The Haunted Coconut

Katie’s Week in Photos: Oct 14 – 21

More Cows

The sun is out, and I question if this universe is real. What is this bright orb that shines in the sky, and where has the sky water gone? Did we soak it all up already? The cows that watch my driveway are suspicious as well. And also, tired.

Rainbow's end

The end of the rainbow appears just across the road, next to my friend, Horse. I suspect Horse is now a god. A rainbow god. Alas, I find no gold and suspect that if there ever was any, the rainbow god has eaten it, thus increasing his powers. Well-played, Horse. Read More

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Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare

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

The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. My husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes, he, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, irritatingly scrolling through the menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyelids just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”. Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager, and in the role of Captain Janeway was a young Red from Orange is the New Black.

Star Trek Voyager cast photo

My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.

And to add to his dishonor, he admitted that he never even watched all of Voyager, since his dopey late-90s teenaged self had fallen into the chauvinistic trap of not appreciating Capt. Janeway, thinking of her as a less-than, politically correct version of Kirk and Picard (Sisko deliberately omitted from this list since he is terrible.) Now, wiser and older, and considerably more discerning, he announced instantly that he would undertake the quest of re-watching every episode, beginning that very night.

From then on, each night I drifted off to sleep to the beautiful opening melody, and then the husky tones of Kate Mulgrew’s voice. It became a soothing balm as I learned to settle into sleep in a new house and a very new place.

Several weeks passed until one night when my husband shook me out of a sound sleep to look at the television screen. He had just started a Voyager episode called “Fair Haven”, and it had a startling connection to our own real life.

The episode is all about escapism–the crew of Voyager is in need of a respite from their stressful roles, so Tom Paris develops a new program in the holodeck. It’s the town of Fair Haven in County Clare, Ireland.

And this is where the beat drops. My new home, boxes still scattered and things still not hung on the walls, is in County Clare, Ireland. This was one of those moments when I really wondered if my life is The Truman Show.

(I have wondered this often, and have seriously pondered the notion that if my life is The Truman Show, some team of writers would most definitely taunt me by fabricating a Hollywood film that mocks my actual life and lays out the entire truth right in front of my face, both beckoning my recognition and also belittling my paranoia–and of course it would star Jim Carrey. But I digress…)

The episode continued to get spookier and spookier. Captain Kathryn Janeway quickly falls in love with the quaint rural setting and begins to adopt the in-holodeck moniker of Katie O’Clare.

But I am Katie. Katie of Clare.

Janeway in Clare

Through my sleepy eyes I watched the tale unfold–both sweet and disarmingly dark at various points (“Delete the wife”), until it reached a point where both my husband and I nearly fell out of bed in sheer disbelief.

Katie O’Clare saunters over to the Fair Haven train station to get her flirt on with the local bartender, and does so by attaching herself gingerly to a signpost–a signpost that points to towns such as Tuamgraney and Killaloe.

Those are towns very close to my home (without giving away my precise hometown). I visit Tuamgraney frequently, and Killaloe every now and then (I tend to head there less frequently since traffic flow is dependent on this 18th century one-way stone bridge).

Katie OClare

Naturally, because I am a super nerd, my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell “I’m Katie O’Clare! I’m Katie O’Clare!”, because hells yes my life is reflecting a Star Trek holodeck fantasy (and it doesn’t even involve Vic Fontaine!).

The very next thing I did was sit down and attempt to calculate where the fictional Fair Haven might fall on the map. The signpost–notably created by Tom Paris–indicates that Fair Haven is 5 km from Tuamgraney and 3.5 km from Killaloe. Also 7.5 km from Holy Island, but we’ll set that aside since it involves water travel. Read More

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

Shout out to my friends and family in America who still think that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all one country, and part of the UK.

America has its own shitshow of problems, so it isn’t surprising that so many ‘Muricans have no idea what is going not with Ireland and Brexit. It’s okay. I’ll explain it in terms that can make this accessible to most anyone.

Let’s start with the basics:

One Island, Two Countries

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

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The Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign country that gained its independence from Great Britain between 1916 and 1919. It is a member of the European Union (EU), and uses the Euro as its currency.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is Brexiting the European Union along with the rest of the UK, and uses the UK sterling currency (pounds).

How Ireland Split in Two

From 1801 to 1916, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and subject to the laws and rule of the British. This was not a happy time for most of Ireland. There was massive exploitation, starvation, and a myriad of abuses on the part of Britain, not to mention the Great Irish Famine. For much of its union, the English ruling class looked down on the Irish as helpless children who couldn’t manage their own affairs, and treated them with contempt and neglect. To sum it up: The Brits were huge dicks. Read More

It’s the Fabulous 2020 Democratic Debates BINGO-ish Drinking Game!

Excited for the September 12, 2019 Democratic Primary Debates? Let’s drink!

The rules are simple: Assign one card to each person. Each card has a list of debate participants and things that (s)he might say or do. There is overlap between some cards, but no two cards are identical. Every time an item on your list occurs during the debate, take a drink!

Sips might be best, because it is going to be a loooong night. Keep those cards out in the open for all to see. And play it cool–you only need sip the first time a word/phrase is mentioned during any one answer or exchange. So if Elizabeth Warren calls Trump 6 different names in a row, just take the one sip.

No need to mark anything off, this is a game of survival. Unless you want to. These cards are BINGO-compatible, or you can just drink for anything on your list, and feel free to yell BINGO! just for fun whenever you like.

There are no winners here, just like the debate. There is only shame, intoxication, mockery, and Beto standing on a chair.

Warning: Alcoholic drinking games are dangerous and stupid, and can lead to harm to person, property body, and soul. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly, look out for you and your friends’ wellbeing, and never drive while under the influence. In fact, you should probably just play this with iced tea and get a lovely night’s rest. Play with booze, and you do so at your own peril.

Here they are, four different cards for your alcoholic enjoyment:

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2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD B

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD C.jpg

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD D.jpg

 

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

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

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

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

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


Season 1

Gail 1.9

Season 1, Episode 9

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

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Season 1, Episode 10

  • Prop: Christmas tree, with some festive poinsettias atop
  • Gravel: White, like snow. Snow with fish poop.
  • Nod to Plot: Christmas episode!

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Season 1, Episode 11

  • Prop: What appears to be a military vehicle or building
  • Gravel: Red, like blood
  • Nod to Plot: India-Pakistan conflict

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Season 1, Episode 12

  • Prop: A little wooden lectern and two American flags
  • Gravel: Red, white, and blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the State of the Union address!

Read More

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

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting and FINAL seventh season!

This is sad and exciting. It’s sexciting. Wait, no. Sorry, Gail. I didn’t mean it like that.

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

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


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Season 7, Episode 1

  • Prop: Gail’s opening the final season with a light bulb in her bowl
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: I’m not entirely certain. Perhaps it is Gail’s epiphany that C.J. is the focus of the intelligence leak investigation. Gail is hoping that everyone stops and listens to her horrified realization. Gail’s has a lightbulb, people! A lightbulb!

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Season 7, Episode 2

  • Prop: Some little things are stuck in her gravel. Could they be a bunch of little U.S. flags?
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Well, maybe Gail is being supportive of candidate Santos’s military service. Plus, ya know, it’s America. So, flags.
    I, for one, am disappointed that Matt and Helen’s absolutely destroyed bed wasn’t in the bowl. Gail usually has more of a sense of humor.

Read More

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

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting sixth season.

Gail moves offices, hosts a visitor, gets snubbed for an invitation to an ice cream party, and ponders classic literature. She also explores a little nihilism. That is one deep fish.

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

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


NoGailSeason 6, Episode 1

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

Read More

And Now, My Cat Invades Star Trek: Voyager

From the recesses of the Delta Quadrant, comes Star Trek cat!

Very little needs to be written about the following images. My senior Tonkinese cat, Maisy, decided to assist (or sometimes surprise) the crew of Voyager.

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We don’t ask how she went from floating in space to sitting on the bridge.

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One thing is for sure though, Maisy doesn’t give a shit.

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She can’t even give a shit when the Doc is all worried.

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Okay, that’s a little alarming to her.

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Time for her to review procedures with Captain Janeway.

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Maisy also takes time to supervise underlings

….when she isn’t playing hide-n-seek with the Captain and Seven of Nine.

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Oop! They found her!

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Maisy also wants everyone to remember to never split infinitives. May you all go boldly where no cat has gone before.

Playhouse From Hell

Remember when Craig’s List was a legit thing?

There was a time not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away that Craig’s List was a legit and kinda safe place to find bargains in your community. It was, like, 2008. I remember it well. See, I had a toddler back then, so I was broke and jonesing for the hot new toy that every mom had to have or they were bad. BAAAAD. It was the good old days of driving 20 miles to pick up someone’s junk that they valued at just 5$ under retail, but then you half-load the shit in your car and are like “Naw, I have a ten. You want me to take your garbage or no? Sucker!”

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

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

Little Tikes Playhouse – $15
White, pastel blue & pink playhouse/cottage w. pretend oven range inside. This had a yellow jacket’s nest in it over the summer. Husband plugged up the hole, but there is no way to really take the nest out unless you cut apart the plastic. You can’t really see it. We don’t believe in using pesticides so it has not been sprayed. Queen yellow jackets can survive in the nest over winter so you’d want to be sure to get rid of her if you can or if you don’t mind spraying chemicals, spray it. It’s only $15 due to the nest.

Yes, all you need to do is hire an exorcist, light a couple matches, and wear a gas mask, and you’re good to go! Fun for the kiddies!

yellowjacket

You see that yellowjacket above? It’s laughing. Laughing at the idea of eating your children right now. Laying in wait inside that playhouse. But at least – thank the gods – you can’t see her (as the ad graciously reminds us). And you can’t see her nest pulsating and growing inside your child’s cherished plaything. Because if you can’t see deadly insects, then they don’t exist.

Why – you might ask – why wouldn’t someone just banish this playhouse to the pits of landfill hell? The garbage man won’t object – because apparently the queen is overwintering right now!

And WHAT hole did the husband plug up exactly? And WHAT did he plug it with? A gasoline-soaked rag?? It better have been flames. If you have to say “due to the nest” in your ad, then any holes should be plugged with flames.

But no. They thought, “Another child should have this nest.” These people who walk among us in society, who are neighbors and family to somebody, who apparently spent time researching yellowjacket life cycles and cursing imaginary toxins, thought “I can get a Costco sheet cake out of this!”