All Good Things.

24 Sep

Must come to an end.

And this, sadly, includes Seven Deadly Divas. I’m not going to go into the whos or whys of it too much beyond “real life kicked the ladies’ collective asses”. Health, school, moves, kids, and work malaise made the blog unsustainable. As such, if you want to catch up with the divas, might I suggest checking out their personal blogs? There might not be new articles every day, but between the ten of us? Twelve of us? We’re bound to entertain you sooner or later.

Thanks for stopping by, thanks for reading, and thanks for contributing to a fantastic nine months.

Testes Like Jellybeans

22 Sep

My quadruple amputee client called twice today. The second time, to tell me that his nurse says he shouldn’t call me anymore.

“She tells me I need to face my reality. Which is that I’m never going to get to smell your feet.”

“Wait. You’ve been calling me for most of this last year, now. For two or three hours at a stretch. Just because you lived in hope that, someday, you’d get to smell my feet?”

“Well, that’s all you are,” he said. “You’re just a foot, to me.”

* * * * *

A different long-term phone sex client recently moved into my town, and offered me $7,000 to spent a night in a hotel room with him.

Just to see what he’d say, I shrugged and agreed.

“Well, how about half that much, for half a night with you?” he asked. “Oh, wait: how ’bout a quarter of that amount, if I don’t touch you: I just take pictures?”

Remembering why my impulsive streak gets me in trouble, I got madder and madder as he tried to portion the value of my time (and, I suppose, body) into tinier and tinier, discount-chunks.

“All or nothing,” I said. “There IS no negotiating.”

And he walked away from the table, as it were. Or the bed – ?

* * * * *

EXCEPT. Over the next two months, he would repeat the process every third weekend. Start out dangling a ludicrous…sum. And then whittle it back to some kind of value-meal offer.

Not that he’s all that interested, mind. Or, heavens forbid, desperate, he would tell me.

It’s just that this over-the-hill, hair-plugged, beer-gutted, boozy, washed-up former ballplayer, now accountant, who has been, in the four years I’ve known him, demoted and downsized so hard they’ve pinballed him between three states, as his last-chances with this company get fewer and fewer…

…this sweaty spinster who hasn’t gotten laid in all the years I’ve known him…

…this softening ex-frat-boy who seems perplexed as to how he lost his place at the top of the food chain, and who has spent thousands on me over the past four years, in gifts and in phone-sex calls…

…just thinks it might be fun, if we could spend some time together. Which he would just happen to be paying me for.

What would be BEST, he says, if I would just admit my attraction for him, and waive the fee.

* * * * *

Testosterone, man. Must be a hell of a drug.

* * * * *

On the flip side of that, there’s the ex of mine who is offering to lend me the money to buy me this house. HE is currently hosting three women and two (I believe) kids in his home.

One woman — the one whose preadolescent son just moved in with them — is the one he’s actually dating.

The other two women are women he used to be dating. Who just didn’t have the wherewithal nor the cojones to up and leave him, after their breakups with him.

It was one of these women whose 19-year-old, homeschooled daughter, recently decided that, for her birthday last week, she’d like to have the prom she never got to have.

“And so I’m like, ‘That’s Great!'” said my ex. “I figured, I’d just dress up in a sparkly gown, different than the suit I’d wear to dinner. And that way I could be crowned both king AND queen of the prom!”

I kept myself from bashing my face into the wall up here. But just barely.

“Isn’t it supposed to be her prom?” I asked him.

“Yeah, but I’m bankrolling it,” said my ex.

“What did her mom say?” I asked, pinching the bridge of my nose.

“THAT’S THE THING!” he shouted. “SHE said, ‘Don’t you even bring that idea UP to my daughter!’ Like, can you beLIEVE that?”

“Wow,” I said.

“Yeah!” he said. “And I’m all, ‘So, you want to keep your daughter in the dark about alternative forms of self-expression. That’s what you’re saying to me.'”

“So, what happened?” I asked him.

“Oh, I got to dress up AFTER the party, when all the kids had gone to bed.”

* * * * *

All I could think of was Frank McCourt’s mom in Angela’s Ashes, sleeping with her landlord to keep her children under a roof.

Poor woman.

* * * * *

And, speaking of rooves, it was a tin roof under which that ex and I stayed, three years ago, in Kantishna mining town. In the heart of Denali National Park, in the heart of Alaska.

I didn’t know then that they had a campground near that same place.

I know now. Because I’ve seen a picture of the sign.

With my former landlord leaning against it. Flipping the middle finger with both hands to the ex of mine who is taking the picture.

* * * * *

The ex (a different one) to whom I gushed for the last two years about the beauty of that park, and how desperately I want to go back.

The ex whose love of photography I rekindled, with my pictures of all that wilderness, and my digital SLR for him to borrow.

The ex with whom I planned that dream trip up there.

* * * * *

So that, apparently, he could take his roommate and captor and frenemy up there, complete with two middle fingers, to shit in the cathedral whose doors I had flung wide to my ex’s imagination.

* * * * *

With puerility like this, it’s not a wonder that I hate men.

It’s a wonder that I still love so very many.

Cooking with Mother Hubbard – Breakfast and the Leftovers

21 Sep

This is Part 3 of a series on frugal/budget cooking. Here are parts 1 and 2!

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone
When she got there, the cupboard was bare
And so the poor little dog got none!

Except now Mother Hubbard has a menu plan and a stocked cupboard, so give the dog a treat and make dinner! This week we’ll look at leftovers and healthy breakfasts/snacks.

Dear Anna, you say, I’m just one person! What will I do with a meal set up to feed FOUR!?

Ok, that’s easy. This advice goes for both single person kitchens and people cooking for two.

When you make a meal, make the WHOLE MEAL.

When you’re done, pack up the leftovers.

If you take leftovers for lunch, put them in individual serving containers in the fridge. Try to stack all of them together, so you don’t have a stack of four white ceramic containers of “mystery lunch”. While Mystery Lunch can be fun in the right mindset, if one member of your household has a food allergy (gluten) and the other doesn’t (SSH) it can make for an awkward lunch moment.

(Don’t ask, just learn, remember? Also, I highly suggest, if you have a food-allergy-segregated-household, invest in containers with two different colored lids. Then your whatever-free eater can always see what’s safe.)

If you don’t take leftovers for lunch (you’re not eating out every day while on a budget, right?), you should STILL invest in individual serving containers… only instead of putting them in the fridge, you will put ONE in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. Add them to your HAVE IT list on the marking white board.

This allows you to double your money – after cooking seven dinners, you’ll have at least seven dinners in the freezer, and you can go a whole week without cooking! Keep at least a few days worth of soup in the freezer as well. This is miraculous if you happen to get the flu that your coworker so generously shared with the whole office.

Also, if you’re only cooking for one person, I suggest planning for four full dinners every week, and you then eat leftovers on other nights.

This DOES involve some thinking about leftovers.

I know, some people just don’t eat them, but throwing away food is throwing away money, and you CAN eat leftovers safely.

The first step is ALWAYS put food away.

Always. Do not invite Sam and Ella or any of their relatives into your kitchen. While I’ll do a whole series on food prep another time, when it comes to food that is already prepared, this means do not let the food sit out on the counter. Let it cool while you eat, and then it MUST go into the fridge or freezer.

In fact, I usually divvy up the food when I’m first serving it. I make a plate for me, a plate for SSH, and then the rest gets put into containers for leftovers in the fridge. RIGHT THEN. This also prevents either of us going nutso on a meal and eating three people’s worth of dinner because we had a shitty day at work. If we’re still hungry, the food is there, but there’s an extra step (having to reheat it) that prevents rampant potato binging. *

Part of this step is also eating the leftovers before they turn into science experiments. I try to do a fridge sweep every week before I go shopping, since I’m in there to make sure I have mustard (or whatever) anyway. Bring things to the front that need to be eaten, and anything that looks questionable needs to get tossed.

Regardless of frugality, when in doubt, throw it out. It is more sensible to toss a $3 lunch than it is to miss two days of work because you can’t leave the bathroom due to food poisoning.

Step two is thinking about your meals from a leftovers point of view.

If chopped mushrooms get yucky after 2 days in the fridge (they do), only chop enough mushrooms for today and leave the rest whole. Same thing goes for putting dressing on salads. Only put dressing on salad you’re going to eat right now. It takes 30 seconds to chop up two mushrooms for your leftovers or toss tomorrow’s salad in vinaigrette tomorrow, but yucky slimy mushrooms are, as they say, NOT good eats.  A little planning now prevents you having to throw away a perfectly good salad tomorrow because it got soggy and gross.

If you’re packing salads to take for lunch, some wee plastic resealable containers are a good investment. Fill one with salad dressing, seal it up, and toss it (sealed) into the container with your salad. Add a fork, and poof! Instant salad pack! (And to think, you’d pay $4 for that at the store)

As for the rest of your food, breakfasts can be pretty simple.

  • Fruit: I like bananas (I need the potassium), especially with almond or peanut butter.
  • Juice: Frozen orange juice is cheaper, but usually I just stick to tea and buy the GOOD orange juice for special occasions.
  • Cereal: Cereal isn’t cheap unless you’re buying oatmeal, but many/most off brands are actually made by the same company. If you’re OK with the idea, try a few bulk brands and see!
  • Eggs: Making eggs every morning can be a pain in the butt and take a lot of time… or you can make egg muffins (8 eggs makes 12 muffins = six breakfasts, takes 30 seconds to microwave) and be a winner!

If you’re eating light at lunch, I highly recommend eating a breakfast with some protein in it. My favorite by far is the egg muffins with a banana with almond butter and a cup of tea. Good mix of vitamins, protein, carbs, and fats, and I’m not usually so ravenous before lunch that I eat something stupid.

For snacks, pretty much anything you can buy and put together yourself will be healthier than cheez-its and candy bars. Keeping some “good” snacks around is both healthy and inexpensive (though I admit, a chocolate bar is sometimes the only answer to a shitty afternoon at a cash register).

Things I like

  • Cheese – Either buy packaged string cheese (more expensive) or blocks of cheese you can cut up into chunks (less expensive) – this is best if you’re taking a lunch box, but you can also keep a labeled container in the work room fridge. Just don’t forget about it.
  • Nuts – buy in bulk. Nuts aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way, and they’re extremely good for you (especially things like almonds, walnuts, and pecans). Keep unused nuts in the freezer so that the oils in them don’t go rancid.**
  • Fruit – anything goes here, especially if you can pack it whole. Try to stick to fruit that’s in season. Since we’re coming up on fall, that means apples, but some pears and peaches may still be good and inexpensive. Grapes and bananas are available pretty much year-round, thanks to shipping them in from far away, but berries are just icky when they travel that far.
  • Veggies with Stuff – carrots and celery are both VERY frugal, and both extremely delicious with hummus or other homemade dips. I’ll post my hummus recipe in the next post!
  • Trail Mix – Make your own – here’s my recipe! 
  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate – buy the good stuff, break it into squares. Eat just one square with another snack from the list. If nothing else, Hershey’s makes Special Dark bars in a handy snack size.

If you’ve got a desk, keeping one of the shelf-stable snack staples on hand will help avoid a trip to the vending machine, where you’ll spend $1.50 on some cheap processed carbs, artificial coloring, and sugar.

Usually with snacking, it’s all about eating what’s there to eat. Convenience is great – so take the time to plan your OWN convenience foods.

Assemble cut carrots and celery at the beginning of the week when you make hummus, and have a variety of food containers around to make grabbing them easy. Once again, keeping a budget and being healthy can go together if you’re willing to put in a little planning and forethought. Like with all other aspects of food, snacking is healthier and more frugal if you make stuff yourself than it is if you’re constantly paying for it at the vending machine.

*Do not accuse SSH of rampant potato binging. That would be me. Put me with potatoes, and I will eat until I’m sick. It’s not pretty.
**Insert nut jokes here.
***Breakfast and the Leftovers sounds like a really terrible band.

Audio Book Magic

19 Sep

Unwelcome Change

I grew up with paper books, flipping pages and reading words. The thought of having someone read TO me has been distasteful for a long time. What if I wanted to go back and re-read a particular section? What if I wanted to skim through some boring bits to get to the good stuff? What would I DO while listening? I imagined myself sitting on the couch, hands held awkwardly as I tried to figure out what the hell to do with them.

I love the ACT of reading. I don’t view an audiobook as a shortcut – a great way to avoid having to squint at words and flip pages. Instead, it seems a hindrance to the way I typically enjoy a book. Some OTHER person injecting themselves into my reading time and inflecting the story with THEIR interpretation just feels … awkward. An uninvited guest at a dinner table, so to speak.

However, I don’t have as much time for reading these days as I used to. Ah, the golden days of high school, when responsibilities were pretty much insignificant and days stretched before me without things like work and bills and cooking and cleaning to gobble up my free time.

Audio Books of Yore

Friends told me how much they loved audio books. How they allowed for books to be consumed while doing other tasks (such as commuting or cleaning or cooking or even working in a quiet enough environment).

I tried a few only to immediately dislike swapping tapes or cds every hour or so. The cds would be scratched or the tapes not rewound.

I discarded the notion and simply savored my reading time where I could steal it.

Recently, though, I tried again and found that swapping cds was a small price to pay for an audiobook’s company on a long car drive.

Audio Books of Now

Then a librarian showed me their new mp3 player audio books – just plug in your own earbuds and the tiny device could be plunked down in your pocket for the duration. No cds, no tapes, no extra equipment required.

With their help, I finally read Hunger Games.

Five hours in, I finally abandoned my distrust of audio books.

Now, halfway through Poison Study on my little ipod shuffle (thank you, Audible.com!) I feel compelled to evangelize.

Audio books will never, ever replace the feel of READING. My eyes ache to seek the words the narrator is speaking, and I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get over the feeling that something is MISSING as I have a book read to me.

On the other hand, I’m READING again. Maybe not “reading” – but I am consuming stories. I am enfolded into the world of books without having to desperately carve out a few uninterrupted hours to devour a book.

There’s a magic in that. I love books, and being so far from them for so long has weighed on me.

Give Them A Chance

If you’ve discounted audio books as I did, but miss READING, please give them another chance. Libraries are free, and I know the mp3 audio book format is growing in popularity.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve left my heroine in a tree with pursuers below her. I think I can see her safe to the ground by the time I’m done shopping for groceries.

 

 

Vilify Me.

19 Sep

Well, maybe not me. Them. But then, they deserve it. When one is trapped in a car with other humans for longish periods of time, one may find themselves engaging in odd conversations. In this case, I am The One, and as The One, I was talking to Lauren about my own work and why one of my projects did it for me so much – namely The Devil’s Due. The short answer is . . . I love my villain in that book. I think I got it right. Lauren, to her credit, nodded and agreed and didn’t say anything derogatory about my portrayal of Azazel, so I’m going to take that as I AGREE, BEST FRIEND THING, THAT YOU ARE AWESOME IN FICTION and take a bow.

In the meanwhile, though, it got me thinking “What MAKES a good villain?” Complicated question, that. I think understanding the bad character’s motives is the most essential piece – why does Bad Person X act the way they do? Can I wrap my mind around their actions? I understand the concept of malevolence for the sake of malevolence (the Japanese love their Angry Ghost For No Reason thing, and the movie The Strangers did a hell of a job of making the “WE’RE EVIL JUST CAUSE WE CAN BE” thing terrifying) but I think writers have to be careful with that particular trope. It’s overdone and most of the time, done poorly. For a bad guy to really get under my/our skin, it’s good for people to understand the baddy’s head space. Mind you, we might not agree with their twisted (and often psychotic) world view, but nothing is scarier than a villain who does things for reasons we can ALMOST get behind.

Making a villain likable on some bizarre level makes them dimensional. Dimensional makes them more relatable and thus . . . much more terrifying. It makes us think about ourselves and what deep, dark, mangled little things squirm at our cores.

So I decided I’d put together a list of some of my favorite villains. I even explain why I like them so much and in some cases, why they were on the list as opposed to other villains of the same genre. Really? I just talk a lot and put a lot of pictures up. Act surprised!

15. Shere Khan, The Jungle Book

He Will Eat You On Toast

Right off the bat people are probably going to disagree with me, but that’s okay! I had to pick between Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of Scar in The Lion King and this, and I went with the 1967 villain instead of the more recent one. Why? Because I always felt that Scar took a page out of Shere Khan’s book – as in he wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without some help from an earlier bad-guy-talking-animal. Not to sound like a hipster douchebag, but SHERE KHAN DID IT FIRST sorta goes on repeat whenever I hear people talk about how awesome Scar is. I know, I know “the only thing in common is they both have English accents!” Not true. There’s a certain /style/ to the villainy that carries over. Watch both movies and do a compare and contrast. I’m pretty sure you’ll get my meaning. The Disney writers definitely looked back before they looked forward in this case. Both villains are fantastic, but I’m going to give the nod to Tony The Tiger On Roids.

14. Malcolm McDowell as Alex, A ClockWork Orange

I actually didn’t like A ClockWork Orange if I’m being totally honest. The movie was heavy handed with its message, and I found a lot of the violence done more for shock value than advancing story, but I can appreciate what a great villain Alex was. You could see that Alex enjoyed what he was doing, hurting others. He liked being powerful and seeing others afraid. He raped, beat, and stabbed those not willing to go along with his horrible ideas, and every terrible thing done fueled his next Bad Plan. He got off on being wicked, and you could tell that he’d go on like that forever if there weren’t consequences for his actions. He made being bad look SO FUN, and in making it look fun, it made him scary. It made me as a watcher question if I’d like lording fear over others, and if I would, what does that say about me?

13. Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean

What A Jaunty Hat!

There is something so utterly likable about Geoffrey Rush. I don’t know if I can properly explain it, but let me put it this way – if I had a list of “people you could randomly have lunch with just because”, Geoffrey Rush would be on that list. He seems so damned approachable. And that’s why Barbossa is an amazing villain. You can get behind him. He’s funny and has as much flair as Cap’n Jack. He’s a very bad man, and yet you can forget it when he’s feeding his evil undead monkey or barking orders at his crew. There’s also a definitive creep factor to him too, though, and that’s what makes him so fantastic. I recently watched the first Pirates movie again, and was struck by how unsettling the scene is with Keira Knightly eating food at Barbossa’s table. He’s staring at her, longing all over his face. Maybe it’s because she’s a pretty girl, or maybe it’s because he misses the taste of that apple just that much. It’s intense and weird, and all because Geoffrey Rush is an amazing actor who did great things with a great character concept.

12. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

We all learn to be afraid of the doctor’s office as a kid. The doctor wants to give us a shot, and the shot is going to hurt. The good news — at least for me anyway — was that most of the time the doctor or the nurse that treated me would give me a sticker or a lollipop afterwards. They were very nice and would pat me on the head and say I’d been very brave even if I’d thrown an enormous tantrum. Nurse Ratched would have jabbed me in the eye with the needle and then punched me in the face as a follow up. And she would have been so even keel about doing it, I never would have seen it coming. The thing that’s so UGLY about Nurse Ratched is how she never gets excitable, never gets above ten miles per hour when she’s doing her evil nurse thing. She’s so temperate it’s inhuman, and combining someone inhuman with the healthcare industry? Yeah, that’s the stuff of nightmares. She’s a little piece of doctor’s office hell.

11. Heath Ledger as The Joker, The Dark Knight

Smile!

The thing I find the most admirable about Heath Ledger’s performance in this movie is the HUGE MOUNTAIN he had to climb before he even got onto the screen, namely overcoming everyone’s admiration of Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the same character twenty years before. It’s a bit like walking into a kitchen as a new chef and being told that the old chef was Gordon Ramsay and GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. He had to play an iconic villain and put his own spin on it, and he did it beautifully. Instead of going for the campy mustache twirling of the 60’s Batman, or Nicholson’s malevolent-yet-lovable gangster clown gone wrong, Ledger made The Joker FUCKING PSYCHOTIC. He was scary. The scene where he’s threatening to cut a smile into a woman’s face at the party? Terrifying. I squirmed in my seat. He twitched and licked his lips, his eyes darted all over. He was nervous and jumpy, a makeup smeared poster child for “This is what doing too much Ritalin can and will do to you”. Fantastic villain.

10. Kevin Kline as Otto, A Fish Called Wanda

When you think of comedies, you think of the funnies associated with the plot line, not necessary the plot. You also don’t tend to think too much about the villain giving the good guys all the trouble. Then there’s Kevin Kline. A Fish Called Wanda is a hysterical movie — one of my favorites — with a stellar ensemble cast, and yet if you ask everyone who they loved the most after the movie, it’s not those Monty Python guys they talk about. It’s Kevin Kline as the assassin. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of Wanda’s other lover and it was well-deserved. Not only was he funny, he was also believably dangerous. It’s not too often that you’ll slap a comedic bad guy alongside the likes of Nurse Ratched, but I have no compunction about doing so with this particular pick.

9. Daniel-Day Lewis as Bill The Butcher, Gangs of New York

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of those actors everyone hates working with. He pretty much becomes whoever or whatever he is playing, to the point he probably ran around the set of Gangs wielding sharp objects and threatening to shank the other actors. In this case (and admittedly in most cases – the guy’s amazing) it worked beautifully. Bill the Butcher is a racist asshole who runs the town, who’s more than willing to cut anyone and anything down to maintain his control. Those who are stupid enough to cross him die horrible, painful deaths. And yet. And yet those he cares for he’s overly kind to, like he’s trying to make up for his atrocities by loving his inner circle THAT much. The thing about Gangs that’s so brilliant, though, is right as you’re about to get behind Bill the Butcher and say “ahh hell, he’s not so bad” Bill does something so savage and bloody, you recoil and wonder what the fuck you were thinking. But for a few minutes? You start to believe he’s a great guy, and that’s what makes him so frightening.

8. Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, The Shining

HEEEERE'S A CLICHE!

If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s book, Jack Torrance is something of a tragic character. He’s a flawed bum just like you or me who made some bad decisions, but he wants to make it right. He wants to turn a corner on the bad and get back on the straight and narrow, and he takes this job at The Overlook to do just that. How could he know it was a haunted hotel? The beauty of King’s text is that Jack’s decline is so slow, it’s painful to watch. He’s besieged by his surroundings and it breaks down all of those good intentions. The remarkable thing about Jack Nicholson’s performance, then, is that he managed to hint at this while staying brutally intense throughout. You can see him teetering on that dark precipice from the beginning. Without having a really good reason to say so, you just know from five minutes in things are going to go badly for this guy, and it makes you uneasy from the onset.

7. Kevin Spacey as . . . Oh Fuck. Just Pick Something.

Except Lex Luthor because that movie sucked. Anyway, Kevin Spacey is amazing. We all know this. The problem, then, is which villain do I put on the list? Do I put the serial killer from Se7en? I certainly want to. That movie made me feel dirty watching it. I one hundred percent bought into Spacey’s portrayal as John Doe, the religious zealot trying to point out human flaws with crimes embodying the seven deadly sins. When Spacey’s sitting in the back seat of the car talking about wrath and the wrath crime has yet to be discovered by the unsuspecting cops, there’s almost too much tension. You know whatever it is, it’s going to be awful just like the last few crimes. Conversely, do I put The Usual Suspects on this list? Cause he deserves kudos for that, too. Or, wait, he was in . . . fuck it. Kevin Spacey rocks.

6. Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa, Inglorious Basterds

Trying to pick a Tarantino villain for the list was hard. There’s Bill from Kill Bill, and Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs. There’s bad guys galore in Pulp Fiction and Stuntman Mike from Deathproof. In the end, though, I went for Hans Landa. First off, he’s a Nazi, so the likelihood of us relating to this character is slim to none. The thing about Waltz’a portrayal of Landa, though, is that he’s so bon vivant about it, like waking up and reporting in to the SS is a delightful task and la-tee-da. He’s such a casual character, his evil so off the cuff it’s bizarre to watch. Where other villains brood and psycho their way into storylines, Hans Landa waltzes, smokes a cigar, and smiles. It’s the most blase portrayal of a homicidal douchebag I’ve ever seen, and that’s what I think works about it.

5. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, Misery

COCKADOODY.

She doesn’t really swear, she smiles too much, and her home is warm and inviting. Sort of. She’s a huge fan of your work and she’s more than willing to nurse you back to health while you recover from a terrible car accident. She’ll fluff your pillows and cook you soup. She’s also a fucking psycho who’s going to hobble your ass when you try to leave her house. Kathy Bates takes a terrifying character from literature and breathes life into her. It’s Pygmalion from Hell. I remember seeing the movie for the first time, laying eyes on Kathy Bates, and going YES. YES, THAT. Because she nailed it. She took Stephen King’s horrible creation and made it her own. She became Annie Wilkes and turned her into an iconic figure of feminine terror. Your Old Aunt Gerdy has gone around the bend, and she’s going to beat you to death with her collection of Boston Terrier Statuettes, and you won’t know if you should scream or thank her for the money she sent in your Christmas card last year.

4. Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty

“But Hillary, where’s the Evil Queen from Snow White?” Okay look, it was a toss up. They are cut from the same cloth. They’re two evil bitches who want to kill a young innocent girl for selfish, horrible reasons. Let me tell you why I picked Maleficent over The Wicked Queen. One, she turns into a dragon. Two, SHE TURNS INTO A DRAGON. Three, SHE TURNS INTO A FUCKING DRAGON, GUYS. A more serious answer? The voice acting on Maleficent is spectacular, plus she’s the first Disney character to curse (she actually says the word Hell, and that was a big deal back in the day.) She’s similar to The Wicked Queen, but I feel like this is a perfected version. Where Shere Khan and Scar were a situation of “derivative do-over”, I feel like this is an instance where they looked back and actually improved upon an earlier version, and that’s saying something. The Wicked Queen was pretty bad ass. Oh, did I mention MALEFICENT TURNS INTO A DRAGON?

3. Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch Of The West, The Wizard of Oz

I'LL GET YOU, MY PRETTY. AND YOUR LITTLE DOUCHEBAG, TOO.

You knew she was coming. And what can I say about her really? As a wee tot, I’d sit for the annual television showing of The Wizard of Oz despite knowing I was going to shit Twinkies the moment the Wicked Witch came on screen. Her cackle, her evil trees, her bony fuckin’ hands . . . she scared the crap out of me. Now that I’m older, I’m not afraid anymore, but I can’t help being impressed by a woman who hires dung-flinging aerial simians to do her dirty work. That’s clever, way before its time. And, if we’re being really fair here, The Wicked Witch had a pretty good reason to get her bitch on with Dorothy – Dorothy stole her dead sister’s shoes. If I had a sister and someone took her cool stuff without asking me first? I’d be pretty furious, too.

2. Darth Vader (Vit Your Little Boots And Cape), Star Wars

If you clicked that link, I bet you want to smack me right now. Sorry! Anyway, Darth Vader’s iconic despite being a pasty-faced robo-man. The interesting part about him? The actor doesn’t do a whole lot beneath the mask. It’s all about the James Earl voice acting. It’s stellar. It’s exactly what you need it to be – dark, brooding, evil, and yet refined too. I’m not a Star Wars fan in general — PLEASE DON’T HIT ME HAMMARYN — but I can understand why it’s got the followers it has, and I can also understand why Vader set the bar for villains in the Sci Fi/Fantasy film genre. (Sidenote: I almost put a picture of Rick Moranis up from Spaceballs, but I figured someone would sic a rabid raccoon on me, so . . . idea banished. For now.)

1. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, The Silence Of The Lambs

Someone told me a story once, I think it may have been my mother, that when this movie went into the cinemas, Anthony Hopkins decided to go watch the audience to see their reaction to it first hand. I don’t recall a lot of hoopla about the launch of Silence, it was more a darling after it won every Oscar ever, so it didn’t get massive attention and massive release. Anyway, Hopkins goes into the movie theater, sits in the back, and watches people watching his movie. When it was over, people were gushing. Sir Hopkins tapped one gentleman on the shoulder, asked him how he liked it, and the man shrieked and /ran away/. I’d have done the same damned thing. Lecter has a casual approach to his badness (a bit of what I talked about with Hans Landa). He’s a refined gentleman who just so happens to FUCKING MURDER PEOPLE AND EAT THEM. He’s smarter than you on every possible level, so he’s the ultimate predator, which I think is what makes him so bloody terrifying. He was also given some of the best lines in a movie ever. “So I hate his liver with some fava beans . . . ” You can finish it, can’t you? I know I can. It’s going to take a lot to convince me that Lecter isn’t the best of the bad when it comes to movie villains.

*****

So, have at the list. What did you like, not like? What would you change or add? I’d be interested to see which villains stuck with you and why! AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION TIME!

Timelines

18 Sep

So, I’d really like to know if I’m nearing the end of this “Spiritual Journey Into Healing.” Because I’d really like to know if I can begin having sex again soon.

* * * * *

I mean, that’s probably a brash way of putting it. Yet, on the other hand: Come on! Every self-help book I read; every spiritual website I peruse; every lecture or sermon or Zen meditation ceremony I attend seems to have the same message, of late: Have Patience. You’re on the Right Path. The Answer Will Come.

And, Man, have I swallowed those lessons, hook, line, and sinker. Given up going out. Dedicated myself to my (paid) work and my (essential) writing.

But, God damn it. I feel like I should at least have passed some road signs along this Spiritual Path. Even here, in the dark.

Which is all just a longer, scareder, more confused way of saying:

I want the answer now.

* * * * *

And it’s not like there aren’t people who I trust, telling me the same things as all this media is.

My neighbor, for one, says worrying is a sin against God. Because it’s like calling Him out. To worry about what He has prearranged for you is (says this dude) like mocking Him with your disbelief that, NO, He’s NOT actually going to “make it all better.” As if little ol’ you are going to handle it instead — and, somehow, better — than the creator of all the heavens and the whole Earth (and, I guarantee, whatever’s stressing you rightthisminute).

Man, makes me wish I were better at being faithful.

The faithful, it is assumed, would just sit serenely, ride out the stressor, and God would just…carry them through the sand, or something. Then deposit them on the other side of the worry. Like, plunk.

* * * * *

Must be nice.

* * * * *

But it’s not just my neighbor advising this faith and patience.

Rilke, a poet I love, begs me “to have patience with everything unresolved” in my heart. “Don’t search for the answers,” he says, “which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.”

* * * * *

And that’s really great. I mean, I’d REALLY like to just take the relief and my neighbor and this dead poet are offering; I’d love to ingest a slice of the same trust they’re feeding on.

But, I worry. I worry that, if I wait, and do nothing, all I’m waiting for is…the nothing I’ve set up for myself. As the song goes, “Do nothing till you hear it from me/ And you never will.”

* * * * *

And, of course, what drives me batty is that there’s no way of knowing. There is ABSOLUTELY no way of telling which route is correct, until this whole thing’s over.

Will the super-chill, “Let Go and Let God” crew have reached the same goal, in the end, but have wasted a lot less energy (and ulcer medication)?

Or will they end up having gotten a bunch of nowhere, spiritual asses having been planted firmly in their spiritual Barcaloungers while the glorious rewards of an industrious existence passed them right by?

* * * * *

I wish I could cheat. Just peek in the back of the book.

So that, if relaxing does turn out to be the key…

…I can just cut this needless stressing and enjoy life already.

* * * * *

And I think that’s the thing. I’m on this deadline, this countdown to getting myself the home I’ve always dreamt of.

But I’m not enjoying the process.

And I keep telling myself that all the things I’m deferring — sex, relationships, exploring cities like this one I’m in, laughter with friends — are worth it; that, if I just hold out a little longer, pile up a little more money, then I’ll cross a magical finish line and be able to rest. Restore myself to myself. After which point, all good things will rush back in, like blood to a tourniquetted limb. And all will be well again.

* * * * *

And, see? THIS is where all the peaceful, balanced, wise and spiritual teachers would gently laugh at me.

“As if,” they would all sagely shake their wizened heads. “As if there’s a magical ‘finish line.’ No, my child,” they’d cluck. “One [that is, YOU] had damned well better figure out how to get peace NOW. Either find it or make it. But, in the present moment.

“Because the magical end-point you envision ain’t never gonna come.”

Or something.

* * * * *

Only problem is, it IS.

In this case, it IS.

All I have to do is raise $10,000, and then I get a house.

Then I get to rest.

* * * * *

But, after that?

When I’m in my new-to-me, $40,000 house, and my ex-boyfriend is the one holding the mortgage, and I never have to worry about defaulting or my landlord “changing his mind” or my ass getting kicked out of a new place, ever again?

* * * * *

Will the fear lift, then, like boulders of sand dissolving into powder in a clean rain?

Will my back straighten of its own accord, my sight clarify, my true life begin where it left off, before it got smothered and bent double by all this anxiety?

* * * * *

Or will I still remained warped and panicked as I ever was…

…just in a new locale, among strangers?

I Admit It.

17 Sep

It’s a filler video. Two of the divas are off gallivanting this Saturday. Hopefully my health holds out! Wee!

In the meanwhile? Enjoy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.