Handmaid’s Tale, the Series

More than once I’ve read Margaret Atwood’s novel of the dystopian country of Gilead, formerly known as the United States of America. Each reading of The Handmaid’s Tale has caused me to see some new and horrifying aspect of a brave new world in which some women, those who are fertile, are reduced to being nothing more than brood mares, while their infertile counterparts serve men in other ways.

When I first read the novel I was a young mom with two children underfoot, and I was devastated by the main character’s separation from her child. I couldn’t imagine anyone trying to take my babies away, and her heartache was my heartache.

The second time I read The Handmaid’s Tale my children were teenagers, and all I could think of was that my daughter could be used in this birthing scheme, while I would be relegated to being a Martha or an Auntie–someone whose only purpose in life was to cook or clean for a commander and his family.

When I read the book for a third time, Donald Trump had just been sworn in and I had just taken part in a women’s march to protest his misogynistic views. Now I read the book from a whole world perspective. I saw how women, with just a few winks and nods from Congress, could drop rapidly in status just because men declared us to be second class citizens.

Friends kept urging me to watch the Hulu series based on the book, but I was afraid I’d be disappointed. Now, after spending two days binge watching the first season on dvd, I’m in awe. Not only has the series captured the book perfectly in scope and mood, but it has also brought back every one of those emotions I experienced during my past experiences with the book.

The Handmaid’s Tale will take you by the shoulders and shake you until you’re only capable of seeing the paths that lie ahead. We really are on the cusp in this country, and this series reminds us to be wary. Keep resisting.

Peace, people.

Game of Thrones Guesswork

Who else out there is watching the final season of Game of Thrones? Studly Doright and I have some major bets surrounding the outcomes of this series.

Who will rule from the Iron Throne?

Will someone finally do away with Littlefinger?

How many dragons will be lost?

Will Theon Greyjoy develop a spine?

Will Jon Snow realize who his parents are before becoming too attached to Daenerys?

Who gets to kill Cersei Lannister?

Will the living outwit the dead?

Will Tyrion find happiness?

How will I manage to go on once the series ends?

What other questions should we be pondering?

Saving the Cowsills

Science fiction/fantasy is my favorite genre by far. Nothing thrills me like blasting into hyper space or exploring the terrain of a new world from the safety of my own home. 

I just finished the novel, The Three-Body Problem by China’s premier science fiction author, Cixin Liu. I’d love to tell you I read it in the original Chinese, but I only know how to say, not spell, “thank you” in Mandarin. The Three-Body Problem was not light reading, at least not for me. There was all this math-y and science-y stuff. I’m trying to decide if I’m woman enough to tackle the sequels. Three-Body provides a spectacularly different view into Chinese culture, so after a brain break I’m sure I’ll return to the impending Trisolarus invasion.

  
Before Liu’s book, I’d immersed myself in the works of John Scalzi whose Old Man’s War series is a must read for scifi fans. Scalzi’s wit, I suspect, could make a rewriting of the U.S. Tax Code into a pleasurable evening of reading, and I recommend it to everyone, not just those into the genre.

  
Hugh Howey is another scifi writer I’ve become attached to. Not literally because Howey might have me arrested, but his Wool Omnibus is incredibly entertaining, and deals with intriguing social issues. If you suffer from claustrophobia, be warned. The characters don’t get out much.

  
Now anyone who’s still with me might wonder what in heaven’s name all this has to do with the post’s title, “Saving the Cowsills.” As a preteen one of my all-time best friends who I’ll call LA, and I were obsessed with brothers John and Barry Cowsill of the family singing group the Cowsills, upon whom The Partridge Family TV series was based. 

 

The Cowsills. before they were famous I saw them in a cafe in Las Vegas, NM, but couldnt figure out where I’d seen them before. I’ve always considered that my lost chance to impress John.
 
We could tell you darned near anything you wanted to know about the brothers: Eye color, height, birth dates, likes, dislikes, etc. One of the highlights of our young lives was getting to meet our idols after a concert in Canyon, Texas.

At a recent reunion LA gave me a book entitled, I Think I Love You, and insisted that I read it. Sure, I said, thinking it was the last thing a scifi fangirl like me wanted to read, but after tackling The Three-Body Problem my brain truly needed a rest. I picked up LA’s book and dove in. And began giggling like a preteen schoolgirl. 

Written by Allison Pearson, of I Don’t Know How She Does It fame, I Think I Love You perfectly captures the mindset of a young teenaged girl infatuated with a rock idol, in this case David Cassidy of The Partridge Family. The book’s heroine, Petra, is obsessed with David Cassidy, whom I’d always assumed was an amalgam of John and Barry Cowsill. Ah ha!

The Partridge Family. That’s David standing in the back.

I’m not a particularly speedy reader, so I’m savoring the awkwardness and self-consciousness of Petra in something akin to a slow motion retro film. She’s me at 13. She’s pretty much every girl at 13, with the exception of those who somehow seemed to be in on the whole joke from the beginning.

I owe LA a big hug and a thank you for lending me I Think I Love You. It’s been more than a brain break. It’s been a refreshing swim in a pool of Cowsill-stocked memories. One thought goes out to my idol:  John Cowsill, we’d have been so very good together.

I look forward to finding out just what becomes of Petra’s obsession with her hero. He’d best not disappoint her!

Peace, people!

Dr. Phil and the Philanderers

  
I seldom watch Dr. Phil, but when I do it seems the episode always deals with someone cheating on his or her spouse/significant other. Surely his program deals with other topics, but I only get to see the philanderers. 

Today’s show featured a woman who is cheating on her husband with an old high school flame. I found myself wondering why the husband doesn’t just say “adios, babe!” before riding off into the sunset. Likewise, her boyfriend seems to be waiting on the woman to make up her mind.

I’m not going to weigh in on the morality of the situation, I just wonder how a woman manages to get not one, but two men doing what she wants. Amazing. I can’t get mine to take out the trash.

Dr. Phil, can you help?

  
Gee, thanks!

Peace, people!

Ancient Aliens

Studly Doright has permanent dibs on the tv remote. Usually, I’m okay with that, but when his search for programming stops on the series, Ancient Aliens, I go into full blown sarcasm mode.

Giorgio Tsoukalos, ancient alien conspiracy theorist

If you haven’t had the pleasure (gag) of watching the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens you have no idea what you’ve been missing. Along with venereal disease and a bad case of poison sumac.

The premise of each episode is the same–to prove retroactively that groups of extraterrestrials were responsible for helping get the human race off the ground. The pyramids? Check. Stonehenge? Check. Mayan temples? Check. Epcot Center? Check.

If ancient edifices weren’t built by aliens as astronavigational facilities, they were erected as gigantic abodes primarily used for conjugal visits for whenever E.T. came to gift humanity with his otherworldly seed. 

Yes, according to Ancient Aliens, we are most likely all descended from little green men. That explains a lot: Donald Trump, David Spade, Abe Vigoda.

   
  
  
On some episodes aliens are credited with being the gods of ancient mythology, and we know what a horny bunch they were. 

 

Zeus (in bull form) seduces Europa.

 
Zeus in swan form seduces Leda.
  
Zeus in Nicholas Cage form seduces Farrah Fawcett.
 

I’m beginning to understand Studly Doright’s fascination with Ancient Aliens. It’s basically soft core space porn. 

Peace, people!
  

Doright Manor Musings

Outside Doright Manor the temperature is 85 degrees. It’s a warm October day, but not terribly humid. Of course I’m sitting in air conditioned comfort having just enjoyed a Smart Ones spicy chicken and fries meal. 

There are two separate shows being played out for my enjoyment. One is a recording of The Walking Dead. The other is the steady procession of roofers hauling bundles of shingles up a ladder to our covered/screened in porch addition.

My cats are fascinated by the roofing show. They want to attack the dangling cords and to pounce on the dropped sacks that seemingly appear from nowhere and float enticingly to the ground. They are both indoor cats, though, so the roofing show is as real to them as The Walking Dead is to me.

Hopefully before too many more days all the work on the porch will be completed, and the cats will be able to venture into the great indoor outdoors. Studly Doright and I are making predictions on their first adventures. 

Scout, we feel, will embrace the porch immediately, claiming it as her territory, but Patches fears everything and it may take her awhile to cross the threshold. I give her a week before she takes the plunge, whereas Studly thinks it will take much longer. We live exciting lives, don’t we?

  

Peace, people!

Tarzan and the TV Evangelist

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Around the time I was four my family lived in Lubbock, Texas, in a two-bedroom rental house with wood floors. I remember the floors clearly because I spent a lot of time planted on my butt in front of the television set on Sunday mornings watching a) Tarzan, b) televangelists, or c) both of the above.

To say my choices in TV viewing were limited is an understatement. We only had access to three stations at the time and two of the three featured oily preachers eager to snatch pennies from a gullible preschooler’s piggy bank. I remember begging my mom to allow me to send all of my money to these showmen who seemingly worked miracles of Biblical proportions, and who would gladly work more if they just had more funding. My mom was nobody’s fool, though, and she gave me a lesson in ‘con men for Christ,’ one I’ve never forgotten: the slicker the hair, the sicker the con.

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The other available station ran a Tarzan movie every Sunday morning. I loved Tarzan, Cheetah, and Jane (in that order). I could emulate the ape man’s famous yell even better than Carol Burnett in her prime. For much of my childhood my pretend play revolved around living in a treehouse high up within the canopy of the African jungle with a chimpanzee while avoiding evil hunters and rallying the wildlife to save the day, always just in the nick of time. Like Tarzan I could communicate with elephants and lions and wrestle crocodiles and snakes. I was pretty amazing for a four year old.

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While Mom and Dad had the opportunity to sleep in on Sunday I rabidly flipped between Oral Roberts and Tarzan, alternately observing faked miracles and faked animal footage. Thank goodness I never got Tarzan and Oral Roberts mixed up! Of course Mom probably would have let me send money to Tarzan, and Reverend Roberts might have been quite compelling in a loincloth.

Peace, People!

Walking Dead Marathon

If one is really good, good things will come to you, or so I’ve been told. The current good thing is a marathon of The Walking Dead on AMC.

Why, one might ask, would I watch a marathon of a show when I’ve seen every single episode multiple times? Studly Doright asked me that very question as he came dragging in from work with high hopes that I might be working on a home cooked meal for his dinner. Instead he found me with my butt parked in front of the big screen watching Rick and Shane, et. al. escaping from a soon to explode CDC. No dinner in sight.

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Of course it didn’t take Studly long to join me as we watched Andrea hide in a bathroom in order to avoid a walker.

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After watching for another half hour or so, it occurred to me that I watch the marathons for a couple of reasons. I love seeing the characters transform. In those first seasons they were so innocent and fresh. Heck, Rick and Laurie looked like candidates for prom king and queen.

But more importantly, I like seeing the episodes back to back–the bridges from episode to episode and season to season. There are little things one might miss when seeing an episode in isolation that make sense during a binge watching session.

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Whatever the reason–it’s hard for me to turn this soap opera with zombies off.

One Should Never Ever…

Binge watch “Criminal Minds” when one’s spouse is out of town.

Eat a double helping of refried beans before bedtime.

Text while driving.

Text while drunk.

Make small talk with crazy people.

Return to the scene of a crime.

Investigate things that go bump in the night.

Look when someone tells you not to look.

Take a sedative after eating prunes.

Spit into the wind.

Spit, period, unless the dental hygienist tells you to.

Pass gas in an elevator.

Piss off a grandmother.

Forget that all babies are beautiful in their Momma’s eyes.

Cut one’s own bangs with cuticle scissors.

Get a fit of the giggles at a funeral.

Wear hole-y underwear.