When she was young, Sister Madly thought her looks were ordinary; she couldn’t understand how people even recognized her. There was nothing special about her hair or her eyes, she was short, and her nose was simply there- in other words, she was that typical, run-of-the-mill moppet that couldn’t be distinguished from any other.
In fact, her looks so ordinary, it practically made her invisible.*
* She could, however, throw a tantrum of epic proportions, which would render her invisibility temporarily null and void.
Now invisibility had its perks: she could make faces at passing strangers, not eat her vegetables, even get away with murder (once she figured out what murder was and why she would want to get away with it) all without consequence. Of course, Sister Madly would grow up being overlooked and trampled underfoot, a plight for which her mother must have some secret sympathy, enough at least to compel her to buy her daughter the mercury she’d been begging for the past week.
At is turned out, her mother hadn’t much sympathy at all, which left Sister Madly sulking in the basement with a coloring book and not an ounce of mercury to her name (nor a hammer- one simply cannot play with mercury without a hammer!) She wasn’t completely heartless, though, as she invited Serafina over in hopes of cheering Sister Madly out of her no-mercury funk.
After getting the Hula Hoop stuck in a tree yet again (a favorite pastime in the Madliverse*) the girls wandered down to the corner party store for candy cigarettes, which naturally resulted in the two deciding to cut their own hair. Serafina’s decimated lock ended up being easily tucked behind her ear, but Sister Madly’s- well, her lock stuck straight up in the back, much like the fuse on a cartoon bomb.
* Not so much for the Pater Madly, who had to retrieve said Hula Hoop.
The impromptu makeover was not a particular blow to her vanity, as Sister Madly lacked a certain awareness at that age. Surely the Mater Madly would agree that this ‘new do’ was an improvement, as Sister Madly was sporting a rather unflattering pixie cut* at the time.
* Aka, a ‘Dorothy Hamill,’ named after the only individual on the planet who could pull off such a style.
As it turned out, the ‘new do’ was as subtle as a brick through the window. There was a lengthy lecture that evening, during which the Parental Madlys explained exactly why they didn’t want their daughter personally modifying her pint-sized physique: she could harm herself, it wasn’t a necessity in order to survive, and heaven knows she wasn’t doing it for a worthy cause. It would grow back, sure, it was only hair- but it was only hair this time. They didn’t want to know what would happen next time, and sought to discourage further experimentation before Sister Madly emerged from the basement one Sunday afternoon with various piercings and badly executed tattoos.
The Mater Madly was particularly frustrated: not only were Sister Madly’s class pictures upcoming, she was also to be in her cousin’s wedding the following weekend.
Still, Sister Madly didn’t see why they made such a fuss; she was invisible, after all. Had her mother been in a slightly less end-of-the-world frame of mind, Sister Madly would have pointed out the likelihood of her pictures turning out blank- it is impossible to photograph the invisible, that’s just common sense. She also would’ve suggested that Tallulah take her place in the wedding- Sister Madly wasn’t exactly sure what a wedding was or its purpose, but her mother made it sound important, and her cousin would probably want a flower girl who could be photographed.
About a week after the wedding, the pictures revealed something rather shocking: Sister Madly was clearly visible in the photos, right down to the wispy, fuse-of-the-bomb hairdo. While initially perplexed by this development, the answer was suddenly so obvious that she felt silly for not recognizing it: Sister Madly, you see, was invisible to the world, not to herself. Therefore, just as she could see herself in a mirror, she would be able to see herself in a photo. No doubt her class picture would reflect the same.
This is the rationale that has sustained her into adulthood. Logic is a dying art.
CURRIED SUMAC PULLED CHICKEN
- Ghee/Oil for sauteing
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 2 sweet onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp curry powder (used Japanese Curry)
- 1½ – 2 tsp Harissa
- 1½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- salt to taste
Saute onions until caramelized; 45-50 minutes
Add garlic; saute 3 minutes
Add spices; saute 30 secs
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes
Shredded chicken w/2 forks in sauce
Simmer to reduce/thicken (if needed)
Let stand 2 minutes; serve
THEME SONG: Invisible, U2
Image 4.) Anna Spencer Photography
Now Sister Madly knows better than to believe every rumor that crosses her path; otherwise, she would be locked in the pantry, wailing in sackcloth over the fact that the world did not end in 2012. However, when the Professor cited an article that claimed Stilton Cheese has been known to induce dreams, she was most intrigued.
The idea of vivid dreams was like catnip to the starry-eyed moppet, as her sleep has been rather dreary as of late: even Rambunctious Shadow Kitty has been tame these last few weeks. A dream of epic proportions would be a welcome change to the recent nights of intermittent insomnia: dreams of travel, of sparkly things, of encounters with legendary creatures- anything that deviated from the current ritual of staring up at the ceiling fan at 3 AM would be greatly appreciated.
There was, of course, the possibility that she would end up with equally vivid nightmares, in which case Sister Madly would spend the rest of the night with her eyes propped open with toothpicks.
But that is the risk one assumes when dabbling with Stilton Cheese.*
* Along with the most atrocious morning breath. Indeed, it is not a Cheese of Romance.
So to ensure a night of unparalleled adventures in slumberland, Sister Madly decided to hit up the local Stilton-Dealing demimonde: the neighborhood grocer.
It’s quite sci-fi, really, the way the supermarket doors slide apart before her. She has long-since perfected her majestic stride, parading in and out of the market like a demented Grand Vizier- until that afternoon, that is, when the doors slid apart with all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift.
Which Sister Madly failed to notice until it was all too late.
After the usual bout of stars and bluebirds circling about her head, the first thing she saw was a pair of bacon socks and bear claw slippers standing before her. Further on up, the celestial vision gave way to the wool skirt and orange poncho of the jolly transient who collects bottles from bins and feeds granola to the pigeons. He was particularly chipper that day, having just heard of a possible 5¢ bottle deposit increase, and was eager to tell Sister Madly all about it.
He then mentioned that the doors were defective as of late, and she should take care when challenging their position.
Once inside, she made her way over to the cheese counter, where she effectively avoided all staff due to the glossy ‘don’t even try talking to me’ veneer inherent in all feral Sister Madly’s. Unfortunately, the market was rather limited on their selection of Stilton; but then, certain American proprietors are rather skittish when it comes to unconventional cheeses.*
* Especially in regards to that cheese infested with maggots– seriously, Italy, that is so uncool.
While the cutesy little sign recommended a cheeky wine pairing for foodies and romantics alike, there was no advice on protocol for inducing dreams (how unthoughtful!) Apparently, dream-seekers were completely on their own when pursuing a round of nocturnal adventures.
And yet, this revelation was nothing compared to the terror Sister Madly endured when confronted by the mother of all social horrors:
The self-checkout was gone.
There is a reason that the gods created self-checkout, just as they created texting, single-passenger cars, and carrier pigeons: to pass their divine blessing upon lovely, antisocial behavior.
You know what this means, don’t you? Sister Madly has to talk to people!
And she has to talk to them about a wedge of stinky cheese.
Now this was a high-risk scenario: would the cashier deny Sister Madly this cheese knowing she was using it for recreational purposes? Were there guidelines on how to consume this delicacy for maximum dream lucidity? Is she allowed crackers? Cured meats? Some people put Stilton in a port wine sauce; however, Sister Madly wasn’t too keen on the idea of drinking her cheese- that all but guaranteed unforgivable nightmares. And what about the rind? Was there a certain magic contained within that outer layer?
But these questions answered themselves when Sister Madly woke the next morning, all tangled in bed sheets and with the world’s most terrifying bed-head.
There had been a dream, all right, one of a plucky Sister Madly sticking pins in ginger root as though it was a voodoo doll, all the while singing ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’ to her pet pinecone (affectionately named, ‘Pinecone.’) There was a vague awareness that the constellation Sagittarius was being held hostage by a man named Doug, but this was of no consequence as Sister Madly was a Gemini.
In other words, your run-of-the-mill dream. So disappointing.
TUNISIAN VEGETABLE SOUP
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic gloves, minced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
- Sweet potato, cubed
- Rainbow carrots, chopped
- Celery, sliced
- 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked
- 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1-2 tbsp Harissa, to taste
- 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 cinnamon powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Oil, for sauteing
Saute onion and garlic until translucent; 5-8 min
Add carrots and celery; saute 3-5 min
Add spices, tomato paste, and harissa; mix
Add potatoes and mushrooms; stir to coat
Add stock and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally
Cover and simmer until couscous is cooked; 8-10 min
THEME SONG: All I Have to Do is Dream, Everly Brothers
When the Professor announced that she was invited to a ‘Cougar and Dutch Baby’ party, Sister Madly concluded that she was being considered for membership to a secret society, and was suitably intrigued.
There was another outsider invited to this gathering of PhD elite: no doubt Josephine was recruited to join the ranks of Cougar which, despite her affinity for leopard print, seemed far-fetched as her boyfriend was only a few months younger than herself. Sister Madly, naturally, was chosen for the Dutch Baby not just for her age, but for the way she cheerfully embraces all the joys of infantile behavior at the expense of others.
However, there was just one flaw: Sister Madly is not Dutch.
Now this should have been fairly obvious, as Sister Madly lacks characteristics common of those who proudly claim a Dutch heritage, such as a passion for Gouda (she is fond of Gouda, but not passionately so) the ability to pronounce Eekhoorntjesbrood without bursting into tears, or deciding to be tall.*
* As Holland is such a small country, the only choice is to be tall- otherwise they would crowd themselves into Belgium.
Still, it’s nice to be included.
But a shadow soon fell over that festive gathering when Josephine produced a package of peculiar purple meat.
“It’s cougar, Sister Madly. It’s the main course.”
Wait- does this mean that Sister Madly was suppose to supply the Dutch Baby? Where was she suppose to dig up one of those without suspicion? It’s not like one finds curly-haired tots growing wild on the side of the road, and she can’t just pop over to Holland on a whim. And since Sister Madly failed on this mission- no doubt, the initiation- does that mean she is to substitute?
Now before you do anything foolish, Sister Madly, let’s think this over: as this society’s name ends with ‘Dutch Baby,’ your sacrifice will most likely be later in the evening, which leaves you with a few hours to plan a spectacular escape…
But this was interrupted when she found herself subjected to that diabolical apparatus known as the ‘Smart Phone’ (a misnomer, no doubt) when the Professor requested that she find the nutritional info on cougar.
Instead, she ended up with the info for Twinkies, which irritated the Professor despite it being well-known that Sister Madly is terribly inept in using Smart Phones. Cougar can’t be much worse than Twinkies, after all.
But since you are so concerned with nutrition, Professor, she must warn you that Sister Madlys are not FDA approved, and come with a Surgeon General’s Warning stating that they are bio-hazardous, processed in a plant that contains gluten, and highly-venomous.
Despite the nutritional uncertainty of cougar meat, the Professors decided to risk it all by preparing a delicacy worthy of any red-blooded, PhD barbarian: Schnitzel.
Throughout the meal Sister Madly should have been planning her escape; rather, she spent the time wondering if the Cougar would have thought twice about eating the alpaca had he known he would end up a Schnitzel. That’s got to be a severe blow to one’s pride…
..and you missed your chance, Sister Madly. Everyone is finished with the cougar, and seem to be eyeing you with famished glee.
Is this the part where you sacrifice the baby, Professor? Do remember that Sister Madly is not Dutch.
The incredulous silence was soon broken by an explanation on how Josephine, who raises alpacas and flocks of terrifying little children, had a few days prior found the fence behind her farm destroyed and one of the alpacas missing.
Well, most of the alpaca…
Typically, when cougar is spotted in a populated district, it is trapped and moved to a wilderness area- unless it proves to be aggressive or has harmed a person or domesticated/farm animal, in which case it is put down. Finding the beast responsible for this attack was relatively simple as it returned to the farm for second breakfast, became most displeased to find it unavailable, and attempted to take out this displeasure on Animal Control.
How convenient for Josephine. But what about the Dutch Baby? It’s not like infants are conveniently breaking into Sister Madly’s apartment and killing her dust bunnies; she simply does not have that luxury.
“It’s a pancake, Sister Madly. It’s baked in an oven in a cast-iron skillet.”
“No, with cinnamon.”
Well, that’s alright then.
CITY CHICKEN SKEWERS
- 1 cup Panko or pork rinds, crushed
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 lb. ground veal
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for min. 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 350*
Combine pork, veal, Worcestershire, garlic, sage, marjoram, salt & pepper
Mix Panko/pork rinds with smoked paprika
Form meat into kebabs
Coat kebab in egg, then crumbs
Place on tray and bake for 25-30 min, or until cooked through*
* Try not to overcook kebabs. It will only make you depressed.
THEME SONG: Nobody’s Baby Now, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
People would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys ~ Terry Pratchett
The last time Sister Madly went on the prowl was at the Renaissance Faire some years ago. The outcome was less than favorable.
Perhaps unwisely, Sister Madly found herself Romancing the Stone, a quest where one picks a numbered stone from a basket with the goal of finding the individual with the corresponding number from another basket. It is the one weekend at the Faire where the wandering minstrels are drowned out by the sounds of a medieval-love bingo game. Yet despite the pretext of feral romance, this venture was not without risks; she was just as likely to end up with a starry-eyed inamorato as she would this salty gentleman:
Or this one:
Yes, even this:
As you can see, the risk was hardly minimal.
But the quest took a dark turn a few hours later when Sister Madly, who had been sharing a pint with the Scotts of Clan Picnic Blanket, noticed that her Stone was missing.
But even more mystifying was how long it took for her to realized that Dum Dums had been left in its place.
Seriously? Sister Madly’s future happiness is to be at the mercy of a corpse-bird in a black negligee? That’s as safe as an ejection seat in a helicopter! The Dodo was an absolute philistine when it came to all-things whimsical; the only reason he would carry a heart-shaped rock was if he was attending a stoning in the square.
Nevertheless, one can’t discredit a fact just because one doesn’t like the reality of it- and judging by the adolescent snickering across the way, Clan Picnic Blanket was a party to this latest bit of skullduggery.
You know, Snickering Scotts, you could have said something when you saw someone pilfering her Stone- you know the Dodo’s fondness for Sock Trafficking; now he’s going to sell her Stone to some little love tart and leave Sister Madly to die an old maid! She might as well go home right now and start collecting kittens.
Then again, how did you not notice the theft, Sister Madly? The patterns in the picnic table were not so interesting to have missed the Big Bird of Creepiness looming over your shoulder. A creature like that should have stuck out like a cactus in a pancake.
While the Scotts freely admitted their part in the theft, they insisted that they were doing her a favor: they didn’t give her Stone to the Dodo to guarantee her spinsterhood, but to secure her a soul mate. Sure, the Dodo had his faults- an unsunny disposition, looks that were in league against him, not to mention that whole ‘plague’ thing- but at least Sister Madly knew what she would be getting herself into, unlike most blind dates. She could still look for the original suitor if she wished, but should she find that suitor, well, unsuitable, she had a backup- how many people can say as much? Just write that number on some random rock, and make all your soul mate dreams come true!
Besides- had she seen the other wandering romantics?
You know, Scott, if Sister Madly had a chalupa, she would so throw it at you right now! She doesn’t take kindly to people who steal her rocks- her vegetables, yes, but not her rocks. Besides, isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?
“It’s the Dark Ages, Sister Madly- you take what you can get!”
No doubt this was intended to console her, as condescending arrogance is wont to do; unfortunately, all Sister Madly heard was a dare…
Yes, the Dark Ages- what a time to be alive!
TOM KHA GAI
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2” ginger, minced
- 2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 Tbsp green curry paste
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- (2) 14 oz. cans coconut milk
- 3-4 cups broth
- 1/4 cup Thai basil, chopped
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
- Ghee/Oil, for sauteing
Saute onion in a stockpot until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, ginger, and mushrooms; saute, 3-5 min
Add curry paste; mix
Add chicken; stir to coat
Mix in coconut milk, broth, chilies, and fish sauce; bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked; approx 30 min
Mix in lime juice and basil; remove from heat
THEME SONG: Made of Stone, The Stone Roses
THE DAY: Tuesday
THE TIME: Morning
THE PLACE: The Boiler Room of Adolescent Purgatory (aka, ‘High School.’)
Sister Madly had been sleeping her way through another Biology lecture when she and her classmates were summoned to the gym- immediately.
Typically these meetings were called to impress upon students the importance of the dress code, to find out who vandalized what, or simply to remind them that card games* were taboo. But this assembly deviated from the usual lectures of teenage impurity: a classmate of Sister Madly’s had walked out of class, and left the building.
* Card games = gambling, which was most ungodly. Even solitaire.
No doubt you are imagining a lovely day in May, an Alpine meadow, and a free-spirited blonde frolicking through the flowers as though she were in an ad for honey butter. But this was not the case; it was early February, and the weather was pure Michigan.
Upon learning of the truancy, the Principal did what any sane, responsible administrator would do: send out a search party consisting of the most responsible and trustworthy individuals…
The Principal went on to inform Team Truancy that the search was not to extend beyond the sidewalk to the south, the Beltline a block to the east, the Highway a block to the west, and the orchard that bordered the school property to the north. They were Freshmen, after all, and it was important to set boundaries.
Clearly the Principal had never been a teenager, not if he believed the Truant would play hooky so close to school; that’s like running away from home by hiding in the garden. No doubt he expected to find the girl under the bleachers, abusing a pair of prescription sunglasses.
However, being the dutiful, sometimes dress-code abiding Freshman that she was, Sister Madly braved the Michigan tundra in a Search for the Wayward Truant- as far as the Diner next door, that is.
It was a dismal greasy spoon, and it was here that Sister Madly spent the next 2 hours, drinking a cup of what could only be described as “I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Cocoa.” It was also here where she watched her fellow classmates scatter willy-nilly, each one not so much slipping along the icy sidewalks as display a general unwillingness to fall on their bums. Sister Madly wanted to believe that she rubbed shoulders with the intellectually elite, but her classmates behaved as though they, too, believed that the Truant would be found somewhere on the property, making angels in the snow.
Face it, Sister Madly- your reality is a bad teen novel written in a spiral-bound notebook, which fell into a puddle and was promptly run over by a bus; no doubt you will find a fabulous disco inside your locker first thing tomorrow morning. The day was fast approaching a level of absurdity normally reserved for fairytales, and would have achieved said status had it contained the trademark moral for which such tales are renown.*
* Such as ‘Don’t eat the old lady’s house;’ or ‘Never trust a spinning wheel.’
But what if this was more than a simple case of truancy? What if the school was behind this? Recently, the psychology class took it upon themselves to convince a boy that he had the flu, making certain suggestions about his appearance and behavior until the boy said he felt sick and went home.* Perhaps this was another such experiment, which is why the science should never be taught by an English teacher… and is that a cop over there?
* The boy later admitted that he took advantage of the situation and spent the day at the movies.
Of course he’s a cop, Sister Madly- what did you think he was? The Maytag Repairman? He isn’t going to believe that you are skipping school because the Principle ordered you to do so… unless you show him The Library Card.
Indeed, here is proof that Sister Madly is the victim of a faulty educational system! She would show her Library Card, which she’s had since kindergarten; she would show him her signature, and how she took certain liberties with the letter ‘E’, averaging 5 or 6 horizontal lines instead of the standard 3. Perhaps if some gentle disciplinarian had told Sister Madly back in the day that she did not have the authority to slaughter the alphabet simply because she wanted to, she would’ve turned out to be an oboe-playing, cheerleading, non-truant poster-child of academia instead of an anti-social little moppet playing hooky from a group sent out to find a girl who was playing hooky.
But before she could execute this most excellent tale of tragic woe, Officer Maytag drew his own conclusions on his way out the door:
“You’ve got to be mental to be out there on a day like this, Luv.”
MOROCCAN PULLED CHICKEN
- 2 sweet onions, sliced
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lg pinch saffron, ground
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- tortillas/naan/lettuce, to serve
Melt butter/oil in dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally
Continue until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Mix in spices, garlic, broth and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in the sauce
Simmer to reduce and thicken (if needed)
Remove bay leaves before serving
THEME SONG: School’s Out, Alice Cooper
Lighthouse Photo by Thomas Zakowski
Quite frankly, Sister Madly had never seen the Professor run so fast; it made her think that she should be running as well.
How it happened she cannot say, but somehow Sister Madly found herself tagging along with the PhD’s for a round of golf- or, as the Professors like to call it, meditation, thus disguising a form of inhumane torture as a spiritual practice.
Well, Sister Madly was getting spiritual, too- and by that, she means adding shots of Fireball to her cider. You see, Sister Madly hasn’t had interest in meditating ever since she sold her soul back when she need some quick cash. As she now prefers the transcendental practice of throwing chicken claws at random strangers to golf, the world is starting to realized that Sister Madly has been living with a cheap, knockoff soul for several years. It’s much like discovering your sweetheart has pawned a diamond ring and has been wearing a duplicate made of sparkly glass.*
* Knock-off souls look much like nougat.
Now this type of spirituality often leaves the seeker in quiet contemplation over complex mysteries, such as why does nature not permit birds to cross-breed when she grants that freedom to domesticated canines. Just think of how magical this world would be with hummingbird-sized peacocks, or with cardinal-colored crows stealing scraps out of the garbage. While the Professor’s ‘meditation’ compels one to be present in the moment, that particular moment is a dreary game of golf and who in their right mind wants to be present in the middle of that?
It was at that moment that the Professor rose out of the sand trap like a majestic phoenix in a pair of extremely unbecoming
golf meditation pants. An errant swing had sent the meditation ball down to the bog, where the Professor was attacked by a swan-
A swan? What’s a fine, discerning creature like that doing at a golf course?*
* Then again, Sister Madly is also a
fine discerning creature, herself, and SHE’S at a golf course…
The Professor proceeded to embarked upon a lengthy dissertation over the Swan’s unwarranted aggression and its arrogant disregard for
golf meditation- basically getting himself into a tizzy over issues that would better be addressed with heavy sedation and months of therapy.
Perhaps it was angered by your fancy pants.
Now, don’t you go thinking about her in that tone of voice, Professor! All that Sister Madly meant was that she is constantly amazed that golf pants do not provoke more feral attacks; she’s fighting that primal instinct, herself…
…that is, until Sister Madly caught sight of this ‘swan.’
Professor… that’s a goose.
After a moment of dull incredulity, the Professor mentioned merely seeing a flash of a long-necked creature as it attacked, therefore assuming…
Once again, Professor, that PhD has let you down. By that definition, anything with a long neck would be a swan:
Now it is common knowledge that geese are territorial, and this Goose had a particular affinity for Sand Trap By-The-Bog. Unfortunately, the Professor also had an affinity for Sand Trap By-The-Bog, despite protestations to the contrary, and any attempt to retrieve the (supposedly) wayward ball was thwarted by the Goose in a spectacle of honking, feathers, four-letter words, and golf pants while Sister Madly enjoyed the show with her Spiritual Advisor * from the safety of the hill. She had no idea that
golf meditation could be this exciting!
* Aka, She Who Manned the Beverage Cart.
“I thought Canadians were polite!”
That’s stereotyping, Professor. Shame on you.
But it was the Spiritual Advisor who enlightened Sister Madly on the matter, as any good spiritual advisor would:
“That’s Max. He doesn’t like obnoxious golf pants.”
Oh dear. Someone really ought to tell the Professor. Someone in safe, muted colors.
Someone like Sister Madly.
And she will.
THEME SONG: Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20 Scène, London Philharmonic
Last night, our PTA meeting ended in bloodshed ~ Welcome to Night Vale
Once upon a time, fellow WordPress wayfarer, Locksley, embarked upon a sweet little escapade around the Archipelago of Malta– albeit without the saintly Sister Madly. Not that he should feel the least bit guilty about this, mind you, with Sister Madly being something of a stranger;* however, it should be noted that any misfortune that befell Locksley during this Madly-free holiday- such as a plague of flying ants falling from the sky- was simply a coincidence.
* Yes, yes- rumors persist about how Sister Madly’s traveling companions are never seen nor heard from again, but these are the risks one takes when traveling. Besides, no one has ever proven a thing.
So after rambling around this exotic locale (without her) the valiant Locksley passed along to Sister Madly a recipe for a local delicacy- seriously, it uses an entire bottle of wine; what’s not to love? A most gracious gesture indeed, my friend.
However, finding rabbit meat in her hometown was not as easy as it should have been. The local butcher scene remains rabbit-free to this day, no doubt from the appalling lack of such creatures in the immediate area. Apparently, her town is nothing like the lush, fertile landscape of Malta (where she as never been) which is essential to the cottontail diet.
This search eventually led Sister Madly into the dark recesses of a farmer’s market, where she found a freezer simply labeled ‘game meat.’ Not wishing to look like a vegetarian to the crusty ol’ rancher, Sister Madly approached the situation as carnivorously as possible:
What sound did this beast make when it was alive?
While she didn’t find rabbit that day, she now knows what a quail sounds like.
So just as Sister Madly was threatening to eat a chicken nugget for every minute she went without a rabbit, the universe came through with an unexpected source: the seaside-residing, yet ever resourceful, Tallulah.
Now one would think that a small, coastal town would be known for its fresh seafood, not for its exotic meats- but then, who is she to decide what tickles the fancy of a seaside hamlet? Even if the carcass looked suspiciously like Tallulah’s intrepid little feline, Caviar…*
* Sans fur. And head. And feet. And everything else that makes amateur forensic identification impossible.
Until that moment, Sister Madly had been rather ambivalent on the subject of small game butchery, and would have remained so had the rabbit already been jointed. Sure, she’s cut up a chicken before, but it takes a great deal of imagination to tie this:
… to this:
Really, Mr. Butcher, if you took such care to remove the head and the feet, could you not also joint the creature? No doubt the savage finesse with which you wield a cleaver is nothing short of a culinary ballet, but stopping short of jointing is much like flossing your teeth halfway through a pirouette.
And by the way, it was most considerate of you, Mr. Butcher, to leave the kidneys in tact. It’s like finding a pearl in an oyster- a delightful, disgusting, little pearl.
At least, she assumes those were the kidneys…
After watching a video of a posh British lady jointing a rabbit on the internet- and indulging in a cider or two- Sister Madly found herself uttering those fatal words: how hard can it be?
But what started as an evening full of Let’s Make Rabbit Stew! optimism quickly became a nightmare of hacking, sawing, and a few choice words for Posh British Lady on the Internet. It’s no wonder the butcher didn’t joint the creature- it’s virtually impossible. The state penitentiary should consider reinforcing their cells with rabbit bones- nothing short of the Holy Hand Gernade was going to cut through those suckers. It would have been easier to slaughter and joint her brother-in-law.*
* Not really. Well… no, not really.
Needless to say, Sister Madly’s stew appears to be less than traditional in its presentation- that is, not served on the bone. She says ‘appears’ because she has never been to Malta, thus cannot say for certain. No doubt this was merely an oversight on the part of the valiant Locksley, much like the way one forgets to pack a toothbrush.
* A special ‘Thank You’ to Locksley– even if you did forget to take her along. She’ll overlook it- this time.
MALTESE RABBIT STEW
- 1 Rabbit, jointed
- 1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6-8 sprigs of thyme
- 6 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp sumac
- 3-4 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 16-18 cippolini or pearl onions, peeled
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 10-12 baby potatoes, cubed
- 1 cup peas
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- oil, for sauteing
Marinate rabbit in garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 cup wine 1 hour to overnight
In dutch oven, brown rabbit on all sides; set aside (reserve marinade)
Saute chopped onion in oil; 5 min
Deglaze with 1 cup wine; 3-5 min
Add sumac and tomato paste, mix
Add carrots, potatoes, cippolini/pearl onions, mix
Add rabbit and marinade (including bay leaves, thyme and garlic)
Mix in stock and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours, or until meat is tender
Add peas and capers 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking
Remove bay leaves before serving
THEME SONG: White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
The Professor wasn’t buying it.
“That’s the Internet Movie DataBase.”
Well Sister Madly, it seems you’ve been outed. When one risks a lie without first checking its credibility, there is always a chance that some potato-toting PhD will call your bluff.
Over time, Sister Madly has seen the pub crowd immerse themselves in a variety of crazes- the worst of these being the Settlers of Catan, a game which allows the common man to dabble in the cutthroat world of land re-zoning and development. Seriously, Catan Fandom is terrifying; people have made pizzas based on that game.
But second only to the Catan Fandom is the Cult of Personality.
It began a several years ago, when the Professor returned from the holy land* bearing more than the usual gifts of unsolicited advice and potatoes. It appears that, while searching for whatever it is one searches for on the internet late at night, the Professor had uncovered the divinely inspired texts of something called MBTI, and was an instant convert.
Now there are many lovely individuals who dabble in this MBTI without it inhibiting their ability to function in their everyday lives. The Cult of Personality, however, won’t even poach an egg without telling you precisely:
- how their type will do so
- whether or not their type will feel remorse for the egg
- whether or not their type will feel remorse for the chicken that laid said egg
- whether or not their type will struggle with the ethics of eating the egg they heartlessly stole from the chicken
- whether or not their type with convert to veganism as a result
MBTI, after all, advocates life-changing self-awareness and self-knowledge.
Unfortunately, the Cult seems far less interested in understanding their behavior than they are in justifying it. They behave a certain way because quite frankly, MBTI says that they do, rendering them absolutely powerless to do anything about it. Oh, pooh.
“It provides the framework not only to understand others, but to understand yourself and why you do things the way you do…”
A noble sentiment, O’ Beholder of a PhD, but Sister Madly would rather pursue the answers to the important questions of life, such as the origins of the universe, or who let the dogs out. Besides, she already understands what lies behind her increasingly anti-social behavior. For example: she put Sriracha in your whiskey because you annoyed her. Sister Madly is really not that complicated.
Now one doesn’t simply convert to the Cult through proselytizing alone; one has to take a test, which can now be done anytime and anywhere due to the cheeky invention known as the Smart Phone. The fella who invented that has a lot to answer for, should he and Sister Madly ever meet.
Not only is it common knowledge that Sister Madly doesn’t have a Smart Phone, there are legends surrounding just how remarkably inept she is in using one, the most recent of these being how Sister Madly set a GPS, only to have it lead them all to an abandoned silo off an old logging road. And that’s the cheerful part of the story.
So it came to pass the other night that Sister Madly found herself- most unwillingly- at the pub, with an MBTI test on the Professor’s phone and specific instructions not to leave the bar until she had a result.
After nearly an hour of swiping screens, pushing nonexistent buttons, accidentally taking pictures of her thumb and displaying a vast array of colorful vocabulary, she had that result:
Now Sister Madly knows what you’re all thinking: that’s 8 letters too many. And you’d be correct, except that Sister Madly didn’t take a traditional MBTI test; she took one entitled Which Cthulhu Mythos Deity Are You? and was rather pleased with the result.
At once the Professor was expressing doubts over the validity of this test. MBTI was all about cognitive functions, such as thinking vs. feeling-
Well, so was her Mythos Test, O Bringer of Potatoes. Sister Madly was asked if she preferred to control the masses by driving them mad, or simply by eating them*- and you know how Sister Madly favors madness. In fact, judging by the steam wafting from your ears, Sister Madly is clearly driving you insane at this very moment.
* It is worth mentioning that, had Sister Madly been hungry at the time, she would have preferred eating the masses, rather than driving them mad.
True, Sister Madly managed to venture away from the Professor’s MBTI test, and quite deliberately (she’s remarkably stubborn as well) but that doesn’t mean the Mythos result was inaccurate; far from it.
Allow Sister Madly to explain:
NYARLATHOTEP is a Shape-Shifter.
SHAPE-SHIFTERS take on many different personas.
IMDB is a Database of Actors.
ACTORS take on many different personas.
Therefore: NYARLATHOTEP = IMDB
Now, since all personas fall into one of the 1,636.72* different personality types outlined by MBTI, and since IMDB is a database of actors who either have or portray those personality types, Sister Madly’s original assessment of IMDB- and, consequently, Nyarlathotep- is both accurate and correct.
* Number approximate.
And if that doesn’t suffice, Professor, there are other 4-letter words in her arsenal…
THEME SONG: Cult of Personality, Living Colour
Mothers are strange creatures. They can be very contradictory in nature.
Take the Mater Madly: one Christmas, she gave a young Sister Madly a lovely box of crayons, then became most displeased when Sister Madly used those crayons to create a masterpiece worthy of Michelangelo* on the living room wall. Her mother displayed the same mystifying irrationality when Sister Madly, after receiving a stamp with her name on it, used said stamp all over her face.
* The Ninja Turtle, not the Artist.
Clearly Sister Madly didn’t know how to utilize the toys to her mother’s satisfaction. Hula Hoops routinely found themselves stuck up in trees, Frisbees spent weeks upon the roof, while the her dad’s cologne – which, apparently, wasn’t a toy at all – was often spotted consorting with the condiments in the refrigerator. The complexities of these toys bewildered Sister Madly so much that she would give up and wander into the woods, where she would be found playing with her growing collection of odd-looking rocks.*
* This shouldn’t have surprised her mother in the least, as ‘rock’ was Sister Madly’s first word- or so the story goes.
The final straw, no doubt, was the day Sister Madly was found living out an especially whimsical South Seas voyage in the toy box rather than with the toys kept inside of it. Her parents thought it best to procure some toys that would require Sister Madly to associate with other living beings- in this case, people- lest her isolated world became so extraordinary that she decided to dwell in it permanently.
That is when the dolls started appearing.
Now Sister Madly had nothing against dolls per se, other than the fact that all of her sweet, demented adventures would now be played out through the dolls when it should be through Sister Madly herself. They would be the ones uncovering sacred artifacts, they would be traveling in gypsy caravans, and they would be the ones exploring haunted houses on nonexistent planets accessed through secret panels located inside the bread box, while Sister Madly gets to sit there and watch. So unfair.
But that isn’t to say Sister Madly didn’t enjoy playing with the dolls; after all, she and Tallulah were typical little girls who did typical sibling things.
Take this storyline, for example (a popular one in the Madliverse) :
Aleister, who worked as an elevator attendant at a swanky resort, had one task and one task only: to retrieve the elevator whenever it went awry, as it habitually shot through the roof and landed somewhere down the beach. He was also hunted by the resort’s Head Chef, who used the Jacuzzi to make his culinary masterpieces and found the soupe du jour to be especially tasty after Aleister fell into said Jacuzzi (when one is returning an elevator to its proper place, one tends to walk blindly.)
Meanwhile, the entire town is haunted by a serial killer whose chosen M.O. includes a butcher’s knife. However, said Killer finds himself plagued with that pesky misfortune of being assigned a theme song at birth (‘The Pink Panther’ in this case) which starts to play whenever he raises his hand, thus alerting his potential victims to his presence. Due to his symphonic affliction, he is known as The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History, with a victim count currently in the negative.
These two worlds finally converged the day Aleister retrieved the elevator from the Waffle House (where it was found working as a line cook) when he encountered The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History. This startled Aleister so much that his legs broke off and ran away, which resulted in his arrest for indecency as his legs ran off with his pants.
Aleister’s coworker, Elliot, learned of his friend’s predicament when he encountered Aleister’s legs on the treadmill (they were training for an upcoming marathon.) Elliot, disguising himself as a Bean Sprout, broke into the jail and found a pair of diamond-studded swimming trunks (appraised at $4.2 million) in the Sergeant’s locker, which he gave to Aleister so he would not be arrested of indecency once again after escaping from jail. This theft, of course, made the Sergeant very cross…
The retrospect does not do it justice! It sounds so incredibly dull.
The bartender, however- having just overheard Sister Madly relate this story to the Professors- had but one nagging question:
“So, what was the soupe du jour?”
THAI CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
- 4-6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 1 large sweet potato, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 chili peppers, chopped and seeded ~ OR ~ cayenne pepper, to taste
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 14oz. can coconut milk
- 2-3 Tbsp red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
- salt to taste
Saute onion in ghee/oil until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, saute 1-2 min
Add curry paste, chilies, spices and bay leaf, cook for 30 sec
Add sweet potato, chicken, broth, fish sauce and coconut milk
Mix and bring to a boil
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 min
Uncover and shred chicken (in sauce) with 2 forks
Continue to simmer uncovered to reduce and thicken, 10-15 min
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat
THEME SONG: Your Favourite Toy, Michael Cretu
2.) Doll Created by Julien Martinez
As of late, Sister Madly has been reluctant to hang around the Professors for fear of catching something nasty, such as a chronic desire to play golf,* or a fatal love of calamari. When she gets restless, she absorbs such diseases like a sponge.
* But not triathlons. Sister Madly is immune to triathlons.
But when she was invited over to ‘assist in preparations for the upcoming holiday party’ Sister Madly’s restlessness got the better of her: not only did she accept the invitation, she arrived 3 minutes early- and was greeted at the door by one of the Professors who, quite unexpectedly, presented her with a cigar box.
Certainly this was a lovely gesture on the part of the Professor… a gesture that became lovelier still when Sister Madly discovered that the box did not contain the cigars depicted on the label- those had been enjoyed by person or persons unknown- but a pair of Taco Socks.
Now even though Sister Madly was invited over to ‘assist in preparations for the upcoming holiday party,’ the Professors weren’t actually allowing her to do so. If it hadn’t been for the aforementioned Lovely Gesture, Sister Madly surely would have shuffled off this mortal coil out of uselessness, if not boredom; instead, she was able to pass the time by putting the Taco Socks on the cat,* which resulted in the cat screeching like a banshee and leaping into the compost bucket.
* Sister Madly never quite got the hang of maturity, having bypassed adulthood completely and landing face-first in the middle of dementia.
This wouldn’t have happened, Professor, had you assigned Sister Madly a culinary task.
But the Professors, having decided that Sister Madly was terribly upset, denied her such a task, saying that when one cooks while angry, it comes across in the food.
And just how does one assess the temperament of a cookie, Professor? Is Sister Madly to assume that, if she doesn’t like a particular dish, the cook was angry during its preparation? She wasn’t angry the day she made the wicked little delicacy known as Ham and Banana Hollandaise– a bit puckish, perhaps, but not angry. Sister Madly could have been soaring on a lovely rainbow bliss and that dish still would have tasted like boiled gym socks.
It turns out that the Ham and Banana Hollandaise Incident was still a touchy subject for the Professors, the mere mention of which drove them to banish Sister Madly to the corner as though she was a particularly dim-witted child. They weren’t about to allow Sister Madly to help with the baking now as the Professors didn’t want to give their colleagues a batch of dim-witted cookies.
So Sister Madly made her displeasure known through the most passive-aggressive means imaginable: by ripping the heads and limbs off the gingerbread and turning them into zombies.
For the next few hours, Sister Madly served up tray after tray of grotesque little men with missing limbs, bleeding hearts, and x-ed out eyes- indeed, it was more than a culinary masterpiece; it was pure art. Sister Madly was rather pleased with the result- why, she couldn’t have been more pleased if she had ordered a hit on the local bakery like some Culinary Crime Boss…
“What are you doing?!”
Well, Professor, she was under the impression that she was doing you all a favor. You said you wanted the gingerbread decorated.
“But zombies? For Christmas?”
Christmas does not discriminate against the undead, Professor, and neither does the Underworld. Besides, you never specified how the gingerbread were to be decorated, so Sister Madly took certain liberties. Just as one can’t get mad at mustard for tasting like mustard, one can’t get mad at Sister Madly for doing Sister Madly things. Seriously, never has she heard such ingratitude- you could very well end up with a gingerbread head in your bed tomorrow morning!
It‘s like this, Professor: even though it may not be what you want, it may be exactly what you need. Taco Socks, for instance; never would Sister Madly have thought that one day her livelihood would depend upon the integrity of a Taco Sock and a few bits of electrical tape, but that is precisely what happened later that night when her windshield wipers became totally incompetent in the middle of a storm.
And by Jove, it worked like a dream! Why, with such an ingenious feat of engineering, there is no need to purchase a new set of wiper blades. It is both practical and resourceful, not to mention a daring fashion statement worthy of a Culinary Crime Boss. Just one look at her Taco Sock Wiper Blade and people will say, ‘Aye, now there’s a girl who knows what she is doing!’
And what you are doing, Sister Madly, is repairing your car with tacky neon footwear!
In the end, you did catch something nasty from the Professors, Sister Madly…
THEME SONG: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones
Even the Old Ones deserve a little holiday cheer…
AWAKE YE SCARY GREAT OLD ONES
Awake ye scary great Old Ones let everything dismay!
Remember great Cthulhu shall rise up from R’lyeh
To kill us all with tentacles if we should go his way!
O’ tidings of madness and woe, madness and woe,
O’ tidings of madness and woe! (and great woe)
In Yuggoth and in Aldebaran the great Old Ones were spawned
Imprisoned by the Elder Gods to wait for long eons!
Enticing humans to release them,
Chanting dreadful songs!
O’ tidings of madness and woe, madness and woe,
O’ tidings of madness and woe! (and great woe)
An Arab said “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange eons you will find that even death may die”!
The great Old Ones will rule once more
Then all will be destroyed!
O’ tidings of madness and woe, madness and woe,
O’ tidings of madness and woe! (and great woe)
*Repost from 2014
Not very long ago
In a neighborhood relatively nearby…
~ Created by Tom BetGeorge
The smile that greeted Sister Madly that December day of yesteryear was one she hoped to never see again, for it was the smile that always preceded something disagreeable. And clearly, this was going to be more disagreeable than simply hauling a wagon through the snow to deliver homemade bread to the neighbors.
But it ended up being much more ghastly than anything the 8 year-old could have imagined.
It was the Living Nativity.
What made this so disagreeable was that she was living in Michigan at the time- the ideal place to have an outdoor Nativity in the dead of winter; absolutely ideal.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Great Lakes Region in the middle of December, allow Sister Madly to provide you with a brief synopsis:
…as opposed to where she lives now:
It was after a proper period of sulking (and a lecture from her parents) that Sister Madly decided to see this unsolicited obligation as the opportunity to flaunt her most excellent theatrical abilities- after all, who knew what Hollywood guru would be in attendance that night? Her dread was further mollified by the news that she was not to be a shepherd boy as was first thought, but rather, a King.
But this was no ordinary Christmas Pageant: there were no lines, indeed no speaking of any kind, not even a song- which was most fortunate for those within earshot, as Sister Madly cannot carry a tune with a forklift.* In fact, there was nothing required of her but to stand perfectly still, and be completely silent. While this ventured dangerously close to mime territory, Sister Madly refused to cross that savage boundary and decided to convey kingly majesty through her presence alone, just as any brilliant thespian would.
* She is not licensed to drive a forklift, either.
So on the appointed evening, Sister Madly, along with her parents and Tallulah (all of whom were, no doubt, plotting to steal her spotlight) found themselves at the First Church of the Middle of Nowhere. There was no sign of the Hollywood Guru, but he most likely wanted to be inconspicuous and hid the Rolls Royce.
Now Sister Madly knew better than to expect Broadway quality costumes from a country church, but even her simple expectations proved to be too high. The King’s costume wasn’t so much pulled over her neon, insanely-puffy winter coat (which glowed sweetly beneath the blue fabric like a cartoon x-ray) as Sister Madly was stuffed inside of it. And she had to wear the puffy coat- not for any sensible reason, like the weather, but because it made the robe fit more snugly as the costume was meant for an adult, not an child.
A child… Sister Madly was seriously offended at being lumped into a demographic to which she actually belonged- an indignation that was further provoked when she was told that she would be standing on a milk crate because she was too short. Of all the nerve…
While the other Kings wore winter coats as well, they had nowhere near the puffability as her neon monstrosity. Sister Madly was almost perfectly round, and moved with all the grace and speed of an imbalanced washing machine. She looked less like a king and more like Violet the Blueberry in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
It was as terrifying as it was magnificent to behold.
But Sister Madly reminded herself that this wasn’t just a still-life production centered around the Baby Jesus- who was noticeably absent from the Manger- it was an epic tale about a Mysterious King of Orient-R. And Sister Madly, with her plastic jewelry and her arms sticking straight out at her sides, she was that King, chosen to bear the hallowed gift of Murder-
Myrrh? What in tarnation is myrrh?
“It’s a burial spice.”
…because the person’s been murdered?
“Because the person is dead.”
Where does murder fit in?
So no murder, then. Just gold and something called myrrh…
Wait- what about about Frankenstein? Sister Madly’s wrong about that too, isn’t she? It’s actually Frank-and-Beans?
“Frankincense. Also a spice.”
And just like that, a piece of her childhood slipped away. Gone, now, were the days of Gold, Frankenstein, and Murder; gone was the mysterious land of Orient-R. Sister Madly wasn’t a King, nor royalty of any sort; she was just an 8 year-old moppet in a puffy coat, standing on a milk crate in the midst of a Nativity that sadly lacked a Baby Jesus.
There had better be cocoa afterwards.
THEME SONG: King of Wishful Thinking, Go West
She thought she was safe that night, when she slipped past a group of protesters into the pub. However, it was here where the real danger was percolating: once again, Sister Madly found herself facing the Happy Phlebotomist.
Through no fault of her own, Sister Madly found out that much has happened in the life of this cheerful mosquito since their last encounter, including co-authoring a vegan cookbook (which, incidentally, no one has ever seen) as well as making a batch of vintage wine- which should be ready “by the end of the year.”
Sister Madly, however, maintained a healthy level of skepticism. One just can’t call it a ‘vintage’ wine if it hasn’t been made yet; that’s like calling milk ‘butter’ when it’s still inside the cow. Life just doesn’t work that way, no matter how much one prays.
But the Happy Phlebotomist was quick to point out that wine-making was merely his passion, perhaps something for retirement. In the mean time, he gets by through a lovely regime of Spinning, Zumba, and Hot Yoga, through promoting a line of ‘natural’ supplements, and through phlebotomizing unsuspecting souls.
Now don‘t get her wrong- Sister Madly has nothing against a vegan lifestyle, nor the Spinning/Zumba/Hot Yoga Combo Plate that the Happy Phlebotomist now champions; it’s just that Sister Madly finds no joy in feasting on topsoil or twisting herself into a well-cooked pretzel. Still, she has a hard time believing that anyone who habitually depletes the human race of life-sustaining fluids for a living is as humane as his routine leads one to believe.
As for the vitamin supplements, one has to be cautious around these products- after all, most of them are not FDA approved, unlike American Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food, which is.
But that didn’t stop the Happy Phlebotomist, who achieved a freakish level of joy when he discussed the many uses of Colloidal Silver- surely even you, Sister Madly, would benefit from this miracle ‘cure-all.’
Sister Madly has to admit that she is not the spring chicken she was last week- why, just the other day, she managed to turn basic strength-training into a most spectacular pageant of twists, flails, and fancy footwork that any respectable jitterbug would envy, and has walked like a hunchback ever since. She also has a fair amount of illogical allergies, becomes exceedingly deranged when life withholds from her a decent amount of sleep, and when it comes to medieval weaponry, Sister Madly has all the self-control of a starving vulture over a zebra carcass.
But while Sister Madly loves to wear silver, she admits that her enthusiasm stops short of drinking it.
“There are some who swear by it.”
Some may swear by it, Jolly Ol’ Blood Extractor, but Sister Madly is more curious about those who don’t. She wants to know what, exactly, she is getting into before she starts melting down her jewelry for breakfast.
Oh, there was a reason, all right, but he was suspiciously evasive about it: any natural remedy has its risks if not used properly, he said, such as stomach upset, headaches, or rendering certain medications ineffective…
“…and then there some people who have been known to turn blue – permanently – but I don’t think it’s something you need to worry about.”
Hold it right there, Chipper: you are trying to pitch Sister Madly a miracle supplement whose potential side-effects include turning into a Smurf, and you don’t think that is something she should worry about?*
* A condition known as argyria, caused by prolonged exposure to chemical forms of silver, resulting in a blue or gray discoloration of the skin.
In an effort to reassure her, the Happy Phlebotomist explained that one could reduce the risk of this Technicolor discoloration by becoming nocturnal, as exposure to sunlight increases it. His pathological good cheer quickly escalated to psychotic levels when he realized all the delightful possibilities of promoting a substance that has adverse effects when exposed to the sun, such as creating a package deal consisting of Colloidal Silver and Vitamin D- the latter of which would be lacking in an individual avoiding the sun.
Yes, somewhere there is a world where that idea will work…
To tell you the truth, Sister Madly spends precious little time contemplating what life would be like if she were blue, but even then it didn‘t take her long to reach the conclusion that, if she woke up one morning the color of her recycling bin, she was be apocalyptically cross about it.
Then again, there is something appealing about having a choice of what color one turns after prolonged exposure to the sun. Mother Nature can be so thoughtful, the dear.
In the meantime, Sister Madly will be implementing her own health regimen by routinely disinfecting her insides through pints of lovely, local ciders.
THEME SONG: Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington
I yearn for the good old days, when you could go about telling people
what you thought of them with a hatchet and a bow and arrow ~ Jerome K Jerome
With this wisdom in mind, Sister Madly faced the Faire with her customary devil-may-care disposition – that is, until an encounter with the Dodo resulted in the threat of arrest due to her fleeing the Battle of the Baked Goods the day before.
~ Draft Dodging (she refused to throw cupcakes at her enemies)
The charges, of course, were absolutely ridiculous. Why, several inebriated witnesses will testify that multiple Sister Madlys stood at the edge of the battlefield so very briefly- that has to count for something!
Besides, she is but a savant of Fortune Cookie Wisdom:
He who runs from a fight ~
Lives to see another night.
But in the barbaric world that is Renaissance Faire Justice, no one heeds the wisdom of the cookie. Thus Sister Madly was forced to seek quick and immediate shelter at the Scotch tasting, where she pinched a checkered tablecloth from beneath some very unsuspecting tipplers.
Well, she just couldn’t go to the Highland Fling looking any ol’ how!
The Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Theft (borrowing a tablecloth without first asking ‘May I?’)
The tablecloth wasn’t particularly stylish, but she wasn’t alone- Clan Picnic Blanket had been making an appearance at the Highland Fling for several years now. Little was known about this group aside from the fact that they imbibed frequently and was comprised entirely of individuals named Scott*, which made them the easiest Clan to infiltrate.
* Later modified to include those who had a ‘Scott’ in the family.
However, Sister Madly was unable to completely blend in with Clan Picnic Blanket: she was a green checkered cloth amidst the sea of red, not a man, and shamefully sober. That latter part she could work on, but Sister Madly would have to bluff about the green tablecloth, much like the way she bluffed about being a ‘Scott.’*
* Not a lie so much as it was an unsubstantiated truth.
The Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Fraud (she was not a Scott)
It didn’t take long.
The green tablecloth isn’t fooling anybody, Sister Madly.
And bluff she did.
Maybe it was she who was fooled, Herr Dodo, by the green; perhaps Sister Madly is color blind.
Of course this wasn’t true, they both knew that; but it was something the Dodo couldn’t disprove and would look like a poor sport if he tried.
He would also look like a poor sport if he interfered with a race- or so she thought. You see, Sister Madly was under the faulty impression that by participating in the Keg Roll Relay, she would be safe from retribution.
The race, however, was not as easy as she fancied: the keg was imbalanced, being half-loaded- much like the majority of Clan Picnic Blanket. Looping lines were all the rage for this lot, and while most teams headed vaguely towards the finish line, Clan Picnic Blanket veered sharply to the left- which abruptly ended the moment the Keg escaped the humiliation and rolled down the hill towards the Living History Village.
Naturally, Sister Madly was the last of her team to realize the gravity of the situation as the rest of Clan Picnic Blanket abandoned the race and headed for the nearest drinking establishment. Yes, there was a Keg bearing down upon the Vikings, and if Sister Madly didn’t make a move out of sight, she would be left to take the blame.
Which is precisely what happened.
The Modified Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Property Damage (the Keg knocked over a bunting)
Well, Miss Smarty-Knickers, what are you going to do now?
Sister Madly was somewhat bewildered by this response. The Keg missed the Dodo’s pavilion by mere inches, so he had no reason to complain; in fact, he wasn’t anywhere near the Village, just lording over it on the hill. If he had been minding his own business over in the swamp, this wouldn’t even be an issue.
Then again, perhaps the offense was more indirect. Perhaps he, like Sister Madly, was sensitive to hops; or perhaps he was one of those gluten-free Plague Doctors and saw the Keg as a passive-aggressive attack on his dietary lifestyle. At the very least, a health-conscious ol’ bird such as he should appreciate the fact that it was a free-range Keg that nearly destroyed the Village, and not one of those farm-raised, hormone-injected types.
When you fling an 80-pound keg into a crowd, we eliminate the ‘passive’ part.
The Finely-Tuned Modified Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Property Damage
~ Assault (she pushed a Keg towards unsuspecting human beings)
Never had Sister Madly accomplished so much before noon.
THAI BASIL CURRY
- Ghee/Oil, for sauteing
- 6 chicken thighs, cubed (opt)
- Vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, snap peas, etc)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 chili pepper, chopped and seeded to taste (used serrano)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced ~ OR ~ 3/4 tsp, ground
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves,* chopped
* Thai Basil differs from Sweet Basil as it has an anise/licorice taste
Saute onion in ghee/oil until translucent- 5 min
Add garlic, (fresh) ginger and chili- saute for 3-5 min
Add curry, turmeric, coriander, ginger (if using ground) and salt
Stir until fragrant- 30 sec
Add vegetables, chicken and coconut milk- bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked- 30 min
Mix in lime juice and heat to set flavors- about 1 min
Remove from heat and mix in Thai basil
THEME SONG: Runaway, Bon Jovi
So you want to make a Christian Scare Film. Where do you go from here?
To begin with, this is not just a propaganda film; this is a Christian Scare Film, whose holy objective of “scaring people into heaven” is to be regarded as
blackmail coercion love. If successful, you may one day find your film at a popular independent movie rental under Cult Classics, sub category YAHWEH IS ANGRY.
Once again, you want to make a Christian Scare Film. Where do you go from here?
Allow Sister Madly to provide you with a few simple steps:
But for those of you who are biologically engineered to ignore sound advice, Sister Madly has gathered for you the tips to divine infamy based upon an untidy little Christploitation Series known as A Thief in the Night.
For those of you whose childhood was unsullied by this low-budget trauma, A Thief in the Night and its sequels depicts all the joys and unapologetic good-times to be had for those living in a post-apocalyptic world. True, the same can be said for many made-for-TV quality movies of that era, but Thief has a special place in Sister Madly’s history for unintentionally portraying both religion and 70’s fashion as slightly less appealing than the Tribulation.
Also, Ritz Crackers.
So once again, you want to make a Christian Scare Film. Where do you go from here?
~ MUSIC ~
The theme song should not be an uplifting little ditty easily forgotten, but a depressing, soul-sucking earworm. Otherwise, your viewers will just end up listening to their rock music in reverse, trying to decode the satanic messages.
~ INTERPRET THE SOURCE LITERALLY ~
The Book of Revelations is to be interpreted literally- especially the bit about the locusts.*
* Revelations 9:3-10
As you can imagine, it is difficult to find a grasshopper of that caliber.
So here is a picture of the classic cocktail.
~ RITZ CRACKERS ~
While one might think this is shameless product placement, this delicacy of yesteryear serves to remind Sister Madly of the old linoleum adorning in her parent’s kitchen floor. People tend to become wistful, if not melancholic, when faced with cracker nostalgia, which makes them much more susceptible to the Divine Message.
~ BAR CODES ~
Bar codes. Bar codes everywhere.
~ SCIENCE ~
Science is simply overrated. For example, it is entirely safe to wander about a city located a few miles from the site of a very recent nuclear detonation. The aforementioned city will also be entirely in tact and free from radiation- but a looted sweater will take care of any pesky contamination leftover on that abandoned Corvette your characters intend to take on a 14ft joyride.*
* Make sure your characters return the sweater. Christian Scare Films do not condone sweater theft.
~ CONTINUITY ~
Continuity is also overrated. Hairstyles and moustaches are best represented in the current fashion, and there is no need to concern yourself with dreary continuity errors even though your next film picks up immediately from where the previous one left off 3 years prior.
Filmed 3 years apart.
Takes place 30 seconds apart.
~ PYREX ~
Not the measuring cups currently produced, but the decorative kitchenware released between the 1940’s – 1980’s, which has become the obsession of
Tallulah collectors. The piece making a guest appearance in Thief is known as ‘Early American,’ Tallulah was quick to inform- that is, after much indignation was expressed that the bowl was actually used for mixing rather than sitting pretty on a shelf.* Too many Pyrex cameos, however, will distract Tallulah viewers from the Divine Message.
* Sister Madly strongly believes this is why Tallulah cannot stay awake through Casablanca: no vintage Pyrex. None.
~ HAND PUPPETS ~
Including hand-puppets for people too old to be communicating with hand-puppets will distract the viewers from the fact that your actor is too old to be playing a character who routinely communicates with hand-puppets.
~ STAR IN YOUR OWN FILM ~
Just do it!
Implement these simple, yet classic Scare Film Staples, and you, too, may one day find your film at a popular independent movie rental under Cult Classics, sub category YAHWEH IS ANGRY.*
* Sister Madly would be angry, too, if someone made an incompetent movie about her.
You will also scare the butterbeans out of anyone under the age of 7. Trust her on this one.
But most importantly: Ritz Crackers.
THEME SONG: I Wish We’d All Been Ready, The Fishmarket Combo
1.) A Thief in the Night
3.) A Thief in the Night
5.) Thief in the Night
6.) A Distant Thunder
7.) The Prodigal Planet
8.) A Distant Thunder/Image of the Beast
9.) A Thief in the Night
10.) A Thief in the Night
11.) A Thief in the Night
They say that around the end of October, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. While the mysterious netherworld intrigues, Sister Madly finds the living to be much more tolerant of her delightful petulance than the dead simply because they have no other choice.
However, her sister, Tallulah, had some sort of romantic getaway planned for something called an ‘anniversary,’ and in no uncertain terms implied that Sister Madly was not welcome to tag along, despite the fact that there was ample room at that seaside cottage. Seeing as the only other option was to face the holiday alone, Sister Madly figured she might as well consort with the Dead.
And what better way than with a traditional Dumb Supper? *
* A Dumb Supper is a dinner held in honor of those who have passed on, where the living remain silent while at the table in reverence of the dead.
It’s often said that the deceased guests of said Supper are ‘loved ones,’ but is this a requirement? Is she allowed to invite total strangers, even those whose lifestyles some might frown upon? She would love to mingle with the likes of Vincent Price, Somerset Maugham, and Ambrose Bierce. David Bowie. Sidney Bechet. Gene Tierney. Jack the Ripper- he ought to be dead by now… right?
Apart from the proper Dumb Supper Invite Protocol, Sister Madly found herself baffled by one question in particular: how, exactly, does one invite the deceased to a Dumb Supper? To where does one send the invitation? Is it via carrier pigeon? Smoke-Signals? Or are the means much more mystical, such as through her decrepit old Speak-N-Spell which is definitely haunted?
It was during these ponderings that Sister Madly faced the reality of her accommodations: she doesn’t have enough room at her table to seat all of the Invited Dead- and by that she means she does not have a kitchen table. She would have to make due by seating them on the floor, Moroccan style, which would be no problem as she has an unholy amount of pillows stockpiled on her bed. The seating arrangement may be a bit peculiar as it zigzags through the apartment, with some guests sitting the bathtub and others in the kitchen,* but in the end even the Dead will admit that comfort and convenience is no match for a free meal.
* Jack the Ripper would not be seated near the cutlery. No need to place temptation within his reach.
When all was said and done, the total number of guests came to 13… and you know that THAT means!
But for those who lives are all sunshine and butterflies, it is said that the first person to leave the table of 13 will die within a year. Being the only living creature at this supper, it is practically guaranteed that this someone will be Sister Madly. Sure, she could invite the Professors to safeguard against this nuisance- no doubt they would totally be down for a free supper; but the ‘dumb’ part would almost certainly trip them up. There is always an opinion, observance, or unsolicited advice which deviant genetics forbids them from keeping to themselves, and Sister Madly thought it best not to offend the Ripper while in her apartment
So she decided to remedy this by adding to the guest list… until she reached a total of 37.
Well, way to go, Sister Madly! A meal for 37 will certainly be a strain on the weekly budget; the Invited Dead will have nothing to look forward to other than a feast of Ramen Noodles and Pickled Beets- which means you might still wind up with 13 for Dinner because of a poorly executed menu. What if the some of the guests are gluten intolerant? What if they only want Pop-Tarts? And what if the Invited Dead are engaged elsewhere at the appointed time? Sure, you won’t mind if some arrive fashionably late, but some may not show up at all, and you could very-well end up with only 13 for dinner…
Which begs the question: how is Sister Madly to know if the Dead DO attend? What if they have no message to pass along from the great beyond? What if they are painfully shy? What if they take sides on the great Bette Davis/Joan Crawford rivalry, and a otherworldly food fight breaks out right there in the middle of her apartment? She doesn’t own a mop, and her security deposit does not cover poltergiest…
Then there is the possibility that none of the Invited Dead are able to attend, leaving Sister Madly alone in her apartment with 38 bowls of Pickled Beet Ramen- a nightmare guaranteed to send her into hysterics.
Rather than risk years of intense therapy due to a Feast of Pickled Beets, Sister Madly decided to cancel the party entirely and buy some cider instead.*
* Nice & Naughty, to be exact.
WILD RICE AND MUSHROOM SOUP
- 24 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 3 rainbow carrots, thinly sliced
- 1-2 stalks celery, sliced
- 3-4 cups veggie ~ or ~ chicken stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup (dry measure) wild rice, cooked
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste (used chipotle)
- 1 bay leaf
- Oil for sauteing
- Lg pinch tumeric (opt, for color)
Heat oil in stock pot
Sauté onion until translucent; 5 minutes
Add garlic; sauté
Add mushrooms; sauté for 5 minutes
Mix in spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds
Add stock and coconut milk; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
Mix in rice
Simmer to set flavors (10 -15 minutes)
Remove bay leaf
Allow to rest for 2+ minutes before serving
THEME SONG: Death is Not the End, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
It’s been said that epiphanies don’t come to those who have all the answers, but to those who haven’t a clue.
Immediately following a round of ear drops, Sister Madly attempted to navigate through the whole of her itty-bitty apartment with her head tilted to the side. It was at that moment that Sister Madly had an epiphany of her own: she would never make it as a halibut.
To be fair, it’s not that she has spent her idle hours wondering what life would be like as a halibut; sometimes the universe just comes along and gives you the answer to a question you never thought to ask.
And clearly the halibut lifestyle is out of her league.
You see, halibut swim upright during the early stages of life; but as juveniles they begin swimming sideways, which cannot be a pleasant way to exist. Sister Madly has no idea how halibut make it through their posh nautical bungalows without getting lightheaded or crashing into the doorframe, but she gives them kudos for doing so.
Yet there is plenty to envy in the life of a halibut: swimming about with no inhibitions, no politics, no leafy greens on the menu. No taxes. No jury duty. No Jehovah Witnesses pounding on the door at 8 in the morning- nothing but that sweet, deep-sea life of mayhem, grand debauchery, and seahorses.
It suddenly occurred to her that she knew an awful lot about the life of a halibut without ever having encountered the fish in its natural habitat, much less befriending one. Such insider knowledge could only be explained by having been a halibut in a past life.
Not doubt these fishy reflections would have gone by the wayside had she not encountered the Professors later at the pub, where a discussion broke out on whether or not Sister Madly had knitted a certain scarf (which she certainly did not.*) The interrogation became so intense that Sister Madly hardly noticed the moment all the pitiless PhD’s agreed on splitting a Fish Sandwich- which turned out to be halibut.
* Neither does she crochet, sew, or do whatever it is that one does with a loom.
Now on any given day, Sister Madly can be found treading somewhere between stone-cold logic and utter psychosis, but that night, she was flirting with the point of no return. Never had she been so tortured over a Sandwich- and not from a ethical viewpoint, which could be forgiven, but that of a hapless soul fearing that she may be noshing upon her own brethren like some aquatic Hannibal Lecter!
So she discussed the matter amongst herself:
It’s just a sandwich, Sister Madly.
~ Not just any sandwich- a halibut sandwich.
A dead halibut, so what does it matter?
~ But it does matter! What if this filet had once been her best friend? Or one of her descendents? Seriously, this is a deep-fried nibble dish of everything that is wrong with society!
What in tarnation… Do you realize, Sister Madly, that your obsession with a fish is rendering you completely incapable of defending yourself against the grisly accusation of Scarf Knitting? You must not let yourself be thwarted by a sandwich yet again!
“You do realize that you are not actually a halibut, don’t you?”
She may not be a halibut now, Professor, but she may have been in a past life. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming:
Halibut: does not knit.
Sister Madly: does not knit.
Halibut: cannot live without water
Sister Madly: cannot live without water
Halibut: does not speak Swahili
Sister Madly: does not speak Swahili
Halibut: very tasty
Sister Madly: not very tasty *
* Trust her on this one. ‘Bitter’ is her middle name.
Halibut: strange looking
Sister Madly: strange looking
As you can see, Sister Madly fits the criteria of a halibut in 4 of the 5 characteristics listed, which proves that she was a halibut in a past life.* Logic, Professor; stone-cold logic.
* 5 out of 5 would prove that she is one currently.
Naturally, the Professor could not* argue with her reasoning.
* Some would say ‘would not’ but, whatever.
But that didn’t mean the argument was finished.
“Are you quite sure that you didn’t knit this scarf?”
Of course! Halibut don’t knit.
“Neither do wheat threshers.”
You know, you might be on to something there, Professor! Not only to wheat threshers not knit, Sister Madly instinctively knew that, much like herself, wheat threshers have absolutely no desire to learn the skill. Thus the only conclusion to be drawn is that before she was reincarnated as a halibut, Sister Madly was first a wheat thresher.
Logic. Stone-cold logic.
Sister Madly recently told a friend that when it comes to a Crazy Cat Lady, ‘crazy’ depicts the cat, not the lady.
She stands by this claim, by golly.
Now Sister Madly, herself, has 13 cats by proxy- 3 through the Professors, 2 via Tallulah, 1 outside the Pub, and 7 throughout the neighborhood. But this was not always the case; just a few years ago, Sister Madly had but 1: Tallulah’s cat, Caviar.
On the surface, Caviar is all fluff and cuddles, driven by a bloodlust for moths, canned peas, and pine needles, and is as much of a fan of hard cider as Sister Madly. Many a winter’s night he would curl up in her lap, licking cider off her fingers while Tallulah tutted her maternal disapproval, which was largely ignored. Indeed, Caviar was a lazy, languorous drunk.
But if one were to look straight into his soul: madness- sweet, cider-marinated madness. Yes, Sister Madly is proud of that little demon psychopath, having perfected the art of crazy with methods entirely of his own devising. It was most unfortunate that Caviar was not around during Sister Madly’s childhood to pass along some Tallulah-terrorizing tips, although her own signature move of sitting as close as possible to Tallulah- without actually touching- was a wicked success.
Unfortunately, Tallulah was not around for Caviar’s Masterpiece; no, she was out on something called a ‘date’ with someone called a ‘boyfriend’ due to this newfangled thing called ‘love’ the moment Sister Madly realized that half of her shoelace was missing. Had Tallulah mentioned that she would be away for most of the weekend (like a good elder sibling should) no doubt Caviar would have postponed his gastronomic escapade until she was all cozy at home in pink bunny slippers, painting her nails.
One would think that the rancid, I-hope-that-was-mud-I-just-stepped-in aftertaste that all shoelaces possess would have persuaded Caviar to abandon his hearty consumption, but being of the Madly mindset, he reasoned that there could be no funky aftertaste if he just kept on eating.* This resulted in an unhappy Caviar who spent the weekend deliberately making himself unsoft- thus no fun to pet- all the while giving Sister Madly the evil eye as though she had stuffed him full of shoelaces like a turkey on Thanksgiving.
* Hearty shoelace consumption causes tummy-aches. For your FYI.
Once Caviar grew tired of that shoelace mucking up his system, he decided to rid himself of it in the most natural way possible- and by that, Sister Madly means the way that Mother Nature had designed.
This turned out to be rather unpleasant for all parties involved.
You see, the shoelace that is ingested whole is returned whole; it does not magically separate inside a cat’s tummy, nor does it disintegrate (as Sister Madly was hoping it would.) Thus the feline that consumes 20 inches of shoelace returns 20″ of shoelace.
Unfortunately, Caviar could only manage 18” on the return, which immediately sent him into a Prima Donna’s tantrum, hissing and caterwauling about the apartment willy-nilly. Sister Madly tried to reason with him, explaining that while his situation was not ideal, it was impossible to run away from the shoelace while the shoelace was still a part of him. She likened it to the few times he had tried chasing his tail, but Caviar was having none of it. Cat logic, you see, holds no respect for the reasoning of mankind.
Now the one thing Sister Madly was told was that under no circumstance should she pull the shoelace out, as it could harm the pathetic little creature. Not that she had any desire to do so; the shoelace made him look like a pull-string doll, and she wasn’t too keen on finding out what Caviar would say if she gave it a tug. She had seen the Talky Tina Twilight Zone episode and had learned a thing or two.
But what’s more is that, thanks to Mother Nature, the returning shoelace was not a clean shoelace, not by any stretch of the imagination. This presented a whole new set of problems as the apartment was rapidly become unsanitary; and as ignoring the problem wasn’t making it go away (oh, how she tried!) Sister Madly- accompanied by Dean Martin’s That’s Amore– spent upwards of 10 minutes chasing Caviar around with a towel, hoping to somehow herd him into the bathroom where he could work out his issues like an adult.
But it was not necessary; throwing the towel over Caviar resulted in a spastic, get-this-neon-terrycloth-horror-off-of-me ritual exorcism, which was enough to free him from the shoelace as well.
Five minutes later, he came begging for cider.
* To those with the horribly twisted minds that Sister Madly so admires, no- the shoelace was not reusable.
THEME SONG: That’s Amore, Dean Martin
It was a common sight that summer, the old refrigerator box moving upright across the lawn.
To the untrained eye it was a free-spirited box, pouncing upon puffball mushrooms and chasing fireflies with unmistakable good cheer. But what the untrained eye did not realize was that this wasn’t just childhood whimsy; this was a mission of the highest caliber, one that demanded both stealth and discretion.
You see, Sister Madly was utterly convinced that her neighbor, Harry, was a Russian spy.
It was not an easy conclusion to reach as the classic signs of Russian pride were absent, such as fur hats and vodka parties, and bowls of borscht on a Saturday night. But there was no mistaking the subtler signs, the ones sadly overlooked by the federal government: the mowing of the lawn before 7 AM; the cans of fruit cocktail he gave to children on Halloween; the disapproval when Sister Madly’s hula hoop got stuck in his tree ‘yet again.’ Yet the incident that all but confirmed Harry’s Soviet sympathies was the night questionable music drifted from the shed tucked away behind his house.
A song that referenced alien abduction.*
* Come Sail Away by Styx
All the music that ever mattered could be found at the roller rink, sandwiched between Roxette’s Joyride and the closing anthem of We Are the World. But this little ditty which encouraged extra-terrestrial naughtiness was nowhere to be found at these skating parties, leading Sister Madly to the obvious conclusion that the song was a code to be deciphered.
Even though the word ‘alien’ never appears in the song, by simply mentioning a starship, the aliens are implied- which was a clever move on the part of the Russians. The ‘alien’ was without a doubt Harry as he proved himself a stranger by strangely suggesting that Sister Madly was not using her hula hoop properly since she kept getting it stuck up in the tree.
As for the starship, there was no such craft parked in his driveway, nor on the street in front of his house. Obviously Harry had the craft hidden away, which could only mean that the starship was inflatable. Yes, somewhere on that property there was a zeppelin stuffed into a coffee can, ready to be inflated and deployed at a moment’s notice- and that moment was approaching. Clearly this was the message hidden in the song. A brilliant lot, them Russians.
And just as Sister Madly was congratulating herself on the cracking of this code, there came a polite knock on the side of her box.
But it wasn’t Harry; it was her dad. And it seemed that after days of watching the refrigerator box amble through it’s many misadventures, he managed to work up just enough curiosity to ask what it was that Sister Madly was doing.
Maybe she should tell him about Harry- after all, when it came to fighting international spies, her dad was probably a bit more capable than she.
To her surprise, the Pater Madly did not seem particularly threatened by the Russians; in fact, he seemed to imply that his greatest foes were a bit little closer to home- the bats living in the chimney, for example. And the wasp’s nest.
Sister Madly had to admit that she did not know which country was currently #1 on the International Espionage Watch List. Perhaps Russia was so last Tuesday. Perhaps another nation was now a greater threat, someplace mysterious and largely unfathomable- like Paducah.
But just as it was with Russia, the badges of Kentucky pride were absent, such as silver spurs. Harry didn’t wear silver spurs, not even with his comfy, tasseled loafers. But he did whistle now and then, to prove his good cheer. Yes, Paducah was a possibility.
Not only was her dad remarkably unconcerned, he was amused, which made Sister Madly wonder if he was a spy as well. After all, he made ice tea in the old apple juice jars, and in the refrigerator one couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Because of this, Sister Madly was often given ice tea ‘by mistake’- which is just the thing a spy would do, in her opinion.
The Pater Madly, however, did nothing to deny – or defend – his ties with Russia (or those with Paducah, for that matter.) Instead, he simply informed Sister Madly that he had gotten her hula hoop out of the tree.
And on the advice of her father, Sister Madly did her best not to get the hula hoop stuck up in Harry’s tree- if her dad was doing his part to improve relations with Russia, she might as well do hers.
She got it stuck on the roof of the garage instead.
THEME SONG: Come Sail Away, Styx
4) Paula Strahan