Because I’m a fancy pants, I can say that I drained my bank account dry to fly across the ocean and sit at various cafes around Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany not long ago. Food and drink were gorgeously abundant, but none were so surprising as the popular drink, the Hugo. If you’re pretending to be European, then go on and pronounce it “Oogo”. These were served (and overcharged for) at every restaurant we stopped at, and we found that Trier, Germany even had Hugo stands right in the middle of the marketplace. For this, I applaud the people of Europe. We need more cocktail stands around here.
Anyway, it is a delicious and bubbly light summer drink, best served out of a wine glass and with a straw and some ice. It’s true. I know it sounds crass, but that is truly how it’s served. Not too sweet, and not at all bitter. This is what you drink on a gorgeous summer afternoon or evening while soaking up the fresh air.
Here is the recipe for a single cocktail:
2-3 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 part Elderflower Syrup/Extract
3 parts Brut Sparkling Wine (a Luxembourg vintage is preferred, but an Italian Prosecco will also serve)
1 Lime Wedge
Combine in a wine glass. Boom. I mean, you may want to squeeze the lime and muddle the mint leaves a bit, but no need to get too precious.
Offred is a protagonist who lives in a world gone crazy. In a cautionary tale that borders on post-apocalyptic mania, The Handmaid’s Tale pulls a Planet of the Apes and seduces us into the horrors of Offred’s world and then reveals them to be our own. Offered is us. This is meant to terrify us and indulge our worst slippery slope fears. Rarely does that make for enjoyable entertainment, though. Thus, I blooped my way to Hulu’s new series, with my dog-eared, annotation-scribbled copy of the book still on my nightstand, wondering if I even wanted to spend hours of my life sucked into a vortex of depression. What I found, though, oddly delighted me. It turns out my paranoia enjoyed being indulged.
After an alleged terrorist attack on U.S. Congress, martial law is declared in Offred’s America, and there is a public movement for a return to basic values–which includes women staying in the home and owning no property. This would be terrifying enough, but Margaret Atwood, author of the book from which Hulu plucked its content, chose to add a special science-fiction twist: For reasons unstated, women and men face obliterating infertility rates. This warps the nightmare into a nation with a breeding program in which the “lucky” women are turned into procreational sex slaves.
This is the turn of the screw that is supposed to draw you in. Hook you. Women as forced breeders, wearing wimples and enslaved under such miserable conditions that most opt for one form of suicide or another. As a book reader, I was almost a bit disappointed that Atwood took it to this level. Sure, it makes the story stunning and tragic, but takes it just slightly beyond the grasp of what feels realistic. It disconnects us from feeling the likelihood that this could happen to us.
And it could. Atwood has warned of it herself. Were it not for the fertility plot line, this forced female servitude feels like it is only one international crisis away. One cry for a return to our “values”. One coordinated and well-funded grassroots movement away from decrying that women are not permitted to work outside of the home because, the children. Because the 1950s was when we were a pure and righteous nation, right?When men were men, and women knew their place. So the movements call and chant and wail that we need to go back to our roots, and they share it feverishly across social media. And in turn Facebook and Twitter accounts and voter registration records are used to identify who is a “patriot” or a “believer”, whichever bent the crusade takes. Add a pinch of racism and misogyny, a whirlwind of fear, and some financial incentives, and you’ve got yourself a real modern dystopia.
This is why I am so grateful for the updates and tweaks that Hulu has thoughtfully provided to Atwood’s mad world. It warms the world and makes it feel like it could have been our own once. Yes the show preserves the infertility thread–no way to avoid that– but it takes care to modernize the technology and add some haunting (an sometimes jaunty) soundtracks. I know those songs. Pre-Offred Elizabeth Moss knows those songs. And she orders pretentious coffee, swipes on Tinder, and worries about her profile pic. Sure the original names are still very 1980s, which is when the story was originally penned. Lydia. Janine. Angela. But there I am with Pre-Offred, believing I could hang out with her, or that I could at least pass her on the street. She is a real, modern flesh-and-blood American.
My summer love, Orange is the New Black, has given us one of the greatest, most disturbing meta stories ever: The Time Hump Chronicles. Crazy Eyes’s erotic fiction that she penned for drama class is the highlight of the show’s third season, and makes me wish it was real. The closest thing we have to it is what the script writers came up with and had actress Uzo Aduba scrawl onto curly sheets of worn paper. That is “Suzanne Warren’s” actual handwriting, and Aduba has admitted that there is a full story written out there. Can we ever hope to read it in its entirety? Praise Norma that it may be so. Until then, I have done my level best to reconstruct what the show has actually revealed to us on the written page. This is no fan fiction. You will find no poster mock-ups or vampires, especially because they’re so derivative. This is the actual text as written by our very special Crazy Eyes.
THE TIME HUMP CHRONICLES:
Two People Connecting…With Four Other People…and Aliens
By S. Warren
Edwina, a freckled, busty robo-doll made of pee-proof metal who can move through time in only one direction and is able to outsmart an orgasmator, but is forced to participate in a blindfolded “Trial by Lovemaking”
Space Admiral Rodcocker, a time humper with a distinct birthmark and two penises, who pleasures beings in other dimensions and has cum that has extra life-sustainable protein; Edwina’s love interest, falls in orgasmator
Gillead (aka Gilly), a sweet and sensitive man, who exists in the past and is known to have the “purest soul in the universe”; Edwina’s love interest and Space Admiral Rodcocker’s rival
Lily Sprinkle, one of Edwina’s lovers who has a pee fetish
Sunflower, one of Space Admiral Rodcocker’s lovers who is known for having taken both Rodcocks at once, and is unlikable
Unnamed Vaseline Character, a man made of Vaseline with a tragic tale
Admiral Rodcocker entered […] the Captain’s chair. The crew saw what was to come
next. “Everyone is dismissed.” said Rodcocker. Clear the Bridge. Duh! Purple love
muscle. […] Except for U. […] was palpable and […]. […] behind the final crew was […]
were alone. They […] that can’t […] appendage […].
“Her three holes opened, ready to be explored by his swollen pangoline” “The Admiral thrust his pork sword into her squish mitten.”
Rodcocker broke away from the kiss.
“Are you okay, my sweet comet?” Rodcocker said. Edwina grabbed Rodcocker by his joystick. “C’mon, Rodcocker. […] rocket to blast off”, said Edwina with a wink.
Rodcocker […] and reached for the control panel. He tapped on the […] with the grace of a dancing […]. […] resting of on the Captain’s chair began to lift into the […]. The control panel [read]: “Artificial Gravitiy: Off.” Edwina looked at Rodcocker with […]. “I thought it was impossible to make love in space. Scientists and […] astronauts before we have proven it. Let’s boldly go where no lovers have gone before.” Rod cocker reported […] sly grin. Edwina closed her eyes as Rodcocker’s forked tongue down her neck. The goosebumps […] of her neck […]. […] which he hadn’t felt since she timehumped the Grand […] during the Spanish Inquisition. […] squealed in […]. Rod. Cock. Eerr…floated […]. […] behind Edwina and unzipped her uniform revealing […] love for space underwear. He pulled her close and she […] of […] approved man meat was pushing against her s[…]. “[…] prepared to board,” Rodcocker whispered in her […] and slipped lower and lower on Edwina’s body until he finally reached the final frontier […] was a smoooooth celestial body until […me]finally reach the humid climate. Rodcocker attempted to bend Edwina over but protested. She spun around in zero-g to face […] “I DON’T WANT TO BE FUCKED. I want to be loved”, she said. […] to him that he could […].
Maybe that wormhole will open for Rodcocker again, and we will get more chapters from that sweet, sick brain. You know I’ll be watching Netflix with the pause button ready, just in case.
If you watch a lot of television, especially CNN, as I do, then you know the bearded TD Ameritrade douchebag. He patronizes women, telling them that their life savings is a fortune (….to them, filthy peasants). He therapizes stay-at-home moms condescendingly and, I assume fraudulently, because who the hell is a financial therapist, you creeper? And he does it all while talking out of his pervert beard. I hate that beard. I really want to punch him in it.
Since I can’t do that since that would mostly mean punching my TV which might then weeble-wobble right off the table and break forever, I have developed a solution. I give you, the TD Ameritrade Creeper Beard Dartboard!
Rules: Play darts as you normally would, but you get 50 points if you hit him in the beard.
Gather ’round, gather ’round! I am about to unveil a Golden Girls spectacular of thrills, chills, and excitement. It gives me great pleasure – nay, embarrassment – to introduce to you a game I have invented for those lonely nights when all you want to do is have a slice of cheesecake around a Miami wicker kitchen table with a few old broads.
Here is a game to help you rank and discover what truly is the GREATEST Golden Girls episode of all-time. Or you can make it a drinking game. Which is probably a lot more fun/dangerous. But I don’t know if I want Rose Nylund flashbacks the next morning with lipstick smears all over the screen, so it’s your call.
Here’s what you need to play:
A love for Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, and Rose
A few episodes of The Golden Girls ready to roll
A pen and paper*
(*you may substitute a box of wine if you do not own a pen and paper)
Now, start your engines and away we go! As you watch episodes, you’ll need to keep score of each episode’s happenings, and here’s how to do it.
The Great Golden Girls Game Scorecard!
Mark points on your scorecard for the following Golden Girls moments:
(1 point) A late-night dessert is eaten in the kitchen while discussing a problem or date
(2 bonus points) If that dessert is cheesecake
(1 point) Every lover or group of lovers that Blanche mentions by name
(5 points) If the girls scream in horror after discovering two people in bed together
(2 points) Each time Sophia says, “Picture it….” followed by a location and year
(3 points) Each time Rose mentions a St. Olaf resident (not her, Charlie, or their kids) by NAME
(5 points) Each time Rose mentions a St. Olaf pet or livestock by NAME
(1/2 point) Each time someone says “Shady Pines”
(2 points) For every family member that comes to stay with the girls
(1 bonus point) If the visitor is one of Blanche or Rose’s daughters, and the daughter acts like a total bitch
(2 points) Every time Dorothy asks a guest to leave the house
(3 points) Every time they have to call 911, or fear that Sophia’s dying “Maaa!!!”
(1/2 point) Each time Sophia makes a farting joke
(2 points) If Stan comes to the house
(4 bonus points) If Stan brings the monkey cone with him
(6 points) If any of the four girls sing or dance during the episode (limit one scoring per episode)
(2 points) If Sophia talks about a Sicilian curse
(4 bonus points) If we see Sophia put a curse on anyone!
(1/2 point) Each time Dorothy is mocked for getting pregnant as a teen
(4 points) If there’s a wedding (whether or not the bride backs out beforehand)
(5 points) If “The Cheeseman” is mentioned
(-3 points) If they help a wayward child/person in need
(-1 point) For every celebrity cameo as him/herself (I’m looking at you, Sonny Bono!)
(-1 points) If Carol, Barbara, Dr. Westin, or Dreyfus appear, in what is surely a sad, sad spinoff tie-in attempt
Over 35 years ago, the young Republican up-and-comers in Washington were called up to serve the new president, Ronald Reagan. Saint Reagan reached down from his “shining hill on the city”, pulled them up from the pits of Carter hell, anointed them, and in turn they pledged their undying fealty. “Forever, Master Reagan.”
Today these same people men are in their 50s and 60s, with a lot more visible nose hair and bad comb-overs, and are now the “swamp things” who squawk on talk radio, write political speeches, and blather on 24-hour news channels. And it is these vassals whom we can thank for our country’s strange and undue esteem for Saint Reagan as the epitome of successful presidents and brilliant political thinkers. He wasn’t.
You know what? I’ll just let President Reagan explain it himself. I’ve pulled the old resurrect-a-tron out of the closet, dusted it off, and prepared it to bring Reagan back just for this explanation. I just needed to load it with some gold cufflinks, Chesterfield cigarettes, an American flag, and some cowboy boots, and it was fired up and ready to go.
So, President Reagan, what do you have to say to your disciples?
I’ve been a bit obsessed by the The Wars of the Roses lately. Maybe that’s hard for some people to understand, but I look at it like a really, really old season of Scandal, just with much worse hygiene. But apparently I’m not alone in my fascination, because author George RR Martin has made no secret that his A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) is based loosely on The Wars of the Roses. Cool. GRRM gets it.
Now, while the books/TV show that you and I know by heart is no allegory for the multi-decade conflict, there are a whole lot of parallels we can draw. So here is where I tear into the major characters like I am Henry VIII clawing apart a whole roasted chicken (I know, I know, the Tudors come later, but seriously, that man could really eat!).
The Lancasters Always Pay Their Debts
First, you need to understand that the (over-simplistic and somewhat misleading) gist of real-life The Wars of the Roses is that it’s a tale of two families battling for the English throne.
First, the Lancasters ruled. Then the Yorks.
And back and forth, and a bit wiggly all around for a while. Complicated. Now, notice the similarities in the names. Familiar, eh?
Lancaster = Lannister York = Stark
Lancaster’s (alleged) red rose sigil = Lannister’s red lion sigil
York’s (alleged) white rose sigil = Stark’s white dire wolf sigil
You see? Even linguistically and symbolically, it’s pretty obvious where GRRM started. Even the map of Westeros loosely resembles the UK.
In fact, the only place where the allegory really falls apart is how kindly the Starks are portrayed by GRRM. The real-life Yorks were mostly some really greedy assholes. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Oh, and if you want to learn more about the Wars of the Roses in a fun and delightful way, I retell the history here. Ya know, jut in case you want more background.
Okay, let’s just jump in and look at how I see the characters lining up:
Richard II = Mad King Aerys (Aerys II)
King Richard II is largely considered the first major victim of The Wars of the Roses (TWOTR). See, Richard II had ruled the kingdom since he was only ten years old, and by most accounts, he had grown up to be a right little shit. His egocentric hobbies included building monuments to himself and surrounding himself with sycophants. After his wife, Anne of Bohemia, died, Richard started to become outwardly paranoid and began executing and banishing most of his rivals. This didn’t go over so well with his (recently banished) cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who raised an army against him, and threw him in prison, where he shortly thereafter died–possibly murdered, possibly starved to death, accounts differ.
Mad King Aerys II
Aerys II also ascended to the throne via largely non-disputed lineage. Good for him. But that didn’t help him much after his paranoia and general insanity caused him to start offing rivals, oh yeah, and playing with fire. As with Richard II, those who had once been close to him started throwing shade his way, distrusting the king’s actions and motives. Eventually Aerys II was overthrown in Robert’s Rebellion. Of course, Aerys’s death was much swifter…and pointier. No prison for him.
There are, of course, many differences between the characters. Aerys’s affinity for kidnapping and pyrotechnics sets him apart from his historical doppelgänger. But ultimately, both lost the throne that rightfully belonged to them because they lost their grip on reality. And when that happens, there is always someone waiting in the wings to pluck the crown of the king’s head.