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Watch These Guys Play 'Billie Jean' on Empty Beer Bottles

Watch These Guys Play 'Billie Jean' on Empty Beer Bottles



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You have to check out this talented beer bottle pop group!

If only Michael Jackson were alive to see this! The Bottle Boys have certainly found a creative way to recycle! A YouTube sensation, this group of five friends from Denmark recreate pop songs, video game themes, and hip hop hits using only empty bottles of beer. Their latest six pack sensation is Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” just released this week.

The five-some sure knows how to have a good time. In every video, from their renditions of “Call Me Maybe,” “Party Rock Anthem,” and “Talk Dirty to Me,” to a Super Mario Brothers medley, they blow into bottles, use them as percussion instruments, and appear to engage in a silly faces competition. Last year, they created a splash when they did an underwater rendition of “Under the Sea.”

Check out their latest video below:

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi


Changes

There are some changes going on in my life right now. Which is affecting this blog. There are 3 of us who make posts on FaceBook but on the blog it is only me. Since I am now working days again I haven't had much time to do anything on here or anywhere else. Because I also have a night gig. And when I'm not working I'm down right lazy!

Anyhow. The only recipes I'll be posting from now on will be our recipes or fan submitted recipes.

You can keep up to date with recipes, crafts, giveaways and other fun stuff thru Facebook and Twitter


Party-Pooping Patrol Targets Raucous Youths in La Mirada

Minutes later, a glance up San Antonio Avenue told him he was in the right place. “There it is, there it is,” he announced, a slight gleam of victory edging his voice as his partner turned their unmarked Chevy onto the street. “It’s time to swoop like the hawk.”

A house party--a very big one--was in progress, teeming with the clean-cut youths of La Mirada and environs. Young people spilled out of the backyard onto the driveway and the sidewalks and the street. One of them cradled a beer in his hand. It was enough to propel Broussard and his toothpick-chewing partner, Ron Blyleven, into pursuit.

The two were, that recent Saturday night, manning the park-party patrol, a special, plainclothes sheriff’s unit hired by the city. For a six-hour, overtime shift on weekend nights, the patrol is the official party pooper of La Mirada.

It is the unit’s job to answer calls about raucous gatherings, and to cruise local parks and parking lots, scanning the dark reaches for people who have chosen public places to do their carousing. Especially young people.

“It’s the same thing we all did at that age,” said Broussard, a slight man dressed, like Blyleven, in blue jeans and a green, sheriff’s windbreaker. “Most of these kids aren’t bad. They’re usually middle- to upper-middle class. They can afford better beer than I can buy.”

Exactly what brand of beer the teen-ager on San Antonio was holding was unclear. Beckoned by the party patrol, he flashed a sullen look, tossed his drink into the bushes and disappeared into the backyard throng.

Undeterred, Broussard and Blyleven won permission from the host parent to crash. They waded past bodies wriggling to dance music on the packed patio, peering into the semihostile faces in search of the offending drinker.

Collared, the 17-year-old from Fullerton had bleached blond hair, a crucifix around his neck, and a sheepish expression. “I’m sorry sir,” he professed as he stood on the street by the park-party car, the thrill of an underage drink gone flat with the specter of arrest and irate parents.

His friends looked on. “Excuse me sir, can I take him home?,” beseeched one.

Docility did the trick. After chewing him out, the party patrol let the boy go, suggesting to the house owner that it would be nice if he shut the festivities down before midnight. Amid predictions of a return engagement, the sheriff’s officers hit the road.

On a slow spin through the parking lot of La Mirada Park, they passed several dark, parked cars. A jean jacket had been carefully draped over the rolled-up driver’s window of a BMW. Blyleven walked over, using his flashlight to illuminate the activities of the young couple inside. A head popped into view.

“Don’t you think this is kind of conspicuous?” he asked. “The people across the street are getting upset.”

Earlier, Blyleven noted, “You’d be amazed at the compromising positions we come across.”

Why bother young love? “We don’t know if the lady is there willingly or not,” he said.

Besides, the city would rather not have passion in the parks.

Ditto for empty beer bottles.

“I think that’s the major thing that aggravates the City Council, the trash,” said Broussard, who left his job as a machinist nine years ago to become a sheriff’s deputy. (“I got tired of being greasy.”)

Not only do young men and women violate local ordinances by drinking in La Mirada’s numerous, well-groomed parks, they also leave the discarded beverage containers behind on the clipped, lush grass, or stashed under swings and jungle gyms.

Several six packs worth of bottles had been strewn about the sandy play area of a green belt in one quiet neighborhood. “Just missed ‘em, this is still pretty cold to the touch,” observed Blyleven as he reached down and scooped up a recently drained bottle.

Broussard, 37, and Blyleven, 40, have varied scouting strategies, depending on the terrain of the park they are checking. At one park, they silently skirted a wall to sneak up on the crest of a hill favored by youthful celebrants. “Kids like to sit here and drink,” explained Blyleven, a detective during regular hours. “It’s like the military, you’re on high ground and can see what’s happening.”

At another park, they steered the car down a horse trail, over a bridge, through a tunnel, and past dense thickets. The only thing hopping was a black and white rabbit, so tame it seemed a pet gone astray.

Carl’s Jr, a popular fast-food hangout on Rosecrans Avenue, was another story. A sporty yellow hatchback had followed a Volkswagen full of girls into the parking lot. The hatchback was being navigated in a manner that caught the attention of the party patrol.

The young man behind the wheel was from Whittier. His sister was one of the VW occupants. She was not happy when Broussard suggested she drive her brother home. Broussard was not happy with her attitude. “Get away from me,” he ordered.

Offered the brother: “She mouths off at her mom and dad.”

Replied Broussard: “Well, I’m not her mom and dad.”

The young man who had been drinking was told not to drive his car again that night.

Elsewhere in the lot, cars converged. The party patrol cruised over to give some advice. “You ain’t got a hamburger in your face, move it,” Blyleven yelled at the teen-agers.

As predicted, the roving party busters paid a second visit to the San Antonio Avenue bash. It was breaking up, but there was another young man enjoying his beer on the sidewalk. Incredulous, he watched the green windbreakers approach him.

“Why do these guys keep picking on me. . . . Jeez, you guys are enough to make a guy sober,” exclaimed the La Mirada teen-ager in his surfer shirt. “Nineteen years without a ticket, 19 years. Got one last night in Behringer Park and now tonight. . . . “

By the end of their 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift, Broussard and Blyleven had ticketed three young men and one young woman for drinking in public. Each faced fines of at least $39. The evidence against them was taken back to the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station for tagging: one bottle of Seagram’s Original Wild Berries Flavored wine cooler one quart bottle of Mickey’s Fine Malk Liquor a bottle of Budweiser, and a bottle of Lowenbrau. Samples of the contents had been poured into small plastic containers that will be kept for a year, lest someone suggests the bottles held no more than fruit juice.

Blyleven, who grew up on farming land in Paramount and joined the Norwalk force 15 years ago, sees his party work as a way of keeping a lid on gatherings that could turn nasty. “It prevents other things from happening . . . and the bottom line is, the city wants it.”

City Council members have been so pleased with the two-year patrol’s achievements that they just authorized a second park-party car. It will alternate between party duty and drunk-driving watch, as needed. Keeping one party car on the streets costs the city $500 a weekend.

“We think it pays off,” said Councilman Wayne Rew, who pushed for a second party car. “We’re really trying to get the word out among people that La Mirada is not the place to do that (party in public).”

Still, Broussard figures they’ll stay busy. “La Mirada has the largest parties I’ve ever seen in the world. . . . We get calls from parents saying, please come over to my house and break up this party.”


In the Company of Men

In 1985, while writing a review of Sylvester Stallone’s grotesque rabble-rouser Rocky IV, I went back and watched the original Rocky to see if–to borrow the controlling metaphor of Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg–“through the thin membranes you [could] clearly discern the already perfect reptile.” In other words, was the man’s egotism always this monstrous? Maybe not. In Rocky, which is basically a comedy, Stallone is treated as a lumbering sad sack. Most striking is the camera placement. The director, John Avildsen, keeps Stallone small in the frame, as dwarfed by his desolate environment as Chaplin’s Little Tramp. After Sly became a superstar, he seized creative control of his films and moved the camera way up close, so that his heavy-lidded nobility and his musculature loomed large. (In interviews, he said that his father remarked on the puniness of his Rocky physique, a dig that clearly goaded Stallone into pumping himself up, in all senses.) Stallone has certainly had his blockbusters over the years, but he has also turned himself into a Goliath of camp.

In Cop Land, Stallone plays Freddy Heflin, the loser sheriff of Garrison, N.J., just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. I use the word “loser” so casually because the film virtually brands it on his forehead. He is discovered in a bar, playing a desultory game of pinball beside half a dozen empty beer bottles. Running short of quarters, the soft, flabby Freddy staggers outside, unlocks a parking meter, and spills the coins all over the sidewalk. Driving home loaded, he glances longingly across the Hudson at the big city where he once dreamed of being a cop, and then, swerving to avoid a deer, plunges off the road into a tree, totaling his car and putting a huge gash on the bridge of his nose. The hardened policemen who live in Garrison–a New York-cop enclave–treat him like a pet. He’s there to give speeding tickets. In his shabby house, he listens to the blue-collar wail of Bruce Springsteen. The man is Jersey through and through.

S tallone, whom a former associate of his once described to me as “the most frightened man in Hollywood,” had to hold a press conference to announce that he was going to gain weight for the part of a not-so-super hero in a small movie. (From his vantage, I guess, Miramax makes small movies.) Where normally Stallone would over-project his potency, in Cop Land he telegraphs his impotence. It isn’t just the paunch. It’s the bleary, hangdog demeanor the watery eyes the shambling gait the passiveness that borders on the stereotypically feminine. He’s like a white Stepin Fetchit. And yet, as obvious as this performance is, it’s more deeply felt than anything Stallone has done since Rocky–and is close, I suspect, to how the actor really sees himself. He’s never more winning than when he projects loserdom.

Cop Land shares its leading man’s slow-wittedness, but also his likability. It tries hard. It’s formulaic, but it sticks to a classic Western formula instead of a cartoonish blockbuster one. Think High Noon by way of Scorsese, with a touch of Peyton Place. (I could also cite Carl Franklin’s One False Move and Tony Richardson’s The Border–but the list of influences would run as long as this review.) The writer-director, James Mangold (Heavy), labors mightily to establish a sense of place–he never stops setting the scene. At the start, the camera glides over Manhattan into New Jersey while a narrator (Robert De Niro, who turns out to be an Internal Affairs cop named Mo Tilden) informs us that New York City policemen have always dreamed of living outside the metropolis itself, “where the shit couldn’t touch ‘em,” and that Garrison was such a refuge–a city on a hill, with a large population of cops, no minorities, and almost no crime.

O f course, the hill the city sits on is a heap of corruption, a pile of lies as high as the Palisades. Everything emanates from Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel), a super-connected New York cop who presides over Garrison like the old-style movie boss-men of Akim Tamiroff or Edward G. Robinson. But Ray has a problem. While driving drunk back to Jersey, his nephew, a cop named Babitch (Michael Rapaport), gets sideswiped on the bridge by a couple of stoned rastas. Thinking they fired on him, he blows them away. (I thought they fired on him, too, but the point is murky–no gun is found in the car.) For some reason, Ray fears that his nephew will spill his guts to Internal Affairs, so he takes radical (and, quite frankly, moronic) measures to keep Babitch from seeing the inside of an interrogation room.

Mangold and his cinematographer, Eric Alan Edwards, can’t get enough of Garrison’s terraced cliffs above the Hudson, and they rarely lose sight of the imposing Manhattan skyline. It’s a constant reminder to Freddy of the time when, as a teen-ager, he saved the town beauty (Annabella Sciorra) from drowning when her car went off the bridge, in the process mangling one ear and leaving himself unfit for the NYPD. We learn all this from flashbacks and from a strange oracle called Gary “Figgs” Figgis (Ray Liotta), who, when drunk, can’t seem to stop himself from spewing exposition. (“You saved the town beauty from drowning and made yourself deaf in one ear so that you couldn’t be a New York cop, and then she married some other guy–you have a right to be jealous!” Or words to that effect.)

I n the labyrinthine plot, everyone has something to hide. Ray’s wife (Cathy Moriarty) is having an affair with another cop (Peter Berg), who’s married to Freddy’s old heartthrob (Sciorra). Assorted police goons–among them the dependable heavy Frank Vincent and the blue-eyed, blankly malevolent Robert Patrick, the lethal shape-shifter of Terminator 2: Judgment Day–let the sheriff know he’d better turn his deaf ear on Ray’s chicanery. For most of Cop Land, we watch Stallone get bullied and stared down by everyone in the large cast, while we wait for him to awaken from his stupor and start blowing bad guys away–which you know he has to do or he would never have accepted the role. Of course, the formula dictates that all his allies must abandon him so he can march down the street, wielding a shotgun, bleeding but with the iron back in his spine, to prove to those city cops what he’s really made of. “Everybody in this town,” he says, “is gonna tell the truth.”

Since the film moves in such a leisurely fashion, with lots of talk, there’s plenty of time to be distracted by the over-familiar cast. Oh, there’s Cathy Moriarty, married to Harvey Keitel–hmmm: Weren’t they in Raging Bull together? No, that was Joe Pesci. Where’s Joe Pesci? Will Moriarty have any scenes with De Niro, her Raging Bull co-star? Will Keitel have more scenes with De Niro? Have they acted together since Taxi Driver? Liotta, he and De Niro were both in GoodFellas–was Keitel in that? No, that was Pesci, but Lorraine Bracco, Keitel’s ex, played Liotta’s wife. Will Liotta have any scenes with De Niro? Wasn’t Frank Vincent in Raging Bull? And GoodFellas? And Casino? Where’s Joe Pesci?

A ll these Scorsese types are in there pitching, doing their damnedest to legitimize the movie and its wayward star. Under a curly black thatch, De Niro coasts along, giving an offhand but confidently weird performance. “I look at you, sheriff,” he says, “and I see a man who’s waiting for something to do.” The over-deliberate diction lets you know that he knows the line is a cliché but that he thinks it’s entertaining anyway. The character is playing with Freddy, and De Niro is playing with Stallone. “I could take you blindfolded, both hands tied behind my back,” he seems to say, the heavyweight towering over the bantamweight. And Stallone, bless him, endures it like a man.


My Sister's Secret Life as a Porn Star

The last time I bought a porn magazine was in the fall of 1996. My girlfriend, Amy, had gone down to New York to meet some friends from college. As soon as she was safely out of the parking lot of our apartment building, I got in my car and drove to an adult bookstore in Enfield, CT, a town and a state far enough away from where I lived that I could be sure I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. When I got home, I went straight into our bedroom and lay down on our bed. Then I looked at all the pictures from cover to cover before choosing one woman to focus on.

I was paging through the phone-sex ads when I saw a picture of my sister.

I closed the magazine and put it down on the bed. I stared at the ceiling for what felt like hours.

It was the scar that gave her away. When she was 18, she was driving drunk and slammed her VW into a tree. Her head had cracked the windshield, leaving a deep scar between her eyebrows. No amount of makeup could conceal it.

She was on a page called "Party Girls Hotline." She was with two other women. They were standing in a line, sandwiched together. First there was my sister, then there was another blonde, then there was a brunette. The brunette was kissing the blonde on the cheek, digging her fingernails into her ass.

My sister was the only one who was looking into the camera. She had a fake smile and an orange tanning-booth tan. She was wearing a lei with green and yellow and pink flowers.

I told myself it wasn't my sister. The odds were too great. I taped the page that had the picture of her to the page before it so I wouldn't accidentally turn to it again.

Six years later I was in a Thai restaurant on Van Nuys Boulevard in Los Angeles for a family reunion of sorts. Amy and I were married by then, and we were there with our son. It had been a long time since I'd been back home. I'd moved to Massachusetts in 1991 to go to graduate school, suspecting, even then, that I wouldn't return to L.A. unless and until someone died. I bore my family no ill will it was just that I couldn't be around them very long without feeling sick.

My mother was there, and my brother and his wife, and my aunt. I was spooning Pad Thai onto my plate when my brother mumbled something to me about our sister.

"You know she's doing porn, don't you?" he said.

I felt like the floor was giving way below me.

"It's nasty, Bob. She's doing everything. Girls. Black guys. Gang bangs. Taking it up the ass."

"How do you know this?" I said.

"Because I saw it. I saw it with my own eyes."

"It's true, brother," his wife said.

"Are you sure it's her?" I said.

"It's her, Bob," he said. "You don't believe me, check it out for yourself."

He told me her porn name. It sounded like the name of a character from a Victorian novel.

My wife and I exchanged a look. Don't worry, she told me with her eyes, we'll talk about this later. Just get through it.

He told me her porn name. It sounded like the name of a character from a Victorian novel.

Thank God my son didn't hear. My aunt had taken him to the bathroom.

I don't know if my mother heard. Part of me thought she had but was just pretending she hadn't. She seemed entirely focused on her food, a plate of shrimp and green chiles. I watched her peel back the shells with her fingers.

When we were growing up, I tried to be a good brother to my sister. I was always encouraging her to build model airplanes with me or to play Parcheesi, but most of the time my efforts just backfired. I was only four years older, but it felt like we were a generation apart.

When I was 10 years old, I was obsessed with the Beatles. My sister reacted the way most little sisters would: She told me the Beatles sucked. But every Saturday morning, as I sat on my bedroom floor listening to their records, she came knocking. I made her wait. It was only when she was pounding on my door, begging me please and apologizing for everything she'd said about the Beatles, that I let her in.

She always wanted to listen to the same song over and over again. Usually it was "If I Fell." She loved that song. She'd try to sing along with it, but her voice would crack every time she came to the bridge: And I would be sad if our new love was in vain.

There was one Saturday morning when she didn't knock on my door. I waited for her for a while. Finally, I went looking for her. I found her in her bedroom, in bed with my brother. He was lying on top of her. They were both naked.

I don't know what was happening between the two of them that morning. I don't know if my brother was molesting my sister I don't know if it's even possible for a 9-year-old to molest a 6-year-old. All I know is that I felt left out. I felt like my brother had taken my sister away from me.

I don't know if was possible for a 9-year-old to molest a 6-year-old.

The relationship between my brother and sister would become even more troubling three years later, when my father died, only a day after being diagnosed with leukemia. The cancer had been spreading inside him for years, completely undetected. It was devastating for all of us, but it was particularly devastating for my sister. She had always been a daddy's girl.

After my father died, my brother spent entire nights in my sister's bedroom. I'd see him leaving her bedroom in the morning and I'd ask him what he was doing, and he'd tell me he'd had a bad dream and he didn't want to be alone. When I told my mother, she told me to mind my own business. She had gone from being a full-time housewife to a full-time secretary at a company that made nail polish. She was about to lose custody of my brother for various crimes he'd been committing&mdashshoplifting, motor-vehicle theft, possession and sale of drug&mdashand she simply couldn't concentrate on anything else.

Eventually, my brother was designated a ward of the court and placed in a juvenile detention center. I thought maybe now my sister would get some of the attention he had been siphoning off for so many years. And she did&mdashby imitating him. She dropped out of school, started doing coke and drinking, and developed a major case of bulimia. To support her habits, she stole cash and jewelry from my mother. She ran up my mother's credit cards and wrote checks on her accounts.

I was over at a friend's house one night during my senior year in high school when I got a phone call from my mother.

"Bobby," she said. "It's your sister. I think she was at the bowling alley. Maybe someone bought her a drink. I don't know."

When I got home, I found my sister lying on the kitchen floor. I knelt down. She had a black eye and a scrape on her right cheek.

"I don't know," my mother said. "Maybe she fell down as she was walking home."

The bowling alley was just down the street, but I knew there was no way my sister could have walked home in this condition.

I called her name, but she didn't respond. Then she started moaning, making the sounds of crying without the tears. I noticed a spot of blood soaking through her jeans at the knee. "We need to get her cleaned up," I said.

My mother's bathroom had a walk-in shower. The tub part was only about six inches deep, shallow enough that we could fill it with water without drowning my sister.

I lifted her up and carried her into my mother's room. I laid her down on my mother's bed.

"Why don't you take off her clothes, and I'll fill the tub," I said.

When I came back into the bedroom, my sister was lying there naked. She already had a woman's body, and I was ashamed to look. She had tiny cuts all over her chest and bruises on her thighs. She was dirty in places, covered in the grime of asphalt. I couldn't understand how she got like this if she'd had her clothes on.

I lifted her up, carried her into the bathroom, and lowered her down into the warm water. She seemed to be soothed by this. I knelt beside her to make sure she didn't roll over. She lay there floating in the tub for a long time. It would be many years before I realized my sister had been raped.

As bad as things got, we weren't completely estranged from each other during this time. I took her to her first rock concert&mdashthe Kinks at the L.A. Forum. When she turned 16, I taught her how to drive a stick shift in the parking lot of an abandoned supermarket. When she was 18&mdashjust before her car accident&mdashI took her down to the Beverly Cineplex to see Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise. I had already seen it a couple of times and was so knocked out by it that I really wanted her to see it with me. I must have known this wouldn't be the kind of movie she would go for, but I think I was still trying to re-create that connection I'd had with her when we were kids, lying on the floor, listening to Beatles records.

After the movie, we walked through the mall food court.

We stopped at an upscale restaurant that had lobster tanks set up out front. We gazed at the lobsters, commenting on the terrible fate that awaited them.

"They scream when you cook them," I said.

"They're not really screaming," she said. "It's just the air escaping from the shell."

It felt like my sister and I were on a date that night. Not because I thought of her as my date, but because I could see that everyone else in the mall did. I wondered what they were thinking, if they thought we were an unlikely pair, me this nerdy hipster wannabe and my sister this blonde bombshell. I wondered if they were asking themselves, What does she see in him? They certainly weren't asking themselves, What does he see in her?

It wasn't long after this that my sister drove her VW into the tree. A nurse called my mother at work and told her what had happened. She told her it was nothing life-threatening. My sister had a deep cut in her forehead that would require sutures. My mother told the nurse not to do anything until she got there. When she hung up the phone, she called our family doctor to get the name of a plastic surgeon. But by the time she arrived at the hospital, it was all over: My sister had authorized the ER doctor to do the stitches. She couldn't wait for my mother's doctor just the day before, she had met a guy who invited her to Palm Springs, and she didn't want anything to interfere with that.

After my mother contacted our family doctor, she called the shoe store where my sister worked to let them know my sister wouldn't be coming in that day. But when she spoke to the store manager, he had no idea who she was talking about. It turned out my sister didn't work there.

When my sister dropped out of school, she and my mother formed a tacit agreement: If she got a job, my mother would stay off her case. By the time my sister was 17, she'd been fired from countless jobs, usually because she never showed up for her shift. She kept telling my mother she'd gotten a new job or had been promoted at her old one. After a while, she just started inventing jobs, and my mother never asked her to produce a paycheck to prove it.

The accident forced my mother to confront another part of my sister's life she hadn't wanted to deal with. They fought in the recovery room at the hospital and all the way home. When my sister left for Palm Springs the next day, my mother told her she could never come back.

But, of course, she did come back, and with a dark tan. When they removed the stitches, there was a jagged scar between her eyebrows.

My sister was hysterical. Once she had been the girl with the perfect face now it was impossible to look at her without seeing the scar. My mother tried to console her. She took her out to dinner. She bought her some costume jewelry. She told her she was willing to pay for a plastic surgeon. But then she started thinking again about how my sister had lied to her for so long. In the middle of their reconciliation, she was unable to hold her tongue. They fought, and this time it was my sister who said she was leaving for good.

It took a while for my mother to admit to herself that my sister wasn't coming back. When she finally did, she asked me to come over to the house and clean out my sister's bedroom.

What I found there shocked me: candy wrappers and soda cups and empty jars of peanut butter. Chocolate bars melted into the shag carpet. Homemade bongs, brown glass vials, used tampons, green plastic bags filled with vomit. And everywhere there were empty beer cans&mdashin her closet, in her dresser drawers, under her bed. I hauled out 10 garbage bags of beer cans from her bedroom.

We didn't hear from my sister for a long time after that. Then, when she was in her mid-20s, she resurfaced, calling my mother to tell her she had gotten a job as an A&R rep for Capitol Records. She had a company car and her own expense account and sometime soon, when she could clear some space in her schedule, she wanted to meet my mother for lunch.

My mother would get many calls like this in the years that followed. My sister would disappear for an extended period of time, then she would call my mother out of the blue to tell her about some fabulous job she had. Once she said she was a production executive for Paramount. Another time she said she was doing PR for Pepsi and attending UCLA on a full four-year scholarship provided by the company because they loved her so much. They were fantastic stories, stories that didn't even verge on the credible, and yet my mother believed each and every one of them and dutifully reported them to me. I would ask my mother for my sister's phone number and address so I could get in touch with her, but when I called, the number was out of service, and when I sent a letter, it always came back marked Undeliverable as Addressed or Forwarding Order Expired.

They were fantastic stories, stories that didn't even verge on the credible, and yet my mother belie

I didn't see my sister again until the spring of 1998, when I got married. She was 32. She'd recently been in touch with my mother to tell her she was the head of marketing for Reebok and that they were relocating her to Fiji. My mother told her I was getting married and gave her my number. When my sister called to congratulate me, I managed to persuade her to fly out to New York with the rest of my family.

We all stayed at a little hotel in the Murray Hill section of the city. Amy and I had a room on the third floor. My mother and my sister and my aunt shared a room on the seventh floor. We went up to greet them after they checked in. Amy had never met my family before.

My mother opened the door. She had already changed into one of the muumuus she always wore at home. She gave us each a hug.

As my mother and Amy exchanged pleasantries, I scanned the room for my sister. I saw her kneeling on the floor behind one of the beds. Then all of a sudden she stood up and walked over to me. She was wearing black spandex leggings and a black spandex halter top. Her bleached-blonde hair was shocking, bright. She greeted me as if we had just spoken yesterday.

"Hey, Bob," she said. "How are you?"

I felt flushed for a moment, confused. When I hugged her, I could feel her hip bones pressing into my legs. I could feel the vertebrae in her back. I had to give her one of those half-hugs you give really skinny people for fear that a real hug would snap them in two.

And yet she had these breasts, this full chest that was pressing into mine. I wondered whether she'd had a boob job.

She broke from my embrace and went over to her suitcase and pulled out two grocery bags.

"These are for you guys," she said.

The bags were filled with candles. More candles than we could possibly burn in a lifetime. They were all different shapes and sizes. They were layered with different colors of wax, each layer bleeding into the next.

"Did you make them yourself?"

That night my family and Amy's family went out to dinner so that we could all get to know each other a little before the wedding. My sister was wearing the same outfit from the hotel, plus a waistcoat and a pair of black stilettos. As we stood there in the foyer waiting for a table, I remember wishing she had worn a longer coat, something that would have covered her body.

She was holding a long black box that was about the size of a walkie-talkie. Her keys were attached to it. As we waited, she kept shifting it from one hand to the other, as if she were assessing its heft.

I remember wishing she had worn a longer coat, something that would have covered her body.

"That's quite a key chain," I said.

"It's a Taser," she said. "Like the cops use. It'll knock you right out." She handed it to me. It was heavy. It seemed like she could just as easily club a guy with it as stun him.

The restaurant staff pushed a few tables together. I wound up sitting across from my sister. I tried to get her to join the conversations of the people sitting around us, but she kept falling silent. Finally I realized I was going to have to try to draw her out on my own.

"When was the last time you were in New York?" I said.

"Oh, God," she said, "not since high school. Do you remember when Allen and Lenore invited me out here?"

I remembered. Allen was my father's brother and Lenore was his wife. They had both passed away several years earlier. I think Lenore came from some money, because they had an apartment on the Upper East Side. My sister was around 13 or 14 when they invited her out to visit. I remember feeling angry, because they had never invited me or my brother out to New York. I think it was because the last time they had seen us was at my father's funeral, and my brother and I were acting like animals. But their memories of my sister were different. She was a china doll back then, their beautiful niece. They imagined taking her out on the town and impressing all of their friends.

They had no idea what they were getting themselves into. My sister drank all their booze and cleaned out their refrigerator. She promenaded down Fifth Avenue with the two of them in tow, asking them to buy her every glittering bauble she saw. They were stunned by her total lack of grace and etiquette. She was supposed to stay a week they sent her back after three days.

I pretended I remembered none of this. "Yeah," I said. "What happened with that?"

"It was really weird," she said. "Allen was really sweet. But Lenore hated me. It seemed like as soon as I got here, she had it in for me. I remember they took me to this restaurant to meet some of their friends, and in the middle of dinner, Lenore just stormed off. She just went to the bar for the rest of the night. Allen kept getting up from the table to try and get her to come back, but she wouldn't do it. She said she wouldn't sit at the same table as me. It was really uncomfortable.

"I still had a great time, though. The city was beautiful. We went to Central Park and the Guggenheim&mdashI remember really loving that place. We went to Rockefeller Center and walked down Fifth Avenue. They took me to see Evita. I was just blown away."

As my sister spoke, I noticed her top teeth were worn away. Her front teeth were smaller than her incisors. Her incisors were smaller than her canines. Her canines were smaller than her bicuspids. It was the same with her bottom teeth, so when she closed her mouth her teeth didn't touch. I had heard about this kind of thing happening to bulimics. I had heard that the acid from the vomiting could wear away the enamel on the teeth, but this kind of pattern seemed strange to me. It wasn't until several years later, in a conversation with my brother's wife, that I learned my sister had been addicted to crystal meth. The drug had rotted her teeth away.

I looked at my sister and tried to focus on what she was saying. "Yeah, I don't know what it was, though," she said. Her eyes were glassy. "Lenore was really sweet. But Allen hated me. It seemed like as soon as I got here, he had it in for me. I remember they took me to this restaurant to meet some of their friends, and in the middle of dinner, Allen just stormed off. He just went to the bar for the rest of the night. Lenore kept getting up from the table to try and get him to come back, but he wouldn't do it. He said he wouldn't sit at the same table as me. It was really uncomfortable."

I learned my sister had been addicted to crystal meth. The drug had rotted her teeth away.

On the night of the wedding, my sister wore a form-fitting navy dress with a teardrop cutout over her breasts. She walked down the aisle with my brother. She stood under the chuppah as my wife and I took our vows.

At the reception she seemed jittery. I thought she probably didn't want to have to stand there and answer the typical party questions about what she did for a living. It's only now that I realize she was probably afraid of being recognized by one of my friends.

Toward the end of the night, we danced. She seemed surprised when I came to her table and took her hand and led her onto the floor. The DJ was playing a slow song by Otis Redding. As I held my arm around her waist, I could feel her shaking. Then she started to cry.

She looked at me, and for a moment it seemed like she thought I might actually have the answer, the words that would make everything right.

When my sister and I were kids, we played a game we called "Make Me Laugh." We'd go into the bathroom, and she'd sit in the bathtub and be the audience while I stood in front of the vanity and played the comedian. If I made her laugh, then we had to trade places. I'd usually open with some kind of shtick&mdashan impersonation or a corny joke that would fall flat. After a few minutes I would resort to the one thing I knew would get her: I'd flare my nostrils. She'd kill herself laughing every time.

And so that night, dancing with my sister at my wedding, at a loss for words, I did the only thing I could think of to do. I flared my nostrils. And just like old times, she broke down laughing.

I haven't seen my sister since that night 10 years ago. I still have the porn magazine with the picture of her inside it. I don't look at it, not just because of her, but because of every other woman in there. I know that each one of them has a story similar to my sister's.

Amy wants me to throw the magazine away, but I can't. It's my only keepsake. I know that's a strange thing to say, but that's my sister's life that's her work. The magazine is a part of her in some perverse way, or she is a part of it.

I know I will have to throw it away someday. Someday soon, because I don't want my son finding it.

The hardest thing of all for me isn't the thought of my son finding a picture of a naked woman and recognizing her as his aunt. It's the thought of him finding a picture of a naked woman and not recognizing her as his aunt. Of him not recognizing her at all.

This article was originally published in the print version of Marie Claire.


It's a big world out there (heavily revamping on wattpad)

Before school, Riley Matthews and Maya Hart sat at Riley's bay window, discussing if Riley's ready to sneak out of the house and onto the subway.

"Why do we have to sneak out of the house if we're not doing anything wrong until we sneak onto the subway?" Riley asked her best friend, Maya for the 100th time.

"You think you're ready to just walk by your parents?" Maya asked.

"I think I'm ready," Riley reassured her.

"Let me see your face as you walk by your parents," Maya commanded. Riley made an expression between scared and saying 'Please don't ask. Please don't ask.'

"Why you making that face at us, Riley?" Maya asked as if she were Riley's parents.

"Because I'm sneaking onto the subway," Riley automatically answered. "Out the window." She pointed towards the window Maya crawls in.

"Let's go." Once they went out the window, they came back three seconds later.

"Daddy, what are you doing here?" Riley asked her father.

"Being smarter than me. How come you're always smarter than me?" Maya answered as the girls crawled back in and sat on Riley's bed.

"Here's what I'm thinking. It's not your world yet. It's still my world. Because if it was your world, Maya would have you on the subway already, thinking you put something over on me. But you didn't. You know how I know? Look at ya. You're right here." Cory Matthews, Riley's father told them.

"How long do I have to live in my father's world?" Riley asked.

"Until you make it yours. Riley, do you know what I want more than anything?" Mr. Matthews asked, putting a hand on his only daughter's shoulder. "Go ahead, make it yours."

"I will. And when I do, will you still be there for me?" Riley asked.

"Right here," a voice came from the doorway. Leaning on the door frame, was Topanga Matthews, Riley's mother. She came up to the girls, linking arms with her husband. "We'll be right here." she reassured them.

Riley and Maya looked at each other before linking arms, and skipped out of the room.

When they had got to the subway, Maya heard a familiar drumming. She turned her head to the drummer and started dancing along with the beat.

"Maya!" Weasel greeted her. He then looked Riley, "Who's the new chick?"

"Chick! Down here I'm a chick! No wonder my parents don't want me on the subway." Riley leaned closer to Maya at the end.

They started to walk down to the subway train when two girls walked pass. One of the girls pointed out, "You're slouching, Maya."

"Thanks, Gretchen." Maya then stood up straighter, hands on her hips, and walked down to enter the subway car. Riley mimicked Maya's pose and walk to the subway car.

As the girls lamely looked around the subway car, they noticed a girl their age, with a height of 5Ƌ and baby blue eyes that are only one shade darker.

She was wearing a combination of light blue, white and black. She wore a tie-dye light blue and white crop top with the words, 'NOTHING IS REAL'. Black high-top boy shoes, old jean backpack and worn out shorts. And around her neck, was a special person's heartbeat necklace. Her hair was hidden under the black beanie she wore.

She didn't look up, all she did was write in her journal. Or as she calls it, 'Dark Journal'. It was an old leather journal, with her initials on the front. On the first page was a picture of something very special to her.

Riley and Maya made their way up to the girl, standing right in front of her light. She calmly, placed the ribbon in place and shut her journal. Placing the journal and pen in her backpack, she looked up to see the two best friends looking at her.

"Can I help you two with something?" she asked, lifting an eyebrow.

"We just wanted to introduce ourselves." Riley said. "I'm Riley and that's Maya," she pointed to the blonde next to her.

"Ember. Ember Woods." Ember introduced herself.

"John Quincy Adams Middle School. Why?"

"Then I guess I'll see you in the halls or class." Ember stood up, grabbing her backpack and trying to move to a different seat.

"Hey Beanie Head," Maya called out to her. Riley slightly nudged Maya for the nickname.

"What?" Ember asked, turning around to face her.

We are going to the same school. They can't be that bad. I could use some new friends. or a friend, Ember thought to herself before answering, "Sure."

When the girls tried to find a seat for all three, they ended up standing, while holding onto one of the poles.

As Maya and Ember just looked around the subway car at all the passengers, Maya noticed Riley putting on lip gloss.

"Woah, Riley! You don't do lip gloss," Maya pointed out. That got Ember's attention and turned her head to face them.

"Oh, what I forgot to mention is that I'm completely reinventing myself. I ride the subway now, I have kiwi lips now and I'm just as cool as you now," Riley said.

"Yeah? Let's see how cool you can be when you look at him." Maya gestured her head towards a blonde haired boy, their age, reading a textbook. Riley turned around to see him life his head to look at her. The boy gave a charming smile before going back to his textbook. Riley turned back to her friends with a wide grin on her face.

"Yeah, you're gonna need some lessons." Maya told her.

"Okay, let me show you everything you need to know about boys and girls." Ember spoke up in a long time.

Ember rolled her eyes and made her way toward the boy. "Hi, I'm Ember. You're really cute. We should hang out sometime," Ember said, taking the set next to him. "You make me happy. You don't pay enough attention to me. This isn't working out." she continued, standing up. "It's you, not me. We can still be friends. Not really." With that, Ember left the boy with a confused expression on his face.

She went back to the girls saying, "He's available. We just broke up."

"Are you okay? Do we need to talk about it?" Riley asked, concerned for her new friend.

"I underestimated you, Beanie Head. I think we'll get along quite well." Maya said, making Ember smile. She turned to Riley, "You still want to be like me, and possibly Ember?"

"I want to be exactly like you, including Ember. I think too much and, you two don't think at all." Riley answered.

"See, you get me!" They both said in unison. "So let's not think!" Ember took Riley's hand and shoved her toward the boy. Maya and Ember watch Riley as she had her conversation with him.

Riley landed in the boy's lap, having no idea what to say or do. "Hi, we were just talking about you. You used to go out with my friend, Ember." The boy looked towards the two other girls standing, giving an expression as if saying, 'Ohhhhh'.

"I'm Lucas." the boy introduced himself.

"I love it!" Riley commented, in a half way dreamy tone. She then got off his lap and into the seat next to him.

A lady came up to them, having Riley give up her seat, "Perhaps someone would like to give their seat to someone older." Lucas slightly raised his hand and started gathering his stuff. "Oh not you Sweet Potato Pie." Riley stood up and whispered to her, "Please don't make me move. I just want to see where this goes."

"I just worked a twelve hour-shift and I just want to see where this goes. M'kay?"

"M'kay."Riley reluctantly gave her seat up and walked back to the girls. "That was great!"

"You're welcome." Maya and Ember said in unison.

Riley's smile then faded to a frown. "What if that was the best moment of my life? What if nothing ever happens to me again?" The two girls shared a look and smirked before putting their hands over Riley's, and pushed her back to Lucas. Riley screamed and instead of landing in Lucas's lap, she landed in the lady's.

"It's for you." the lady put Riley on Lucas's lap. Being embarrassed by that, Riley straightened out her skirt.

After the subway thing, Riley and Maya left to their lockers, while Ember was being directed to the front office. She got her schedule, books, and locker number. As she walked down the halls, she kept thinking, I wonder how long I'll last until I get kicked out of this school. Ember kept wandering the halls hoping to at lease know where her first three periods and the cafeteria were before first period.

Riley and Maya closed their lockers after gathering their book for first period. "Did you have trouble with the homework?" Riley asked Maya.

"I don't even know where my books are." Maya confessed.

"They're here and they're heavy." Riley opened her backpack, handing Maya her textbooks. The bell rang for first period and the girls walked into class, down the isles to their desks up front. "You have to do the homework, Maya. This teacher insane, a total nut job. I think there's something seriously wrong with him."

"Hi, honey." Matthews said, standing right in front of her.

"Hi, daddy." Riley greeted with a smile.

"You're late to your father's class."

"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Matthews. You wrote her a note." Maya then took out a folded up note from her back pocket.

"He did." Maya said, handing it to Riley.

"You did." Riley passed it onto her dad.

Cory unfolded the note and read it out loud. "'Riley is late. Deal with it.' Well, you got my signature down pretty good this time."

"Oh, it was easy. You write like a girl." Mr. Matthews looked offended by that.

They girls took their seats, not noticing an empty desk in between, with a history textbook on top of the desk. Mr. Matthews began his lesson, "Okay, let me get back to jamming some learning into your heads. The Civil War."

"Thank you, future mini mart employee of the month." Cory told her.

"Would I be making more money than you?" Mr. Matthews thought about a comeback it for a sec then continued with the lesson. "The Civil War! Anybody?"

"A war we fought against ourselves." Riley answered.

"What, you actually studied it?"

"No, I'm actually living it." she lowered her head on her desk, making a small thud.

"People, people. Are we here to learn or not?" Riley and Maya's other best friend, Farkle asked. He was a brainiac, had a big heart and in love with both girls when they were at the beginning of first grade.

"What do you mean, Farkle?" Mr. Matthews asked his student.

"I've been in love with Riley since the first grade. But I'm also equally in love with Maya. Some might say the great mystery of the universe, is who's gonna be the first Mrs. Farkle."

"You don't want this." Maya warned, facing him.

"Bring it on." he replied with a face saying, 'Challenge accepted.'

"I always thought he'd end up with back-of-the-class-Brenda." Riley nodded her head to the back of the class. The class looked to see her wave at them. She looked like a female Farkle. Literally. "Ew, yuck!" Farkle exclaimed, facing the front again.

"Actually, the great mystery of the universe is how you could love two women the same, who couldn't possibly be more different." Cory told him.

"We're not so different." Riley protested.

"May I over step my bounds, sir?" Farkle asked, raising his hand after Riley said that.

"You always do." They switched places and Farkle flipped the name plate, from 'MR. MATTHEWS' to 'FARKLE.' Farkle slammed his hands on Riley's desk. "Riley is the sun, warm and bright and lights up my whole day." He then slammed his hands on Maya's desk. "Maya is the night. Dark and mysterious. And the night has always been a mystery to me. Because I go to bed at 7:30. How could I love these two different women? How could I not? Thank you! I am Farkle!" he exclaimed, taking a bow, throwing his hands in the air, and switched back places with Cory.

"So, we were indeed trying to find out who we were as a people." Cory flipped the name plate back to 'MR. MATTHEWS.' "Who am I? What should I be? History shows, that bad things happen when you don't know who you are." Mr. Matthews explained to his class.

The back door opened to reveal the boy from the subway and the girl later followed. "Who are you two? I don't know who you two are." Matthews told them as they walked to the front of the class.

"Subway boy and girl." Riley whispered to Maya.

"I'm Lucas Friar from Austin, Texas." Lucas told his new history teacher, handing him a piece of paper.

"Great, you're just in time for today's assignment. Have a seat." Lucas sat down in the desk behind Riley. Cory then noticed the girl standing there.

"You a new student too?" Cory asked her.

"Yeah, I'm Ember Woods from I do not remember." Ember answered.

"That's alright. You may-" he cut himself off when he scanned over the girl's clothes and beanie. "I'm sorry, but no hats in school and you're violating the Dress Code." Mr. Matthews informed her.

"I can't do anything about it, sir. My parents said to keep my beanie on at all times. And I couldn't be late for the subway. It was the quickest thing I could find." 'Lie.' Ember thought. The real reason was because of her crazy hair and her father kicked her out of the house before she got up that morning.

"I'll let you off with a warning for the clothes this time. Next time, I'll have to send you to the office. Now, you have to take off the beanie. School Rules." Ember quickly bit her lip. "I don't want to force it off your head. So could you please take it off?" All she did was rock on the heels of her shoes, looking down.

Cory sighed. "If you won't take it off, then I will." He gently took her beanie off, revealing her hair. Ember's hair went down in waves, above her chest. One side was a light sea foam green and the other side was a light baby blue.

"Woah. " The whole class said.

"May I please take a seat now, sir?" Ember quietly asked. He nodded before giving back her beanie. Instead of placing it on her head again, she placed it in her backpack. The only empty seat was between Riley and Maya.

After she sat down, she got out her Dark Journal and pen, in case it was a lesson she wanted to write down. "You may continue your lesson, sir." Ember said politely. She felt eyes staring at her. Turning around, she saw Farkle looking dreamily at her. "Hello?"

"I'm Farkle!" the boy with a mop of dirty blonde and brown hair introduced happily. "You are officially my Lady Number Three" He flipped his hair to one side.

"Um, okay then?" Ember turned to the front of the class. Riley gave a wave to her, then turned to stare at Lucas.

Mr. Matthews continued his lesson. "Okay, so we-" he looked to see Riley not paying attention, but paying attention to Lucas. Mr. Matthews turned his daughter's head back to the front, and continued. "So I'd like you guys to open your books to page forty-eight."

Everyone opened their books, then waited for further instructions. "Now I'd like you to turn to page one. Now I'd like you to read from pages one to forty-eight." The whole class groaned and Ember slammed her head on her desk, making everyone hear a thump sound. "Oh, to bad on you." Mr. Matthews flailed an arm around. "Okay, so for tonight's assignment, I'd like you to write me a three-page essay on anything. Anything at all that you guys believe in so strongly, you fight for it."

"That!" Maya said, taking the stage. "I'd fight for no homework! I come here everyday. Why can't you teach me everything I need to know while I'm here?" "Whoo!" Riley exclaimed, pumping her fist in the air. Her father gave her a glare. "Not whoo!" Ember thumped her head on her desk again.

"He gets our days. Let's take back our nights! No homework, more freedom! Who's with me?" Maya stood up and started a chant, that the whole class followed along. "No homework, more freedom! No homework, more freedom!" She leaned near Riley saying, "This is it, kid. You want to be like me? Stand up." Riley thought about it, then slowly stood up.

The class and Maya were still chanting when Cory asked, "Whatcha doin'?"

"I'm making a choice about who I want to be. About who's world I want it to be." Riley answered confidently.

"Riley, I know you. You now exactly who you are." Cory told her.

"Yeah, would you do this?" Riley started the "No homework, more freedom" chant. She walked up to Farkle's desk, "Farkle, are you with us or not?" Almost the whole class filed out with Maya and Riley leading.

"Ember, you coming with us?" Both of them shouted to the only girl up front.

Ember turned around in her seat to face them. "No. I have something more important to fight about, than homework." Being said, she turned back around. The girl's faces slightly fell, hoping their new friend would come with them. They left the classroom with their classmates behind.

Farkle walked to the front of the classroom in a daze, having to choose between the loves of his life or his education."My education, or my women? My education, or my women? My education, or my women? Oh, it's happening again sir." Farkle fainted and Cory caught him, as if it were a trust exercise.

"Miss Woods, you said that you had something more important to fight about than homework." Mr. Matthews quoted from which she said to Riley and Maya. "What is it, that's so important to you?"

"That's for me to know, sir. And you to find out when I turn it in." He simply nodded and tried to revive Farkle. Ember felt eyes on the back of her head. She turned around to Lucas staring at her in wonder. "What?" She asked him.

"Cool hair," was all he said before breaking eye content.

"Thanks." she muttered a whisper.

"Dad? I'm home. Do you want anything?" Ember called out into her empty house. The familiar smell of cigarettes and alcohol filled her sense of smell.

Her father was passed out on the couch, TV on, with an empty beer bottle in his hand. He was surrounded by empty cans and bottles of beer, and a empty packet of cigarettes. Her father's been an alcoholic a year after he lost his job, and two years after the death of his beloved wife.

Ember sighed. Quickly and quietly gathered all the empty beer cans and bottles. She stuffed the empty packet of cigarettes in her backpack. She's not a smoker like her dad, she used the empty packets and some beer bottles for organization.

Before she left to the attic, she went to the kitchen getting two cases of beer. One bottle and one can. A new packet of cigarettes, a lighter and a bottle opener.

Ember was about to leave, when a rough hand snatched her wrist. She yelped in pain from the bruise.

"Where are you going, darling?" He asked in a gruff voice.

"T-to my r-r-room, daddy. I left you some more b-beer and c-cigarettes for you. I can go make y-y-you something for dinner, if you want." Ember stuttered in fear of getting a beating.

Her father looked at the table to see new beer and the packet. He opened the packet and lit a cigarette in his mouth. "Go make me dinner. After that, stay in your room until I allow you to leave."

"Y-y-y-yes, daddy." She slowly walked to the kitchen when she heard her father call her, she turned around to see a flying beer bottle straight towards her. She couldn't duck in time, getting a long scratch on her cheek and a few on her arms. Ember broke out into a cry holding her bleeding cheek. "Worthless, runt," she heard her dad mutter loud enough for her to hear.

Slowly entering the kitchen, she began making her dad's favorite dish after cleaning her face, arms, and hand. A half hour later, Ember made enough to last for two to three days. Putting the last finishing touches on the meal, she place it on the coffee table. "I-I-I hope y-y-you like it." Ember stuttered.

"I better. Or you're going in the basement tonight." A shiver ran down Ember's spine. He took a bite and gave her a slight nod. Ember let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Leaving to the attic, she felt a burning sensation on her arm. She fell to the ground, seeing her father burn her whole arm with his cigarette.

Ember started crying out to her father to stop. "P-p-please s-s-s-stop!!"

"It was your fault! My love is dead because of you!" He starting kicking her ribs. "You!" Kick! "Were!" Kick! "An!" Crack! "Accident!" Giving one more hard kick to Ember's ribs, it ended in a Crunch and crack. Her dad went back to his meal, beer and TV.

Ember weakly stood up, holding onto her burning arm and now broken ribs went up the stairs to her room. The attic.

Locking the door behind, she started coughing until her voice gave out, She sat at her desk near the window and stared outside. Looking to the side, she saw a picture of her mother on her wedding day. Seeing the picture made her eyes heavily water. Ember let out sob after sob. Tear after tear, until there was nothing left.

Drying her tears, she shakily picked up her backpack pulling out paper and a pen. On the top of the page, putting her name, date and title. She began her essay.

In the cafeteria the next day at school, Ember paid her lunch with the cash she could find in her pocket. Sitting at an abandoned table, her hunger got the best of her. She shoved whatever looked good into her mouth. Students and teachers looked at her with disgust by the way she was eating.

About 3/4 of her lunch eaten, she let her stomach digest before eating the last bit. Opening her spiral notebook was her three-page essay. There were only a few sentences to finish. She wrote the last few sentences, 'I believe that banning abuse is worth fighting for. Because no women or child should go through that in their lives.' Closing her notebook and putting it in her bag. She rested her head on the cool table, hoping to get a little more sleep.

"Hey, Ember." Lifting her head, Ember saw Maya and Riley stood there with their trays. "Can we sit with you?" Riley asked. She shrugged. Not really caring. They sat on her left with Ember at the end.

"What happened to your cheek?" Maya asked, pointing to the red scar.

"Nothing. Don't worry about it. I'll be fine." Ember reassured her, lifting the hood from her hoodie over her head. Ember ending up wearing what she wore yesterday, changing the shorts for jeans and adding a black hoodie. She even wore the black beanie, instead of hiding her hair, she had it in its normal waves.

Maya thought it would be best to leave it for now. "Okay." She then took notice of Lucas looking for a place to sit.

"Aww, look at him looking for a place to fit in." Ember looked pass Riley's head to see Lucas wander around like a lost sheep.

"Do you think he'll sit with us?" Riley asked. Maya moved a seat closer to Ember. Lucas was about to sit in between Maya and Riley, when Farkle snatched it before he could put his tray down.

"Ladies." Farkle greeted in his flirt sort of way.

"Farkle." The three girls all said. When Farkle heard Ember's voice, he turned to face her.

"She knows my name," he said in a dreamy tone. He turned his attention now back to all three girls. "Interesting lunch line dilemma. Sloppy Joe? Meat Lovers Pizza? Or Chicken Pot Pie? Or Sloppy Joe? Or Meat Lovers Pizza? Or Chicken Pot Pie?"

"That all ya got?" Maya asked.

"That's it. Same time tomorrow." Farkle left with his tray to a different table.

"Is he always like this?" Ember asked once Farkle left.

"Yeah, don't worry. He's been like that ever since we met him. You'll get used to it." Riley informed her.

"There he is!" Maya pointed out Lucas, still looking like a lost sheep. She made Riley scoot over so Lucas would sit at the front. "Invite him to sit down."

"With words?" Riley asked frightened.

"You're ready for this." Maya encouraged.

"Hey Lucas, looking for somebody special?"

"Hey Lucas, looking for somebody?" Ember suggested.

"Like we're on first name bases?"

"Hey back." Lucas said, taking the opening seat next to Riley.

"Hi. You're sitting here." Riley pointed out the obvious. Ember slammed her head on the table, with nothing to cushion her head.

"Is that okay?" In response, Riley have him a thumbs up. He smiled.

"Can you excuse me for, just one sec?" He nodded still with that charming smile. Riley turned around to face Maya. They did a little fangirl episode. Riley turned her head to see her dad near Lucas.

"How ya doin'?" Cory asked, in a peppy voice.

"Dad, you have a choice here. You can either understand that this is just a boy talking to me in the cafeteria-"

"I'm gonna do whatever you say next." Cory told her.

"This is so innocent." Riley defended.

"Honey, fathers don't see anything as innocent." Cory leaned closer to Riley by holding Lucas a little out of the way. "We see it as. What's the opposite of innocent?"

"Right here!" "Half here!" Maya and Ember said at the same time, raising their hands. Cory just waved at them. He caught sight of Ember's cheek and narrowed his eyes. He even saw the sleeve of her sweatshirt roll down a little, to see what looked like white gauze.

"Please don't embarrass me." Riley pleaded.

"I'm just gonna talk to Mr. Friar about geography." Cory turned to Lucas. "You know, I've been to a lot of places. Never been to Texas though. What part of Texas is closer to Mexico?" He quizzed.

"That'd be El Paso, sir." Lucas answered.

"Great! Let's go right now!" Cory started pulling his chair out the cafeteria. Lucas gave a wave to Riley, being dragged out the doors. Riley was beyond embarrassed by her dad.

The girls picked up their trays, handing them to the cafeteria staff. Ember placed her backpack on her shoulder, with her Dark Journal and her essay.

"So, did you do the homework?" Riley asked both of them.

"No, I didn't do the homework. The question on everyone's kiwi lips is, did you do the homework?" Maya questioned.

"No, I'm one of the founding members of the homework rebellion. You think I did my homework?"

"I think you did Maya's too." Ember said.

"I did, I did and I really liked it!" Riley confirmed in a heartbeat.

"Riley, don't save me." Maya wanted.

"Let me be me." Farkle walked passed them with three different cakes on his tray. "Oh, you got three desserts."

"Angel's food cake," Riley said.

"Devil's food cake." Maya pointed out.

"And Marble cake. Let me guess who's who." Ember said with an actual smile.

"Hey, Farkle's is hungry. Not everything's about you," he defended walking away.

"That's a big sweet tooth." Ember chuckled.

"Did you do the homework, Ember?" Maya questioned.

"Yeah, I didn't have anything else to do. It was the only thing that came to my head. I do want to be at least a solid B or C student."

As class was about to start, Lucas sat down in his seat behind Riley. She turned around. "Hi, I'm glad you're back."

"Hi, me too." Lucas whispered back.

"Well, you didn't bring back a souvenir, so you couldn't have gotten across the boarder. How far did he get you?" Ember asked him.

"Not even pass the front office," he answered. Lucas saw the red scar on her cheek and wondered how he didn't notice it at lunch.

"Hi, apparently you have a better sense of direction than I anticipated." Cory cut into their conversation. Riley turned away with her head in her hands. Cory started making the 'I'm watching you' sign to Lucas. "You are a really good looking guy." He complimented. Riley just wanted to dig a hole in the ground and hide there forever.

"Okay," Cory started teaching the class, "so today we're gonna find out if anybody here believes in something so strongly, they fight for it. Maya."

"Present your homework." Mr. Matthews commanded.

"Can't do that, sir." Maya told him.

"That's what I'm fighting against, sir."

"Oh this could go on for a while." Farkle leaned back in his chair, pulled out a sleep mask and put it on. He started snoring his name, "Farkle, Farkle, Farkle, Farkle, Farkle, Farkle. Farkle, Farkle, Farkle."

"I didn't do my homework either." Riley said.

"Oh really?" Matthews asked her.

"Yeah, we're the same now. I don't believe in homework."

"Guess what Riley, that doesn't make you the same as Maya at all." He turned to Ember, seeing her hoodie covering her chest. Black beanie in place. And feet on her desk. "Ember, present your homework."

"Sorry, can't do that." Ember said, picking at her arm with the gauze on it.

"Why not? Please tell me you did your homework."

"Because I don't want anyone to hear it. Could you just grade it for me? Please?"

"Why don't you want anyone to hear it?"

"It's personal. I'd rather have no one know. Than everyone knowing. I trust you for some reason." Cory was taken back at what Ember said about being able to trust in him.

Cory nodded. "Hand it into me after class. I'll grade it." She set a small smile in place and nodded her head.

Maya raised her hand getting an idea. "I have something to say."

"Wow, I don't know what to do. I've never seen this before. The floor's yours Miss Hart." Mr. Matthews offered the floor to Maya.

Maya stood up and slapped Farkle awake with his sleep mask. "Get up Farkle. You're gonna want to be awake for this." Farkle eagerly sat up. "Is it our honeymoon?" He asked hopefully. What goes on in that brain of his? Ember asked herself.

"No you missed that. Now it's time to hand in our essays."

"Oh Farkle goes first! Farkle always goes first!" He ran out to get his essay.

Maya was now at the front of the room. "Alright, everybody who did their homework put it on your desk." Everyone did except Ember.

"Careful there Miss Hart." Cory warned her.

"Are you sure about this?" Riley asked, unsure about what she's gonna do.

"I got this." Maya reassured her collecting the essays.

"Okay." Farkle walked in with a huge diorama and peaked his head behind the huge thing.

"The burning of Atlanta led to the end of the Civil War and to peace. I believe peace is worth fighting for." Maya walked over to him and took one of his sparklers. "Hey that's a pivotal part if my diorama." Maya took another one. "And there goes Virginia." Farkle muttered.

With the sparklers in one hand and the essays in the other, she stood up on her seat. "The burning of the homework led to the end of the homework rebellion. Because there was no more homework." As she was about the set the sparklers on the homework, Cory took them from her.

"Alright, alright that's far enough Maya. I get it."

"Maya don't!" Ember tried taking the sparklers away, but they were already in the air above Maya's head. "No homework, more freedom!" The sprinklers started drenching everyone with water. An alarm blared. Everyone was screaming and trying to get out of the room as if it were a real fire. Just less calm and more panic.

"Okay so those work!" Maya shouted over all the noise.

"Is this still part of your presentation or is it actually going on?" A panicked Farkle asked. Everyone left the room except for Cory, Riley, Maya, Lucas, Farkle, and Ember.

Lucas and Riley went to the side of the room with Lucas holding his jacket over their heads."Why didn't you stop your friend? At least Ember tried."

"It's not what I do anymore."

"I'm just letting her be her." Riley said about what Maya said in the cafeteria. Everyone looked at Maya except for Ember and Farkle. Ember just stood there like a lone walker. Just less limp, growl, dead, and more living. Farkle frantically ran around the room then jumped on Cory.

"Miss Hart, you have detention." Maya lowered her head and got off the chair. "The principal will determine if it goes further than that. Miss Matthews, Miss Woods, please leave." Cory struggled getting the message out with Farkle squirming on his back.

"I deserve detention too." Riley told him.

"No you don't. You didn't do anything. And because you didn't do anything, your best friend is in very deep trouble." Riley walked out of the room with Lucas still holding his jacket over their heads.

"Alright Farkle, you can get down now," Cory told the squirming boy.

"Well, you're actually quite comfortable sir." Farkle commented.

"Thank you, Farkle," Cory took it as a complement. "Get off!"

"FARKLE ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE. " he shouted and clung on tighter to Matthews. Cory saw that Ember was still standing there.

"Miss Woods, I thought I told you to leave."

"I wanted to help you turn off the alarm and sprinklers. You have your hands full with him." Ember pointed to Farkle.

"You know how to turn these off?"

"I've learned how with many models at my old schools. I caused quite a bit of commotion." Ember started working on getting the alarm and sprinklers to shut off.

"Thank you. You're my new favorite." he declared.

"Might not want to say that."

"You don't wanna know." The alarm and sprinklers shut off. Ember grabbed her backpack and followed Cory with Farkle still on his back, out of the classroom.

In the hallway Maya and Riley were at their lockers waiting for Matthews to talk to them. Ember, Cory and Farkle walked out of the room to see the girls. "Down Farkle." Cory commanded. Farkle hopped off his back and stood next to Ember.

"You're looking at us pretty hard there, Mr. Matthews." Maya said trying to release the tension.

"I just want to stand by my girl." Riley said making Maya feel better.

"You missed the moment to stand by your girl. You were so busy trying to be her Riley, you forgot the best thing you can do for her is be you." The girls just looked at each other. "Riley, take Farkle for a walk." They walked out, leaving Maya and Ember with Cory. "Ember, go back into the classroom. I'll be there in a while." She nodded and walked back, sitting on top of her desk. And then there were two.

"Listen, for as long as I can remember, it's always been Riley and Maya. And now you have Ember. Now I always believed that a friend helps another friend out of trouble, not into it." Cory told her with a stern expression.

"I'm sorry." Maya said, barely above a whisper.

"I am too. Because you go too far. Do you understand me?"

"I have nobody at home, who helps me with my homework." After said, Maya walked out of sight, leaving Mr. Matthews to think about what she said. He walked back into the classroom to see Ember with her head in her Dark Journal.

"So," he started, startling her. "What's the story behind the journal?" Ember looked down and traced her initials on the front cover.

"I write my deepest thoughts. I never let anyone read it, let alone touch it. They would need my permission or of I asked them to read something from it. It's been like that in my family for a long time."

"What kind of things do you write?"

"Sometimes poetry, but mostly lessons I learn in life. The world is filled with lessons we all have to learn about. But we forget. We just need time to learn and remember them."

"Well put. Now, you wanted to hand in your essay?" Ember nodded and put her journal away, replacing it with the spiral notebook. She handed it to him and he looked at the title. Looking back at her cheek scar, he started putting two pieces of a puzzle together.

Ember grabbed her backpack and was about to walk out the door before saying, "Thank you, Mr. Matthews."

She left the building and met up with Riley and Maya on the subway.

After a few minutes of silence, Maya broke it.

"If we can't hang out with each other as much anymore, don't worry about it."

"He's going to make you end the friendship." Maya said before she could continue. Ember say how tense it was and just stayed out of it.

"I don't think so anymore. I just want you to know that I get it wouldn't be your fault. "

A lady that overheard their conversation started clapping. "Beyootiful! You two little bumblebees got a sweet thing going. But, where's your hunk?" The girls just looked at her as if saying, 'Really?' "You ain't got no hunk, you ain't got no story!" Ember rolled her eyes and realized it was the lady that she and Maya pushed Riley into her lap.

"I haven't been your good friend." Maya told Riley getting back on topic.

"She's your best friend! Best friends are important. I got a best friend. I'm not talking to her right now." The lady butted in again. Ember rolled her eyes in a full circle.

"I go too far," Maya stated. "And I don't think that's gonna stop. I'm bad for you. You're better off with Ember."

"Did he say that?" Riley asked.

"He will." The subway train stopped to let people off. "This is your stop." Riley turned around then back at Maya. "Don't be me. You don't go as far as me." Maya took her hand off the pole and started pushing her out the doors.

"No! Do not push her off this train! You do not push your best friend off the train." The lady told Maya. Ember took Riley's spot.

"You gonna be okay?" Maya shrugged.

Riley thought about it for a moment before saying, "I'm not you." She pushed open the automatic doors and stepped inside.

"Oh she's back!" Ember and Maya whipped their heads to see Riley standing in front of them. "That little girl pushed those doors open with the power of love!" The lady kept butting into their conversation.

Riley walked up to them, "You're not allowed to abandon our friendship. I would never do that."

"Riley, I'm pushing you away because I'm not good for you anymore."

"Only I decide that. Know why?"

"Because if this is my world now, the first person I want in it is you."

"You're gonna save her aren't you?" Ember asked with a grin. Riley took Maya's hand.

"I am. You coming this time?"

"I am." Maya grabbed Ember's hand and the three girls ran off the subway.

"Where is he?!" Riley exclaimed, as the three entered the Matthews apartment. Topanga and Auggie, Riley's little brother, immediately pointed to Cory who was sitting across from them.

"There is no way I'm gonna let you break up my friendship with Maya, and replace her with Ember!"

"Is that what I think I want, Riley?"Cory asked looking at the girls, mostly his daughter.

"No. What you said you really want is for me to make the world my own. And you want me to do my homework. Well, I'm doing it right now. Here's what I think is worth fighting for," Riley wrapped her arm around Maya's shoulders. "This is my best friend, she gonna get me into trouble, and I'm gonna get us out of it. And I did. Because here we are. Look at us, dad, we're right here. My Civil War is over, dad, I won." Cory had a proud smile on his face. "What happens now?"

The Matthews family, Maya, Ember, Lucas, and Farkle were all at the subway for a celebration. And no, not that kind of celebration.

"Friends, family, and all you other subterranean mole people. We're here today to celebrate Riley being Riley. Now some may call this a New York City Subway Pass. But you, Riley can consider this a ticket to the world." Cory held up the pass to her.

"You think I'm ready?" Riley asked filled hope.

"You showed us you are." Topanga said.

"Riley, I've already met the world, it's your turn." Cory gave her the pass and Lucas and Farkle walked near the subway.

"Hey this isn't so different from Texas. Look, there's a pony." Lucas pointed.

"That's a rat." Farkle pointed out. Two girls walked by and as usual, "Ladies."

"Farkle." They replied walking away.

Riley, Maya, and Ember walked a little toward the subway train. "So, where do you wanna go?" Maya asked.

"I don't know. Big world." Riley said.

"Yeah, but my dad did say I have to be home by 5:00."

"Don't worry," Maya took a folded up not from her back pocket, "he wrote you a note." She handed it to Riley. The girls entered the subway car to hear the intercom.

"Next stop, Astor Place, 14th Street, and The World."

Once the day was done, waiting for them were Cory, Topanga, and Auggie.

"You guys came back and waited for us?" Riley asked them.

"Hey, we told you we were always gonna be here for you." Topanga explained.

"Yeah Riley, it's not so easy handing over the world without making sure everything going to be okay." Cory turned around to see his old teacher, Mr. Feeny.

"Well done, Mr. Matthews." In just a blink of an eye, he was gone.

New GMW story! I have much planned for the episodes. Hope you'll stick around for the rest!

Thank you for reading and I hope you guys liked this chap!
See you in a while!
Bye :)
-Dreamer25

"There are many life lessons in the world we all have to learn. We just have to make time to learn about them."
-Ember Woods

Disclaimer - I do not own ANY of the 'Girl Meets World' characters, settings, etc. Those belong to the creators and Disney Channel. I only own Ember Woods and any other OCs.


Category: TV

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe

    I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

    The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

    Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot – 1975

    Compared to the rest of the songs on this list, this song should win a noble prize. I only just figured out that the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald wasn’t an ancient mariners tale, but was an actual breaking news story. The actual wreck in Lake Superior which killed 29 crew members happened in November of 1975. Gordon read a story in Newsweek about the tragedy and wrote and recorded this song the following month. It came out the next summer and got all the way to number 2 on the singles chart, which is pretty amazing for a 6-minute sea shanty with no chorus. Lightfoot changed a few details. The boat was actually loaded for Detroit not Cleveland and has actually revised the lyrics as more details of the wreck came out over the years. The other songwriters on this list should take notice. This is how you tell a story in a song.

    Run Joey Run – David Geddes – 1975

    Ahh… this disaster.

    David Geddes wrote a song, and this song was later revived in an episode of Glee. Struggling songwriter, Geddes was in law school when he got a call from a songwriter that thought his voice would be good for a song, called Run Joey Run. In this tragedy, both in terms of the story and this song, Joey sings about his dead girlfriend Julie who haunts him when he tries to sleep. She warns him not to come to her house because she’s been fighting with her father. We’re to believe that Julie is pregnant but she promises her dad that she and Joey will get married. (Just you wait and see) Of course, Joey comes to be by her side, her father tries to shoot him, but he hits her instead. Yes, even in the ME decade of the 󈨊s these are the lessons and the morals we grew up with.

    I was 13 years old when this song came out. Even back then I knew it was an awful pile of garbage. But there’s something about it that has this weird, B-movie vibe to it. Now I actually kind of love it for its kitsch. I love songs and films that are made in earnest that are terrible. I guess that’s why Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax are some of my favorite shows. Stuff so bad, it’s good. This is a welcome tune to my list!

    Shannon – Henry Gross – 1975

    Henry Gross played Woodstock as part of the group Sha Na Na, and he was part of Jim Croce’s band. Sadly his own solo work was going nowhere. But he struck gold with a song about a dead dog. Not just any dead dog. While he was touring with the Beach Boys in 1975, Gross visited Carl Wilson’s house in LA. He mentioned that he owned an Irish Setter called Shannon, Wilson replied that he also had an Irish Setter named Shannon that had recently been killed by a car. That was enough to score a top ten hit and an afterlife when Casey Kasem went on a profanity-laced tirade in 1985 when his producers stuck a long-distance dedication of Shannon right after an up-tempo song by the Pointer Sisters.

    If you listen to it you can feel the whole Beach Boys vocal sound in the chorus. The only thing that could make this song worse would be if Mike Love sang it. Not a terrible song, but just a weird subject for a tune. Back then I always thought it was about a girl that had died.

    Convoy – CW McCall – 1973

    Advertising executive Bill Fries created an award-winning campaign for Old Home Bread, featuring a fictional truck driver named CW McCall. A few years later, at the peak of the CB radio craze, Fries got together with Chip Davis from Mannheim Steamroller and they put together a song that chronicled a CB conversation between Rubber Duck, Pig Pen, and Sod Buster, about a fictional trucker rebellion that drives from the West coast to the East coast of the country without stopping. The song is mostly dialogue, thick with CB lingo and an annoying earworm chorus, Convoy became a number one hit in 1975, it inspired a major motion picture in 1978 directed by the great Sam Peckinpah and starring Kris Kristofferson Ali McGraw and Ernest Borgnine. I would watch this movie for the laugh.

    Kids… that’s the kind of thing that was possible in the 󈨊s.

    Look at the body on Kristofferson in this rendering! Lookin’ ripped!

    Wildfire – Michael Murphey and the Rio Grande Band – 1975

    Murphey and Larry Cansler co-wrote “Wildfire” in 1968, shortly after Murphey emerged as a solo artist. Earlier in the decade, he had been part of a duo known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition (which had appeared and performed in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie) in 1968 with his fellow singer-songwriter Boomer Castleman. When Murphey rerecorded “Wildfire” for a new album in 1997, he was quoted by Billboard as saying that what many consider his signature song “broke my career wide open and, on some level, still keeps it fresh. Because that song appeals to kids and always has, it’s kept my career fresh.”

    In a 2008 interview, Murphey talked about the origins of the song and the context in which it was written. He was a third-year student at UCLA, working on a concept album for Kenny Rogers (The Ballad of Calico). The work was demanding, sometimes taking more than twenty hours a day. One night he dreamed the song in its totality, writing it up in a few hours the next morning. He believes the song came to him from a story his grandfather told him when he was a little boy – a prominent Native American legend about a ghost horse. Murphey didn’t have a horse named Wildfire until a few years before the interview when he gave that name to a palomino mare.

    The lyrics are those of a homesteader telling the story of a young Nebraska woman said to have died searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire”, during a blizzard. The homesteader finds himself in a similar situation, doomed in an early winter storm. A hoot owl has perched outside of his window for six days, and the homesteader believes the owl is a sign that the ghost of the young woman is calling for him. He hopes to join her (presumably in heaven) and spend eternity riding Wildfire with her, leaving the difficulties of earthly life behind.

    The song is rather famous for its piano intro and outro, which is often left off versions of the song edited for radio. The introduction is based on a piece (Prelude in D-flat, Op. 11 No. 15) by the Russian classical composer Alexander Scriabin.

    This song is not annoying or weird. It’s just a really unique story song that was very popular in the mid-70s. It’s kind of sappy, but also sort of beautiful and sad. I like it so I added it to this list.

    Muskrat Love – The Captain and Tennille -1976

    I really have to hand it to my readers on this one. I was discussing compiling this list with a few of my followers and they sent me some of their favorite weird songs. The Captain and Tennille clearly deserve a spot on this list, but they didn’t go for the obvious choice with “Love Will Keep Us Together” or “Do That to Me One More Time.” No, they wisely went with “Muskrat Love,” by far their hit that’s aged the worst. The song (originally called “Muskrat Candlelight”) was written by obscure country-rock artist Willis Alan Ramsey in 1972. The band America covered it in 1973, and the Captain and Tennille cut their own version of it in 1976. The song isn’t some sort of analogy. It’s about actual muskrats falling in love. They played it at the White House in 1976 when Queen Elizabeth II came for a visit. It’s unclear why the Ford Administration thought that was a good idea. If they came a year later, Jimmy Carter would have probably pulled in a better act.

    If you google pictures of them, Daryl always looks like he’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to be in any photos with her. I can’t blame him.

    Tennille filed for divorce from Dragon in the State of Arizona on January 16, 2014, after 39 years of marriage. Dragon was unaware of the termination of his marriage until he was served with the divorce papers. The divorce documents referenced health insurance or health issues, and Tennille had written on her blog in 2010 that Dragon’s neurological condition, similar to Parkinson’s, known as essential tremor, was characterized by such extreme tremors he could no longer play keyboards. Dragon later stated that some of his health problems were the result of errors in dosing his medication.

    In 2016, Toni Tennille, Tennille’s memoir (co-written with niece Caroline Tennille St. Clair) was published. In it, Tennille painted an unflattering picture of Dragon and their years together.

    Dragon and Tennille remained close friends until his death from complications of kidney failure on January 2, 2019, in Prescott, Arizona. Tennille was at his side when he died.

    I always thought of Toni Tennille as a poser who sang flat with little range. They’re like a bad act you’d see in a hotel lounge in the middle of nowhere. This song is trash and I can’t believe why anyone would focus their songwriting energy on such an odd subject.

    On a final note, the weird solo that sounds like little farts is supposed to be Muskrat Love sounds.

    It’s just Awful!

    I hate her and this song too. She just comes off like the type of person that would be best friends with Kate Gosselin.

    You’re Having My Baby – Paul Anka – 1974

    Nobody disputes the fact that Paul Anka is brilliant – the man wrote “My Way” for God’s sake. That feat alone earns him a spot on the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But in the summer of 1974 he released “(You’re) Having My Baby,” an uber-saccharine song about a man overjoyed about the news that his wife is pregnant. The song hit home for a lot of Americans, and it gave Anka his first Number One since 1959’s “Lonely Boy.” It’s aged about as well as a rancid bucket of sweet and sour pork. New life was breathed into the tune in 2009 when it was featured on Glee. Finn sang it to Quinn while having dinner with her parents. At the time, he didn’t know that Puck was the real father and that Quinn’s dad would throw her out of the house after hearing the news.

    In 2018, heavy metal singer Glenn Danzig invited Anka onto the main stage at the Wacken Open Air Festival to sing “(You’re) Having My Baby.” Despite not having sung the song live in nearly 40 years, Anka agreed and appeared with Danzig wearing bell-bottom pants and a plaid shirt with a butterfly collar.

    Less than thirty seconds into the song, the crowd of roughly 66,000 expressed their disgust with boos and empty beer bottles, forcing the two to stop singing. Unable to quell the crowd with offers of singing “Long Way Back from Hell” and “Do You Wear the Mark” together, Anka and Danzig fled the stage shortly before the frenzied crowd stormed the stage.

    “These kids don’t know Anka as I know him,” Danzig later said through tears. “When I first heard ‘You’re Having My Baby,’ I knew that’s what I wanted to do in life.”

    Despite the underwhelming catastrophe of the Wacken Open Air Festival, other heavy metal singers have followed suit with Danzig’s idea. Paul Anka is currently collaborating with thrash-metal band Slayer and an album is due in stores during the summer of 2021.

    Watch the performance. Notice how Paul is up on stage singing it by himself? Odia Coates the woman who sings the duet with him isn’t with him on stage. She’s sitting on a bench at the piano. Was a white man and a black woman standing next to each other on stage singing about how he’s so happy he got her pregnant and she’s keeping their mixed-race baby, too controversial for 1974? I don’t know. Just sayin’…

    My mother hated this song and so did I. My mother appreciated good music and couldn’t understand why someone would write a song like this. If you listen to the song you’ll hear how gross this song really is. “You could have swept it from your life, but you didn’t do it.” Nice Roe vs. Wade reference, Paul.

    Watching Scotty Grow – Bobby Goldsboro – 1970

    is a song written by country music singer-songwriter Mac Davis and recorded by Bobby Goldsboro in 1970 on his album, We Gotta Start Lovin. Davis recorded his version on his 1972 album, I Believe in Music.

    This song deals with a father witnessing the activities of his son growing up, while the father does his usual laid-back adult activities. The phrase, “that’s my boy” is used in all 3 verses. One of the verses, “Mickey Mouse says thirteen o’clock,” refers to the Mickey Mouse watches which were popular at the time.

    Who the hell told Bobby Goldsboro that this was a good haircut? It looks like a fur helmet. But I digress. I hate this song. It’s so sappy. The lyrics just make me want to puke. If my handlers asked me to record a song like this I would have quit the music business.

    Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.


    Category: Maximus Stupidus

    I like to think that I’m up to date with modern culture. For example, just today I found out what a Billie Eilish is: a device that mumbles so that 12-year-olds can feel something. But recently a friend mentioned the term ‘Dracula-ing’ in the context of modern dating, and I was clueless. My first thought was, “Is that a fetish where you get turned on by the sight of your lover in a coffin?” but nope, that’s just called divorce.

    No, ‘Dracula-ing’, according to this young, forever-tormented generation, is when a romantic interest / future-therapy-topic surfaces only at odd hours of the night to text you the classic ‘hey u up?’. This text is seen as disrespectful to the English language and also to people who do not want to be treated like Orgasm Vending Machines.

    There are other terms that I’ve learned recently: Zombie-ing, which is when a hook-up who had ghosted you ages ago, re-appears with no explanation or apology, asking to be let into your pants. There’s also ‘V-lationshipping’, which is when a long-lost ex contacts you around Valentine’s Day to see if they can cut open your chest and fill it up with excuses again.

    There are a million such dating terms, because coining names is easy and adds a nice blanket of humour over the festering roadkill that is your love life. But in all our hand-wringing about modern dating, we sometimes forget a few basics.

    First of all, we wanted this. We wanted to defy tradition and have the freedom to pick our next drinking problem. Even when we didn’t have the technology to simultaneously sext three people while taking a dump, we knew we wanted choice and that’s the weird thing about choice – it turns out that other people have it too. Someone could be your main window and you’d just be one of fifteen open tabs or vice-versa, and that’s just how it is, according to this browser analogy that I feel we should now minimise to avoid shitty puns.

    And sure, tech is an enabler, but the core behaviours aren’t really new. Previous generations just called them ‘Trust And Communication Issues’ (and then went out and got scurvy or whatever they did for fun back then, I dunno.)

    My favourite manifestation of these issues are the ‘No Label’ relationships. They sound great on paper, except you dig in a little (two drinks) and realise that one person would actually like a label but can’t really ask because the other person will leave and then nobody will ever love them and they’ll die alone and all their exes will turn up at the funeral to sneer and laugh and swap stories about their weird birthmark shaped like Rajpal Yadav.

    Look, it’s not inherently cooler to have “no labels”. Being “Undefined” is also technically a label. And what are the rules? Are you allowed to hook up with other people? Will you meet each others’ friends? Do you go dutch on the abortion bill or is it like drinks – ‘I’ll get this one, you get the next’? Because it doesn’t matter what you call yourself – ‘Friends With Benefits’, ‘No Labels’, ‘Poly But Upvaas On Thursday’ – if you haven’t discussed the rules, then one of you will spend several nights sobbing along to the sad sounds of Kumar Sanu’s nose. (Spoiler Alert: It’s probably you.)

    So is there a bright side to this nonsense or are we all doomed to spend our lives chugging from the Fountain Of Perennial Disappointment? Of course there is. This churn is good, because every Dracula, every Zombie, every Goblin (that’s when you date a tiny magic banker who’s a dog-whistle for the Jewish community) – every one of these encountered is a bad option eliminated, paving the way for better ones to come along and meet a smarter you. (OR you’ll just build an emotional Great Wall Of China and push away anyone who tries to get close, but hey, save that worry for the 2 a.m. internal monologue.)

    In my personal experience, it does get better with time simply because you get better with time. I remember how frantic and hyper we used to get in our 20s, and how much garbage we would tolerate. We’ve all been on both sides of conversations like this:

    Friend: Woe is me, why do I keep dating shitty dudes, why why why? This one keeps yelling his ex’s name during sex.

    Me: Dump him.

    Friend: Nooo, maybe it’s an honest mistake?? ‘Cos her name is so similar to mine?

    Me: Is her name also Pooja?

    Friend: Close. It’s Eyehfuwjjføjasihkhfhghyykshjull.

    Friend: She’s named after that Icelandic volcano.

    Me: So you gonna ignore my advice now or later?

    Friend: Never mind, marrying him tomorrow!

    Things improved only once we discovered this wonder drug called self-esteem. Oh man, you try it once, you never wanna go back. Sure, it’s not the easiest to manufacture, although society deals it to you quicker if you’re a dude. But take one hit and suddenly you’re doing things like “being confident” and “setting boundaries” and “not settling for bullshit behavior just because they have a nice butt that fills the parent-shaped hole in your heart.”

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m still extremely single and my last intimate encounter was with a packet of Peppy Chips. But now there’s a certain equanimity about the situation, which helps tackle the biggest dating fear of them all i.e. settling down with someone only because you’ve hit a certain age and not because you feel, in every atom of your body, that this is the person whose adult diapers you would hate changing the least.

    I know modern dating is way more complicated than before but we also have more freedom than anyone’s ever had. If we use it well and keep our spirits and standards high, then maybe one day it’ll work out. Yes, I know that statement makes no objective sense but neither does the assertion that ‘It’ll never work out’. Both are equally baseless from a logic perspective so why not latch on to the nicer thought? The thought that maybe one day, the universe will notice and it will give in and whisper in our direction those powerful magic words, ‘hey u up?’.


    Aunty Depression

    A friend sent me this video. I’d never seen anything like it, and as I was watching I wondered how these guys came up with using beer bottles to make a song. The following scene unfolded in my head as if I’d been there with them.

    Disclaimer: This is all made up. I don’t know these guys or anything about them. I have made all of this up.

    It’s a Sunday morning. A bunch of fraternity boys from a university like the one in Animal House are sprawled like rag dolls on couches and chairs, empty beer bottles everywhere. One of them, who doesn’t get hangovers, is awake. He starts blowing into an empty bottle to entertain himself while he waits for the others to get up. He also plays violin, having been enrolled in the Suzuki program as a child by his over-achieving parents.

    He notices that the sound he’s blowing in the beer bottle is an F note. He grabs a different size bottle and it produces a C. Another bottle, slightly bigger, gives him a G. He starts tooting, “Louie, Louie” in the classic C – F – G pattern of most popular songs. His friends gradually come to life and roll over on the floor and couches to see what’s up, intrigued.

    “Hey, let me try that,” one of them says.

    “Get your own bottles,” he says.

    Pretty soon all are experimenting with making music, forgetting about their hangovers. One is a really good organizer, a little OCD, and he picks up an empty six-pack container and loads it with six different size bottles. A few minutes later he says, “Check this out.” He moves his mouth over the bottles like he’s playing a giant harmonica, and toots their fraternity’s theme song close enough that the others recognize it.

    Everyone is impressed, and they crawl around looking for cartons, too. One of them spots an empty water jug and pats it a couple of times. “Look, we could use this for bass notes.”

    The fraternity president has slept through most of this, but he eventually rouses from the couch and curses them for waking him up. They ignore him, and he takes a leak. He decides he needs to join in, so he finds an empty eight-pack carton in the kitchen and gathers bottles off the counter to fill it. He’s musically inclined and catches on quickly. Soon he figures out the Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean,” the one that was in his head when he woke up because someone kept playing it over and over last night. The others start following him. He becomes their band leader. “Play a couple of bass notes on that water jug,” he says. “That’s good. Now PT, lemme hear you do the intro.”

    After a while, the marketing major says, “We sound pretty good. I think we should video this and put it on YouTube. I can talk to the priest at the Cathedral and see if we can record it there. The acoustics are great.”

    “Good idea,” the president agrees, “and that’ll make it classier than doing it here.”

    After a week of practicing and recording to get their moves just right, they video their song at the Cathedral, and the marketing major posts it on YouTube, where it goes viral. They become idols throughout the world. Someone signs them to do a tour.

    And you and me, we’ll never look at a beer bottle again without hearing “Billie Jean” tooting in our heads.

    Machinery and the Difference Between Men and Women July 22, 2013

    I recently decided for the first time to pressure wash the concrete around my house, but I couldn’t get the pressure washer to start after pulling on the cord a few times, So I did what every smart American woman does when she can’t get machinery to work, I asked a big, strong, burly neighbor to help me.

    Sheila moseyed over and yanked the cord a few times but with no success.

    So I consulted Google and found a video on YouTube showing a guy repeatedly pulling the cord of an identical pressure washer for what appeared to be hours. I’ve put the video below so you can enjoy it for yourself. Skip the first 3 minutes in which he shows he has gas in it, all the knobs are in the right places, etc.

    Another site said to check the air filter. It looked fine – I had no idea what it was supposed to look like. But checking helped, because when I put the cover back on I noticed a 1-800 number. I called it and told the woman who answered that I couldn’t get the contraption started.

    She laughed. “There’s a couple of things you can do to make it start,” she said with the twang of a southern accent. “If it’s been over a year since you had it running, you’ll need to drain the gas out of the engine. Gas can get stale quickly with all these new additives like ethanol – sometimes after only a month sitting idle.”

    “How do I do that?” I whimpered. I don’t like messing with gas. You can scrub your hands for days and the smell still won’t come off.

    “It’s really easy, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it,” she said in a voice you’d use to calm a frightened child. “Get you a jug like an empty milk jug. Then take some pliers and squeeze the clamp together on the fuel line. Do you see what I’m talking about?”

    “Ummm, yeah if it’s that black tube thingy.”

    “ThAT’S IT! Now when you get it unclamped, put the end of the tube into the milk jug and drain the gas out. I’ll stay here on hold until you’re done.”

    It was as easy as she described. “Okay, I got the gas drained, now what?”

    “Reconnect your fuel line and fill the tank with fresh gas. Then make sure to hold the pressure washer handle in while you’re pulling the cord or it won’t start. I know it sounds hard but you can’t get it started unless you do. You’ll also need to hold the handle in while it’s running.”

    After she promised she’d answer if I called back, I hung up and did as she instructed. It was too hard to hold the handle of the pressure washer at the same time I pulled the cord, so I got some ribbon and tied it around the handle to keep it squeezed tight. Then I used both hands to pull the cord, and after a couple of pulls the thing sputtered and then settled into a steady roar.

    Contrast my experience with the guy in the video, pulling and tugging and doing the same thing over and over and over without any success. Notice he is also not holding the handle in while he pulls. It reminds me of a man who drive around lost for hours rather than stop and ask for directions. Or a man who won’t read instructions or product manuals, and certainly won’t call customer service except to cuss somebody out.

    Women know it saves a lot of time to get help, and we need all the time we can get to accomplish everything we have to do in a day. A man, however, has plenty of time – he’s just cutting into his, “Duck Dynasty” and “Deadliest Catch” appointments with the sofa. So why not spend an extra little while appearing busy and frustrated and cussing at a machine so he looks like a hero when he finally gets the thing running? Or better still, announces in exasperation that he’ll have to put it in the shop because it’s broken, thus avoiding the chore altogether for a week or two.

    Oh, and by the way, when I’m talking here – or elsewhere – about “a man,” I am most certainly NOT talking about my husband.

    The Fine Art of Mole Herding May 15, 2013

    It’s that time of year when, overnight, your lawn sprouts a million dirt tee-pees caused by mole infestation. You want to get rid of the pesky varmints, and you’ve tried poison pellets, lethal gas, impaling them on a pitchfork, but they keep coming back.

    Quite by accident, I’ve found a way you probably haven’t tried: mole herding.

    Let me explain. I was walking my dog in the park the other day, and a crow flew out of the woods right in front of me. It had a mole in its clutches. The crow landed about twenty feet away and dropped the mole, ready to feast on a nice fuzzy warm breakfast.

    On impulse, I shooed the crow away because, without thinking, I felt pity for the mole. The crow flew a few feet away and stood there squawking at me, and I’m pretty sure it was saying, “You lousy (insert trashy word of your choice), how DARE you steal my mole.”

    I asked myself, “What the HELL are you going to do with this mole out here in the middle of the park? Because you KNOW that crow will waddle right straight over here the minute you leave.”

    And I answered, “Why, I’ll get a plastic bag and pick the sweet little thing up and put it safely back in the woods.”

    Even as I said the words, I knew it was a lie. I was pretty sure you can feel a mole squirming through plastic. I’d drop it and run shrieking. This I knew.

    So I stood there looking at the mole, which was trying to hide in the short grass, and looking at the crow, which was watching me with a scowl on its face. I could drag this part of the story out for a long, long time – I believe it’s that interesting. But suffice it to say that after about five minutes, I bummed a plastic bag from a dog walking passer-by and spent the next ten minutes trying to get my nerve up to grab the mole.

    Two men I knew came by and asked what I was doing standing there up there in the grass. After I explained my dilemma, one of them advised me to use a stick to coax the mole into the bag. A BRILLIANT plan.

    I opened the bag a few inches in front of the mole, got a stick, and tapped the little black thing on its bottom. The mole went toward the bag but dodged around it and stopped. “Crap,” I thought, “a shifty little mole.” But it had moved about half a foot. Was it possible, I said to myself, to herd a mole thirty feet to the safety of the woods?

    I gently nudged it with the stick, and it went forward a few inches. With more prompting it went a foot or so, and then kept going with an occasional encouraging tap. We’d gone about fifteen feet when it came to the gravel on the side of the blacktop walking path and the mole nose-dived into the gravel, digging frantically with those little pink hands. I had to put the stick under its belly several times to raise it out of there. Finally it got the message and continued on across the blacktop path and another mowed area until it reached the tall grass at the edge of the woods, where it disappeared.

    This experience showed me that there is a more humane way to get rid of yard vermin. Wait for them to come out of their holes and then herd them to your least favorite neighbor’s yard. It’s easier than you think, and quite satisfying on so many levels.

    Miracle Cure for Restless Leg Syndrome April 29, 2013

    I have to tell you about my miracle cure for restless leg syndrome. I’d never heard of this malady until I saw the first commercials for drugs to help it, and I thought, “Honestly, how restless could a leg be to make someone take drugs with all those ridiculous side effects?”

    And then there I was, sitting in a La-Z-Boy watching “The Big Bang Theory” and for no reason my leg started to jerk. It kind of jerked on it’s own, like when the doctor thumps your knee with that pointy rubber thing and your leg swings out and bonks him in the crotch.

    It’s like an eye twitch – just comes on without any warning causes this motion on you eyelid that you have no control over. Except with the leg, there’s this weird sensation before each twitch – not pain, just an odd, disquieting feeling. It keeps on going – once I timed it and my leg jerked every seventeen seconds.

    So then I start getting the twitches in bed at night. I’d be dog-tired after working all day and doing a couple of hours of yard work or taking a hike, and looking so forward to sleep. Just when I turned the light out and got snuggled down in the covers with my little dog pressed up against my leg nice and cozy-like, I’d feel that sensation and the leg jerked, practically knocking the little dog across the room. She’s wondering why I whacked her, and I’m wondering why a couple of minutes before I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but now I’m lying there looking at the bedroom ceiling like an owl. I’d shift positions to try and get comfortable and ward off the twitches, but nothing helped. I’d toss for a couple of hours, and then finally the poor pooch and I would fall into exhausted sleep.

    The other night I could NOT get to sleep, so I decided to get up and consult Google. I’d done this before but couldn’t find a cause or any cure except taking prescription drugs to help with the symptoms. This time I asked Google about “Natural Cures for Restless Leg Syndrome.” Google coughed up a ton of websites.

    I went to one site that had 27 pages of cures, 5 or 6 cures per page. I read about 10 pages with people describing their misery and things they’d tried – like eating a teaspoon of French’s yellow mustard before bed or drinking tonic water. Some said they’d taken the drugs for years.

    Then I came across an intriguing one. The person wrote that it worked like a charm and completely got rid of her restless leg. She said to stand or sit and extend your left arm (has to be the left one) straight to the side like you’re trying to look like an airplane. Then you make figure 8’s. They’re supposed to be parallel to the floor, so you’re not making this big swooping thing where the arm goes toward the floor and then ceiling. You’re just making a fairly flat figure 8 taking your arm forward and back. She said to do it 16-20 times, 3 or 4 times a day. Also do figure 8’s with the left (only left) leg.

    So I got out of bed and did the left arm figure 8. I had done about 13 of them when I felt this warm sensation in my right leg (the one that’s restless). When I got to 20, I did the figure 8’s with the left leg. Then I got in bed, snuggled under the covers and waited for the twitching to begin.

    And I waited, and waited. It never started back up. Not even a hint of a twitch. I couldn’t believe it. I went to sleep for the first time in a couple of years without a jerk! And I’m not talking about my husband. It was fabulous! I got seven hours of good sleep and felt like a million bucks the next day.

    I’ve done the figure 8’s for 6 days and still no twitches – not in the bed and not in the La-Z-Boy, which is the other place I used to get them all the time. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. It’s a medical miracle, and it didn’t cost a thing.

    I’m curious as a kitten about why this works, so if you know, please share.


    Episode Reviews

    Nov. 19, 2020: “Carry On”

    In the series finale, Sam and Dean celebrate a Chuck-free world the only way they know how—saving people, hunting things… you know, the family business.

    People wearing creepy clown masks stab a man in the chest. Offscreen, his wife is also stabbed (we see her body). We later learn that the man’s body was drained of blood, his wife’s tongue was cut out and their children were kidnapped. A man is impaled by a spike on a wall. We hear about people whose hearts were ripped out. Someone cleans guns.

    Sam and Dean fight off several vampires, beheading them with machetes in the process. They shoot one vampire in the leg and head. (This only incapacitates him so the brothers can threaten him with a slow death for information.) We also learn that the vampires kidnap kids and essentially raise them for slaughter.

    The brothers discuss death and express their love for each other as they face their final moments together. A body is burned on a funeral pyre. A man dies of old age and we see him flatline.

    Several people go to heaven and discover that it is a simple, happy place where all of their loved ones are finally together. A man explains that Sam and Dean’s surrogate son, Jack (a Nephilim), and their best friend, Castiel (an angel), were responsible for fixing heaven after Chuck’s defeat.

    We see a shirtless man. We hear a sexual reference. Some people drink beers. We hear uses of “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n” and “h—.” God’s name is also misused.

    March 16, 2020: “Galaxy Brain”

    When Chuck (aka “God”) decides to destroy all the worlds he created—save for the one Sam and Dean live on—the brothers have to travel to one of these alternate universes to save a friend they thought was dead.

    Chuck watches his multiple worlds being destroyed on TV screens. A young woman chooses to stay in her world as it is destroyed. A fireball destroys a world moments after Chuck promised to spare it. A background TV shows a man magically healing himself after being shot in the head and others with monster teeth.

    A woman is stabbed with a scythe (no blood is seen) and she crumbles into dust. A friend of Sam and Dean’s is knocked unconscious, tied up and threatened to be killed. Sam, Dean and their friend fight a young woman before knocking her down with a chair. A sheriff investigates a cow that has been bludgeoned to death. (We see the bovine corpse.) Sam and Dean arm themselves with guns.

    People use magic and spells to create protection and to open a cosmic rift to teleport to another world. Monsters with red eyes surround Sam and Dean but don’t attack. People discuss the issues of eating angel hearts, having no soul and seeking revenge. Dean talks about Chuck potentially being killed by his own grandson, who is a Nephilim. A boy’s silent prayer to “Death” summons a reaper.

    A boy blames himself for trapping a girl in another world. A young woman rocks herself in fear. A woman is forced to stay behind during a rescue mission to protect her “adopted” daughters from becoming orphaned again.

    People lie and drink whiskey. A same-sex relationship is brought up. Someone litters. We hear “h—” twice and the term “BS.”

    Oct. 10, 2019: “Back and to the Future”

    “What’s one more apocalypse?”

    Good question, Sam. Good question. The Winchesters are at it again. Picking up where the last season left off, Sam, Dean and Castiel (their angel BFF) are faced with yet another apocalypse where the only chance for humanity lies in the hands of the trio. After Chuck (aka the show’s laid-back version of God) released all 2-3 billion tortured souls of hell, the brothers are forced to evacuate a nearby town so they can trap these spirits with a spell to buy some time until they can find a way to send them back from whence they came.

    Corpses in varying degrees of decay are possessed by the spirits of the dead. The Winchesters fight their way through these zombies: kicking, smashing, punching, stabbing and—in the case of Castiel—exorcising until the three find refuge in a cemetery mausoleum. We see skeletal-looking spirits with red eyes leaving these bodies as they are destroyed. Later, ghosts attack the trio, punching, kicking, telekinetically throwing them and even choking them.

    The corpse of Jack, the Winchesters’ surrogate son, is possessed by a demon. Jack’s eyes have been burnt out of their sockets, so the demon puts on a pair of sunglasses in order to blend in. He comments that he prefers hell the way it was because he enjoys torturing souls. He performs spells in Latin that include angel blood and a human heart as ingredients.

    A ghost with bloody tears trickling down her cheeks attacks two teen girls, appearing in their mirrors and causing one of them to cry blood as well before the girl starts clawing at her own face, creating deep gashes in her skin. Later, the girls’ corpses are found in a bloody heap. A man is found with his throat slashed open. Clumps of plasma cover an abandoned car on the side of the road.

    A horrifying clown with a gore-covered knife chases a mother and daughter through their house, cackling maniacally. We see blood splattered on the walls and around the kitchen where a child’s birthday party was held. The mother later comments that everyone is dead, and although no bodies are seen, it is clear she means the party guests.

    A man’s hand is sliced open by a ghost. A man receives a deep cut in his stomach which is later healed by angel magic. A man purposely cuts his hand with a blade to provide blood for a spell. Castiel attempts to heal a gunshot wound but is unable due to the evil that caused it. The infected-looking wound is later cleaned and bandaged.

    Lots of negative comments are made about God/Chuck. A cross is seen on a mausoleum and empty beer cans and liquor bottles are littered inside. Graves explode as newly possessed corpses crawl out of them. A grave is desecrated by the brothers as they try to escape. A man threatens another with a knife to the throat.

    A man breaks down a door. A teenage girl says divorce is awesome since her mom buys her gifts out of guilt. The brothers lie and pretend to be FBI in order to evacuate a town. A man hides a gun in the glove compartment of his car. The demon in Jack’s body, comments on the good-looking appearances of humans and mentions that back when he was human, they were much uglier and worshipped a phallic-shaped rock. A comment is made about a woman’s rear-end. “D–n,” “b–ch,” “a–” and “h—” all make an appearance, as well as two misuses of God’s name.

    Nov. 28, 2018: “Unhuman Nature”

    Sam and Dean are worried about Dean’s semi-surrogate son, Jack, whose natural father was Lucifer. Seems the 18-year-old half-archangel is sick, perhaps dying. Dean says he knew that when they brought Jack into their world, death was always a possibility: “I figured it’d be a vampire or a ghoul, not a freaking cough,” he says. Meanwhile, Nick—once the human vessel for Lucifer—continues his quest to find out who killed his wife and son. But in so doing, he discovers he enjoys killing and invites Lucifer (who supposedly died earlier) back into his body.

    Nick “talks” with the corpse of a priest he just killed: He’s nailed the body up in a doorframe (in imitation of Christ). We see nails in the dead man’s palms and blood around his neck, where Nick apparently slit the priest’s throat. We watch him kill another man, too: the vessel for the entity that killed Nick’s family. He ties the guy up and has already beaten him terribly before the camera arrives. (We see the man’s cut, bruised and bloodstained face.) Nick threatens to drive a knife into his victim’s leg, and later he hits the fellow in the head with a hammer, though it doesn’t kill him. More hammering to the head ensues. We don’t see those blows land, but we do watch as blood sprays all over Nick and the walls. In flashback, we see the corpse of another man Nick killed, lying still and bloody, with the murder weapon (again a hammer) lying nearby. Nick holds people by their throats as well. We also hear that Jack’s unnatural father (Lucifer) was stabbed in the heart and exploded.

    Jack coughs up blood and foams at the mouth during his sickness. Castiel, an angelic being, visits a shaman named Sergei, who may hold the key to Jack’s recovery: some bottled, glowing “grace” from the archangel Gabriel. Sergei traded the grace for a spell that allowed Gabriel to “hide away in Monte Carlo.” “With porn stars,” Castiel finishes. Meanwhile, Jack and Dean spend quality time together. “If I don’t make it, stuff I’d miss wouldn’t be things like Tahiti or the Taj Mahal,” Jack says. “I’d be missing more time with you. … It’s time together that matters.”

    Dean and Jack drink beer, and Dean offers to take Jack to a bar: “Low on class but high on hookup potential,” he says. Jack’s seen shirtless a couple of times, and Nick approaches a woman dressed in a revealing evening outfit. (He almost kills her, but thinks better of it.) Nick recalls “getting hammered” at an Elks lodge the night his wife and son were killed. We hear people cast spells, talk about powerful witches that could help Jack, and discuss various angels and demons. A black, skeleton-like thing with glowing red eyes—likely Lucifer—is resurrected when Nick prays to him. Sergei initially uses “holy fire” to trap Castiel. The shaman smokes a hookah. We see liquor bottles scattered about a living room.

    Supernatural: Jan. 24, 2018 “Breakdown”

    Sam and Dean seemingly take a break from monster hunting to help Sheriff Donna track down her missing niece. But when they uncover a truly horrific online auction in connection with the girl’s disappearance—one in which people are kidnapped, cut up and sold off, bit by bit—the Winchester Bros. realize they’ve got more monstrous activity to deal with after all.

    We don’t see anyone actually get their limbs sawed off here (though one such operation is obscured by the operator), but we do see the bloody tiled area where the auctions and dismemberments take place. Blood coats the walls, and victims’ screams echo as the killer preps his terrible tools. The camera zooms in on an arm where a bloody chunk has been removed. The killer leaves a bloody thumbprint on a stereo dial. Body parts, from limbs to organs, are auctioned off to the highest bidder, and a comment string down the side of the auction expresses how delectable or desirable each part is.

    A vampire (with a gruesome set of fangs in its mouth) attacks someone, rips open a vein in his own wrist and pours the blood into his victim’s mouth, turning him into a vampire, too. (When the victim regains consciousness, he attacks his friends.) Someone gets shot in the chest: Blood seeps broadly into the victim’s white shirt. Another person is shot in the leg: The shooter indicates that the victim will most certainly be killed, but it’s up to him as to how short or long the agony will be. A guy is stabbed in the gut: The blade sticks out of his abdomen as he apparently expires. Someone’s head is smashed against a countertop.

    A traveling pastor is arrested in connection with the auction site. We hear him recite a psalm before his arrest, and he carries a Bible with him during questioning. But we learn the man has a rap sheet, too: He’s previously been arrested for exposing himself to a girl, and another time for picking up a hitchhiking boy. When asked about a couple of people who’ve gone missing—one of whom is Hispanic and the other a young girl—he refers to them as “your illegal and your whore.” A bloody shirt is found in his van whose back window reads “Jesus saves.”

    People drink beer. Characters say “d–n” three times, “h—” five times and “b–ch” once. God’s name is also misused once.

    Supernatural: Mar. 30, 2016 “Red Meat”

    Sam and Dean take on a pack of werewolves, rescuing a pair of hikers in the process. Alas, both of them die. Sort of.

    Sam is shot during the battle, suffering a bloody wound to the gut. Then he’s suffocated to hurry along the whole dying thing. Note that up until this season, death has been a relative condition for the brothers. But now an entity known as the Reaper promises that the next time they die, it’ll be for real. So, in a hospital, Dean takes a handful of pills to also “die” in order to bargain for his brother with the Reaper, hoping that the nearby doctors will be able to save him before it’s too late.

    Several others die as well. One man is run through with a werewolf’s claw. Another victim sits dead in his car, claw marks covering his body. A doctor is killed, her body left to lie in the hallway. People are stabbed. And they fall down stairs. A hiker is left with vicious scratches on his chest and a gruesome bite on his forearm. His girlfriend has a gash across her cheek (held together with tape). We hear talk of missing hearts.

    Dean drinks a beer at a bar. We hear “d–n” and “h—” three times each. Also “god” and “jeez.” Somebody says that “death is not the end.” The Reaper begs to differ, though, telling Dean that “the Empty is waiting.”

    Supernatural: 1-30-2013

    “As Time Goes By”

    Henry Winchester zips forward in time to keep a mysterious box away from a demon—running into his incredulous grandsons, Dean and Sam. The demon (in the guise of a woman wearing a bloodstained, cleavage-revealing dress) is a powerful, bloodthirsty thing. Before she follows Henry in time, she kills several members of a secret brotherhood (leaving them in pools of blood, one bleeding from his eyes). She kills at least four more in present-day action—dispatching one with a slice to the neck (offscreen) and another with a stab to the gut (with blood splashing against a wall). She makes her most gruesome kill by jamming her fist through a guy’s stomach, leaving a gaping wound.

    The brothers stab the demon. The wound doesn’t kill her, but does electrify her body from the inside. She’s shot point-blank in the head. Again she lives on, with the bullet leaving a grotesque wound. Finally, someone knocks her head clean off, and we’re told that the demon still isn’t dead. (Sam and Dean say they’ll cut her body into little pieces and bury them in cement.)

    We see a variety of occult-looking symbols and hear references to angels and demons and the supposed Mayan doomsday prophecy. A grave is exhumed. Characters say “h‑‑‑,” “a‑‑” and “b‑‑ch” two or three times each. We hear the f-word stand-in “freaking.” God’s name is misused.

    Supernatural: 5-14-2009

    “Lucifer Rising”

    Brotherly love? Forget it. These siblings, apparently inseparable through four TV seasons, have had a bit of a falling out as the episode opens. Seems Dean’s been signed to a lifetime contract with the angels, and he’s got a little problem with Sam being infected with demon blood. They must deal with a smug angel named Zachariah, who’s hankering for the end of the world, wand who tells Dean that the afterworld will be wonderful for him—full of peace and happiness, along with “two virgins and 70 sluts.” When Dean asks where God is in this “divine” plan, Zachariah says, “God? God has left the building.”

    Supernatural posits that heaven and hell are two powerful and essentially immoral forces using humanity for their own whims and wiles. So Dean rebels against his angelic overlords, declaring he’d rather choose pain over peace any ol’ day, if the latter involves becoming a mindless “Stepford b‑‑ch in paradise.”

    A possessed priest slaughters a sanctuary full of nuns, and we see their bodies and blood strewn across the sanctified space. Sam kidnaps a terrified nurse (who is possessed by a demon), and viewers hear her scream before he kills her (offscreen). Sexual double entendres arise, as do profanities.


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