During the time Sister Madly spent in their employ, Utopia obtained a reputation of small-time intrigue, from back alley business deals to Kinder Egg transactions, to smuggling contraband inside of Russian Nesting Dolls. In spite of these rumors,* Utopia decided to venture into the seedy underworld of Alpaca Sweaters.
* Sister Madly might have been responsible for spreading those rumors.
Now Sister Madly knows that there are certain risks one takes when fraternizing with the Knitting Demimonde, from products of questionable origin (i.e., “Made in the Hinterlands”) to defects in the sweater itself:
As with all art, beauty is in the mind of the beholder. Clearly this was not a Backwards Flag; this was something deeper: a masterpiece of hypoallergenic fleece symbolizing the all the hardships a weary Knitter endures during a strong, eastern wind in the Hinterlands.
Eastern winds contribute to sweater-wearing, after all.
But Management, bereft of soul as is their wont, cast aside Sister Madly’s magnificent critique in favor of a far greater concern over why the whole of West Michigan refused to show their patriotism with a Backwards American Flag Sweater in the middle of July.
After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, Management concluded that the only way to rectify this horrible situation was to bundle the American Flag Sweaters with matching American Flag Mukluks, thus revolutionizing the fashion industry, winning a Nobel Prize, and retiring to a luxury hut in the Maldives. And no doubt they would have done just that, had it not been for a slight deficiency in Old Glory.
Let’s see if you can spot the error:
This sent Management into the throes of an existential crisis.
* Sister Madly apologizes for the graphic language.
While nobody could deny that the Flag had American roots, it would have, perhaps, behooved Management to have been a bit more specific when placing the order.
Upon being promoted to Marketing Director a few seconds prior, Sister Madly was enlisted to find a way to promote the Confederate Mukluks in a positive light, as Utopia would rather utilize the errant Mukluks than complain about the product- Knitters, as you know, can be particularly cutthroat.
Not wishing to be shish-kabobbed on the nearest knitting needle, Sister Madly pitched her usual poppycock: Sweetest Day was just around the corner, after all, and what better gift for your sweetheart than this knitted ensemble depicting America’s Civil War?
Then again, why not bundle the Sweaters with a full-length mirror (gilded frame optional) as the Flag would no longer appear reversed in this reflective apparatus? As for the Mukluks, they could easily be marketed to some disgruntled butler as cheeky little dusting cloths- knitted Mukluks clean up dust almost as efficiently as they create it.
Sister Madly even enlisted herself as visual aid, modelling the lovely* ensemble in a beam of sunlight.
* In marketing, even the most hideous of products becomes ‘lovely.’
But even as Sister Madly pitched this most excellent campaign, the sight of her posing most artistically in the latest Civil War Couture*- thus violating every city ordinance in the process- was enough to convince Management to donate the ensemble to the local shelter down the street. Utopia, despite its questionable reputation, was nonetheless generous with its clutter.
* Sister Madly also apologizes to the lady passing by the window during this unfortunate exhibition: you didn’t deserve to witness that.
WILD MUSHROOM STEW
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 16oz wild mushrooms
- rainbow carrots, chopped
- pearl onions, peeled
- baby potatoes, quartered
- 3 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 cup Marsala wine
- 3-4 cups veg or mushroom broth
- 2 TBSP Worcestershire (vegan substitutes here)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp marjoram
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- salt/pepper, to taste
- oil, for sautéing
Sauté chopped onion until translucent
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with Marsala Wine; 2-3 minutes
Add tomato paste; mix
Add potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms; stir to coat
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer until veggies are almost tender, stirring occasionally
Uncover; simmer to reduce/thicken
Add Worcestershire; mix
Adjust seasonings to taste
THEME SONG: Quiet Americans, Shearwater
Be not Afraid
Of going Slowly ~
Be More Afraid
Of Standing Still.
Underwater Sculptures by: Jason deCaires Taylor
It was over 5 years ago that the Chair first appeared on the sidewalk, and Sister Madly wanted it. She didn’t need another chair and the thing was as ugly as incompetent gumbo, but by golly it was free, thus worthy of bragging rights- much like her CD single of Milli Vanilli’s Girl I’m Gonna Miss You once found in a free bin. Sister Madly’s a sucker for nostalgia.
She spent the day watching the Chair from the window, her wide eyes and polished halo assuring those passing by that she only wanted to make sure the Chair returned to its rightful owner; however, what Sister Madly really wanted was to be sure she was the one to claim it.
All afternoon, she paced back and forth through the kitchen, carrying on imaginary conversations with potential rivals while boxing mosquitoes and strumming her lips in utter boredom. After midnight, she and Tallulah hauled the monstrosity inside.
It soon became clear that not only did the Chair want the apartment to itself, that had been its intent all along, letting such wishes be known by the most satanic stench that only a Chair of that pomposity could produce: cigars, swamp gas, death, and tuna-marinated soccer feet. It happened overnight, making much of itself in the apartment like an unwelcomed uncle. Never once did Sister Madly think that there might be something wrong with the Chair as it was cheerfully lugged into the flat- it was absolutely hideous, sure, but Sister Madly had convinced herself that it was in a delightfully tacky sort of way.
It wasn’t long after that Sister Madly came up with a plan, one that included Tallulah, an abandoned truck, and just enough detail to make the lives of those involved thoroughly inconvenient: said truck- and everything that just happened to be inside of it- was to be towed within 72 hours per the obnoxious sticker on the window. If all went as planned, both Chair and truck would be happily tucked away in some impound lot within a week’s time.
Tallulah, however, thought it best to leave the Chair on the side of the road as it was found, albeit after dark. This sister/roommate/she-who-is-often-not-around-when-disaster-strikes was sometimes grown-up and unfun like that.
After successfully begging, sulking, and plying her with wine, it suddenly made sense to now wise Tallulah to leave the Chair inside the Soon-To-Be-Towed Truck at midnight- a plan that was ruthlessly thwarted by the City, who had towed the truck earlier that day during the plying-with-wine fest.
The entire block was then circled as the two tipsy yet wise siblings attempted to abandon the neon-striped horror in a place that was not in full-view of twenty apartments; there was even talk of burying the beast in the cemetery, as it already smelled of death and would probably go unnoticed. But the Chair had become quite attached to Sister Madly, refusing to roll over the cracks, clinging desperately to the curbs, even sacrificing a wheel to the sewer grate in an attempt to remain with its true love.
It was at the sight of an old man watching from his window the siblings realized that, wherever the Chair ended up, someone would know exactly who was responsible, and that put an almighty damper on the evening. When the lovable curmudgeon made the expected “What the hell…?” inquiry, Sister Madly said that they were taking their easy Chair for a walk, and there was no city ordinance against that.
For tonight, Dancing Eyeball will be standing in
for Lovable Curmudgeon.
The Chair returned home with them that night, locked away once again in the spare room. It was frequently bathed Febreze and other ritual oils in an attempt to keep it smelling fresh, so that when some psychotic recipient finally stands up and exclaims, “Hullo, I want that hideous thing!” he would not know of its Pit of Hell origin.
But it was the Goodwill Donation Truck that wound up with the Chair in the end. But that doesn’t matter, really; Sister Madly got it inside a truck after all.
TANDOORI CHICKEN SAMOSAS
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- Paneer, cubed (opt)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- salt/pepper, to taste
- 1½-2 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 tbsp Greek yogurt, tempered*
- 2 sheets Puff Pastry
- Egg, beaten
Saute onion until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic and ginger; saute 2-3 min
Add spices; saute until fragrant; 30 sec – 1 min
Add puree, chicken, and stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked; 25 min
Shred chicken in sauce
Mix in paneer and tempered* yogurt; 3-5 min
Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick and star anise
Start w/yogurt at room temperature if possible.
Gradually mix in hot cooking liquid
(Slowly heating yogurt prevents curdling/separating from shock)
After the yogurt’s sufficiently heated, add to the Tandoori.
Preheat oven to 400*
Roll out pastry sheets; cut into 9 squares (approx 4”x4”ea)
Add filling to the center of each square
Fold pastry over filling
Brush egg wash over pastry
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden
THEME SONG: Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, Milli Vanilli
“What are quantum mechanics?”
“I don’t know. People who repair quantums, I suppose.” ~ Terry Pratchett
Quite frankly, Sister Madly knows more about the mechanics of a toilet than she feels is necessary.
But this was not always the case; while weekly chores were implemented early in life, basic home repair was never a part of her childhood rearing- apparently, that’s what dads are for. Responsibility was given to her in the form of a psychopathic alarm clock- indeed, Sister Madly doesn’t know how to change a tire, or why the refrigerator makes that funny noise, or how to light the pilot (probably for the best, that last one) but make no mistake: she knows exactly what to do when the alarm clock detonates beside her when she is asleep.
However, these death-defying, skillet-wielding, alarm-silencing ninja-skills are totally useless when it comes to fixing a toilet.
Some 10 years ago, Sister Madly came home to the sound of water running in the tank. While this wasn’t a particularly new phenomenon on planet Earth, Sister Madly never really understood why it happened; thus she decided to investigate.
When she lifted the lid off the tank, so much steam was released that Sister Madly was certain Vincent Price was about to emerge from its depths to Tchaikovsky’s Lake in the Moonlight. When that did not happen- and a bitter disappointment, it was- Sister Madly investigated further to find that the tank was filled with hot water.
Somewhere deep within her twisted psyche was the inkling that this wasn’t suppose to be; however, a tank full of hot water may come in handy should she ever need to thaw a cryogenically-frozen chicken’s head at a moment’s notice. Sister Madly is practical like that.
Still, this did not explain the running water. So upon visiting her parents the next day, the Pater Madly gave her a brief lesson on toilet repair, making a point to say that if the screw was stripped, she would have to bend the float manually.*
* Despite his staggering intellect, the Pater Madly failed to mention certain key phrases, such as ‘call maintenance to fix it for you’… alright, he DID say that, but he should’ve put more emphasis on it.
Now Sister Madly has seen some weird things in her life, but the inner workings of her toilet were just so alien that she was pretty certain it was from another dimension entirely. Still, she managed to find the offending float amidst the fog and, since the screw was stripped, bent the float as directed- well, not bend the float so much as break it off completely.
A note for those smart enough to have called Maintenance in the first place: when one breaks the float off, the tank begins to fill with water.
And it does not stop.
Now the typical Sister Madly response to when something goes horribly wrong is to stare at the disaster and wonder just how long she can live with it. Unfortunately, Sister Madly couldn’t approach the Broken Float Situation with the same devil-may-care attitude, as the risk of a global flood was clearly imminent. Since she could not fix the toilet by staring the hell out of it (she tried) Sister Madly decided to call the Pater Madly, 1AM or not.
For a parent receiving a call in the middle of the night, her dad was remarkably unconcerned; there was more anxiety when she asked him about the Birds and the Bees back in the day. After being a good father by not saying “I told you to call Maintenance!” he informed her of the life-changing, humanity-saving apparatus lurking beneath the fog: the shut-off valve.
While this did not work completely, it did reduce the imminence of a global flood (you are welcome, human race!) by requiring Sister Madly to flush the toilet every 2 minutes instead of the previous 12 seconds. This of course was cause for celebration, and Sister Madly invited over her neighbor, Velma, where they spent the next 3 hours drinking Bailey’s and flushing the toilet, while rehearsing lines for Velma’s upcoming play: Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business.*
The plumber had never seen 2 such chipper near-victims of toilet tank drowning.
* The ‘Other Business,’ no doubt, being adventures in toilet tank repair. Very perceptive, that Miller fella.
SRIRACHA MANGO CHICKEN
- 10-12 chicken drumsticks/thighs
- Yogurt/Sour cream, to serve (opt)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 3-4 tbsp oil
- 1 cup mango, cubed
- 1/4 cup sriracha
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp butter
Mix together ingredients for Marinade
Add chicken; shake/mix to coat
Cover; refrigerate for 30 min – 24 hrs
Puree together mango, sriracha, and garlic
Transfer to saucepan
Add butter and water; heat for 15 min, stirring occasionally
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken in a baking tray (for crispier chicken, add baking rack to tray)
Bake for 45 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with sauce
Return to oven; bake for 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining sauce straight from oven
Serve with yogurt or sour cream
THEME SONG: Lake in the Moonlight (Swan Lake), Tchaikovsky
Is it too much to ask that bandits not steal the fire escape in the middle of the night?
This isn’t the first such heist in the Madliverse; once a tree outside her window disappeared for no good reason that she could tell, and Sister Madly has endured the morning kiss of the nuclear sun ever since.
For those psychotics who are contemplating a similar caper, do have the courtesy to leave the unfortunates some sort of warning- such as caution tape, or employing a limbless, black knight declaring that ‘none shall pass’ at the site where the staircase used to be. Had the aforementioned bandit embraced these basic underworld civilities, his feat would have appeared as a cozy little blurb in the apartment newsletter to be marveled by the tenets over a cup of cocoa.
Instead, Sister Madly and Co. discovered the architectural deficiency in the most astonishing manner possible.*
* T’was even more astonishing to the tenet below, at whose feet was dropped a bag of putrid trash, along with Sister Madly’s shoe.
Judging by her neighbor’s slit-eyed glare, it would seem that Sister Madly, herself, was widely considered responsible for the heist. Sure, some say that her mind is as twisted as a pretzel, and she has been known to have a teeny-tiny problem with pyromania*- hardly worth mentioning, really- but that doesn’t mean she has the capability to waltz off with a fire escape at a moment’s notice. In fact, such a heist would be nearly impossible for anyone shorter than a Sneech- and Sister Madly is hardly a Sneech.
* The untimely flambéing of that lone corn fritter, that German Christmas Pinwheel Thingy, and New Year’s Day 2014 were all accidents- happy little accidents.
But that doesn‘t mean such allegations are unfounded. As the more devout amongst you know, August 8th is the most significant festivity of the year: Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night, and Sister Madly can be counted amongst the faithful.
Now if our dear Moppet took the term ‘neighbor’ literally, she need only open her door and chuck a zucchini across the hall- an act that has been deemed ‘less-than neighborly’ by tenets in the past. Zucchini Night is one of the few times a year that Sister Madly embraces the ‘all mankind is your neighbor’ metaphor, before reverting to that customary petulance that is much beloved.
However, due to a recent trip to the coast (in which she overstayed her welcome) Sister Madly was obliged to celebrate this sacred holiday a few days late- and in daylight. Although her impeccable stealth guaranteed the ceremonial Leaving-of-the-Zucchini went off without a hitch, Sister Madly was unable to bask in the satisfaction of a job well-done as there just happened to be a crucial witness bumbling down the street:
Sister Madly knew these sort of things happened, but they happen to other people: desperadoes busted for their negligence, for flinging their DNA over murder scenes willy-nilly while the BBC watches from a nearby Pringle can. Moppets are much less sloppy, crushing all Pringle cans before embarking upon a murder most foul; but Google does not heed the way of the Moppet, choosing rather to defiantly photograph humanity without so much as a how-do-you-do, and this peeves Sister Madly.
Now it’s well-known amongst the local demimonde that it’s best to ‘do away’ with a witness rather than allow said witness the liberty to resort to extortion- blackmailers, you see, can never be bought; one can only hope to even the score. So Sister Madly engaged the intrepid Itty Bitty*- her trusty accomplice, lookout, and sleepy-eyed assassin- to properly attend to the matter.
* A handsome Smart Car.
And so it came to pass that she and Itty Bitty embarked upon a mission to silence Google, dodging speed bumps and toddlers lurking in the fray until foiled by a family of ducks crossing against the light, behind which the Duo watched Google peter off into the summer haze with a nonchalance that bordered upon the sinister. Yes, Sister Madly is an extremely ineffective do-away-with-er.
But not all hope was lost; due to its inability to mind its own business, it is possible that Google witnessed the heist of her fire escape, and for that Sister Madly would pay a pretty penny- or at least, a very shiny one. Google would be coughing up the info in no time; Sister Madly can be a sadistic interrogator, you know.
- 1 regular or sweet potato, peeled, cubed, and cooked
- 1 lb chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
- 1 onion, chopped
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
- Red enchilada sauce, homemade or store-bought
- Brioche/Kaiser rolls, or similar
- To Serve: sour cream, guacamole, queso fresco, lettuce
Cook chorizo in skillet; approx 5-7 min
Add onion, cook until softened
Add potatoes; mix, crushing slightly
Heat oil in clean skillet
Brush outside of rolls with enchilada sauce until well-coated
Pan-fry rolls in skillet, coated side down, until browned
Add filling and desired toppings
THEME SONG: The Last of the Secret Agents, Nancy Sinatra
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
They say nirvana is a state of perfect serenity; the highest happiness. Some believe it is impossible to achieve, but the truth is quite the contrary.
It began some years ago at Utopia, bazaar of sorts once described as ‘a bunch of weird people doing weird things.’ Sister Madly was in the middle of one of those weird things* when Management announced that Utopia would be hosting Tibetan Monks from an unpronounceable Buddhist monastery, who would be making a Sand Mandala at the store.
* Washing soap (don’t ask…)
Naturally this announcement came with a lot of unnecessary protocol, which ranged from limiting the music to Tibetan Chants, to locking the store’s mascot- a fat cat named Sinner- in the basement lest he turn the Mandala into his personal litter box; and while they did not forbid the employees from eating meat, Management strongly encouraged them to not eat it in the presence of the Monks as they were strictly vegan.
They wanted the week-long event to be a completely ‘spiritual’ experience.
Now Sister Madly has a confession to make: she does not like leafy green things. At all. She likes them on the trees, sure, and feeding them to the garbage disposal delights her to no end, but personally consuming them guarantees a night chock-full of healthy nightmares. She might be able to maintain this strongly-suggested vegan facade for a few hours a day, if not hallucinate while trying- which could be fun, now that she thinks about it…
And so the day came when the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery arrived on their doorstep in saffron robes and buckets of sand, signifying the start of Sister Madly’s 8 Hours-a-Day Vegan Charade- the thought of just pretending to like leafy green things was enough to send her into fits. Indeed, the Road to Enlightenment is a twisted one.
It was on Thursday that nirvana was finally realized. Management had run off to another mysterious business meeting, leaving behind a long list weird to-do’s (wash candles, inventory all defective sparkle beads, etc) and a note stating that there was a snack plate* in the fridge in case the Monks felt ‘peckish.’
*…if one can call grass-clippings and spongy white things on toothpicks ‘snacks’…
However, the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery were not the slightest bit interested in the Snack Plate; no, they wanted Chinese food from the restaurant across the street. With considerable effort, Sister Madly broke through that language barrier to find that they wanted 8 orders of Steamed Dumplings and 8 orders of Kung Pao Pork, which is slightly incompatible with a ‘strict vegan lifestyle.’
But then, who is she to judge?
There was some hesitation on the part of Victor, who felt that by calling in this order he would be contributing to the corruption of their humble souls. So Sister Madly made the call, and merrily launched the Monks down the path of sin.
It turned out that the Monks were no strangers to transgression: not only were they avid fans of meat -pork, no less- they also had email, a cell phone each, played a wicked game of ping pong,* and would routinely break from Sand Mandala-ing to challenge the kids on the street to skateboard races (albeit through an interpreter.)
*And billiards. And badminton. And volleyball. It was quite unfair, really.
Yes, when Management’s away, the Monks will play. They released Sinner from the basement, fed him massive amounts of pork, and took an immediate- if not unfortunate- liking the Miami Vice soundtrack. But the highlight of this monastic skullduggery was the moment Sister Madly broke out the ultimate forbidden fruit:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that music is the universal language of mankind; yet there is another phenomenon that transcends all cultures and dialects: the wide-eyed, giddy wonder of experiencing Pop Rocks for the very first time, and the numbing bliss that immediately follows.
The highest happiness.
A state of perfect serenity.
MADEIRA LAMB STEW
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- baby carrots
- baby potatoes, cubed
- cipollini or pearl onions, peeled
- 1 lb lamb, cubed
- 1 cup Madeira wine, divided (1/4 cup + remaining)
- 4 cups beef or lamb stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire
- 1 tbsp Dijon
- salt and pepper, to taste
In Dutch oven, brown lamb on all sides; set aside
Saute chopped onion until translucent, adding oil if needed; 5 min
Add garlic and carrots; saute 3-5 min
Add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme; saute until fragrant; 30 secs
Deglaze with 1/4 cup Madeira wine; bring to a simmer
Add lamb, potatoes, cipollinis, and mushrooms; stir until coated
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat and veggies are tender; 1-1.5 hours
Uncover; simmer to reduce and thicken (if desired)
Add Dijon; mix thoroughly
Remove bay leaves before serving
THEME SONG: Happy Together, the Turtles
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
- 2 cups 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 a minimum of 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. And isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?
“Romance isn’t meant to be easy, Sister Madly. Besides, it’s the Dark Ages- 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
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced -OR- 1 tsp ground
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 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
Is the Evidence of Life ~
If your Life
Is Burning Well,
Is just the Ash.
~ Leonard Cohen
3.) Lucinda Walter Photography
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 cipollini 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
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
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
It’s been said that eavesdropping is the epitome of bad manners, but the truth is that in every conversation that ‘doesn’t concern you,’ there is a wealth of beneficial information. Sister Madly is proud to say that she now knows the ins and the outs of a Jetta engine; how to cheat at cribbage (she doesn’t know how to play, but she knows how to cheat); that the Earth is flat, by golly; and that anyone can be hired as a phlebotomist without the least bit of know-how.
No doubt it is a comfort to you to know that Sister Madly needs neither experience nor a Bachelor’s Degree to stick a needle into your veins and drain you of your life source. Degrees* and experience are the sort of things reserved for important jobs, such as dog-walking and waiting tables at the local tavern, and woe betide he who applies for these professions without them.
*Degree ‘in any field’ according to the dog-walking Ad, which is good news for Sister Madly’s neighbor who doesn’t know what to do with that BA in History.
Since the moment of her conception, Sister Madly has had a strong disinterest in any career remotely related to the healthcare field. To date, it remains a contender for the last career field she’d ever consider along with politics, trigonometry, and some lingering questions as to what it is that the Department of Sanitation does all day. So when the Happy Phlebotomist embarked upon his recruitment campaign for Phlebotomy Inc., it was all that Sister Madly could do to keep from silencing him in unspeakably creative ways.
But as he stood there with a malicious good cheer that showed all of his teeth, Sister Madly decided that it would be totally unfair to dismiss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without hearing all the details. Perhaps there was a less hands-on position available, like personal assistant to the Head of Phlebotomy (known as ‘P’, no doubt) as a sort of Moneypenny Dreadful. So she asked if the position would require her to deal with people. Directly.
And with blood. Directly.
Yes, that was all it took to silence the Happy Phlebotomist, but it was without satisfaction. The look on his face was the same horror that commonly results after witnessing a ruthless desperado tossing chocolate bunnies through the propeller of a plane. He was completely incapable of accepting the idea that anybody would not want to pursue this fabulous profession- just absolutely fabulous.
“Are you saying that you can’t stand the sight of blood?”
And people, yes. Is that a problem?
Admittedly, Sister Madly did stretch the truth a bit: it’s not blood in general that she can’t stand, it’s her blood in particular that is terribly upsetting. As living creatures who often find themselves bewildered over the proper way to eat an Oreo, we each are entitled to this life-sustaining nectar in our veins; she’d just rather see your blood splattered across the pavement than her own.
It’s a personal preference. Like how lunar dust tastes better than coffee.*
*Again, Sister Madly is guilty of stretching the truth: lunar dust IS better than coffee, make no mistake.
There is, however, a practical side to her refusal: being a phlebotomist requires a certain finesse that Sister Madly tends to lack- you know, sticking a living someone with a sharp, pointy object in such a manner that not only causes the least amount of pain, but ensures that the someone survives the ordeal without thinking of the term ‘lawsuit.’ It also requires an unholy amount of precision that is sure to snap her sanity in two if not alleviated by eating the nearest couch.
And what about natural phenomena, such as earthquakes and spontaneous combustion? What if she sneezes in the midst of a job? She is not a dainty sneezer- you have no idea how close she came to blasting this world into oblivion last allergy season. Or what if she suddenly gets bored? Sister Madly tends to move onto another activity at the mere thought of boredom, leaving the previous one unfinished. That behavior can’t be good for business, just leaving people with needles jammed into their veins while she sits in mop bucket playing the jaw-harp.
But the Happy Phlebotomist heard none of this. Instead, he handed her a business card, told her to think it over, and to apply online. Also, there is a cat who lives in the parking lot.
Where does she sign up?
*It was later noted that, when recruiting the male species, the mention of the kitty was replaced with the mention of a sandwich shop across the street.