It was another Saturday night, and another encounter with the Happy Phlebotomist, a human mosquito known for his fanatical devotion to the job and a happiness borders upon sinister. That night he was feeling particularly highbrow, lamenting about the one time he attended a Book Club, the evening ended in a conga line.
Now that’s an affair Sister Madly would consider! Book Clubs these days are bogged down by the most ridiculous of frills- such as cucumber sandwiches and, you know, books- that they have forgotten their humble roots in Cuban dance.
The Happy Phlebotomist (HP) however, was so devastated by the incident that he made an unusually bold declaration: yes, somewhere between depleting people of their life source and pushing natural supplements, he was going to start a book club of his own- a respectable book club, a proper book club. You see, he just loves the smell of books!
You’re not suppose to smell books, Sunshine, you’re suppose to read them; that’s what books are for! No doubt you know there are books which have been banned due to their content- suppose you should happen to huff one of those?
Sure, it’s just a snort here and there, but soon you’ll be wearing thick-rimmed glasses and tying your hair up in a bun, and in no time flat you’re insisting that Oreos are vegan while listening to music on ‘vinyl…’ it’s the gateway drug to hardcore hipsterdom!
It was of no use; soon they will all be card-carrying members of Book Club Phlebotomy, extracting blood and smelling books by candlelight. But even worse than this was that HP was determined to take Sister Madly along with them, handing over the book list and asking her to choose which should be their first:
- Interview with an Exorcist
- The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
- The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
- Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
- Atlas Shrugged
What Frankenstein stitched together this literary goulash? It’s enough to reduce anyone to a fetal position in a padded cell- even her spirit animal* is undergoing therapy for the trauma! And though Sister Madly admits that The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants would come in handy when landscaping the backyard, it’s hardly a book she would curl up with at the local coffee shop (mostly because she doesn’t like coffee.)
* Cookie Monster.
HP didn’t understand the fuss. After all, Sister Madly has been known to eat cod now and then- has she ever wondered about its heartbreaking journey from dreamy-eyed minnow to delicious fish ‘n chips? As for the Encyclopedia- why, it’s shorter than War and Peace by a few hundred pages! And just think of all the pointers she’d pick up from the Exorcist…
Exactly what pointers would those be, Sunshine? How to make your own holy water? A DIY crucifix out of dust bunnies and lemon peels? And what makes you think that Sister Madly needs pointers in the first place? Maybe she’s happy with her demons, ever think of that?!?
HP, however, was most accommodating. If Sister Madly didn’t find the list suitable, she- and her demons- were free to add to it.
And that’s just what they did:
- The Doubtful Debutante
- All of Them Witches
- Higgins’ Universal Language
- Blood on Their Hands: The Crime of It All, A Study of Some Selected Abuses in Sixteenth Century Europe
- The Isle of Naboombu
- To Serve Man*
* In the original Kanamit, of course.
HP was absolutely delighted; finally, Sister Madly was showing some enthusiasm for the project! He even went so far as to buy her a pint- that is, until one of the Professors put that PhD- and smart phone thingy- to good use.
“None of these books exist!”
What can she say, Professor? Her devils made her do it.
SWEET POTATO LAMB SAMOSAS
- 1lb minced lamb
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 sweet potato, peeled, cooked, and cubed
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 onion (1/2 sliced, 1/2 minced)
- 2 chili peppers, chopped ~ OR ~ cayenne to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- fresh mint leaves, chopped
- salt/pepper, to taste
- 2-3 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
- 1 Egg, beaten
~ SWEET POTATO ~
Saute mustard seeds in heated ghee until seeds start popping
Add sliced onion; saute 5 min
Add turmeric, chilies, and peas; saute 5 min
Add potatoes; stir to coat; 2-3 min
Remove from heat; set aside
~ LAMB ~
Saute chopped onions in heated ghee; 5 min
Add garlic; saute 2 min
Add spices (minus mint,) salt/pepper; mix
Add lamb; saute until cooked
Mix in sweet potato filling
Add stock; simmer until evaporated
Add mint; mix and remove from heat
Preheat oven to 400*
Cut pastry into 9 squares per sheet
Add filling to the center of each square
Fold pastry over filling to form a triangle; seal edges
Brush pastry with egg
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden
THEME SONG: Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen w/Philip Glass
All that is Gold
Does Not Glitter
Not All Those Who Wander
Are Lost ~
The Old that is Strong
Does not Wither
Deep Roots are Not Reached
By the Frost.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
All Images: Pinterest
They both savored the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things ~ Terry Pratchett
“It’s not his hobby, Sister Madly.”
He just said that he loves his job, Professor, and when you love your job, you don’t work a day in your life. By this definition, it IS his hobby.
Now, Sister Madly has always been wary of anyone the Professors call a ‘friend’ and this time, she had good reason to be: he was chatty and he was happy. Too happy. Frolicking with the tumbleweed happy- and all without a nip of cider. That’s what makes it sinister- that, and the maniacal good cheer with which he announced that he was a phlebotomist.*
*In layman’s terms, a giant mosquito.
Then again, perhaps that is the secret to his sinister happiness: draining a large portion of his blood to the point of mental absurdity in the name of good times. Or perhaps he gets his jollies by mixing blood types like some gruesome, vascular cocktail. Whatever his secret, this psychotic bliss was reinforced later that night simply by coming upon Sister Madly’s copy of Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.
“You like this sort of thing, do you?”
She couldn’t help but wonder what, exactly, the Happy Phlebotomist meant by ‘this sort of thing.’ True, it wasn’t the sort of book her mother would read to a young Sister Madly while they shared a bottle of TAB, but her mother wasn’t one to read her The Runaway Bunny either. Perhaps the Happy Phlebotomist didn’t much care for the author, or perhaps it was the implication that Sister Madly likes to read books out of season. Of Human Bondage always seemed like a book one reads in the winter.
Of course it is possible to read any book at any time of the year, but unless you are some sort of literary rogue, here is a small sample of the appropriate seasonal fare:
– A Confederacy of Dunces
– Bonjour Tristesse
– The Magus
– The Picture of Dorian Gray
– Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
– The Moon and Sixpence
– Three Men in a Boat
While the Happy Phlebotomist found this ‘seasonal reading’ slightly baffling, he was a sight more tolerant than the Professors were upon learning that Sister Madly arranges her DVDs according to ambiance instead of alphabetically. She doesn’t understand all the fuss- after all, she knows where to find everything. That’s all that really matters.*
*There are also many people who listen to music according to season- her neighbors, for example. They always listen to Christmas music in the winter. Loudly.
Not that the Professors should cast any stones. Sister Madly has not only seen them eat lettuce, she has seen them enjoy the process– a sure sign that something is not quite right in the head.
Now over the course of her acquaintance with the Professors, they have taken it upon themselves to lend her books that they think she should read, rather than books they think she would enjoy. So it was something of a shock when the Happy Phlebotomist approached her with a copy of The Story of O, for no reason other than “you seem to like this sort of thing.”
And by ‘this sort of thing,’ the Happy Phlebotomist meant erotic literature.
“Since you were reading that book on human bondage…”
Perhaps Sister Madly is just naïve- or perhaps it’s because her hobby isn’t the gleeful draining of blood out of living individuals- but the possibility of Of Human Bondage being some sort of literary porn never once crossed her mind the day she found it in the bookstore. She was just intrigued by a book whose title started with the word ‘Of.’
According to the obligatory new book flip-thru (and later confirmed through the internet) The Story of O was originally published in the 1950‘s and was somewhat influenced by the works of the Marquis de Sade- which is a far, far cry from the themes found in Of Human Bondage.
You see, the title Of Human Bondage is taken from Part IV of Spinoza’s Ethics, entitled “Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of Emotions” in which Spinoza speaks of people’s inability to control their emotions (the emotions themselves, not one’s conscious response to them) which constitutes bondage. The crux of Maugham’s story is the unrequited love of Philip Carey, which binds him to a rather disagreeable* woman- soul ties, and all that.
*Status-seeking, social-climbing, cold-hearted, unfaithful waitress-turned-mistress-turned-hooker-who-contracts-an-STD-most-likely-syphilis type of disagreeable.
Also, she was rude.
“So it’s about human trafficking?”
Perhaps it was fatigue from reading veins all day, or perhaps it was too much vascular cocktail, but it was obvious that the Happy Phlebotomist was determined not to understand a single word of their conversation. No wonder the Professors were so fond of him.
And so she was about to suggest a book that would do away with his starry-eyed disposition, The Runaway Bunny, as even adults have been known to cry at that story…
… when the Professors interrupted by sending a drink over to her table.
A Bloody Mary.
THEME SONG: Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2
“I was thinking about Brussels Sprouts.”
While Sister Madly appreciates those individuals who speak their minds, she finds that there are some things better left unsaid.
“You are joining us for the game, aren’t you, Sister Madly?”
Many, many things better left unsaid…
February has always been her least favorite month- so why not start it out by spending an evening playing Settlers of Catan while giving a bowl of Brussels Sprouts the evil eye?
“It’s the Seahawks, you know.”
So why not start it out by passing a bowl of Brussels Sprouts around the table while playing Settlers of Catan with the Seahawks?
“The Super Bowl, Sister Madly. Don’t tell me you forgot.”
It’s not that she forgot, so much, as she didn’t give a hill of beans. Sister Madly is biologically programmed to tune out most sportscasts; the same also goes for commercials, bad music, politics and warfare not involving medieval weaponry. Besides- does Sister Madly look like she watches the Super Bowl?*
*Apparently, it is impossible to tell if one watches the Super Bowl based on appearance alone.
“At least come by for the commercials,” the Professor said. “Do you like calamari?”
For those of you who are not in the know, calamari is the stuff they use to make Subaru tires. The world may try to tell you that it’s an itty-bitty squid, but this is false information. Read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; squids are big and mean and harbor a vendetta against all mankind.
Thus Sister Madly decided early on to go to the necessary lengths as to not be hungry when attending this soiree, therefore she would not be tempted by the Subaru tires, nor by the forbidden fruit.
Oh sure, Sister Madly, as if a serpent could tempt anyone with a Brussels Sprout. They are nothing but pretentious little cabbages that taste like dirt- hardly the cause of Original Sin. Then again, it was not the fruit, itself, that was the Sin; but the tasting of it. And while artists depict the fruit as an apple, no one really knows for certain- and Brussels Sprouts grow on stalks, which could easily be mistaken for a fruit by one who does not know any better.
And so on the first of February, Sister Madly found herself back in the kitchen of freshly stenciled birds – and we all know how THAT came about! – with a box of books for the Professors to go through before she donated them to unsuspecting households around town- that is, those with brightly colored boxes in their front yards, containing books free for the taking. While some call these Little Libraries, Sister Madly has come to know them as Book Disposals: the ideal way to get rid of those books that did not tickle her fancy- under the guise of generosity, of course. Also, this is done only at night.
It wasn’t long before one of the Professors started sifting through her box. While she expected the usual commentary, she was not expecting the look of utter dismay when he came across Notes From Underground.
“Why are you getting rid of this?”
You’re absolutely right, Professor; she had fully intended for that book to end up in the dumpster, bypassing the Little Libraries entirely. Sister Madly may be impish in her ways, but she finds no reason to be downright sadistic to an unsuspecting public.
Yes, nothing says Party! like a dissertation on the Russian Masters over fried Subaru tires and bowls of Original Sin. The Professor said that Dostoevsky is one of those authors whose work he could recognize from a single passage- not only the by content, but by the individual syntax and style that is unique to the writer.
Are you saying, Professor, that you could name a book from a single sentence?
This Professor considered himself well-versed in the classics, and while he was confident that he could do just that from a paragraph, his gin and tonic said there was a good chance he could do the same from a single sentence.
And so Sister Madly pulled a book from the shelf- indeed, a classic- and read the first line she came across:
He laughed again.
The Professor did not answer, but rather stared at her with that dull incredulity that has become so familiar. No doubt this scenario went a whole lot better in his head.
Yes, even with Brussels Sprouts, you can still have a perfect moment.
‘He laughed again’- from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. If you did not know this, you haven’t been studying your literature.
POST’S THEME SONG: It’s a Sin, Pet Shop Boys
~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~ ~ ~
Last week, Sister Madly gave a description of the lovely, makeshift HAZMAT ensemble she was wearing, the sight of which most likely prompted the recent apartment inspection. She later confessed -to you- that it was simply because she was making a Necronomicon.
And you thought she was being facetious.
Allow Sister Madly to provide visual aid of the process:
Sketchbook obtained, void and without form.
Paint thrown around in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Entertainment while paint dries.
Sexy HAZMAT gear acquired.
Sealant chemicals added with the usual fanfare.
~ JOURNAL SPECS ~
A) Dimensions: 9” X 11”
B) 110 sheets/220 pages, unlined
C) 70 lb. Paper, Acid Free
D) Not bound in human skin, nor written with blood **
E) Has a fondness for Let’s Dance (InFiction String Remix) and will play it often on your MP3 player.
F) There is no ‘F.’
~ GIVEAWAY DETAILS ~
- Comment below ~OR~ Send email (subject: GIVEAWAY) to ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~
- Include at least one of the following:
~ Music Recommendation (Peter Murphy’s Carver Combo)
~ Book Recommendation (The Razor’s Edge, W. Somerset Maugham)
~ Cider Recommendation (Rhubarbarian, 2 Towns Ciderhouse)
~ Fun Fact (Sister Madly’s left foot is 1.25 sizes smaller than her right)
~This is to separate entries from junk mail, as it would be a shame to select a 4 year-old habitual spammer living in an underground bunker outside of Nantucket. Also, it’s fun.~
- Winner will be selected at random. From a hat.
- Sister Madly will not sell your personal info. She doesn’t know how.
- All emails/addresses will be deleted at the end of the Giveaway.
- Giveaway ends Aug. 9, 2014. Midnight-ish.
~ GIVEAWAY OPEN TO SUBSCRIBERS AND NON SUBSCRIBERS ALIKE. FEEL FREE TO SHARE ~
** This is largely due to the fact that not one of the Professors showed up for Sister Madly’s ‘Let’s Make a Necronomicon!’ Party, thus forcing her to find other resources. And after all they have put her through, too, like that whole ‘Batting Cage’ thing- it was the least they could do. Just wait- the next time you flash another Rorschach card in front of her face, Professor, she’s going to do more than demand chocolate milk.
POST’S THEME SONG: Let’s Dance (InFiction String Remix), David Bowie