Girls can murder, too

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Murder Girls by Christine Morgan completely took me by surprise, and I love that. It came to my attention because it was edited by my internet-bestie (she might not feel the same way so don’t tell her I said that) Melodie Ladner. Melodie writes Facebook status updates that make me spit my coffee at the screen in fits of surprise laughter. So I was interested to read the work she edited.

There are five protagonists (or antagonists, depending on how you look at it). Having so many could have been confusing, or their differences could have been stereotypical like the Spice Girls. No offense to you Spice Girl fans, but you know what I mean. One’s cute, one’s athletic, one’s a stuck-up bitch. But somehow, Christine Morgan pulls this off. The characters are very different from one another, but in ways that you and I are different from our friends. And after the first chapter it’s easy to remember who is who.

Murder Girls is a satirical coming-of-age story. These five young women are figuring out how they want to live, and how they want to kill. It’s often cringe-inducing, but there’s enough dark humor sprinkled in to bring relief.

The premise is a little out there. But believing that all five girls would go along with the decision to murder is easy once you get to know them. And Morgan makes sure you get to know them all without force-feeding their stories. The setting descriptions are rich, and the scenes are easy to visualize, even when you’re rather not.

Murder Girls is a fun, suspenseful read that leaves you wanting more.

 

Find your inner pretentious dish

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What pretentious hipster food is lurking in your soul? Find out here!

Select the food assigned to your birth month-

January: Julienned

February: Tempura-battered

March: Truffle-infused

April: Curried

May: Twice-baked

June: Capicola-wrapped

July: Locally-sourced

August: Artisanal

September: Moroccan-spiced

October: Pureed

November: Cocoa-crusted

December: Braised

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Next find the date of your birth-

1.     Pancetta

2.    Gouda

3.    Brussels sprout(s)

4.    Asparagus

5.    Duck confit

6.    Goat cheese

7.    Lentils

8.    Scallop(s)

9.    Filet

10.   Parsnip(s)

11.   Short rib(s)

12.   Hearts of palm

13.   Daikon radish

14.   Bone marrow

15.   Quail egg

16.   Calamari

17.   Camembert

18.   Kale

19.   Orecchiette

20.  Pork belly

21.   Brioche

22.  Chorizo

23.   Fennel

24.   Lobster

25.   Tuna

26.   Plantain(s)

27.   Parsnip(s)

28.   Duck bacon

29.   Soft-shell crab

30.   Lamb

31.   Brie

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And the first letter of your first name-

A: With raspberry coulis

B: Drizzled with Nutella

C: With crème fraiche

D: Au Gratin

E: A l’orange

F: Carbonara

G: With hollandaise

H: With root vegetable remoulade

I: Pops

J: Flatbread

K: With roasted shallots

L: Ravioli

M: With balsamic reduction drizzle

N: On a bed of micro greens

O: With garlic aioli

P: Soufflé

Q: Sliders

R: Waffles

S: Skewers

T: Croquettes

U: Crepes

V: Meatballs

W: Quiche

X: Crostini

Y: Tart

Z: Tacos

I’m a Moroccan-spiced duck confit soufflé. Now that I know, I can fix all of my problems.

This friggin’ day

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I went to bed last night with high hopes for my Tuesday. The kids went back to school Monday from Christmas break, and I was riding high on my newly rediscovered independence and I had plans. But since it’s winter in Michigan, no plans are ever safe.

The snow day call came in at 6:07 am. Since they usually call around 5:00, I felt that the call that allowed me to sleep until my normal time was a good sign. I was so naïve back then.

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Around 8:00 I sat down to make calls to rearrange appointments and plans, only to find out when I opened my laptop that my hard drive had completely crapped out. I panicked, just like any normal writer who isn’t great at backing up her work would do.

Then my darling puppy Bernie stole part of my breakfast. And the kids wanted to play video games. And it was only 8:04.

It was soon time to take the dog outside again, where I promptly slipped on the ice and fell on my back. It took a few seconds of cursing before I could pick myself up off the driveway, but I did it. Mostly because it was too cold to lay there and feel sorry for myself.

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I looked just like this.

I decided that no matter what I really wanted to keep one of my appointments, so I texted my wonderful sitter who came to over to rescue me. Fast forward a few hours and I had signed a lease on a cooperative work space so I can shift my productivity into high gear. I was feeling great about that when I took my laptop to my husband so he could take it to his guy for repair. Soon after, I received a call that all was not lost. Yay, again!

By the time I was headed home about an hour after I told the sitter I would be back, I was feeling okay about life and unexpected snow days. But then I walked in to learn that Bernie had ripped down a curtain and shredded it while I was away. By that point, all I could do was laugh.

The moral of the story is: my kids are going to school tomorrow whether it’s open or not.

THE NIGHT OF: best miniseries ever

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I usually only binge-watch shows that I can use as background noise. You know what I mean. Those shows that we love but don’t require our full attention.

A friend recently recommended the HBO miniseries The Night Of to me, and I went into it with the attitude that it would be a background-binge while I went about my day. Instead, my productivity plummeted this week. But I regret nothing.

The Night Of is about a young Muslim man named Nasir (Riz Ahmed) who meets a beautiful young woman named Andrea (Sofia Black-D’Elia) one night in New York City. They go back to her place, do some drugs, and have sex. When he wakes up from what had started as the best night of his young life, he finds the Andrea stabbed to death in her bed.

The first episode is tough to watch. You know that Nasir is in for a really bad time, and every step he takes that leads to his arrest makes the viewer cringe.

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A bottom-feeding attorney named John Stone, played by the brilliant John Turturro, takes on his case. Stone has chronic eczema and a real desire to do right by Nasir and his family. James Gadolfini was originally cast in this role, but passed away before filming began. I’m certain he would have been proud of Turturro’s performance.

We watch Nasir transform from a boy to a man over the eight episodes. Yet it is no way a coming-of-age story. It is a testament to the maturing effects of trauma, and what that rapid process takes from a young person.

Nasir the son of Pakistani immigrants, and the struggle of his family to deal with the consequences of his arrest is a constant undercurrent. As well as the tensions toward Muslims in post-9/11 New York City.

But the most prominent struggles are of John Stone, who is convinced his client is innocent and goes to perilous lengths to find the truth, and of Nasir, who must learn how to survive in Rikers Penitentiary while awaiting trial.

In a series that is packed with amazing performances, my favorite scenes were those with inmate Freddy Knight (Michael Kenneth Williams). As he did as Omar in The Wire, he commands every scene he’s in. Freddy takes Nasir under his wing in Rikers, helping him navigate the system while offering him protection. The protection, of course, doesn’t come for free.

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The Night Of is a miniseries that will stick with you long after the last episode. If you’re a writer, you’ll also have that gnawing in your gut that pushes you to try harder. If there were more shows that were this well-written and perfectly-executed, I’d never get anything done.

Divorce: a gift from celebrities

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I promise I’m not one to enjoy the suffering of others. But with all of the terrible things in the news every single day, I’m so relieved for a big fat celebrity divorce.

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Remember when he doinked some random chick while Demi stayed home on their wedding anniversary? 

Today the headlines include slideshows of Brad and Angelina’s life together. We have timelines of their previous relationships. We have statements from “sources close to the family”.

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Sorry guys, your divorce is old news.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. The news has been so depressing and stressful lately. I’d like to think the divorce was timed just for us, the anxiety-ridden American public. If only for today, it will be easy to avoid political news and heartbreaking headlines about terrorist attacks across the world.

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Nobody’s listening to these two today unless they want to weigh in on Brangelina.

Am I proud to get wrapped up in celebrity gossip when it feels like the world is falling apart? No, way. It’s kind of disgusting. But who cares?

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This divorce could have been enjoyable, but the Scientology gag order reduced our fun tremendously. 

This is no ordinary celebrity divorce. This is Brad and Angelina, you guys. They have tons of kids and tons of properties. They have a freaking estate in France. Nobody you know has an estate in France. And you probably don’t know very many people who have six children. This shit is gonna get ugly! Not as ugly as racism and fascism, but that’s fine.

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Thanks for saving us from world events.

Once the Brangelina divorce dust settles we can go back to giving attention to the terrorists and fathead politicians. For today, let’s speculate on whether or not Angelina Jolie is jealous of Selena Gomez.

All done with news

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It’s been important to me for a very long time to practice a life of non-judgement. I only recently realized that I haven’t been doing a good job of that. Though I tend to spare my friends and family from judgement and quickly work to correct myself if I find myself judging a loved one, I am not granting non-judgement to strangers, and I am the one who suffers from this.

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Look at this asshole.

The media is constantly bombarding us with quotes from celebrities and politicians, or reports of their public missteps. The collective outrage gathers on social media, creating a divide and turning friends and acquaintances against one another. And stress is the only thing that follows. Nothing constructive comes from social media debates. We all know this. Yet we are still baited.

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To tell the truth, I’m disgusted with what’s going on in our political system. Over the summer I suffered from insomnia more than I have my entire life. All of the name-calling, bullying, and outright lying are a scathing indictment of our society. But there’s not much I can do about it. I already know how I’m going to vote. There’s no point in torturing myself anymore.

I’m done.

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A cat in a freaking bowtie, you guys!

I haven’t watched any CNN in about a week. And the feeling is glorious. I have decided I will only post ironic memes and cat photos on social media for a while. And I’ll be Zen as hell.

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Peace!

An open letter to boomers with tats

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Dear punk-rock heroes,

As I sat in a tattoo parlor on Monday afternoon watching my cousin get more ink, I was so comfortable and happy it could have been a friend’s living room. We listened to great music on Spotify (The Flying Burrito Brothers, Metallica, KISS, Bob Marley: musical shifts that were joyously jarring). The air conditioner was kicking, and everyone there was good company. The venue was Spiral Tattoo in Ann Arbor. I could go on about how wonderful this place is, and how my favorite tattoo artist Jared Leathers is meticulous and brilliant, wears his hair in dreads, and has a smile that makes you feel like you’ve known him your entire life. But this is about something else: those who went before us. And I’ve been thinking about them a lot since Monday.

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The artist at work and Chris smiling through the pain.

I was still residing in Arkansas when I got my nose pierced 20 years ago. People would stare at me at the grocery store like I had grown a third nostril. My presentation to the world was immediately changed. Tons of people have nose rings now. No one notices mine anymore. I’ve lived both sides of nose ring stigma. But a nose ring can be removed at any time. It’s not the same sort of commitment.

Tattoos have been around for as long as we’ve had written history. I don’t know exactly when tattoos changed from being reserved for prisoners, sailors, and bikers to becoming mainstream. I intend to learn more about that, though, as it seems fascinating.

A few people (mostly my mom) have mentioned to me that my tattoos will look terrible when I get old. I remind those people that my skin will sag regardless of the markings. And tattooed baby boomers are the reason I have absolutely no concern about how my tattoos will look in 20 years.

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I can’t grow a beard, but you get my point.

When I see you tattooed folks who are older than me, I instantly feel that you have a lot of stories to tell. I know that you probably endured scorn when you first started inking up, especially if you are female. I don’t have to know you to know that I respect you on some level. I don’t have to know you to know that your now-faded tattoos changed the way you were perceived by society. And the respect comes from knowing that you did it anyway.

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This is my badass friend Jeanne. She got her first tattoo in 1971. She’s about 60% covered now.

The tattoos that are time-worn tell me that you cared more about following your bliss than how others perceived you. Those are the tattoos that allow us to display ink today without real persecution. Sure, some people will tell us they don’t like our tattoos, even though we probably didn’t ask their opinion. And if we get covered in tattoos, we will most likely still be judged by a portion of society. Sleeves might limit our job choices, but nothing like they would have 40 years ago. And if we are discriminated against for our ink, it won’t be blatant and supported by the majority. Tattoos may be somewhat fringe, but they are no longer subversive.

Sometimes we pay a price for self-expression and authenticity. But sometimes someone else already paid that price for us. Thank you for that, my tattooed heroes.

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