Ghost Stories

When it comes to the supernatural I am, by nature, a skeptic. I’d prefer to investigate and discover the rational, if improbable, explanation for strange happenings. And I’ve taken great comfort in knowing that I’ve lived in many different places where I had absolutely no suspicions of paranormal phenomena. In fact, I’m pleased to say that I have not had a ghostly experience in many years.

Know this so that when I present to you a few of my tales of hauntings and odd happenings, you understand that I do not submit them casually or with foregone assumptions, nor should you take it as an embrace of the other-worldly.

Nevertheless, here they are. Ghost stories of my own personal experience and related to you without any attempt to explain their motives or genesis. Happy autumn.

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My Correction to Rolling Stone’s Very Wrong List of “The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All-Time”

Dear lords above and below, Rolling Stone magazine just dropped a list of the greatest TV shows of all-time, and I think my nose is bleeding a little. Their list is an insult to the history of television, to perspective, to groundbreaking significance. The list is so insultingly nonsensical, I fear they are just baiting TV fans like myself. Their Top 10 (TV Shows of ALL-TIME!) includes Fleabag, The Wire, and Atlanta. But no I Love Lucy. No Muppet Show. We need some serious perspective, after all we are trying to live in a society, here!

Here is my correction to their horrifying submission.
The 50 Actual Greatest TV Shows of All-Time:

50. The Monkees

49. Little House on the Prairie

48. Married With Children

47. Mad Men

46. Britannia

45. Three’s Company

44. The Jeffersons

43. The A-Team

42. The Handmaid’s Tale

41. The Kids in the Hall

40. Designing Women

39. Orange is the New Black

38. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

37. Gilmore Girls

Continue reading “My Correction to Rolling Stone’s Very Wrong List of “The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All-Time””

Magic Cards & Your Tax Returns: What You Need to Know

I was going to title this article about taxes something more fantastical, like “How to Cast Magic Cards On Your Taxes” or something really cringey that would force you to quietly deride my incorrect usage of various MTG terminology. But taxes are no laughing matter, and the IRS has recently turned an eye to the hobby/trade.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that thanks to a booming baseball card market, NFTs, and other TCGs, the IRS latently figured out that there was a segment of earnings eluding their taxy clutches. As a result, most MTG sellers are going to be required to report card sales on their Individual Income Tax Returns for the first time ever. Naturally, this extends to other TCG and sporting card transactions–I’m merely using Magic: The Gathering as our primary example. Because MTG rocks.

So let’s take a look at what you need to know and how to move forward so you stay on the IRS happy list and avoid paying more than you have to.

DISCLAIMER: First, please remember: I am not your legal or tax representative, and this should not be considered official tax advice. It’s merely a conversation about tax strategies. For advice, guidance, and representation, please seek out a local trusted tax professional. Not one of those pop-up outfits in a strip mall either, spend a little extra coin and do it properly.

What Changed With 2022 Taxes?

Let’s talk MTG taxes! So you’ve sold some cards over the past year, just as you have year over year and nothing has ever come of it tax-wise. After all, seasoned sellers could tell you that Third Party Settlement Organizations (TPSOs) were only required to report sales over $20,000 in a single calendar year to the IRS (or if you had more than 200 transactions). If you tipped either threshold, you would have received a 1099-K form and you’d be under the gaze of the IRS.

Continue reading “Magic Cards & Your Tax Returns: What You Need to Know”

The New Double Decker Airplane Seats Must Not Happen

I’m sure you’ve seen this photo floating around Twitter and other social media lately–a petite woman grinning from inside an airplane seat compartment, which is nestled delicately under the ass of another airplane seat. This “double decker” or “chaise longue” concept has been floating around because the creator is flogging this deisgn all over Europe currently. This cannot happen. Do you hear me, people of the sky? We must not ever let this come to pass.

If you aren’t sure what I mean, allow me to present the many, many problems with this design:

1. Farts

Let’s just get this right out of the way. It’s a fart coffin. The seat is a freakin’ fart coffin! There isn’t enough plastic, steel, or cushion foam in the world to convince me to sit my face so close to a stranger’s ass. The air needn’t even escape their sphincter–you’d be so close you could taste the gaseous cloud brewing.

Continue reading “The New Double Decker Airplane Seats Must Not Happen”

The Fugitive: Live Watching it 30 Years Later

Guys, it’s been (nearly) 30 years since the greatest St. Patrick’s Day/wife murder movie of all-time, The Fugitive, was released in theatres. Endlessly quotable and completely star-studded with incredible before-they-were-big bit parts, if you haven’t been watching this on the regular, you are missing out on a major part of the human experience.

Picture it: Harrison Ford stars as a (spoilers!) wrongly convicted wife murderer who escapes imprisonment and eludes U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones while attempting to find the real murderer. It has egg sandwiches, prosthetic arms, and a parade. What more could you want?

I know! What would make it even better is if I were to rewatch this classic film and provide blow-by-blow commentary while drinking a bottle of wine!

Get your DVRs ready to watch along as we explore what hasn’t aged well, the little easter eggs that make us giggle, and how long it takes the “brilliant” vascular surgeon to realize he loaned out his keys to his sinister friend right before the break-in/murder!

LET’S FUGITIVE!

(NOTE: the timing of the film is based on a cable television download that has ads up front, so my time stamps may not exactly match yours)

The Fugitive Re-Watch

7:00 – It’s become clear that Helen’s last night on earth was at a fundraiser to watch chicks in thong swimsuits. Sad. Good music.

8:00 – I’m trying to feel for Fugitive as he’s questioned by police, but right now he looks like a 3rd grader regretting a fruit punch spill on his t-shirt, as opposed to a man covered in his wife’s blood.

8:00 – Poor Helen. She needn’t have said “I’ll wait up for you…wait up for you…wait up for you…wait up for you.”. Once was enough, lady. He gets it.
(I joke!)

Continue reading “The Fugitive: Live Watching it 30 Years Later”

Defining Low Fantasy vs. High Fantasy

Wizards, goblins, werewolves, fireballs, banquets, swords, and poltergeists. The wild world of fantasy literature is as varied as it is magical. Yet there has been a persistent vision of dividing the genre along two general, somewhat vague classifications: “High fantasy” and “low fantasy.”

Let’s just admit right now that these labels, to which I’m curiously loyal, are problematic. The very names suggest a top-down judgment on quality or sophistication. I know this since I am traditionally a bigger fan of Low Fantasy, while my husband prefers High Fantasy. I notice that he parses the difference between the sub-genres like he’s swirling a snifter full of brandy and puffing on a pipe.

In other words, he tries to claim anything masterful and deep as High, and everything else is the equivalent of literary potato chips. Really, he takes his life in his own hands with some of his comments on the subject.

This issue boiled over recently during a day of shopping followed by an evening trip to the pub. All day long we debated the definition of the binary classification, with the topic even being stripped of all its meat down to the carcass of sinew and bone over things like “what IS magic”, what defines a quest, to what extent an objective is “world-saving”, and how to properly pronounce “Tolkien”.

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Gremlins are Totally Misunderstood

One of the greatest Christmas classics of all-time is the 1980s hit horror film, Gremlins. Thanks to my impressionable young age at the time of its release and my mother’s repeat viewings of it every December, I grew up terrified of the song “Do You Hear What I Hear” and always thought there was something grisly about icing gingerbread men. That blender-microwave one-two shot really haunted me. In spite of the childhood trauma, it’s actually a fantastic movie chockful of yuletide spirit.

I was re-watching it again the other night and realized there is one major stand-out problem with this movie, though: The gremlins are not the bad guys. Not really. They’ve been totally misunderstood, marginalized, and murdered. Really, this film is little more than Christmas-themed anti-gremlin propaganda.

Don’t believe me? Read on as I lay out my case.

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A Guide to Strange Historical Diseases and Mortality

OR, “Ye Olde Deaths in Times of Yore”

Genealogy research has forced me to brush up on my medical ailments of centuries past to understand what horrible diseases befell my poor ancestors. Physicians of yore had all sorts of colorful ideas and terminology relating to the body, and its functions and diseases. It’s been an unfortunate journey reading about pustules, limb loss, and rashes. Leeches. Bad milk. Dental abcesses that cause suffocation. Fellow amateur historians out there can appreciate the horror. It’s a damn disgusting treat that makes me really happy to be alive in modern times.

For those of you who haven’t enjoyed such research yet, you may have been taken aback by an image recently circulating around social media (Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, the usuals), listing the causes of death in London for the year 1632. It’s pretty perplexing, isn’t it? Quinsie? Planet? Fistula? I mean, CANCER AND WOLF?

And I won’t even begin to understand “Kil’d by Several Accidents”.

If you think you have the stomach for it, I invite you to read on for an explantion of strange historical diseases and casualties. I present to you, casual reader, as well as other genealogical researchers, Ye Olde Deaths in Times of Yore:

Continue reading “A Guide to Strange Historical Diseases and Mortality”

Tales From My Mother’s Dementia

ALTERNATE TITLE: “Your Mother’s Just Tired”

My mom has dementia. We live an ocean apart, but thanks to video chat it feels like I am sitting in her bedroom up close, witnessing my mother’s mental decline. She knows who people are, but she loses all concept of dates or times, hatches zany schemes, has forgotten basic concepts of operating technology, and cannot recall previous conversations. She’s also somewhat murderous toward my father (her caretaker) and is unwittingly cruel to animals–which is something I never imagined from her. Ever.

Worst of all, I don’t know what is causing it. My poor paraplegic mother, wheelchair-bound for many years and addicted to massive quantities of prescription meds (including narcotic painkillers) could have nearly anything wrong with her brain at this point. Maybe it’s Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s the meds. Maybe she is merely clinically insane. It could be some combination (there is a multi-generational history of senile mothers stabbing their daughters in her family).

Continue reading “Tales From My Mother’s Dementia”

The West Cork Murder Case

It has become my summer obsession: The murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in a remote area of West Cork, Ireland, 1996. A French woman, wealthy, attractive, and free-spirited, spending a Christmas holiday alone in her remote Irish cottage turned up dead. No, not dead. Savagely murdered. Bludgeoned with multiple rocks and a cinder block, her nightclothes snagged in brambles, and her body laid open to the sky on the edge of a dirt driving path.

It all happened in an area where murders are incredibly rare, and the rage exacted on her body was so savage that this alone defies explanation. But it gets stranger. It seems that Sophie was fairly reclusive and very few locals knew anything about her. No one knows who might have the motive or opportunity. No one knows what she did with her days, or what her trip was about. No one (save for the murderer) seems to have seen anything pertinent. No physical evidence points to the culprit. Almost nothing about the case makes sense. The whole thing is one of the most curious circumstances I’ve ever researched.

Continue reading “The West Cork Murder Case”

I Finished My Stardew Valley 1.5 Farm

Back in ye olde days of the most recent Christmas season, I randomly had a calling, as if from some powerful ethereal force, to launch Stardew Valley and start a new farm, finally playing the game through ’til the end. Then praise be to the gods of mistletoe and cookies, I discovered that be sheer chance, I was loading the game mere hours after ConcernedApe announced the release of Stardew Valley 1.5 update. There was a new farm layout, new characters, animals, secrets, puzzles. It was glorious, and my giddy, evil smile glinted in the blinking colorful tree lights.

So it began. My lockdown playthrough of one of Stardew Valley 1.5. Less than three months later, my quest is complete and now I am proud to share with you the fruits of my labor. So much toil, so much starfruit wine, so many crystalariums, and so many neighbors dripping with rabbits’ feet.

Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to introduce you to a farmer name Clyde and her little corner of the world:
(Spoilers Ahead!)

Welcome to Tipsy Chicken Farm

Our hostess is Farmer Clyde, who is surprisingly happily married to Shane. I know, who knew?

Continue reading “I Finished My Stardew Valley 1.5 Farm”

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Early Roman Emperors

Sometimes I cannot explain my fixations with history, nor my devilish need to mock it. I could argue that certain topics, such as Roman Emperors, are discussed with such reverence and so little endeavor at levity, that there is a vacuum of historical entertainment. I am painting these men as mortals, defying the dusty, pretentious misconceptions of their demigod natures. Or I could just confess that my trivia and quizzing skills were a little less than on-point in this arena. (Get it?) And the only way I could bring myself to actually learn about the Emperors was to thoroughly laugh at them. I’ll leave it to you.

“Don’t ‘asp’ me what happened to Cleopatra [snicker, snicker]”

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Strange Things You Never Noticed About Christmas Movies

I wait all year long to watch classic Christmas movies. And I mean classic. None of that bullshit inside Hallmark jargon. Sorry, I was way forcing that quote and I didn’t pull it off very well. I just can’t help myself, I am THAT in love with real classic Christmas movies that teach us morals about love and togetherness and what really matters. Over and over I watch them to feel the spirit of glorious trees with dazzling lights and turkey and puzzles and wine and family and shopping and wrappings. Something funny happens, though, when you’ve watched them over and over and over, year after year for decades. Weird patterns emerge. And you notice things. Little things that a casual viewer would never catch. Have you noticed any of these before?

Christmas Movies Do Not Include Christmas Day

Call it a Yuletide frenzy, perhaps, but somehow our favorite Christmas movies climax early–er, that is to say that many do not actually include Christmas Day. I suppose the idea is that by the time we get to the proper holiday, we’ve sorted all of our conflicts and obstacles. We’ve confessed our love. I guess. Still, it’s a little weird when you think on it. Still, a few films do treasure the proper holiday. After all, none of the takes on A Christmas Carol would work without Scrooge on Christmas morning. A Christmas Story and Home Alone also buck the trend.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Love Actually
  • Die Hard
  • Scrooged
  • The Ref
  • Bad Santa
  • Elf
Continue reading “Strange Things You Never Noticed About Christmas Movies”

the Novel “Rebecca” should never again be adapted into a movie

Sweeping landscapes, luscious costumes, and Armie Hammer’s chiseled jaw were so enchanting in the most recent film adaptation of the novel, Rebecca, that I frothed at the chance to see the plot unfold. The Netflix production value alone promised decadent wickedness and a gorgeously ghoulish tale that could sweep anyone on to the lawns of the seaside manor.

Unfortunately, my visual enthrallment didn’t anticipate the inevitable flaw in scribing such a modern adaptation. The writers fell into the trap of imagining the novel as something other than it was. Rebecca was never a sweeping romance that was twisted by anger and spite and ghosts. Yet, the 2020 adaptation did its best to shape and cram Rebecca’s characters into a mold, pounding and twisting them until they fit into a haunted template that might appeal to test groups. Naturally, the problem is that Daphne Du Maurier’s tale can’t sustain such brutality without losing and utterly transforming itself. Oddly enough, much like the heroine of the tale.
(Spoilers Ahead)

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…And Lo, the Haunted coconut becomes Katie using Words!

Hey readers, friends, and peekaboo Sallies, I have been inspired to do something incredibly stupid and #REBRAND!

The Haunted Coconut was a writing pseudonym I enjoyed using for a handful of years, but I was never smitten with it. Actually, at first it was just a placeholder name that stuck, and allowed me the anonymity to write without being too personally connected to the site. Of course, I was a big fat dummy for ever trying to disassociate myself from my writing and my name and life, which are inherently a tangled, gnarled cluster of vines.

So it’s time for a change that will make my Google algorithm results cry. This new site title is honest and personal–and was inspired by my husband bumbling about on a Thursday night yelling in a triumphant tone, “Katie USING WORDS!”. I laughed and said that’s what my website should be called. And then we both froze and looked at each other, mouths agape.

While the look and name have changed, the content will continue to meander in the same twisted fashion it always has. I thank you all for your patience and support during this morph.

If You Could Invite People From History to a Dinner Party, Who Would You Choose?

Welcome, friends to a fantastical dinner party of your own making and imagination. Yes, it’s time to play a grand game and intellectual exercise, somewhat akin to the lunchroom game of Stranded On a Deserted Island. However, instead of imagining implements of survival, escape, and spiritual fulfillment, you are being asked to host a grand dinner party with the most intriguing, exciting, or entertaining guests you can cook up. Here is the beautiful scenario: You are to host a dinner party for which you may invite up to FIVE guests–living or dead. Deep in a distant wood is a secluded cabin with comfortable furnishings and a crackling fire that is waiting for your party. The linens and place settings are in place. The food’s piping hot and ready, dessert is chilled, coffee and tea are brewing, and the bar and wine cellars are endlessly stocked. All that’s needed from you is the guest list! Whom shall you invite?

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The Classes of the Indoor Housecat: Felinus Fluffibutticus

I’ve finally cracked it, people–the previously inscrutable code of cat archetypes. Cat-kind has long been deliberately enigmatic. Such a nature is what makes them endearing, yet dangerous companions/overlords. I have spent forty years (yes, I confess this to you in the name of science) observing cats in their natural elements: Blankets, laps, sunny windows, keyboards, food bowls, etc. It has, indeed, taken me this long and the observation of several subjects of varying breed and background in order for me to crack the code and distinguish cat personalities so that one might classify them according to archetypes.

My findings are astounding. First, one must acknowledge that it is universally known and accepted that all cats are females (just as all dogs are males). Genitalia and reproduction do not alter this fact. It is known. Second, I share with you now the discovery that all indoor housecats fall into at least one of five basic archetypes. I have described them below for your better understanding.

1. Mother Hens

The Mother Hen cat is the caretaker of other cats, but not necessarily people. If a cat is sick or dirty, or just young, the Mother Hen will bathe her head and other bits to remove offending odors. The Mother Hen is also likely to cuddle kittens or sick cats. She does not shy from her job, though it can be a burden and very tiresome. A Mother Hen need not actually be a mother for this personality to develop, though such traits will commonly not emerge until the onset of adulthood. Mothering cats may or may not develop a favorable relationship with humans, and do not necessarily need to care for the furless ones.

2. Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington

We have all met one of The Hidden at some point or another, and hopefully we do not have them in our own homes, for while some cats have a greater disposition toward being scaredy pants, such a personality trait is often the result of mistreatment. Sorry, this isn’t to say that a scaredy cat has been abused. Sometimes an environment can be entirely wrong for a cat–perhaps too much noise, an overly tidy spouse, children who are handsy, or humans who try to apply rigid rules to felines. Cats, clearly, are not meant to be managed or taught lessons. When a cat feels consistently threatened or harassed, then even a pre-determined archetype will be eschewed for the Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington model. That said, some cats are wired to embrace the ways of the Hidden Cats more readily than others. And even a very secure and happy cat may have been transformed into one of The Hidden during a previous living circumstance. Worry not, with love and affection, some quiet, and lots of treats, your scaredy cat may develop other facets to her personality.

3. The Generalissimo

This is your basic dictator model. A cat who has amazing physical prowess, aggressive confidence, and the ability to work through puzzles is a member of the Generalissimo brigade. Such a cat may express affection for humans or other cats, but is still likely to pounce, scratch, bite, or chase. Most little Generalissimos exhibit higher levels of intelligence and express behavior similar to the raptors from Jurassic Park. You may also have the uncanny sense that your cat is marshalling the other cats and pets to serve their whims–stealing food, framing the dog for crimes, convincing the guinea pig to weet-weet at feeding time (oh, it’s happened). This basic cognitive superiority is important to not only their confidence, but also to compensate for physical decline later in life. One she has trained her army of minions, she need not tackle them in order to make her will known–a withering glare will suffice.

4. Clingy Cuddle Blobs

This is a fairly uncommon feline class, but exists primarily in those cats who reject the other precepts of cat behavior. The Clingy Cuddle Blobs seek to smother humans with affection and cover them with a sphere of heat, and that is all. Such cats are not interested in caring for other animals, nor are they scared, nor are they inclined to hatch a plot. Playing is overrated, as is walking. Sunshine is a nice diversion when humans won’t settle down, but a good human lap is the best thing for a Cuddle Blob. They are especially fond of strangers who don’t like cats or are allergic to them. A Cuddle Blob can sense this immediately, and once convinced that said visitor will not hassle them, they will immediately move to lay across the person’s lap or arm or head. Due to such a deliberately inactive lifestyle, this cat will often be fairly rotund, or “fluffy”.

5. The Weird

The Weird is a very special class of cats and is the least understood of all–by design. The Weird exhibit behaviors that defy logic, reason, and sometimes even physics. While they may actually hatch plans and be extraordinarily intelligent, the focus of any such plans can never be worked out by our simple human brains. For example, a weird may encircle a bed with socks every night for exactly one month, and then never again. A Weird may seem to be in multiple rooms at once. A Weird may form seemingly unhealthy attachments to people, animals, things, or shadows. I’ve suspected at least one of my Weirds of time travel. Now, a Weird need not be hyper-intelligent, though it is more typical. This class can be very affectionate, and very rarely aggressive. Typically, this is a passive, peaceful class that is more interested in the invisible things in the corner than causing trouble. Unfortunately, people sometimes attempt to train or trick their cats into appearing Weird for the sake of video phones or photos. The ineffable qualities of The Weird cannot be taught. It is an archetype that is established at birth and may never be undone.

Have you yet discovered your kitty’s class? At least one of these should apply to every cat, though I will note that there may certainly be overlap between classes. As noted in our diagram above, there are specialized sub-classes to which any cat may be naturally inclined. This I submit to you for your study and appreciation. Please refer to this chart upon welcoming another cat into your home so that you may respect their machinations and desires. All hail our furry overlords.

The West Wing Drinking Game!

I can’t be the only one who is charging through (yet another) re-watch of The West Wing right now. The TV show’s peppy little theme song and rosy outlook on the political landscape and condition of America is just what we need to deny reality with zeal and vigor. And since we’re all imbibing as another measure to deny reality, why don’t we combine the two sports into one jolly activity? Therefore, I give you THE WEST WING DRINKING GAME!

Remember to drink responsibly, and never ever drive after drinking. If some episodes are just too out-of-hand, don’t forget to sub in some water, or you’ll end up like Josh, wearing fisherman’s waders and showing up at Donna’s apartment at midnight to swear at her roommate’s cats. With any luck, we’ll all be singing The Jackal within just a couple episodes. Cheers!

Now, take one sip each time…

Percy Shelley and His Insane Love Triangle, Most Scandalous

Percy Shelley. You know him as one of those poetry dudes.

He was a privileged young English poet in the 1810s, who had a progressive, yet romantic voice that attempted to influence religion and politics. But, his very brief life was full of secrets and intrigue that eclipse anything he put down on paper. Percy Shelley was at the heart of one of the most mysterious, scandalous love triangles recorded in history. Many women. Two wives. Pregnancies. Deceit. Money. Extortion. Mysterious Death.

What you are about to read is the account that you won’t find in any classroom textbook. This is the story of Percy Shelley and his insane love triangle, most scandalous.

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LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained

Most series finales are awful.

Seinfeld was absurd. M*A*S*H was depressing. The Sopranos didn’t have an ending. And [sigh] Game of Thrones didn–GODS, Bran did not have the best story, and that is NOT why you make someone a King, especially because he was the villain the whole time and they’re all going to suffer and die now and it’s the WORST! JUST THE WORST!

I’m okay, really. But we need to address LOST.

Its series finale lives in infamy for its vague conclusion and alleged lack of payoff. But if we’re telling truths, we were given many of the answers and the closure we craved, but the show demanded loyal attentive viewing in order to harvest all of the juicy goodness. Most people couldn’t devote this much time, attention, and brain space to a long-running show that was plagued by regular excruciating hiatuses and writers with short attention spans. As a consequence, many viewers skimmed the seasons, or skipped some altogether. And as the mythology and paradoxes got too cute by half, many threw their arms in the air and decried that none of it made sense. By the finale, the show’s legacy had a thick tarnish over it as a series that was full of crap and never got where it was going. (Kinda like the Oceanic passengers, amiright? Zzzzzing!)

I submit to you that this confusion and tarnish can be cleared away with just a bit of explanation. The show mostly does make sense and, yes, the finale actually does give us the payoff. For the Jack-the-Doubters out there, I’ve decided to don my dot-connector hat and go through the series in proper chronological order. I want to lay it all out so that we can demystify the writing and pick at the show’s carcass for all of the answer morsels we crave. Are you ready to begin this journey?

Continue reading “LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained”

American Expats in Ireland: Ways in Which Life is Different

Hello, Americans. If you’re thinking of moving to Ireland, or maybe just visiting for a nice long time, there are some cultural and day-to-day differences that may throw you for a loop. Some of them are obvious–like driving on the left and not pulling a gun on people in traffic. But there are more subtle changes you’ll experience, and it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you order a sandwich with extra mustard, drive on bald tires, go hunting for Tylenol, or renew your Amazon subscription.

Irish life is just a bit different. Here’s how:

Continue reading “American Expats in Ireland: Ways in Which Life is Different”

Gilmore Girls: 100+ Things That Make No Sense

We all love our Gilmore Girls. Even Rory. A trip to Stars Hollow is magically full of vegetable-shilling troubadours, Bjork snow women, Kirk’s doggy daycare, and Taylor’s sexy beard. There’s nothing like it. But let’s be honest, as enchanting as the show may be, it is completely riddled with problems and things that make no damn sense. Some of them are flubs and bloopers, while many other issues defy the realms of logic, mathematics, and decency.

That Dragonfly magazine article, money issues, the Donna Reed dress, Lane’s father, Jason squatting and pooping in the corner of the Dragonfly’s dining room, and Trix’s disappearing fella. How many have you noticed?

Continue reading “Gilmore Girls: 100+ Things That Make No Sense”

How to Play Darts (for Beginners)

The ol’ pub game of darts is the sophisticated gentleman’s game of precision and gentility refined over many generations…no, just kidding. It’s just simply the best game you can possibly play over a pint. Or gin. Or rum. Or pretty much anything. It’s fun, global, and it gives you something to do when the booze makes you twitchy.

I love darts.

Or, I think I love darts. I mean, I used to play on a velcro dart board that I was awarded for selling enough salami and chocolates at my third grade school fundraiser. And that was fun. Until the little velcro dots fell off the plastic dabbers, which never really stuck to the board anyway. But I felt cool thinking I was playing something resembling darts.

The real thing has been too intimidating. People who play real darts play it FOR REAL. And they don’t tend to like when amateurs step on their turf. It’s like that guy in the bowling alley in 2010 who screamed in my face and tried to have me forcibly evicted because I was there with my preschooler mid-afternoon and took four photos of her rolling the ball with her teddy bear. I was distracting to his very professional practice game. When he got in my face, I looked him in the eyes and told him to go fuck himself. I swear he really considered hitting me in the face.

That’s the type of shit that has scared me away from learning real darts. My teddy bear, too.

Continue reading “How to Play Darts (for Beginners)”

The American Voter’s Big Damn Choice: Principles vs. Power

Confess it now, I am registered as a Democratic voter in America. And if you’ve ever loved a sports team that consistently chokes in the playoffs, then you understand what it is like to support a party that struggles with its conscience so acutely. For every apology and resignation, for every political bean that wobbles on policies to meet poll-tested expectations, the party grows more and more flaccid.

However, disappointing as Democratic candidates and officials may be, they are not solely to blame for the party’s crushing losses. The voters are perhaps the most complicit. Yes, you. You with the protest votes. You with the disgruntled Facebook posts.

You, the voter, are the worst.

And this is probably because you have not yet recognized the empirical truth that there is a binary choice in American elections that never changes–no matter the politicians, the party, the year, or the economy:

You can vote for power, or you can let your principles vote against power.

I shouted this during Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House. Yeah, she never figured out an inspiring message and she sounded like a robot most of the time. Sure, she wanted it so badly that there was froth caked on the edges of her mouth for the better part of a year. That was gross.

But I sat back in horror, absolutely agog that so many of my friends and cohorts were willing to give away their power in favor of their principles by staying home on Election Day. Or voting for Jill Stein. Or writing in Bernie or Tyrion Lannister.

They bemoaned, Bernie “should have” won (except that he lost). Hillary isn’t progressive enough. The DNC played foul with the primaries. Hillary has dirt under her fingernails (as if most voters could actually describe the dirt in detail). She hasn’t spoken out on [fill in the blank] issue recently enough. She’s going to win anyway…

Yes, you and your principles did the nation dirty.

Your heart couldn’t help it. You were swayed by some kind of notion of honor or rebellion or fantasy. And so you commandeered a luxury you had no right to–the luxury of voting for your principles with no regard for the cold, hard reality of power. And, really, how dare you?

It’s good to have principles. They are fine and good for journals and diaries. They are moving at dinner parties.  It is a worthy fight to assert your heart’s courageous burnings when encouraging candidates to run, shoring up votes, raising funds, or (more importantly) advocating legislative electoral changes between election cycles.

But once the ballots are finalized, the time for principles has come and gone. If you want power, you choose between the Democratic nominee or the Republican. One of those two will win. One of those two will nominate judges. One of those two will impact climate change. One of those two will alter your health care choices.

If your principles ache in denial of reality, then I feel for you. Nothing about politics is fair. Damn straight, there should be a viable multi-party system. Damn straight, Iowa shouldn’t get to caucus first. Damn straight, the Electoral College shouldn’t supersede the popular vote. Damn straight, you liked that other primary candidate better.

It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair!

I know.

But now that we’ve gotten that whingeing out of our systems, we can touch back down to earth and accept the bleak truth that if you want power, you have to vote in the election that is real. Not the one in your fantasies.

Let’s put it this way: Suppose you sit down at a table with a Monopoly game laid out and begin shouting “But I want to play Scrabble!” You kick your feet and line up letter tiles along the edge of the board. The problem, of course, is that you’re going to lose. Because the game is Monopoly.

Play the game. Win the game. Take the power, as imperfect and compromised as it may be.

I truly hope that your principles may always intersect with the sober choice of handing someone power. But if they don’t, suck it up, stash your letter tiles away for another night, and start mortgaging your red properties before Aunt Griselda gets her sweaty racist mitts on both Park Place and Boardwalk.

Democrats, don’t you let me down again. Your principles aren’t high-minded and sexy when health, safety, and equality are on the line. Play the game in front of you. Play it for power.

 

Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls

We all love Gilmore Girls, right? It’s sweet, peppy, and oh so innocent. Remember Rory’s first kiss? Jess knocking down a snowman? Lorelai sewing costumes for the school play? Yes, the WB/CW really had us believing that the streets of Stars Hollow were made of cotton candy and the Gilmore Girls lived in a house of Pop-Tarts and Brillo Pads.   I regret to tell you, it just isn’t so. Once you removed the WB/CW network filter and peel away the peppy “la-la-la-la” music, there is a seedy underbelly to Stars Hollow, particularly at the Gilmore House. It’s so twisted that not even a Rory Curtain could hide it. So come with me as I decipher all of the clues and break down the truth behind the cold, dark Stars Hollow as it really was.

In the Beginning, Lorelai Ran From Hartford

Fans, let us journey back in time to the very beginning. The year was 1985. 17 year-old Lorelai Gilmore took her baby daughter and made a hasty retreat from the safety, shelter, and sustenance of her parents’ house out on to the mean streets of Hartford and beyond.

Continue reading “Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls”

Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge, American Politics, and the Republican Party

Or “The Political Dichotomy of Ebenezer Scrooge as Depicted by SJW Charles Dickens”

Welcome to the holly jolly time of year when we all smile a little brighter, we all drink a little more eggnog, and we all (oh so briefly) smile at the sight of snowflakes. And while we drape our tinsel and wrap our gifts, most of us will watch some form of the Charles Dickens masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. My personal favorite being the Married With Children television episode entitled “It’s a Bundyful Life” which featured guest-star Sam Kinison as a screaming angel. Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, is also at the top of the list.

What you may not have ever considered is that Dickens offers us a curiously apt allegory for modern American political views. Actually, they were designed quite deliberately as a moral tale for the mid-19th century, when Dickens experienced and witnessed terrible poverty and suffering. It is no secret that he was a social activist who advocated education reform, labor changes, and support for women and children.

Continue reading “Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge, American Politics, and the Republican Party”

Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare

I have a very special story for you about Star Trek: Voyager and how my life inadvertently imitated a holodeck fantasy. Gather ’round.

The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. One night shortly after our move, my husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes. He, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, was irritatingly scrolling through app menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyes open just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”.

Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! Red from Orange is the New Black! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager. My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red, the grumpy prison chef has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.

Star Trek Voyager cast photo
Continue reading “Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare”

Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!

Shout out to my friends and family in America who still think that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all one country, and part of the UK. America has its own shitshow of problems, so it isn’t surprising that so many Americans have no idea what is going not with Ireland and Brexit. It’s okay. I’ll explain it in terms that can make this accessible to most anyone. Let’s start with the basics:

One Island, Two Countries

Ireland is a single island, but it is comprised of two separate countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Continue reading “Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!”

West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl

Ever wondered about the props in Goldfish Gail’s fishbowl? I have answers.

Fans of The West Wing know a little secret: C.J. Cregg’s pet goldfish, Gail, often has her bowl decorated with props that wink at episode themes. Panda bears, cash, flags, cabbages, flamingos, a love bed, a space shuttle, a telephone, and a fire engine. They are planted just for our delight (and hopefully Gail’s as well). The trick is to try and spot them. And this friends, became my obsession recently.

Below, for the first time, is a complete list of all of Goldfish Gail’s adventures alongside C.J., Danny, and the rest of the West Wing gang. Let’s get swimmin’!

And, hey, if you think you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment. If you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


Season 1

Gail 1.9

Season 1, Episode 9

  • Prop: Nothing. Welcome, Gail!
  • Gravel: None? Oh, com’on, Danny.
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a new fish! (And Danny loves C.J.)

Continue reading “West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 7

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting and FINAL seventh season! This is sad and exciting. It’s sexciting. Wait, no. Sorry, Gail. I didn’t mean it like that.

Truly, though, Gail experiences the frost of terrifying allegations against her mama, deep loss, and the anticipation of moving. It’s a traumatic season for her, but she handles it like a champ. Let’s do this one last time! Here are Gail’s appearances in Season 7.

Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 7”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 6

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting sixth season. Gail moves offices, hosts a visitor, gets snubbed for an invitation to an ice cream party, and ponders classic literature. She also explores a little nihilism. That is one deep fish.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 6.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


NoGail

Season 6, Episode 1

No Gail. She’s as appalled as we all are about the beginning of season 6. Since it looks like the gang is heading to Camp David, I fear we might be missing Gail for quite some time.

Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 6”

Playhouse From Hell

Remember when Craig’s List was a legit thing?

There was a time not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away that Craig’s List was a legit and kinda safe place to find bargains in your community. It was, like, 2008. I remember it well. See, I had a toddler back then, so I was broke and jonesing for the hot new toy that every mom had to have or they were bad. BAAAAD. It was the good old days of driving 20 miles to pick up someone’s junk that they valued at just five bucks under retail, but then you half-load the shit in your car and are like “Naw, I have a ten. You want me to take your garbage or no? Sucker!”

Back in 2008 I was scoping out some giant plastic playhouses for my toddling daughter to hide in whenever mommy decided to sit down and eat a whole cake in one sitting like a snake unhinging its jaw. Because it was Craig’s List, most of the playhouse offerings were pretty ridiculous – tables are missing, phone receivers are missing, plastic faucets have been broken off, and water trapped in the walls was growing new cultures of black mold in at least half of the houses I scoped.

But that’s not the worst of it. Oh no. There was one listing that made me wet my pants a little when I read it, and lives in infamy to this day. This was an honest-to-Elvis Craig’s List listing in SE Michigan, word for word:

Continue reading “Playhouse From Hell”

How to Complain Like a Pro

As a consumer, student, employee, and citizen, we all get a little screwed sometimes.

An important measure of any institution–be it a business, school, or whatever–is how they try to rectify a mishap or misdeed. In spite of that truism, the cold reality is that your reaction to getting screwed is the critical catalyst that determines how your complaint will be heard and processed. It is up to you.

Complain the wrong way, and you can look like a fool who gets nothing but high blood pressure and a wasted afternoon. I once complained the wrong way (let’s just say my temper got the best of me and I hulked out over a voicemail to a doctor’s office), and got a lovely letter inviting me to never come back to their office ever again. As if I was going to anyway. Shitkickers.

But if you play the complaint game the right way, not only do you stand to receive satisfaction over your complaint, but you can legitimately gauge the integrity of the institution against which you’re railing. Take an ugly situation and turn it into your moment of haughty, glorious victory.

This is a brief masterclass on the art of complaining. Read and follow the instructions below to learn how to badass your way into getting satisfaction from a complaint.

#1. Ask Yourself If You Have a Legitimate, Reasonable Complaint

Before you even turn to the keyboard or phone, you need to slow your roll and examine your situation thoughtfully. Are you actually in the right? Is your gripe reasonable given the circumstances? And is it worth your precious time and energy to get the complaint train chugging down the tracks?

Continue reading “How to Complain Like a Pro”

Chardee MacDennis Rules: A Playable Version of the Game

Brought to you by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia…and Boss Hog.

UPDATE, September, 2021 In honor of the glorious ongoing pandemic, I have uploaded new and improved Rules and Cards. Collect them all!

If you’re reading this, you probably are familiar with the notorious cure for boredom that was conceived by the assholes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

That’s right, it’s Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games!

Continue reading “Chardee MacDennis Rules: A Playable Version of the Game”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 5

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, has a splashy season 5. Gail plays Monopoly (to help Donna, of course), goes overboard for cabbages, and rightfully panics over C.J.’s new fishing hobby. It’s a rough season for the whole gang, since we start with Zoey missing and end with Donna being blowed up. So it’s anything but calm waters for our favorite little goldfish.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 5.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


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Season 5, Episode 1

  • Prop: Maybe…probably…a little elephant figure
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: GOP President Walken is in charge and Gail might just be showing a nod of respect to the new Commander-in-Chief.
Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 5”

LEGO Help Vouchers for Little ‘Uns: Free Download

Parental LEGO freedoms are vital part of our society.

It’s summer vacation right now and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my daughter is rifling through my old-school 1980s red plastic LEGO briefcase and assembling new sets. But she is a pain in the ass. I say this with love. I can spend my entire day by her side, chatting, assisting, bringing her food and beverage, and when the sun goes down, there she is again. She pops into the living room where my husband and I have a movie going asking for help finding a piece that, apparently, has fallen into some magical invisible abyss that can only be accessed by parents. It’s every 15-20 minutes. And us retiring to our bedroom doesn’t help. The LEGO neediness has had a severe impact on my marital happiness.

I’m not joking. This has become a mental health issue for both parents, here. The LEGO tyranny must end.

Before you go thinking I’m a monster for not being more supportive, check yourself. I give my daughter lots and lots of attention and support, but I need freedom of thought, quiet, and ability to listen to adult entertainment and conversations.

And she needs to wean herself. Any 1980s kid knows that half of the awful euphoria of LEGOing is hunting for the elusive brick piece until your eyeballs nearly fall out, and then suddenly spotting it. Or figuring out how to make it work some other way.

This is her time for that mania. Not mine. So I finally had to draw a line between “Hellscape Monster Who Yells at Her Kid to Bugger Off and Find Her Own Damn LEGOs” and enabling parental sap who does everything for her kid. I can’t be her bulldozer. Not with LEGOs, not anymore.

This is my solution. Vouchers. LEGO help vouchers. There are three of them, and she can hand one to us at any reasonable point during the day (maybe I should’ve put an evening time limit on them, hmmm), and we’ll give her a hand. The goal? I want some damn critical thinking on her part about whether or not it’s worth using up one of her daily vouchers. And when the three are done, she’s done with help for the day. Tough love, baby.

Maybe I should’ve only printed two. I don’t know.

In my case, I printed these puppies, attached them to cardboard backing (upcycling ftw!), cut them out, and then laminated them with packing tape. It was a bit much. You don’t need to get so elaborate. Especially since when I handed them to her, she responded with “gee, thanks”, and chucked them irritatedly into her nightstand drawer. Her eyerolls were monstrous. Eleven is just a peachy age.

Note that she is LEGOing right now, and she has not come out of her room to ask for help in over thirty minutes. I think she spitefully refuses to acknowledge the voucher existence for the time-being. But there will be a time soon when she’ll come a-knockin’ (probably just as my husband figures out how to get my bra off), and she had better have a damn voucher in-hand. LEGO freedom for all parents!

Anyway, I am sharing them here because share and share alike. Happy LEGOing.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 3.04.37 PM.pngDownload for free right here: LEGO vouchers 

The Fake Melania Conspiracy Theory

It’s completely bonkers to even entertain the “Fake Melania” theory. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

First Lady Melania Trump has a fondness for large sun spectacles that hide a third of her face. And if I may offer some fashion commentary for which I am entirely ill qualified, she wears them more often than one might find stately in a First Lady. Hiding one’s eyes can be regarded as a sign of something else to hide, not to mention that I find it rude to greet a new person without showing your face. It’s sort of like not removing a hat when you sit down to eat or enter someone’s home.

Decorum aside, there is one more reason the First Lady may want to reconsider her constant bespectacled state: It has fueled a very odd rumor, that a body double has been occasionally been appearing in her place.

Even if it were true, it would hardly be the craziest scandal. Melania was dragged into her role as international hostess with little warning. When she vowed to honor and cherish Donny Blimpo, she could hardly have imagined what awaited her. Her future was supposed to be a life of quiet splendor from atop Manhattan. The responsibility and scrutiny heaped on her has cast a harsh light on her behavior, grammar, fashion choices, Donny Blimpo’s porn star proclivities, and every other crack and crevice in her life.

So not only would I hardly be surprised if she did explore the option of a body double, I wouldn’t blame her. What is all that money good for if you can’t hire a model to slip on your shoes and hold hands with your beef-wreaking marital partner?

That doesn’t mean it’s true, though, no matter what the interwebs say. Let’s explore how the rumors started and what’s really behind those giant dark glasses.

Origins of the Fake Melania Theory: October, 2017

It was autumn, 2017, and the Trumps were heading out on a trip to visit a Secret Service training facility in Maryland. They paused on the White House lawn to address reporters. Melania is dressed in a trench coat and trademark jumbo shades, which is completely evocative of a spy costume. Between that and her body language, which arguably looks bored and uncomfortable, spectators begin to wonder if it is really her.

melania-body-double-trump

Adding massive fuel to the fire: President Trump actually says during that gaggle, “My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here…”. The interwebs collectively point out that this is exactly what Donny would say if she wasn’t right there.

Continue reading “The Fake Melania Conspiracy Theory”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 4

Gail the Goldfish, friend to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is in for a bowlful of drama during season 4. Boats, cows, flamingos, and more major closeups than ever before. Her Papa, Danny, is back and he’s bringing all sorts of new stress into C.J.’s life. It’s the beginning of President Bartlet’s second term and things are about to get crazy.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 4.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!

By the way, if you’re enjoying these posts I’m doing about Gail, a great way to say thanks is to head over to Heifer International and make a donation. Thank you!


Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 9.56.10 AM.png

Season 4, Episode 1

  • Prop: A boat labeled “Washington D.C.” is dominating Gail’s space
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: Josh, Toby, and Donna missed the motorcade. So either Gail’s building them a boat to get them home to D.C., or she’s making sure she’s covered for transport in case she’s ever left behind.
Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 4”

Thoughts on a Disaffected Pigeon

Some weeks are harder than others.

Tuesday

The weeds are everywhere in the gravel driveway. I’ve jammed my fingers into the pebbled earth to rip their roots, but there are just too damn many. I had to arm myself with a spray bottle of vinegar and lemon juice and spritz them, plant by plant. Hunched over with vinegar misting back on to my clothing from the hilly breezes rushing past, it was a desperate and smelly attempt to avoid the commercial stuff.

That’s when the pigeon landed. He was a majestic, slightly pudgy fellow who had been tap dancing on the roof for some time leading up to my weed expedition. I had heard him from my oversized living room chair where I had been munching tuna salad on crackers. I was afraid it was mice in the attic. Or maybe Benny the Badger came back and somehow got on the roof. Sounds weird, but he’s the one who shut off the water supply to the house. That was a talented badger. It’s a shame his life was cut short attempting to cross a bendy part of the road. Such a waste.

Continue reading “Thoughts on a Disaffected Pigeon”

Game of Thrones Unanswered Questions

The Game of Thrones finale. It wrapped the season that Benioff & Weiss wrote strictly by writing character names on slips of paper and pulling them from a drawstring bag like a raffle.

“The person to kill Dany will be….[crinkle, crinkle]…..Jon Snow!”

“Okay, next up, the person to sit the throne will be….[crinkle]…wow, it’s Bran!” 

I think we can all agree that we, as fans, deserved a lot better than the stew of comic book battles and character pivots that comprised the last few seasons. Under the guidance of Benioff & Weiss, the”Song of Ice and Fire” became a very swift and shallow tune: Fire melts ice.

Fire melts kids and buildings. Fire melts Spiders and Hounds and Mountains. Fire wins. The insane and power hungry leverage the element for the brute force of it, sidestepping the dominions of cleverness and wisdom. Fire wins because fire destroys. And destruction is always far easier (and flashier) than creation. Once Benioff and Weiss left the source material, they had a rare opportunity to create a world and its rulers, schemes, traps, and games. Instead, they quite symbolically stuffed Tyrion in a crypt and burned it all down. All of it. That isn’t creativity. It’s a waste.

rory-mccann-maisie-williams

And if the “Song of Fire” was short and brutal, the Song of Ice was cut off before it ever finished. The North’s tale was far more complicated than that of King’s Landing, so it is understandable that superhero fanboys B&W had a hard time crafting a deep resolution to the issues of The Children, the White Walkers, and the Three-Eyed Raven. Once Hodor died and Cold Hands popped in for a quick “hello”, Bran’s story just stopped, as if Old Nan was called away for lunch.

So now I will pour out a little Dornish red for the plot threads, logic, and common sense that B&W scrapped in favor of CGI fire and dragon fights. Here are some of the biggest unanswered questions from Game of Thrones:

  • Where is Hotpie?
  • Why wasn’t Gendry a serious contender to take the throne after Dany’s demise?
  • Is Ellaria Sand dead? Is anyone checking to see if she survived the castle crumbling? (Because she might be hungry and pissed)
  • Why were the White Walkers (and the Night King) created by the Children?
  • What was the Night King’s motive?
  • Why did the White Walkers never hassle Bran and his slow, clumsy traveling party tromping north to the Three-Eyed raven?
  • What happened to Cold Hands (Zombie Uncle Benjen)?
  • What happened to the Children? Are they gone?
  • Why is Bran the Three-Eyed Raven and not someone else? And what the hell is the Thraven?
  • Who was the old Thraven?
  • Why did Melisandre go to Volantis after being shunned from Winterfell? That was a long way just to escape the Onion Knight’s wrath. Was she supposed to have a purpose in Volantis?
  • Why does there need to be a Nights Watch if the Free Folk and the Children aren’t the enemy and the White Walkers are gone?
  • How is Bran the Broken going to justify giving away High Garden to Ser Bronn? Lady Olenna had other grandchildren (as part of the TV canon), and presumably there are many Tyrells left.
  • What happened to the Warlocks of Qarth? Even after Dany freed her dragons, they sent an assassin after her. Why did they stop pursuing her?
  • How is it that The Mountain died from a long fall into a pit of fire, but not from lots of stabbing? Will his charred corpse still emerge from the fire?
  • How is it that Samwell can instantly become a maester when he never finished earning his chains at the Citadel and he stole a bunch of their books and ran away? How did he get robes so fast?
  • What ever happened to Ser Ilyn Payne?
  • The first time Samwell saw a White Walker, it saw him but ignored him. Why?
  • What has happened to Cersei’s new loan from the Iron Bank? Will Bran & Co. have to assume the debt? How on earth can they afford to rebuild?

game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-4-feast-table-hs.jpg

And of course…

  • What on earth does Podrick do that makes him such a sex god?

This mystery, as in the others, will persist  until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, until the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. Oh, Podrick.

The Final Word: Bran Stark Has Always Been the True Villain of Game of Thrones

Our watch is ended. The eighth season of Game of Thrones, which at times seemed to have been penned by Benioff & Weiss as a sort of Westerosi Mad Lib, has aired and we now know who wins…the equivalent of the Iron Throne.

Brandon Stark.

Bran the Broken.
Bran the Staring.
Bran the Evil.

I’ve been saying it publicly since January, 2017 (and privately since the autumn before)–Bran is a super villain who was overlooked because he was physically broken. Perhaps it’s because I was raised by a very loud, very tough wheelchair-bound mother that I did not ever underestimate Brandon Stark.

Continue reading “The Final Word: Bran Stark Has Always Been the True Villain of Game of Thrones”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 3

Gail the Goldfish has already seen a lot during the first two seasons of The West Wing, and season 3 only gets more exciting! Gail gets active in the re-election campaign, launches a protest for women’s rights, meets some diseased livestock, and has a close encounter of the Charlie kind!

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 3.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


NoGail

Season 3, Episode 01

No Gail. She is still in shock over the tragedy that occurred at the World Trade Center.

Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 3”

The Meaning of Being Unemployed and Staring at Cow Arses

Sometimes the universe sculpts an entire day out of mockery and disillusionment.

Today I was asked to herd cattle for the first time in my life, which is a very Green Acres experience for someone who has only seen a real living cow up-close at the zoo or (once or twice) at a petting farm. The cows from the next pasture had invited themselves into the road and my yard for some green snackage, and somehow this became a situation where I was walking through my front gate and into the road, with my cellphone to my ear, following bobbing cow rumpuses toward my farmer neighbor. It seems like it should be easy to keep the cows going down the road, but I had doubts about being too aggressive. What if I anger one of the mamas, or worse yet, the bull? Even if they don’t turn and charge me, they could spook and cause a massive upset much like the antics caused by Billy Crystal’s coffee grinder in City Slickers. So with the cell phone in my jeans pocket, I casually picked up a stick long enough to tap on the ground and strolled behind the stragglers, tapping the stick on the asphalt whenever they slowed to munch some grass. It worked, albeit very slowly. I thought it was a lovely stroll. The farmer who was waiting with the open gate was less than impressed at my leisurely approach. He smiled and shook his head, then made a remark that I didn’t have an ounce of farmer in me–and it wasn’t even a zippy come-on line.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Being Unemployed and Staring at Cow Arses”

How to Play Shanghai Rummy

A card game for 3-8 players that is good for a quiet evening at home, or some time ’round the campfire.

Many years ago I went on a camping trip with a friend’s family to a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness where you could see the stars at night and smell the fish during the day. I was only thirteen, but even way back in those ancient times, this was a vacation free of television, phones, and air conditioning. During those days when it poured rain, and late at night when the crickets sung to the stars, we had little to do but play card games, and my friend’s family had a clear favorite: Shanghai Rummy. It was competitive and exciting…and it helped pass long blocks of time without counting the cricket chirps.

Decades have passed and that friend and I had a very ugly falling out long ago, but I still remember loving that card game. Much more than I love her. So I pulled out a couple decks of cards not long ago to pass a quiet night, and realized I couldn’t remember a single damn rule. And worst of all, the interweb tubes cannot agree on any part of the rules.

Continue reading “How to Play Shanghai Rummy”

The Shawshank Redemption: Andy Dufresne’s Questionable Tax Advice

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most peculiarly loved films of all-time. Something about a clever man dreaming behind bars speaks to more people than I would’ve ever thought possible. But Rita Hayworth and I have one little question about a pivotal plot point: Was Andy Dufresne’s tax advice to the Captain Hadley bullshit?

Here’s how it goes: It is 1949, and atop a roof at the Shawshank Prison, Captain Hadley loudly groans that he has inherited $35,000 from his brother, but he is livid that the government is going to “take a big wet bite out of [his] ass” in taxes.

Continue reading “The Shawshank Redemption: Andy Dufresne’s Questionable Tax Advice”

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