Don’t Cook in Your Bikini – a letter to my sons

Today, I was working on my cookbook. It’s a book I’ve been working on for my sons for the past 10 years. First, handwritten, and then entered into the computer and now organized and digitized, it’s almost finished. I’ve got a few more recipes to add, and a few pictures to throw into place, but I think it’s almost done.

If I can just get them to stop asking me to add more recipes…cover-image

But as I was reading and editing, I found this – the introduction to the cookbook (aptly named “Don’t Cook in Your Bikini, and Other Things I’ve Learned in the Kitchen”), a letter to my sons as they turn from boys to men.

I hope they listen.

Dear boys – 

Over the past 30+ years, I’ve spent hours in the kitchen. Probably days or weeks, if you add it all up.

And I’ve learned a lot from all that time sautéing, roasting, spicing, creating and burning… I mean, browning… the meals that y’all have mostly enjoyed. I’ve learned from my successes and I’ve learned from my mistakes.

Mostly, I’ve learned enough to keep you all from sending me on to “Worst Cooks in America.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned though, it’s  Don’t cook in your bikini.

Why not cook in a bikini?

Well, let’s just say “grease splatters.”

It’s all well and good to think that even though a summer storm has popped up outside, you can still grill burgers inside on your griddle. But, when you decide to keep your bikini on and only cover up with a holey sweater, then you’re not really thinking.

And I wasn’t.

Right up until the moment when some of the grease from the griddle jumped up and splattered burn marks all over my stomach.

Then I started thinking a lot of things, many of which ended with “%$#@!!!”

Not that there are that many people who actually WOULD cook in a bikini, but it occurred to me that if I was stupid enough to do it, then YOU might think it was a good idea too.

Apple. Tree. You get the idea.

It occurred to me, however, that cooking in a bikini was a lot like wearing a three-piece suit to garden in – it’s just not a good idea. For every particular job or activity you’ll do, you’ll  have “appropriate clothing.” And there’s a reason for that clothing. You don’t see chefs wearing bathing suits in the kitchen. You see them in long pants and comfortable shoes, and short-sleeved shirts.

Why?

To protect themselves from spills, or dragging their sleeves through the food, or, you know, catching on fire. Yes, honey, that’s a real thing. And you don’t normally see businessmen in jeans and a t-shirt. Why? Because the formality of their attire matches the air of importance they give to their products and services. It’s simple sales, really.

All that got me to thinking … there are a lot of things that I’ve learned in the kitchen that  apply to other parts of your life.

Little bits go a long way. When you’re seasoning something, the best thing to remember is to add a little at a time, and let it cook for a bit before adding more. Think about it – if you added pepper to something and throw in a full tablespoon of it, you run the risk of having whatever you’re cooking come out way too hot. But if you add a pinch or two at a time, you can get to just the right taste.

And that’s kind of like life too. When you’re adding things to your life, try not to add too much at once. Don’t decide you’re going to start a new job, start playing softball, start dating a new girlfriend and move all in the same month. Pick one, do it for a while and then add another until you feel like you can take on something else. Add too much at one time and you’ll be overwhelmed by it all.

You’re not always going to be able to do that though. Life has a way of looking at all of your well-laid plans and happy little dreams, and saying “HA! You are SO cute when you think things are going to go your way like that…” Sometimes life is going to throw a million things at you at once. The best thing you can do when that happens is to just sit down and eat a little at a time until you’ve cleaned your plate. Then you can take a step back, rest up and get ready for dessert.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or make something up, but be creative with a measure of caution. You really should never be afraid to try new things, seek out new people or combine things you love together. For every goofy idea, there is a great success, as much as there is an abysmal failure. You know, buffalo chicken quesadillas started out as a crazy idea, but it worked! Same with the Skyline Lasagna. You should never be afraid to mix things up – whether it’s with a recipe or in your life.

But, remember… just because you like two things, doesn’t necessary mean they go well together. You may like chicken and you may like bananas, but that doesn’t mean chicken and bananas should ever, under any circumstances, in any part of the world, and in any way, shape or form, be combined in one dish and put on a plate.

Similarly, beer and skiing; steak and strawberries; Chuck E. Cheese and a migraine; lima beans and …well…anything… probably not a good combination. Be careful, but always be brave and try new things.

Know when you can fudge a little. Sometimes in cooking, you have to measure carefully. Sometimes, you can wing it. You just have to know which time is which. For example, in barbecue and pizza, really, there’s not a lot of measuring. In those cases, a little of this, a little of that goes a long way. But when it comes to baking, if the recipe says “1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda” you’d better damn well be sure that you measure out exactly 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda. I’m not kidding. Exactly.

The same is true in life. You may be able to be to skip sweeping under the coffee table every other day at home, but when it comes to work, you have to do the best and most thorough job you can as quickly as you can. You’ve got to know when it’s okay to wing it, and when it’s important to do your best. It makes a huge difference in how successful you’ll be in the long-run.

Be careful where you put your fingers.  You know, it’s important to know where your fingers are when you’re slicing something. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve told you all to curl up your fingers when you’re holding something to cut, and to be careful with knives and food processors. That applies to burning your fingers in the oven (note my hands some day) and putting stuff in hot grease too.

But it applies to other people’s business as well. You don’t need to go sticking your nose or fingers (or any other body part) into someone else’s business. If they want you to know about something, they’ll tell you. If they want you to get involved, they’ll ask you. If they want your help with something, they’ll let you know. I’m not saying, don’t ask if someone needs your help, but certainly don’t take on someone’s problems if they don’t want you there. Be loving and caring with people, and by all means, let them know you are there for them, but don’t stick your fingers in places they don’t belong.

Quit holding on to your recipes  Everyone has secret recipes and things that are theirs and theirs alone. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold on to them too tightly. Sharing your gifts with the world is the only clear way to get something back in return.

If I weren’t to share my recipes with you, either by writing them down for you, or cooking them for you, they’d all sit on a shelf and go to waste. But by sharing them, not only do they get a life of their own, but you give me something in return. Whether it’s “Oh, Mom, this is the bomb,” or “I loved your recipe for chicken bog, did you want my recipe for chocolate cola cake?” you get a little quid pro quo action going. When you give a little of yourself, you get a lot in return.

The things you make with love will always surpass the things you throw together Every time you cook, you should absolutely put your heart into it. And by that I mean, when you are creating something, care about the result, because someone is going to be eating that. Do you want to eat something that someone threw together without caring how it tasted, whether or not it was burnt, what kind of texture it had, whether or not the ingredients were rotten? Of course not. You want to eat something that shows someone took the time to do the best they could just for you.

Would you want something that showed someone took the time and effort to make something really great? Or would you want something that someone threw together without thinking about the end result? Put effort into what you do, care about the result – whether it’s in the kitchen or not – and your results will always be better.

Simple ingredients and simple cooking methods are sometimes the best – Eating at a French restaurant can be an amazing thing. Your Dad and I have always said French cooking is about taking out every ingredient you own and cooking them in every pot you own, cleaning all the pots and using them again to come up with an entrée the size of a walnut. It’s all very expensive and very complex and very beautiful and very tasty.

But none of it compares to a bowl of soup beans, or chicken bog, or a really good fried bologna sandwich. Not everything has to be about microgreens, or vodka-infused something or the other, or even about pan roasting something with black truffle oil and pink Himalayan salt. Sometimes, the good stuff is just about three or four ingredients put together and cooked up in the most simple of ways – strawberries and sugar with whipped cream; bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches; scrambled eggs with cheese. It’s the simple stuff that makes a difference.

And in that same vein, when you’re working, sometimes just having good quality products, without all the bells and whistles and razzle dazzle, is all you need. Got a Powerpoint slide show to do? Just do the presentation and make the information sing. Do you need slides that swoop on to the screen and blast the text from out of nowhere? Not really. Let your work stand on its own without trying to baffle people with bullshit. People know what bullshit looks like, regardless of how much glitter you sprinkle on it. Trust me.

I wish I had some beautiful, lyrical words to tell you about living a great life and making a success of yourself and being happy. I don’t. Because I really don’t know what the secrets are.

But I do know this. You only get one chance at life. Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. Take the risks that will make you happy. It’s always better, in my mind, to look back with a smile at the end of your life and say “I can’t believe I actually did that” instead of looking back with regret and saying to yourself “I wish I had tried to do that.”

I love you both so much. You have made my life better just by being a part of it. Even when I was screaming and angry or crying and worried, you have been the biggest part of my heart and you always will be. I never knew that I could love someone so much that I would give up anything to make their life better. I know I haven’t been able to give you everything. I know I’ve made mistakes. But I also know that I tried to be the best mom I could be. And I know that no matter what, I will forever keep trying to be that and that I will always be here for you.

Probably will still be asking if you’ve brushed your teeth and done your laundry, but still… I’ll be here.  :-*

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2017

10 Things I Learned About the Old West from Gunsmoke

For the last few months, I’ve been watching a lot of Gunsmoke.gunsmoke_main_cast_1967

It’s on in the afternoons, and as things begin to wind down, I find myself relaxing in the company of Marshall Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty and Festus.

Secretly, Festus is my favorite.

But, I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the Old West from Gunsmoke. It wasn’t all wagon trains and cattle rustling you know.

 

  1. GunsmokeMarshall Matt Dillon was the tallest man in the world. No one was ever taller than Matt Dillon in Dodge City. And since, apparently, Dodge City was the center of the known world, it only stands to reason there wasn’t a taller person anywhere out there. There certainly wasn’t in the Old West. I think there was one guy, a bad guy named Deke, who could possibly have been as tall if not taller than Marshall Dillon, but he died inside the first four minutes of the episode, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t count.

 

  1. festusNo one had spurs that jingle jangle jingled except Festus. The song was wrong. There was only one set of jingly jangly spurs in Dodge City, and Festus wore them. You can hear them jingle jangle every time he walks. And he’s the only one. I don’t know why he needs them – what with him riding a mule and all – but he’s got ‘em and his are the only ones that make a lick of noise.

 

  1. There was a dearth of jobs in the Old West. From the looks of it, no one had anything to do. Every day, there were tons of people just milling about, waiting for something to happen and gawking when a stranger or the stagecoach came in to town. Now you can tell there are stores, and black smith shops and the many saloons, but … there doesn’t seem to be anyone actually doing anything. They sure as heck have a lot of money to eat and drink though.

 

  1. Speaking of which, it’s never too early to drink in the Old West. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – it’s always time for a drink. Beer before breakfast? No problem. Whiskey before 10 a.m.? Why not? Want something to drink with your lunch or dinner? I’ve got two choices for you and neither of them are tea or milk.

 

  1. shoot-out

    Yep, not a drop of blood…

    No one ever bled. Gunshot wound to the neck? Just a schmear of red here and there. Gunshot wound to the gut? Barely a blood stain the size of a hockey puck. The alcohol must have served as a blood blocker. Regardless, a gunshot wound, no matter where, was almost instantaneously fatal. Unless you were one of the main characters. The main characters had the best aim ever and if they shot you from 300 yards away, you would fall down dead where you stood. The plains of Kansas apparently are littered with the bones of dead bad guys and innocent by-standers. And if you were a main character, you would be able to survive a gunshot wound to the spine and not only not be paralyzed, but also be able to fight through the pain to reach a gun, just in the nick of time. Just saying. If you’re gonna be in the Old West, make your way to the inner circle. All those guys wandering around Dodge City might as well have been the guys wearing red shirts on Star Trek.

 

  1. Marshall Dillon, Newly and Festus were the only people in the entirety of the Old West who knew how to use a karate chop on bad guys. They were also the only ones capable of sneaking up on bad guys ninja style to attack them from behind just in the nick of time to save the day. Similarly, Matt Dillon had the ability to ride a horse into the millions of acres of open desert and grassland there in Kansas and be able to stumble across the one person he was looking for right before they stumbled into a heat-stroke induced death. Astounding.

 

  1. Speaking of heat stroke, everyone wore the same thing every day, all three or four
    layers of it, except Miss Kitty. Even the women wore long skirts with petticoats and pantaloons and tops with at least two or three layers. Crazy. No telling when they washed them, or if they even did, but it’s the same outfit, with the same shoes and the same hats every single gosh blamed day. I don’t know how they stood it. The smell in the summer must have been overwhelming… if you could discern it from the horses in the streets and the dead bodies everywhere.

 

  1. miss-kitty

    Miss Kitty

    No matter what happened, nothing could damage Miss Kitty’s Old West make-up and eyeliner. Fall into a stream after being thrown from a stagecoach? Wet clothes, but perfect face and smile. Beaten and bruised by bad guys gunning for Marshall Dillon? Dresses and hair may be messed up and torn, but the eyeliner would be perfect. It didn’t even run when she cried. God, what I wouldn’t give for make-up like that. I wonder if she had some Indian princess tattoo it on her or something….

 

  1. nimoy

    yep…that’s Leonard Nimoy

    If you had the right nose and skin color, you could be any one of sever different ethnicities. It was only through stereotypical clothing and accents that you could tell if someone was American Indian or Jewish. And all the bad guys were easy to identify because they all looked the same. In fact, some of them looked so much alike, you would swear they were twins, if not the exact same person.

 

  1. Everyone in the Old West was concerned with lots of social justice issues. Discrimination, rape, domestic violence, gambling addiction, alcoholism – you name it, they were worried about it. And all of the issues they talked about we’re still talking about now. Have we really not come that far in that long? Course, no one ever brought up Festus’ inability to read, but … there are people in America now who are in positions of power who haven’t the brain of a turnip, so… I guess things haven’t changed much.

 

I guess there are deeper messages that I could learn about life from Gunsmoke, but… I was a child of the 70s. Nothing really gets much deeper than Steve Austin fighting Bigfoot and realizing he was never the real enemy after all. What can Gunsmoke possibly say to top that?

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

One holiday at a time, please

It’s Halloween night; so naturally, I find I’m a little sick of Christmas commercials.

Not even lying.

christams-fries

Merry Christmas!

This weekend, in the midst of a marathon horror movie session, I got just a bit tired of watching Best Buy’s Christmas commercials. Apparently, nothing says Christmas like going into debt to buy another meaningless gadget.

Unless it’s Rent-A-Center’s new living room or dining room ensemble. God knows your family will look down their nose at you if you don’t have the newest sofa, or the perfect dining room table with that extendable leaf.

And major retailers weren’t the only ones in on the Holiday Cheer. Cable channels got their Ho Ho Ho on too… The Food Network was already promoting its Christmas baking competitions – the ones where you too can feel inadequate over brownies, cookies and themed cakes you never knew anyone wanted or needed.

And The Hallmark Channel was gleefully showing “Love’s Christmas Journey” and “Hitched for the Holidays,” among about a million other sappy syrupy sweet movies where everything ends happily in a quiet snowfall that makes you want to curl up in your snuggy with hot chocolate and a peppermint stick.

Bleah.

IT’S HALLOWEEN FOR CRIPES SAKE!!!!

This is not the time for glittery white snow or elaborately decorated cakes or even sappy feel-good movies.

StampaThis is the time for scare-me-out-of-my-pants horror movies, binge eating trick or treat candy and dressing up like something other than yourself. This is the time to be lost in the crisp cool air hitting your face while leaves crunch underfoot and the smell of burnt pumpkins as candles sear the insides of jack o’lanterns permeates the air. That’s my kind of pumpkin spice.

This is the time for fake blood, pasty grey skin and fake teeth that mimic anything from a witch, to a zombie to a dead illegal voter.

Can we not, for once, just celebrate one holiday at a time though?

I went to the store on the way home this afternoon and all the Halloween candy was gone.

All.

Gone.

Okay, there were some orange pumpkin peeps and blackberry cobbler candy corn, but who wants to hand that out to a trick or treater? Can you say “Egg me, please!”???

In its place was an aisle of candy canes, egg nog, gingerbread flavored biscotti and snowmen Tic Tac dispensers.

I preferred the Halloween themed orange monster Tic Tac holder. But then again, Trump was probably still on the campaign trail…

gingerdead_man_3_saturday_night_cleaverAt least the guys at the cable channel El Rey got it right by running “Gingerdead Man III, Saturday Night Cleaver” a horror movie about a killer cookie come to life who travels back in time to the 1970s to wreak havoc at a roller skating rink.

I’m not sure whether I’m impressed by the melding of the two holidays, or of the fact that more than one of these movies was actually made. There were four in fact. Proof positive that people will watch anything…even Christmas commercials in July.

Why, I have to ask retailers, do you insist on putting out Christmas decorations in August? Do you think we don’t KNOW Christmas is coming? Do you think we’ve somehow forgotten that we’re supposed to be budgeting to spend a small fortune on presents that will be forgotten, broken or out of fashion come February?

(Note to friends who don’t follow the news – Pokemon Go is dead and a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 should only be given to those you really want to burn your bridges with… literally)

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend on average more than $935 this holiday season. In their opinions, we (the public) need holiday commercials because our minds are way too concerned with the election to pay any attention to the holidays right now.
“Everywhere you turn — whether you’re picking up a newspaper or watching television — political advertisements are taking up ad space that retailers typically use to get holiday shopping on the minds of consumers across the country,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Once the election has passed, we anticipate consumers will pull themselves out of the election doldrums and into the holiday spirit.”

REALLY???? ct-debate-prep-clinton-vs-trump-20160827

Do you think we’ve forgotten that there are major holidays that don’t revolve around this fiasco of an election? Do you honestly think we’re all not frantically looking for an excuse to NOT think about who is running for President?

I think that’s what Halloween is FOR!

I mean, sure… getting scared by a flesh-craving zombie may be scary, but not half as much as the idea that one of these people will actually become president on Nov. 9.

We need scary movies and cute trick or treaters and eerie music to take our minds off of the horrors that the first post-election days will surely bring. Subconsciously, I think, scares remind us what we’re all really thankful for – family, friends, full-sized Snickers bars from the good neighborhoods and clown-proof security systems.

But NO! You all have to fill your shelves with sugarplums and wreaths and jingle bells.

My husband went into Party City and Michael’s on Oct. 21 to buy Halloween decorations for our Zombie Pub Crawl.

There weren’t any.

easy-fun-crafts-to-do-at-homeThey had all been replaced by Christmas decorations and craft supplies.

Then again, we bought some of our Halloween decorations in August, right around the time we should have been shopping for back-to-school, so we should have been prepared.

But aren’t we missing something?

It’s bad enough that we’re practically skipping Halloween to market Christmas, but have we all forgotten there’s another holiday in there that needs attention too?

What the heck happened to Thanksgiving?

thanksgiving-hero-banner-091316You know, turkey, family, football – all the good stuff that we really need now more than ever?  I haven’t even started to stress that my house won’t look like a Norman Rockwell picture after I spend six hours in the kitchen to make a dinner that will last about 15 minutes before everyone goes back to video games and football yet and you want me to fret over $75 full-action Barbie Doll Commandos? Whatevs!

Sure, it’s hard to make a buck off of Thanksgiving if you’re not a grocery store, but it’s still an important holiday. It’s the one where we’re all grateful for all the things we have.

Maybe that’s why they want us to overlook it… if we’re thankful for the things we have, perhaps we won’t be as inclined to go out and buy more.

black-friday-wembl_3121002k-large_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Seriously, retailers, you all have come together and realized we don’t like the idea that you’re open on Thanksgiving and more than 40 of the big chain stores have decided that they won’t be taking part in Black Friday on Turkey Thursday.

Now, do you all think you can get together and make a pact to not put up Christmas decorations and sale items until the Christmas music starts?

Which, of course, will commence first thing in the morning on November 1.

 

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016. All images remain the property of their original owners.

Why I’ll NEVER Watch Walking Dead Again

Okay.

Fine.

I’m done.

I will never watch The Walking Dead again. After last night, I’m done with it. Really.woman-looking-away-strikingAnd spare me your sanctimonious uber fan status with “It’s just like in the comic book.” I didn’t read the comic book. I don’t care what happens in the comic book.

I’m just not interested in seeing what happens after last night’s season premiere.

No,… I take that back. I’m not just “not interested.”

I’m unsubscribed to my weekly AMC Walking Dead email. I’ve unfollowed them all on Twitter. I’ve deleted the apps and pages on my Facebook page. I don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore.

And I know I’m not alone.

I’m not just “not a fan” anymore.

I’m repulsed.

I know, I know – we’ve all seen violence and gore on the show before. I can hear some of you now… “God, it’s just fake. It’s entertainment.” Or “What kind of a wimp are you if you can’t take this? Maybe you should go, because it gets much worse.” Or “Jeez, you hyper-sensitive liberals, what’s next? Zombie rights?”

Please.

By the way, spoiler alert

It’s not about Glenn. It’s not about Abraham. It’s not about Negan.

It’s that I’m not a fan of all of us somehow deciding that sadism and snuff films are now quality entertainment.

Here’s the thing – this isn’t a comic book. It’s a television show. It’s real and it’s moving and it’s graphic. It’s happening right there in your living room. It’s viewed and taken internally in a different way than a comic book. It becomes a part of your home.

I don’t want that in my home.

We’ve watched for six seasons as the violence on TWD got increasingly more intense. The gore got gorier. The deaths became more shocking. The attacks got bigger and bigger.

So… of course, they had to amp it up this year, right? It’s all justifiable in the name of “good TV”, right?

Not in my mind. It used to be about the zombies. It used to be about the human condition and the will to survive. It used to be about wrong vs. right.

Now… not so much. What I saw lat night, was a film maker daring me to continue watching.

As I’ve said to film makers who make films like “Saw” and “Hostel” who seem to get gorier and nastier and more sick with each film, all of the following ones getting worse than the first, each daring us to not get sick, to not look away, to not be disturbed by the content, I will now say to Nicotero and company…. “Okay. I won’t watch anymore. You win. Happy?”

The ever up-ticking episodic violence has reached a level where it’s not just disgusting, it’s disturbing. What’s next? A slow painful disembowelment? Death by gang rape? Draw and quartering someone? Will that be shocking and awe-inspiring enough for viewers? Where will it end?

I guess the idea that these were not zombies that got hacked to pieces, but people we’ve come to love, is what made my stomach churn. I’m no big Glenn fan and I’m certainly no Abraham fan. Heck, if they’d done the same thing to Michonne and Eugene, I would have said the same thing. It was just too much.

And the story lines used to be about how the group helped each other, not how one man bent another to his will in the most sick and sadistic ways possible. Since when does sick and twisted have a place to sit around our living room table.

I’ve long had a problem with television news showing the last moments of someone’s life. Whether it’s a train wreck, a police shooting, a video-taped terrorist attack, or people falling from the World Trade Center towers – I’ve taken issue with using someone’s death to hedge up ratings as they continue to do on the nightly news. It’s a snuff film. Only, it’s news, so it’s legal.

And this was no different. We watched Glenn die. When I looked at him and saw the divot in his head and his eye bulging out while he tried to speak, I decided I was done. It’s not heart-breaking or gut-wrenching… it’s a moment-by-moment play of a man dying in the most brutal way imaginable for “entertainment.”

You realize that is what they say about snuff films too, right?

Entertainment for me was when I watched in the beginning and there was spirit and the drive to survive and create a new place to call home. Entertainment was the fight inside ourselves when faced with a gut wrenching decision to kill someone who looks like a loved one. Entertainment was seeing how horror didn’t kill the desire to be human.

Entertainment was not watching a man grapple with whether or not to cut his own son’s arm off or watch seven people die. I find no joy in that. It crosses a line for me.

And maybe it’s just my line and my little judgment call and my little sense of what’s right and moral. But at least I have a line.

As I’ve watched all these seasons cross lines and break barriers and push further than any other series has, I could never help but wonder – when will it stop? What will the next crossed line be? Where will the go with the violence and the gore? When will enough be enough?

Fortunately for me, I won’t be around to see it.

Sorry, Kirkman. This Kentucky girl is done.

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

How are we supposed to take Curvy Barbie?

This weekend, I watched a story on the new Barbies.

Apparently, you can now get Barbie in sizes other than “bone thin and completely unrealistic.”

people-barbieAccording to Mattel, Barbie will now come in four different sizes, seven different skin colors, 20+ different eye and hair colors and, presumably, an inordinately large number of coordinating outfits and shoes, some of which you will even be able to find after you open the package.

There’s Tall Barbie, Petite Barbie and Curvy Barbie to go along with “regular” Barbie – still super model on crack thin with annoyingly perky boobs.

The new dolls are a response to concerns that Barbie promotes an unrealistic body image to girls and add to body issues.

And it only took 60 years – go figure.

As near as I can tell, Curvy Barbie consists of thunder thighs and small boobs. I would put her at about a size 12. Granted, I’m about as fashion conscious as a linebacker for the Houston Oilers, so I wouldn’t take my word for that.

Petite Barbie is just shorter with the same sized boobs and Tall Barbie is just Barbie after a few hours on a Medieval rack.

But the thing that struck me was that after the piece on Barbie was over a Weight Watcher’s commercial came on….starring Oprah.

Huh.

So, the goddess of the television, whom we’ve all watched struggle with her weight is now hawking Weight Watchers.

What does THAT say to girls about body image?

oprah-winfrey-weight-watchers-commercial__oPtFor most of the women I know, they related to Oprah because she wasn’t perfect. Oprah had curves. Oprah looked good despite her curves. Oprah succeeded in spite of her curves, not due to her lack of them. Oprah was, and still is, funny, savvy, smart and compassionate. No one looks at Oprah and says, “She would get so much farther in life if she’d just drop 10 pounds.”

Trust me, I’ve heard that in my life.

She was perfect because she WASN’T perfect.

And we all related to that.

But now, are we saying “not perfect” isn’t enough?

I know the commercial says we should want to find our “best” us, but damn… isn’t what they’re really saying is that the “you” that you are right now ISN’T your “best” you.

I wonder how that makes women who’ve identified with her for such a long time feel.

About the same time, a friend sent me the daily diet of California juice guru Amanda Chantal Bacon as published in Elle magazine.

Af285f930090179560c060802ef21f5fapparently, this female entrepreneur’s diet consists of mostly teas, peppered with the occasional zucchini ribbon, and a bevy of other ingredients of her own discovering like brain dust, vanilla mushroom protein, coryceps and activated cashews.

God knows, nothing is worse than eating those regular old, lazy, inert cashews.
Now, let’s not forget that this Bacon girl, whose name is only slightly ironic given her air-based diet, is the guru to the star whose mere existence makes the rest of us look pallid in comparison – Gwyneth Paltrow.

According to Goop, Paltrow’s … jeez, I don’t even know what the hell to call Goop… other than the only place I know where vapid blog posts about how you, you lowly earthly scum, can’t even boil an egg right, and need this web site to learn how to do it better than Martha Stewart, all while buying $5,000 juicers and $1,800 sweaters to go along with your $400 lip balm.

Anyway, apparently, Goop says G.P. went to Bacon in the throws of a “Brain Fog”, only to have Bacon sell her a full supply of $65 jars of Moon dust and some activated fermented sea vegetables to nibble on. Seems it not only cleared up her brain fog, but helped her extra sensory perception as well.

I swear, I really wish I were making this up.

So, Elle – a magazine whose media packet boasts that the majority of its readers are 18- to 49-year-old women who are, according to Robbie Meyers, editor-in-chief, “the first person to try something and she brings all of her friends along on her fantastic journey” – decides to publish a diet for a woman who believes in Cosmic provisions and preventing your body from having to actually chew anything as disgusting as, well, … food.

How does THIS help women’s body images?

How in the world is a fat doll supposed to help girls with their body image if everything around them says “Hey, it’s not enough to be thin, you need to live off air, and if you’re not skinny, you should be ashamed of yourself no matter how successful you are because it’s not your ‘best’ you”?

Why even worry about putting out a fat doll, at all?

Until everything else changes, nothing Curvy Barbie says to girls is going to make a bit of a difference – except to reinforce for girls who don’t fit into regular Barbie’s image that they’re somehow not as “good” as the original.

When I was a little girl, I had Barbie. I got the airplane for Christmas along with Barbie, Ken and Skipper. And Barbie’s horse. I distinctly remember Barbie pushing the serving cart around the plane while Skipper headed off on the horse to see what was going on with my Star Wars figures.

Barbie looked really pretty in her clothes, when I could get them on her. Although I have to admit she spent a lot of time sitting around looking pretty while I played with my science kit or my Dad’s microscope (with my hand-made slides of squooshed bugs, blood and the occasional booger).

apollo and starbuckShe always smiled politely while Skipper and I battled Darth Vader, or occasionally joined Captain Apollo and Lt. Starbuck in some attempt to outwit and evade the Cylons.

And I’m pretty sure even Skipper wasn’t around the day my friend Claire and I decided that all of the floors in my mom’s house were lava and the ottomans were our only way to get from room to room. Traveling down the stairs and into the hallway to the guest room on that ottoman is an adventure I will never forget.

Yeah…. Sorry Mom.

But still, for YEARS, I struggled with who I was, based on who I was not. I didn’t even LIKE Barbie and I STILL compared myself to her. I had a picture of what I thought were the perfect Barbie-esque thighs hanging next to my full-length mirror in my closet from the time I was in junior high until I graduated high school. As a matter of fact, they are still there.  As a swimmer and a curvy girl, I was never going to have that kind of thigh gap. But I still felt like that was what would make me popular/datable/attractive/successful/perfect.

I’m not Barbie. I’m not like the women I see on TV. Hell, I’m not even as skinny as “plus-sized” models!

And that’s okay.

Now.

It wasn’t okay for a long, long time. Truth be told, I still have trouble with it sometimes – breaking down in tears because I don’t look like what women who are not the butt of jokes and wisecracks are supposed look like.

I wonder what’s going to happen to those little girls who get curvy Barbie?

Are we still telling them at an early age “You’re just not measuring up, honey.”?

What are we telling girls if on the one hand we’re telling them “Here’s a doll that looks more like you,” and on the other telling them “You know, honey, being a successful multimedia mogul isn’t enough. You have to be thin too?” What are we telling them when we glorify a woman whose whose $700 a day diet has fewer calories than Gandhi lived on?

Why not just tell them it’s okay to be who they are and what they are?

Girls don’t need a doll to tell them they don’t look like other girls in school. Trust me, they know already.

And they don’t need idols telling them you can have everything, but it’s not enough if you’re not thin.

Girls need other women telling them to be who they want and be proud of who they are. And they need guys in their life telling them they like girls with curves too.

 

Copyright © Liz Carey 2016

Images remain the property of their respective owners.

Horror movie quandries

I’ve never really understood a few things about horror movies.

Really.

falling victimI mean, why is it that there is always a stupid girl who tries to run away and then falls? Obviously, it’s because they’re wearing heels while running, but who goes into the woods wearing high-heeled shoes?

Not a smart girl.

We don’t go into the woods. Period.

And why do these stupid girls always make the worst possible decisions when faced with a life threatening situations?

It’s like they are begging to be a victim.

“Oh, wow. I heard a weird noise in this crazy, desolate house we just happened to find on a rainy night… I think I’ll go in the basement and check it out.”

Who actually does that?

No one with a brain, that’s who.

chattanooga choo chooWhen my husband and I got married, we honeymooned across the Southeast. We spent our first night in a bed and breakfast in Lexington, Ky., then hit the Chattanooga Choo Choo to stay in one of their railroad cars. After that, we headed south through Huntsville, Alabama and stopped at Space Camp before hitting the local Piggly Wiggly and to grab something for dinner that night.

After that, we realized that our car’s taillights were out while driving to New Orleans on the Natchez Trace. At that moment, it really made sense to camp out and cook out.

Really.

It wasn’t until after we set up the tent, put our sleeping bag in place and organized all of the camping equipment that we got around to eating our crawfish dinner. It was dark. The sky was filled with stars and no sound. It was heaven.

Until we realized we were the only ones in the campground.

As the campfire started to ebb, I heard weird sounds. Surely, whatever was in the woods right behind us had caught the scent of our crawfish cooked over the open flame and wanted a little taste.

Apparently, the carcasses and shells of the little critters we had flung into the forest weren’t enough for them.

Which led me to announce to my new husband the only thing I knew to say.

“Honey, this is how people die,” I said. “This is the type of setting where the serial killer comes out of the woods and slaughters the unsuspecting couple and they don’t find their body for forever. I don’t want to rot away in a swamp somewhere and have no one finde us for decades ’til some kid decides to take a leak.”

So, we did what any sane couple would do – we up and moved.

I mean, we packed up everything, tent and all, and we got the HELL out of there.

If we hadn’t, we’d have been the anonymous couple in the horror movie that gets killed before the real cast shows up.

Isn’t that what anyone would do?

haunted disposalWhich leads me to my other horror movie question – why do movie producers continue to create this sense of foreboding and terror when people in an obviously haunted house reach into a kitchen drain with a garbage disposal in it?

Usually, up until that point, there hasn’t been a time when the ghosts have done anything physically threatening, but still the scene will cut away from a close-up on the distracted Mom, to a shot of her reaching into the drain to get a spoon or fallen wedding ring or  whatever is making that unnatural sound, and then immediately the scene cuts to an even closer shot of the gears of the disposal ready to spring to life and tear her hand to shreds, ostensibly pulling the her hand and the rest of her body into the great unknown.

Has this ever happened before?

Seriously, is there some supernatural phenomenon that I’m not aware of that helps ghost make disposals spring to life when they can’t even move a chair on command or be in the same room with more than one person?

It’s not a fear I understand completely.

Yesterday, I was quietly washing the dishes while everyone else in the house played video games or watched TV. When it finally came time to clear out the sink, like any other Mom, I shoved everything into the drain, turned on the water and flipped the disposal switch on with my foot (since it’s located under the sink).

For a few seconds, that disposal grinded and cranked and did whatever it is that disposals do.

Then, all of a sudden, it started making this weird clunking noise – like there was a spoon in it or something.

And, of course, I did what any other sane Mom would do, I leaned back and started to lift my foot to turn off the switch and see what was wrong. About that same time, something shot out of the disposal and landed about where my head would have been if I hadn’t.

It was a penny.

A mangled, sharp-edged, chewed up penny that had all the harbingers of death via copper. One cent of shrapnel delivered via electronic gears.

That thing could’ve sliced my ear off, or worse, taken an eye out!

And my house isn’t even haunted!!!

But did I peer into the disposal and see what was wrong? NO! Did I reach into it to investigate? NO? Did I hang around when it was making weird noises and wait for something ominous to happen? Uhm, NO!

I got the hell out of the way!!!

CorrodedGarbageDisposalWikimediaCommonsI’m still not sure how anyone can think of disposals as gears of death via spirits from the great beyond. Heck, they could be deadly without the help of electromagnetic frequencies and Great Aunt Tilda holding a grudge against your redecorating the house.

But just like the camp ground, if that thing starts making noises, I’m getting the heck out of Dodge.

Let the plumber get hacked to pieces for a change.

It’s what a smart girl would do.

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

Not so “Gaga” over the Golden Globes

Yesterday, my topic of choice for my blog was my family’s unnatural obsession with hoodies.

But then the Golden Globes happened.

gaga upset

Pensive Gaga

Or rather, Gaga happened.

It’s no coincidence that Gaga sounds a lot like “caca” in my mind.

Really.

As I normally do when I wake up on a Monday morning and don’t want to work, I was browsing through Facebook and saw people commenting on Lady Gaga winning the Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a Limited Series or Miniseries.”

Initially, I figured it was a joke and someone was pulling the Onion over our eyes.

But no, it was true… the Golden Globe went to a woman who destroyed a series.

Let me explain…. I am an American Horror Story fan. I love horror and I love the idea of something for grown ups on television that isn’t sappy, sarcastic or insipid.

But, this season’s American Horror Story? Not so much. In fact, I’m really looking forward to the finale this week just so I don’t feel compelled to spend any more time on it.

The first season of American Horror Story, I was hooked. I loved it. Wouldn’t miss a minute of it. Evan Peters, Jessica Lange and Zachary Quinto? Yes, please! Throw in some of that McDermott guy and I could sit there transfixed all day. With all the plot twists, shadowy figures, ghosts, suspicions and blackmail, I couldn’t wait for more.

But when the second season came around? Ehhhh. Not so much. Once we got to the sadist with mommy issues and the serial killing Santa Claus, I was pretty much done.

When the third season started, I was skeptical, but the coven, the New Orleans location, Delphine LaLaurie and Stevie Nicks pulled me back in. So too did season four, where I simultaneously felt sorry for killer clowns while finding my irrational clown heebee jeebies suddenly justified.

But this season?

gaga intrigued

Smoky Gag

Gaga me with a spoon.

Between the gratuitous sex and graphic drug use, the proliferation of blood during sex, the confusing and uninteresting plot line and the lack of any chemistry/dynamic tension/range of emotion from Gaga, Wes Bentley or Chloe Sivigny, I really didn’t want to watch it.

However, my 15-year-old son was watching it and I wanted to make sure that I was okay with him seeing whatever they decided to show.

To be completely honest, I almost didn’t let him watch it. The graphic drug use and sex were a little over the top for me. But he pointed out that everyone who did drugs died, so I relented.

Every week I slogged through it, waiting for it to get better.

But every week, it just got worse. Gaga awful, in fact.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

Let’s see if I can wrap up the plot in less than a 40-page dissertation….

gaga happy

Stoic love-sick Gaga

“Recovering alcoholic cop John stumbles into the Hotel Cortez while working diligently to solve a serial killer case and has a complete mental and emotional breakdown when he develops a relationship with a dead drug addict hooker with an insatiable desire for eternal love, Sally, who, in turn, introduces him to the true evil behind the hotel, a glamorous movie starlet turned vampire, the Countess, who has a love/hate relationship with clothing (on, off, on, off, on, off and covered in blood, on, off, on and covered in blood, off), and the sadistic murdering hotel owner and builder, J. P. March, who is madly in love with her. Along the way, the cop finds his missing six-year-old son, and when his soon-to-be-ex-wife finds out, she abandons John and her other child to be a vampire buffet for a flock of night-crawler Stepford children whose lives revolve around intravenous blood infusions, candy and video games, but not before she, a pediatric doctor, manages to infect an entire classroom of pre-teens and create a “lost boys meets lord of the flies” band of merciless killers.

Meanwhile, a black-plotation actress decides to seek her revenge on the Countess for something that happened 30 years before and finds herself locked in an abandoned area of the hotel waiting for the day she can attack her nemesis, while a cross-dressing receptionist and an aging female hotel manager (who gives new meaning to the term helicopter parent) join forces with her to rid the hotel of the Countess. Somewhere along the way, John has a complete break with reality and realizes he is the serial killer he sought and falls into the clutches of Sally, whose solution to her abandonment issues looks like something akin to the Human Centipede, only vertical.”

Whew…. And that’s just the highlights… seriously.

Again, here we go with the mommy issues with the over-protective mother, and the love triangles – only this time, we get to see the love triangles up close and personal-like in what I assume is the first graphic threesome ever broadcast in a limited run television series that involved a sewing needle. There were times I wasn’t sure if I was watching a television series or soft-core porn on Skin-emax.

And we got to see Lady Gaga.

gaga sad

“Look! I’m almost naked without my make-up” Gaga”

A lot of Lady Gaga… a lot of Lady Gaga covered with blood, with pasties, with long blonde hair… More of Lady Gaga than I personally ever wanted to see.

If her acting had been good, I probably wouldn’t have minded. But her onscreen emoting reminded me of lawn furniture in winter – the dressing may change, but it’s still the same uncomfortable chairs.

And, since her expression is the same whether she’s happy or sad, or excited, or mad, really it was kind of difficult to figure out why she was undressed in the first place. Did she think her hair was going to do her acting for her?

I finally realized that when she opened her mouth it was a sign she was really happy or really sad. It’s when her mouth was closed that she was pouty, promiscuous or petulant.

So, we’ve got a bad plot line, bad story and bad acting all of which left a bad taste in my mouth, and you’re going to give the worst actor in it a Golden Globe? What the ever-loving heck?

And I’m not the only one, I promise. Just a quick perusal of the web and Facebook and you can see, a lot of people weren’t happy with her getting the award.

None of us, of course, reacted like Leonardo DiCaprio, but then again, not many of us could pull off a cringe like that in a tux and still look dashing and debonair.

A lot of people that I saw weren’t happy that she was in American Horror Story in the first place. I can’t say I blame them.

I don’t watch a lot of television – shows with seasons like this are one of the reasons why – so I don’t have any clue whether any of the other nominees were any good. I’ve seen Kirsten Dunst in other things though and I know that she can at least act. I can’t imagine that all four of the rest of them were so bad that Gaga was the best of the crop.

Gaga said she always wanted to be an actress… as far as I can tell, she’s still wanting… in a lot of ways.

I hear she’s been asked to be in Season 6 of the series. I sure hope she figures out how to say “No.” Or if she can’t and ends up in the cast, at least maybe she can get some acting lessons from Jessica Lange. Are you listening Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk? Are you paying attention to the falling ratings – this season’s ratings looking worse than those of season one, and only doing marginally better than the dismal season two… trust me, it’s all Gaga-induced.

One thing’s for sure, if she’s a part of it, I doubt I’ll be watching… once you’ve found yourself watching a really beautiful train wreck, you find it’s a lot easier than you thought to look away from the next one.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

All images remain the property of their owners.