A cautionary tale for Valentine’s…
We’d like to tell you a story
About a young girl,
About eighteen years old, about five feet two,
And about to go out.
Now, her Mother,
Realizing it was her first time
Out with a young man,
Called her into the bedroom and said,
And now, Minnie,
I want you to remember everything
I’ve always told you,
And above all
I want you to be very, very careful…
They searched the place from penthouse to the cellar
In every room and underneath each bed.
Once they thought they saw it lying on a pillow
But they found it belonged to someone else instead.
They questioned all the bellboys and the porter
The chef appeared to be the guilty guy
And the doorman also acted quite suspicious
But he coyly said, “I’m sure it wasn’t I!”
They just about completed all their searching
When the chauffeur walked up with it in his hand
All they did was stand and gape,
There was Minnie’s sable cape-
And she thought that she had lost it at the Astor.
… always remember your sable cape, ladies, lest you displease Mama.
5) Cecil Beaton
Aside from the occasional Dumb Supper, Sister Madly never entertains in a high-society fashion. So when she received a single teacup from Tallulah over Christmas, she assumed that Tallulah intended her to serve herself from this charming china set.
Now, Sister Madly has been known to have discussions with herself, often keeping herself up at night with lengthy dissertations about the correlation between Hollow Earth and Pop Rocks, until she rolls over and tells herself to put a sock in it. She then hurls insults at herself under her breath like a petulant child until she falls asleep exhausted somewhere between 4 and 5AM. Clearly, a nightcap from this teacup will put an end to those late night discourses.
Tallulah knows her so well.
Her Brother-in-Law, however, has a different theory about his favorite holiday: Christmas, he says, is a time to get someone the present you want to give them, not necessarily what they want*- a theory he later demonstrated by gifting Sister Madly the LP soundtrack of that beloved cult classic Manos: The Hands of Fate.
* A very interesting theory, Mr. Tallulah; Sister Madly just might implement this same philosophy for you next year. Hopefully, SkyMall is still in circulation.
While not a brilliant score musically, there is a certain novelty in owning the soundtrack to one of the worst disasterpieces in cinematic history- that, and she likes to annoy her neighbors.
Also, it provided some lovely dinner music later that evening.
* Be thankful that Sister Madly linked you to the 10 minute video, not the 10 hour one- that is her Christmas gift to you.
But the Manos soundtrack was not the only gift from Mr. Tallulah; it was accompanied by that coveted DVD of Radiant Fireplace 2, to satiate her midnight cravings to watch 60 minutes of nonstop fireplace.
Being that it was Christmas, the unwrapping of Radiant Fireplace 2 quickly led to a discussion amongst herself over the storyboard for a truly festive Yule Log Video.
Allow Sister Madly to elaborate:
Naturally, one starts by setting some dead trees on fire to merry music…
By the 3rd Song- Greensleeves, of course- break out the snacks…
After a S’more or two, revive the dying flame with kindling and all those pesky incriminating documents you forgot to shred…
45 minutes later, ritually summon an Elder God Sister Madly…
Then scramble to appease her demand for an offering…
No doubt Sister Madly is pleased…
… nope, not as pleased as she could be…
Now look what you’ve done- you’ve sent Sister Madly into a proper tantrum! Why would you even think that a spider is an appropriate offering? What’s wrong with Moroccan Lanterns or fuzzy socks or Ferrero Rocher candies? Pretty rocks? Birds of Paradise? Spiders are never an acceptable currency in the Madliverse- you should know that by now, peasant!
And it is here that the more sensible amongst you would implement, most carefully, the wisdom of Tallulah’s Teacup*- as you can see, Sister Madly’s tantrums are epic.
* Having filled it to the brim with Cider, of course.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN SOUP
- 4-6 chicken thighs, whole
- 6-8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked (opt)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 TBSP fresh garlic, minced
- carrots, chopped
- celery, chopped
- mushrooms, sliced
- 2½ tsp thyme
- 2½ tsp marjoram
- ¼ tsp pepper, or to taste
- salt, to taste
- oil/ghee, for sautéing
Sauté onion in hot oil until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add celery, carrots, and mushrooms; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 30-40 min
Shred chicken with 2 forks
Add couscous; cover; simmer 8-10 min until cooked
Remove from heat and serve
THEME SONG: Let the Fire In, Peter Murphy’s Carver Combo
10) Jill Greenberg
The Creatures of the Night are abroad,
And over there in a ruined Churchyard, in a ruined Church Steeple~
The cracked Bell is being activated by the Night Breezes
Suddenly, I heard the plaintive cry of a young, Mexican girl…
Performed by: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
Every December, Sister Madly’s mother would spend a week baking up to 40 loaves of bread while listening to Lawrence Welk and the Mexicali Brass. A young Sister Madly would then reluctantly deliver half of this bounty with her elder sister, Tallulah, to neighbors they hardly knew- many of whom lived far beyond the acceptable distance of ‘neighbor’- while dragging a red wagon through several feet of snow.
But this tradition was not limited to neighbors.
While no child looks forward to a school day, no morning was as dreaded as the day before Winter Break, when Mother Madly handed over a loaf of bread as a gift to the bus driver. When Sister Madly first heard the term “cruel and unusual punishment,” this scenario is what came to mind.
However, the argument of which Madly Sibling (the elder Tallulah or the most magnificent Sister Madly) was to give said Bread to the Bus Diver was beans compared to the argument of whom would carry the Bottle of Champagne the following day.
The Darrow’s, you see, lived 4-doors down (Sister Madly used to play- most discreetly, of course- in the weird tar-pit thing behind their house.) And every year, the Darrow’s would gift the Madly girls a bottle of cheap Champagne in return for the annual Loaf of Bread.
For Sister Madly, this was much worse than the whole Bus Driver thing; people might actually think the Champagne belonged to her. They might think that she, a wanton, 5 year-old Moppet, had wasted every cent of her allowance on its purchase, and there was no way that she could prove otherwise. And the Champagne didn’t even come in a proper paper bag, which is how it was consumed by the Elite on the streets; no, Sister Madly’s bottle had a shiny, red bow tape to it.
Then came the horrifying thought: what if her own Mother thought that Sister Madly bought the wine for herself? Her parents had stopped drinking some years before, and the bar in the basement now held a bizarre assortment of Care Bears and Cabbage Parch Kids… if a bottle of Champagne should appear within their midst, it would bring no end of trouble….
But there was no time for this worry, as one such delivery spree found a pom-pommed Sister Madly hauling 3 Loaves of Bread all by her lonesome. Tallulah had been forgiven of all delivery obligations that evening after befriending a classmate who had the cheeky audacity to be born on that particular date some years before, and who wanted to celebrate the fact with something called a “party.”
Even at the tender age of 5, Sister Madly had anti-social tendencies; she had absolutely no desire to knock on the doors of her Bread-less Neighbors, and succumbed to a magnificent tantrum somewhere between her front door and her Neighbor’s driveway. After spending an eternity (i.e., 2-3 minutes) fussing about, Sister Madly utilized her Red Wagon in such a way that allowed her to slide the Loaf of Bread into the oversized mailbox* without a word to her long-nosed neighbors.
With her mission technically complete, Sister Madly trotted home, confident in the fact that she had rebelled against the unknown universe with her little Red Wagon and a knitted, Pompom Hat.
5 stupid hours of pointy hell later, Sister Madly’s apartment is
finally festive. She will be calling upon one of you next year to set
up this tree for her. She may even buy you a cider for your trouble.
* Re-post from 2014. Or somewhere around there.
Show Me Slowly
What I only Know the Limits of
And Dance Me
To the End of Love
~ Leonard Cohen
I can’t make the hills
The system is shot
I’m living on pills
For which I thank G-d
I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart
I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night penciled in
My animal howls
My angel’s upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret
For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers
She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between
For less than a second
Our lives will collide
The endless suspended
The door open wide
Then she will be born
To someone like you
What no one has done
She’ll continue to do
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book
~ Leonard Cohen
Folk Songs have a lot to answer for. ~ Terry Pratchett
Earlier at the Faire, Sister Madly was Romancing the Stone: a quest where one picks a numbered stone* in hopes of connecting with their True Love -only now, thanks to her friends, her Token to True Love had been switched out for a pair of Mystery-Flavored Dum Dums.
* #88, although she could have been reading that upside down.
Amongst the reasons given for this heartless kleptomania was the logic that, in Arthurian legends, all heroes fight epic battles for love.* “Romance wasn’t so easy in those days, Sister Madly; the sooner you retrieve your rock from the Dodo, the sooner you can find your True Love and bask in the satisfaction of a job well-done. ”
* No doubt Karma had a hand in this as well.
That is how Sister Madly found herself down at the Living History Camp casing the Dodo’s pavilion, one so dismal and so depressing that even the flies were on Zoloft.
After a lengthy self-interrogation, Sister Madly decided that there was no need to bother the Dodo with her petty relationship issues (even though he was the reason she was having said issues.) It would be so much kinder to just creep around the back and crawl under the canvas- indeed, Sister Madly can be so considerate, sometimes (take that, Karma!)
But the man* she encountered inside was not the Dodo.
* Well, not a man so much as a shrubbery.
Some would say that by not parading into the pavilion through the front entrance she revealed herself as an intruder, but Sister Madly remained ever optimistic. Sure, she lacked certain qualities inherent in all homegrown plague doctors- such as the creepy bird mask and absolutely any knowledge of the Plague whatsoever- but unrealistic confidence is 80% of the battle: if she believes that she is part of the Guild, everyone else will believe it as well. Or at least 80% will.
Drop that Plague and turn around slowly!
By the look on his face, this shrubbery was one of the 20%. Perhaps Sister Madly underestimated that whole ‘enter a residence through the front door’ thing; she made a mental note to try it sometime.
Despite his disbelief, the Shrubbery insisted that he wasn’t looking to steal the Plague, but to be cured of it.
Sir, that is how she cures the Plague!
He remained unconvinced. “You’re making that up.”
Well, yes, but making a point in the process. As Confucius once said, Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated…
…and what’s that smell? Is that basil?
The Shrub was horribly offended. “Thyme.”
So, you’re a Thyme Lord.
The Shrubbery was just as skeptical. Apparently, a Plague-Ridding Professional had absolutely no business dressing as a medieval-highwayman-gypsy-thief thing with a wee bit of pirate sprinkled in- absolutely none.
What? It’s casual Saturday!
Clearly she would lose her plausibility as a card-carrying member of the Plague-Ridding Profession if she didn‘t figure out a way to cure this Thyme Lord in a manner that he found acceptable. He seemed very picky.
Well, sir, did you ever just consider not dying?
The Thyme Lord found her method lacking, going so far as to imply that there would be a special place in purgatory for impersonating the avian Florence Nightingale.
Impersonating? Does she look anything like Slender Bird?
“No. That’s the point.”
Precisely. If she doesn’t look like the Dodo in a Black Dress, then she cannot be accused of impersonation. Besides, you’re one to talk, being dressed as a Thyme Lord and all.
Now, there are times when logic fails our dear Moppet. Had Sister Madly entered the pavilion through the front door like a civilized burglar, she would have noticed several Shrubberies enjoying a pint just outside the entrance.
“That’s Parsley. And Sage. Rosemary…”
That’s right, Sister Madly: the shrubbery you encountered during your burglary attempt was not a Thyme Lord, but a key ingredient of Simon and Garfunkal’s spice rack.
It was then that she realized just how serious the situation was: the Plague that needed to be cured here was the horrific Plague of Unforgivable Puns.*
* If any of you point out that ‘Thyme Lord’ is, itself, a pun, Sister Madly will be very unhappy with you.
And so Sister Madly handed him a fistful of Dum Dums.
“What am I suppose to do with these?”
Well, first you unwrap the Dum Dum, then you stick it in your mouth. That’s where things get a bit technical…
… or she can axe off your leg, if you’d like.
CHIP CURRY SAUCE
- 2”- 3” ginger root, minced
- 1/2 green apple, minced
- 1 sm onion, minced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
- 1½- 3 cups vegetable stock
- salt/pepper, to taste
- Oil, for sauteing
Saute onion, ginger, garlic, and apple in hot oil until soft; 5-10 min
Add curry, garam masala, salt/pepper, and 5 spice; saute 30 sec
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer; 15 min
Puree sauce to desired smoothness
If too thick, stir in additional stock and simmer to set flavors
THEME SONG: Scarborough Faire, My Dying Bride
1.) Christopher Lovell
Is the Evidence of Life ~
If your Life
Is Burning Well,
Is just the Ash.
~ Leonard Cohen
3.) Lucinda Walter Photography
Not very long ago
In a neighborhood relatively nearby…
~ Created by Tom BetGeorge
Love is not a Victory March
It’s a Cold and it’s a Broken Hallelujah
~ Leonard Cohen (21 Sept 1934 ~ 7 Nov 2016)
Performed by Petr Spatina ~ Prague, Czech Republic
The trouble with being a god is that you’ve got no one to pray to ~ Terry Pratchett
It was a day like any other when Yanni came to town. At Utopia, three employees had emerged from their usual Wednesday night hangovers, Victor had fallen victim to the oil and muck puddle as he took out the trash, and the resident cat – Sinner – was having trouble hacking up his weekly hairball.
To the envy of all, Sister Madly had arrived sober, clean, and hairball free- but this, too, would not last. She was selected for the Wearing of the Green, that all too important job of trying on rings and bracelets to see how long it would take to look like Swamp Thing. Some nights she would come home with so much green around her wrists it looked like she spent the day chained up in the basement with Igor- which of course wasn’t true. Igor was fired months ago.
The point of the Wearing of the Green was to see whether or not the most recent merchandise was truly sterling.* Sterling Silver is an alloy consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metal, which makes the silver suitable for daily wear and is indicated by the number .925 engraved somewhere on the piece. Fine Silver (99.9%) is much too soft for jewelry, and often results in unhappy customers demanding something called a ‘refund’ – loudly.
*Green is the result of a chemical reaction between copper and the acid in sweat, which forms salts that leave a residue on the skin- the only alchemy of which Sister Madly is capable.
When dealing with reputable vendors, this low-budget test method is not necessary; but when one’s dealing with independent peddlers who sell things out of their trench coats in the back alley (a common Utopian practice) one just might wind up with merchandise that is merely sterling-plated.
In no time, Sister Madly looked as though she had been luxuriating in the local bayou, the sight of which prompted Management to make a cheeky reference to the employees being the latest rejects of Fraggle Rock. This, naturally, would have made no difference to Management had they not been made aware of one Yanni arriving in town.
Now Sister Madly had heard of this Yanni, thanks to the ill-gotten Pure Moods CD’s of her teens. She also remembers not being too impressed with whatever song was on said CD, thus not giving him a second thought- which, it would turn out, is more thought than most of her coworkers had ever given him.
However, it seemed that membership was down in Club Yanni, thus his accompanists took to the streets to recruit disciples by giving away free tickets. Management was particularly susceptible to this type of evangelism, and were not only immediate converts, but immediate authorities on the man they hadn’t heard of a mere hour before.
And as new glow of euphoric propaganda coursed through their veins, Management began to wonder if Yanni, himself, would show up at Utopia… because shopping for incense and fertility gods is exactly what Yanni would do less than 90 minutes before show time. Management went on to demanded that they be informed the moment Yanni stopped by the store.
There was some concern amongst certain Utopians regarding this request, as they did not know what the Man Known as Yanni looked like. But Management graciously responded with this all-too-detailed description:
“Just be on the look out for someone who looks like Jesus!”
“Jesus? Like the guy who sells melons on the corner?”
“That’s pronounced Jesús, Victor, and those are mangoes.”*
*It was well-known to everyone but Victor that the man behind Mangoes by Jesús was in fact an Italian named Giuseppe, who drove a vintage Mustang and spoke better English than the lot of them. But then, Victor smoked a lot of illegal plant-life.
It was a few moments before closing time when it happened: that beam of light that broke through the clouds, and the angelic choir that accompanied the silhouette that stood majestically in the doorframe…
…which was the precise moment that Sinner, in a spectacular display of vaudevillian theatrics, not only coughed up his mutant hairball, but proceeded to basked in the glory of his regurgitated masterpiece- all at the feet of the Man Who Could Have Been Yanni…
But alas, the silhouette was merely the pizza boy.
THEME SONG: Anything by Yanni, as long as it’s interesting (Good Luck)
Sister Madly has taken to entertaining long, lovely thoughts of the universe, butcher knives and Formica coffee tables in an effort to get the song It Came Upon a Midnight Clear out of her head.
She has the Professors to blame for this: they had embraced the holiday spirit much too early for their own good, singing carols and hanging up twinkling lights long before Thanksgiving materialized. Sister Madly retaliated with a threat to purchase their gifts out of Sky Mall Magazine, which successfully put an end to their musical twaddle.
But not to the music in her head.
There was a time that Sister Madly took these songs for granted, singing along without a thought as to what she was saying. It was upon being stumped by the second line of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear that she began to consider other songs of the season:
LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
What mother wouldn’t be thrilled to have an obnoxious little brat honor her newborn with the gentle whisperings of a snare drum? As much as a young Sister Madly would have loved to recreate this scenario in the neonatal unit at the local hospital, she didn’t see her mother supporting the idea.
Fortunately, Sister Madly has long-since reached the age of majority, so it no longer matters whether or not she has her mother’s approval.
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
Sister Madly sees nothing wrong with this salutation; even stopping by one’s house to do so is something to be admired depending on the time of day (she, herself, prefers the 1-4AM slot when personally trespassing in the name of generosity.) However, the subsequent demand for figgy pudding in verse two, followed by the refusal to leave until said pudding is obtained in verse three, sheds light on just how ill-equipped she is for this holiday. Apparently, it is standard procedure to procure an arsenal of figgy puddings in the event one is ambushed by a group of caroling bandits.
Should you find yourself singing this tune outside Sister Madly’s door- while properly armed with a machete and some duct tape- the best she can do at the moment is offer you some mystery mince (it might be Alpaca) and half a bottle of Two Towns Nice & Naughty Cider (which she loves and has no intention of sharing with you pudding-demanding degenerates.)
WE THREE KINGS
Sister Madly can’t even begin to tell you how long that she, as a wide-eyed, little ingénue, thought the Far East was the ever-so mysterious Orient-R. It was only after she came to realize that the gifts were not, in fact, Gold, Frankenstein, and Murder, that she began to entertain the possibility that she was mistaken about other words in the song as well.
THE BOAR’S HEAD CAROL
Who hasn’t looked upon a severed pig’s head and been inspired to hang up the holly and mistletoe?
Come on, now- Sister Madly can’t be the only one! Why, the very image of this creature with an apple wedged in its mouth triggers that wistful, Sister Madly Smile at the memories of old acquaintances, whose sudden departure from her life was as swift and as clean as their arrival. In fact, Sister Madly, the time has come once again for you to leave them all flowers.
THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
Contrary to popular belief, the problem here is not the cost; the problem here is the horde of birds and human creatures leaping, piping, singing and squawking in Sister Madly’s 300ft² apartment. There’s also the small matter of a pear tree chillin‘ out on the fire escape (which she has 24 hours to remove per the Fire Marshal’s order.) Taking this into account, the grand total of her True Love’s Shopping Extravaganza is:
- 50 humans
- 23 birds
- 5 gold rings
- 1 fruit-bearing tree
But upon further contemplation, Sister Madly finds this figure to be inaccurate. Take, for instance, the Maid’s A-Milking: should they be a-milking at the time of the gift exchange, it means that the cows were included. This brings the total to:
- 50 humans
- 23 birds
- 8 cows
- 5 gold rings
- 1 fruit-bearing tree
Of course, she can’t forget the Geese A-Laying: should they be particularly fertile fowl- with each one laying an egg on the day of their arrival (day 6) up to and including the day Sister Madly sets fire to her apartment (day 12)- the revised total would be:
- 50 humans
- 42 eggs
- 23 birds
- 8 cows
- 5 gold rings
- 1 fruit-bearing tree
…and just in what, exactly, are the 7 Swans A-Swimming?
Sister Madly is already planning a nasty break-up with her True Love- and she hasn’t even met him yet. The fact that she lets this nonsense continue for 12 days shows an inhuman amount of patience, most likely because these gifts* are from her True Love and she wants to give the miscreant every opportunity to explain himself.
As it turns out, staring off into space isn’t as relaxing as she thought it would be.
It came upon a midnight clear…
… but then it went away…
*The 5 golden rings would turn up missing on day 11. It would later be discovered that one of the Leaping Lords had light fingers and was courting Dancing Lady #6. The charges were dropped, as Sister Madly prefers silver when it comes to jewelry. Her True Love should have known this.