonna work out, I choose my career which I’ve worked so hard for, over some small town diner owner in Montana’ finale. They part ways and both are relieved they didn’t have to do that awkward kiss that takes place in the last ten seconds before the credits roll in the usual…

Wait.

What is…What? Is she…Is Izzi [played by Ali Stroker] in a WHEELCHAIR? And the entire story doesn’t revolve around the BRAVE LADY IN THE WHEELCHAIR OVERCOMING THE ODDS? WTF is going on? Did hell freeze over, Lifetime?? Brave new world of Christmas movie involving not-perfect people just living their lives, being all outgoing and sassy, coping with everything as best they can and…FINDING LOVE? What?

Seriously, did I slip into some weird alternate time dimension?

No. Decorating, cookies, Christmas contests, singing carols…the wokeness got me all woke for a bit.

Yeah, okay. We also did not get the backstory of how or why she’s in a wheelchair. She drives her own car, doesn’t have an aide or help of any kind and takes care of herself. We don’t see her do any of this, not really, but…it’s implied.

So the reason the guy, who’s the son of the owner of the place Izzi stays every year during the holidays, is on her covers is that…no no. No spoilers. But it’s actually not that far out in left field nor does it feel forced or ridiculous. Okay, it does, it’s very CONVENIENT AND NEAT, which is not what real life is like at all but if I wanted real life I’d watch documentaries on factory workers or something. Mm.

It’s a very sweet movie. I do mean sweet. Your teeth will ache after watching it. And the ending? Yeah. It’s exactly the ending you think it is but oh my, it’s so very…sweet. A wholesome earned sort of sweet, like a slice of punkin pie with a big dollop of hand-whipped cream.

I also like how this guy– names are not important for the guys, are they? They’re always something like Hal or Sam or James or Roman or Bucky the Wonder Stud– grew to like Izzi very much, then to LIKE Izzi very much. It was done quite well, I thought. Sure, it was the actual plot but the two actors seemed in the same space and accepting and…uh huh.

I also just watched one called Christmas Waltz, which was very much Hallmark Standard Fare. Lacey Chabert, playing a lawyer, breaks up with her fiancee right before her giant Christmas wedding, she’s supposed to take some dance lessons and…you guessed it, she falls for the dance teacher guy.

Now, I enjoyed the dancing, I am a sucker for a movie with dancing in it and the actor, Will Kemp, actually looked like a dancer. And could actually dance. That is my amateur take on the dancing in this movie. No, it wasn’t Gene Kelly standards or even Channing Tatum sexywrithing levels but it was passable. Hello! And the movie had moments of the two just dancing through snowy streets in NYC, which is always something that should now be in every Christmas movie made from now on. Rando dance scenes with snow falling down around the pair. Let’s do this, Hallmark and Lifetime and all those other channels churning out endless holiday hours of slight romantic fare!

Oh my, could we get Channing Tatum to appear in a Hallmark movie with one of their usual actress leads and the two could dirty dance to the shock and horror of the small town that lives for Christmas?? No? Not ever gonna happen? It was a stupid idea and I should be very ashamed of myself for all time?

Yeah, okay. Whatever.

We need a new dance movie to appear, don’t we? Magic Mike was a while ago. Dirty Dancing? Forty years? Oh!

Hallmark and the relentless happy ever after. I really do need it this year. I need some assurance that things do turn out well and fine and good. It’s why I watch those sad animal rescue videos. The puppy thrown in the ditch that’s skin and bones?? It get’s adopted by a royal family and lives the best life ever! I try to avoid the super-sad ones where the animal doesn’t make it.

Damn. I just have to pay the slightest bit of attention to the news feed to get all the sadness, grief and rage I could ever need.

And on that note! Aftermath:Boise, Idaho is available RIGHT NOW. Buy it. Right now!

Note: I am waiting for snow. It’s close. Like Lorelei Gilmore, I can sense it just around the corner…

Weed and Schitt’s Creek and Tequila and Elections and the Great Pumpkin and

The cast of Schitt’s Creek

Anyone else planning to spend Voting Hell Day in ‘murica with a bag of weed, a bottle of rot gut tequila, junk food galore as you marathon Schitt’s Creek? Anyone? Buehler?

I hate Ferris Buehler’s Day Off with a passion, by the way. Hated it when it first hit, hate it now. I just. Yuck. I have never been charmed by that slick mud puddle of a movie. Sorry if I crapped on your dreams or best movie or life, whatever.

I voted already. We can do that here in Oregon. We have mail-in voting since…ever. I don’t remember a time when you couldn’t just chuck your ballot back in the mail box. Well, until this year. I took my ballot to the drop box at the county courthouse. There was a car sitting there, idling. Paranoia hit me. WTF is that car doing there? WTF? Drive off, fuckweeds. Drive away! But I voted. Straight Dem, full total disclosure.

Just one more day…Not actually, as ballots come in from absentee and such will still need to be counted. If they are allowed to be counted, that is. My country seems caught on the idea that democracy is too hard, so let’s try fascism which is super-easy! Voter suppression galore! Woot?  

Hey, Kangaroo Court, er, Supreme Cunts, can ya fix the election already for Drippy Clownfuck McTraitorface? Oh you plan that if given even a sliver of a chance?? Wheeee!

Me and tequila have a complicated relationship at best. Any time I go near it, yeah, things get complicated. I end up pawing at people or under a table sobbing for a razor blade. There’s no in-between option. Vodka doesn’t do this to me or rum or whiskey. Tequila fucks my shit up, as the wise children opine. So prolly not gonna get some of that devil juice.

Weed is legal here. I am surrounded by dispensaries, not to mention, hey, my aunt grows the stuff, as do several cousins. I actually like it. It calms me. I just float. It’s kinda nice.

Election. Huh, so ABC is broadcasting a chump rally in entirety. Fucking hell on burned bran muffins, be they super-stupid?

Obviously I have nothing elegant or new to say on the day before the Day. I am hopeful yet OH MY FUCKING GOD WTF kinda something. Record number of voters showing up. Record number of voter suppression tactics in play. Rallies and lies and alibis, oh my!

Also saw where Trumpanzees are showing up to block roads, run buses off those roads, block voting sites. FBI investigating some of that.

Have not been able to concentrate for ages. Waiting for Civil War II to drop is kinda all-consuming at the present.

Schitt’s Creek is truly delightful. I didn’t have much hope at how it started—very broad stereotypes of both the rich and the not so rich, and small town everything, how funny, ha ha. But then. But then!

Depths and shades and nuances started to appear. David and Alexis, wow. Mr. Rose emerging as the most empathetic of the family and an actual pretty okay day. Moira…has her moments of utter loveliness. I was won over to Schitt’s Creek when Alexis asked her brother for a hug. He hemmed and hawed, as he does, then he just gave in and gave his sister the comfort she and he needed. That was in season two, or so. Maybe?

I am not charmed by Chris Elliot. I’ve seen him do this type of character too many times. I love his wife, whoever that actress is. Oh I know that too-nice, gotta help everyone but herself character. It’s my mom!

Possibly a much deeper dive into this series when I reach the end. I’m in season four or five, somewhere in there. Right after Patrick’s housewarming party where Ted kisses David. And I must say, I do really like Alexis and Ted together. I just do.

SPOILERS IF YOU’VE NOT SEEN THIS YET. SORRY NOT SORRY FUCK OFF ALREADY YOU SNIVELING SNOTMONSTERS

Oh. I seem a bit hostile. Ouchie.

Please please don’t let Stevie dangle in the wind as this series seems to do endlessly. Thanks in advance?? Eh…?

So yeah. Weed, booze, snacks, a funny show I can watch all day. While I try to wait for the final results without LOSING MY GODDAMN MARBLES.

I predict a Biden win but chump and lawyers and such will challenge it. Chump has stated this already, several times. At rallies. And so this nightmare doesn’t end, we all keep falling toward the rocks…splat.

Splat.

Splitter-splat.

How could they remove the Peanut’s Halloween Special off network TV?? THIS FUCKING YEAR SUCKS MOLDY MOTHERFUCKING BALLS.

It’s the Great Pum…NO IT’S NOT CAUSE YOU CAN ONLY WATCH IT ON APPLE FUCKING FUCKING WHATEVER FUCK FUCK FUCK

Yeah, I’m fine.

I’m okay.

Uh huh.

Halloween Baking, y’all!

Hey and hello. First off, the cover for my book looks great, no matter what cover gets chosen. I liked all the options. Ooooh!!

Aftermath: Boise, Idaho

Okay, business over, now for the fluff post.

Halloween Baking contest. Yes, it’s the start of a new set of bakers for the Food Network’s seasonal baking bake-offs. And..eh. They made changes. I…geez. Don’t change stuff that wasn’t broken. Don’t.

There used to be two challenges, now there’s just the one.

One of the judges is also the host. Mm?

But the challenges will all stem from being in a haunted house. Go room to room. That sounds interesting. We’ll see.

Am I gonna watch the hell out of this every Monday night??? You bet your zombie butts I am.

Because it’s bakers making Hallowen-themed treats and who loves Halloween?? I do!

The first challenge was to design a haunted house cake that showcases whatever greatest fear the baker has. Make a house-shaped cake, throw some spiders on it or whatever, right? Do something that keeps you in for next week, yes? That would be my single and only goal. Make a good-tasting, moist cake [moooooiiiisssssttt] and decorate it Halloween-ish.

Save your experimental uses of soy sauce and lemon curd for later on, kiddos. [I don’t think that’s an actual thing. I hope.]

Like, hey, don’t throw a bunch of raw pomegranate seeds into your iffy cake, for instance. Or hey, use the surprise unwanted ingredient somewhere in your cake, not drizzled on the plate it sits on. Have you not watched this show at all???

Also, just me here, but make a cake that’s house-shaped if the challenge is to make a house-shaped cake.

There was also another thing thrown at last night’s nervous bakers. Make working doors or a working door for your creation. Um? Damn! That was just mean, in my opinion. They had to use balsamic vinegar somewhere and make a working door for their cakes.

The cake that did win the day was…okay. A snake poking out of a door and it ticked all the challenge boxes. Eh.

 I liked the bee cake. It was gorgeous and spooky. She designed a bee hive haunted house, her fear being bees. And it looked tasty. I also liked the haunted garden shed one.

So yeah, my third book is due out soon. It’s about zombies but it’s not really about zombies. One of those.

Still doing temp work but the fires here in Oregon have halted traveling about. Air quality even where I am, on the Oregon-Idaho border, is dangerously bad. Smoke is supposed to clear out by Thursday or Friday.

And yeah… the fires. It’s bad. It’s not liberal mismanagement or whatever the popular theory is among those who invent such theories. It’s climate change. Oregon isn’t getting the snow and rain we used to. We’ve been in a drought for decades. As has California and Idaho and Washington State and…The West is burning. And until magical unicorns show up and rescue all of us, hey.

 

I need a cocktail. And some haunted house cake. I wonder what I’d have made from scratch. Can I use a cake mix? It’s why I wouldn’t get invited on a baking show full of actual chefs and pastry wizards.

PS– having major problems with whatever formatting this is. Just gonna fling this out there.

Zooey

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Zooey, played by Jane Levy. Mitch, Peter Gallagher. Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, NBC

I thought I was prepared for the finale of Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, the singing show. Where the manic pixie girl watches/hears people singing songs while dancing; usually about their inner thoughts. If you don’t know this show, it’s fine. This is not a review of it nor do you need to have an intimate knowledge of the minutia associated with this series.

The gut-wrenching heart of this show is Zooey’s dad dying. He has PSP, he’s non-verbal, he’s sliding slowly toward the grave. Or not so slowly, as the disease seems determined to ravish him, as diseases do. Odd choice for a generally happy idea show. To have the dad be robbed of movement and voice, and have this so darkly reflect in the lives of the characters. And how honest this show was about, well mostly, about what it’s like to have someone you love dying day by day by day. How fucking hard that is.

Where you clean up after them. Where you find yourself giving shots. Doing meds. Changing bedding right after an accident. Where you check tubes to make sure they’re not blocked. Where you hope the biggest hopes ever at the slightest uptick of progress. Maybe death won’t have to be faced so soon.

So, the finale of Zooey.

I sat there, watching. I thought it would be cutesy or they’d try something lighthearted or not so goddamn real.

That’s what this episode, despite all the singing and dancing and frothy who will Zooey choose man collection…got so right. How unreal, floaty, numbing and confusing death is when it arrives. Even when expected. Even when death sits on our couch to wait with us. It’s still a wrenching shock, a cry against something so ghastly unfair. It’s not welcome, it’s not that welcome friend at all.

I wept. I don’t mean the sniffing and tears of an ordinary sad or even that episode where something lovely happens, that longed for couple gets together or whatever. I mean weeping. Wrenched from me. This was like looking down at my mother, in the ICU, hooked to machines. How it wasn’t her anymore. It wasn’t her. That meat and bone and skin was not my mother. Where she was, she was not present in that round cool place in the heart of Boise, Idaho.

And knowing she had been gone a while before that fateful last day of hers. That I had missed her going. That I had spent more than a year of my life trying to keep her alive. That the cancer eating her up won. Won such a decisive victory. That I was the one who decided when the machines got turned off. That I had to make such a decision at all. 

And my anger, my confusion, my utter blood-soaked pain. I heard no music. I didn’t get a sign she was ‘okay now’. I didn’t get the last words that told me…she knew her horrible daughter had done her best. I didn’t get to tell her.

So many things.

One thing the Zooey finale got wrong was how neat and tidy death seems. That the transition from life to death is such a tidy affair. It was hinted, by the caretaker to the dad, that death is messy, awful, terrible. An actual truth. They’d done the episode picking out plots and coffins. This family seems made of money so there’s nothing about the sheer cost of death itself.

Just a few thoughts on a show I’ve enjoyed thoroughly. It broke into my inner little sanctum, and I relieved those moments waiting to hear my mother had died. How that still seems as fresh as a bouquet of funeral daisies.  

Lobster Ice Cream

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Seth Andrews posted this pic on his Twitter account, so that’s where I got this pic. You can go look up who he is, if you don’t know already. 

I just want to clear this up. No lobster anything should be placed, folded within or otherwise added to ice cream. Gross.

Which leads me to the show Chopped.

Ever seen it? If not, you should. It’s great. You get a mystery basket with four ingredients. Random ingredients. You are on a timed deadline. You have to incorporate all four ingredients into one dish. You then get judged. If your dish sucks more than the other dishes served up, you get…CHOPPED. It’s just brutal and so much fun to watch! Three rounds, starter, main course, dessert. Starts with four chefs, whittles down to two, with a winner declared at end of the hour.

I’ve seen things like Spaghetti-O frozen pops. Goat head. Salmon ice cream. Dried tarantulas. Vienna Sausages, in the dessert round. Vienna sausages. In your dessert.

Now they can do with these four ingredients as they want, with a full kitchen to help out.

Okay.

I’m trying to make myself write. I thought I’d do a quickie blog post, maybe open that short story I’ve restarted several times now. A story already written, where I switched POV and yeah, it’s a whole thing. I did manage to finish it but it…ugh. It’s not right yet. I didn’t hit that groove. I might have a last go today, then just…let it go, let it go. Let it ferment and pickle if that’s what it needs!

Waiting for stimulus check, of course. It’s like a game. Check my account, still not there! A bad game.

I streamed JoJo Rabbit. Loved it! That’s my professional film critique. I have it stored away for a month on Red Box, so might watch it a couple more times, then do a post about it.

Some writing, some cooking tips and a movie. I’ve also been outside moving rocks about, looking for stray sheets of metal and whistling back at the ground squirrels. I do live in the boondocks, in the middle of actual nowhere. It’s vastly easy to social distance if there’s nothing much around you but dogs, a cat and some cheeky rodents.

Lobster ice cream. Not even once!!

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Actual in process pics of rock garden re-do. 

 

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Bits, pieces and a guillotine shout out

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Clip art.

Happy December. A short one.

Had two birthdays this weekend, made the ugliest angel food cake. From scratch. Oh the horror. It tasted okay, it just looked like a flat, chewed on by tiger’s prop from a z-rate horror movie set. It should have been featured on some ugly foods website. Even with frosting and a jam layer, that poor cake should have been taken out back and kindly beat to death, then buried in the earth.

So!

My year seems to be ending well, writing-wise.

I placed a story with the Whistle Pig—Pearlie At the Gates of Dawn.

I placed a story with the Ghastling—the Little Visitors.

Just found out my play, the Bluegrass of God, was accepted by the Santa Ana River Review.

My poem—My Feet Hurt—will be part of the  Rumpus’s Enough section.

I am currently working on a screenplay based on a short story of mine from Oregon Gothic. Prince Charming Finds His Sleeping Beauty is that tale, and the movie title, for right now, is just Prince Charming. I am collaborating with a director/film maker from the Czech Republic, with a first draft more or less done. Working on the newest version.

Got a royalty check in the mail. Small but still a check. It’s still such a wonder to be paid, even a tiny smidge, for something I wrote.

So a few hits, lots of misses. Writing some. Writing political screams but if I posted them, I’d be arrested. As they focus on things like how to build a guillotine and how to stage a revolution on a shoestring budget.

I’ll end on a truly trivial note. Been watching a BBC series called Young Dracula. Cause. Yeah. It’s so much better than it should be. It’s quite funny. I enjoy it. I’m in season three, which features a major tonal shift, a new setting and some could be interesting new characters. I’d never heard of it. It’s from OVER TEN YEARS AGO.

I also binged season three of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The gut-punch cliffhanger…damn it. The world is already burning alive right now. I am not looking forward to season four. I find I want light, frothy entertainment these days. I wonder why. Oh yeah!

Also, anyone out there want to see Cats? Is it the acid trip horror it promises to be??? I’d be down for that. Trippy weird cat-human morph mistakes high kicking for two hours through giant cardboard-looking high school sets…! I am so in!! A deliciously bad musical misfire? Or did those damn trailers totally lie about how good this confection is?? And the new Star Wars. I might have to leave the house. If only to start building a guillotine. Or change the kitten’s poop dirt.

Halloween Baking Championship

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I know I said September was a promotion blitz for my everything…but hey, Halloween, baked goods, bad dad jokes. Come on!

Now, I am a FAN of baking contest shows. The Great British Bake Off [is that the actual name?] got me all hot and bothered to find more soothing hours of people BAKING STUFF FOR PRIZES. The Food Network [porn for foodies, if we’re all honest. Are we?] has a plethora of shows around people desperately trying to bake elaborate confections during timed heats. There’s a Christmas series. There’s one centered on spring. There’s a series where kids bake elaborate stuff. Dang. How did that ten year old learn to make such stellar macrons?? What is a macron again?

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I think this is from season two. Isn’t that fun??!

Today’s main challenge–Make a ten layer cake flavored with rose water while incorporating dried grasshoppers and garlic! There’s a surprise twist that includes a 3-D sculpture of one of the Seven Wonders of the World that must be made out of two kinds of bread!

Groans! I am hooked!

Yep, so the Halloween series is my fave. I admit it. Scary clown cakes. A monster formed out of cream puffs. A smoking cake based on common nightmares. [As in dry ice is used that makes it seem fog or mist oozes from the cake. Cool, amirite??] The judges dress up in costumes. What is the budget for this show, cause those costumes and makeup…are quite elaborate and no costume gets repeated. And then I shrug, go—eh—and carry on transfixed by the successes and oh, failures of the various bakers. Cause who has not watched their pretty cake fall like a mofo??! Or rushed to get something done, that didn’t taste great? Who has not tried out weird flavor combos? Certainly not moi.

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Host– John Hanson. Judges– Carla Hall in green, Zac Young and Lorraine Pascale. The judges do change as do the host/s.

I love Halloween. It’s my absolute fave holiday. Mostly because you don’t have to spend it with family trying not to come out of your damn skin as they discuss how global warming is a hoax and how the demonrats are trying to destroy ‘murica by bussing busloads of illegals from California to Texas to vote. Cause George Soros funds all that and he’s a Nazi Jew globalist trying to replace white people with brown people. All of this said while crazy uncle gives you the side-eye to see how upset and triggered you are! I feel a bout of leprosy coming on, sorry, can’t make the Thanksgiving massacre this year!

Yeah, that’s why I prefer a holiday that’s rooted in candy and alcoholic excess. And scary movies! Yes, I’ve been monstrously drunk, happily so, during Pumpkinfest. Some of the best times I ever had were around Halloween. I love costumes! I love pumpkins! Can ya blame me? So round and orange! Punkins!

I also love ghost stories and zombies and vampires and spooky stuff. There’s that, too.

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Okay! So the baking element is what actually had me at hello. I am a strictly amateur baker. I just started making homemade bread a few years ago. I usually use a cake mix for cakes. My grandmother loved them. She always sighed happily and said what a great thing it was to just mix up a cake out of a box. My grandmother loved cooking and recipes and cooking shows. Like Julia Childs. Or the Frugal Gourmet. If you’ve never heard of either, well, that’s okay. I guess we can still be friends.

I’ve been bingeing on the Halloween Baking show, as it ramps up tonight with a new season. What will it be? A wicked witch episode? A show dedicated to ghosts and spirits?? A zombie and vampire wedding extravaganza? Cupcakes and tarts and mousse, oh my! The red food coloring alone…!

Now, the host guy annoys me. I admit it. Just…stop talking. Just announce the categories, and there are two—the first one that can be bake a dozen cookies with these ingredients and shaped like this. Followed by a harder challenge and if your creation doesn’t cut it, hey, you can be sent home. The American baking shows seem to have a two part format whereas the Great British one has three distinct challenges. Except Chopped has three parts. Yes, I’ve also discovered Chopped, which I watch mainly to see how the various chefs deal with BATSHIT INSANE ingredients hidden in a basket.

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Halloween baking. That’s my focus here, not Chopped. Stay in your lane now.

I also enjoy the decorating element, as this makes me try and pretty up whatever baking I attempt. Uniformity and looks! My pies don’t look like a cow came along and sat on them, for instance, since I started caring a bit about their appearance. Instead of, hey, it’s edible and baked all the way! I watch people sculpt out of chocolate or fondant or rice cereal treats. I observe buckets of buttercream frosting being colored to slap on cakes shaped like skulls or pumpkins or haunted houses. The fillings conjured up, mostly raspberry puree or vanilla bean custard, that get squirted into still hot pastries as the clock ticks down.

Ah the judging. I do enjoy the three judges. Delicious to underbaked and limp or the flat-eyed glare sent to a trembling baker. I can’t find the rum in your ganache. The bitten lip of the baker! It’s in there, the baker claims and the judge curls her British upper lip in utter smoking contempt as the other two judges either agree or dissent. There’s two Americans and one not American. Names?

Now, I’ve seen horrible looking desserts saved by their taste. A hot mess that tasted fabulous. A Day of the Dead cake that looked like I’d decorated it but which tasted like a professional baker baked it. And the guy almost in tears over how his cake appeared.

But sometimes this won’t save a baker if they’ve already had a bad baking session earlier. The judging seems arbitrary. Which is fine. It also seems to be based on personalities a bit rather than actual baked goods produced…which is also fine. Whatever. It’s television.

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Carla Hall as a flapper. See what I mean? She never wears this again.

Anyway! Before this approaches novella length. I like Halloween. I like baking shows. A Halloween baking contest show. I’m! So! There!

Waiting for the dems to do something is sorta like waiting for glaciers to move. So I’ll watch people try to make scary stuff out of flour, eggs and heavy cream. Woot woot!

Oh the dog took over my bed last night. She’s rather like having a space heater blowing directly on you. As she sighs and flops around and settles in as I try to find a comfy position. She’s not a small dog, in other words. But I feel rather honored she chose to stay instead of stomping out to snooze in the living room. So have been up since three thirty. Cause that’s when me and Miz Bridge had to powder our noses. And the owls were hooting away and the coyotes singing the songs of their people.