Halloween Costumes for You and Your Platonic Life Partner(s)

September is rapidly drawing to a close and I’m already gathering the ingredients to make my costume “very” because two of my BFFs and I are dressing up as the Heathers!! This is just to say that if you work hard, put your mind to it, and subtly suggest only pop-culture themed costumes to your best friends for several years running, you too can make your dreams come true. And just in case you haven’t thought of anything for Halloween 2017, here are a few very special suggestions:

Liberty Bell & Zoya the Destroyer
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Who knew the 80’s would feel so relevant right now? Russia. Thick Eyebrows. Proving your nation’s superiority in an all out battle in the wrestling ring!

How to do it on the cheap: Leotards, hairspray, bobby pins. If you’re doing it right, you’ll probably spend most of your money on hairspray.

Laura Palmer & Maddy Fergusonlaura-maddy

Is this the right time to admit that I couldn’t get into new Twin Peaks? Like so not into it that I can’t remember if I made it through the second episode and I definitely canceled my Showtime free trial before it was even over. But I love OG Twin Peaks and this costume idea. This costume is for you and your doppelganger/twin spirit/look alike cousin or just about anyone you want rockin’ back inside your heart.

How to do it on the cheap: You already have brown/blonde hair and your friend has the opposite. It’s 2017 and big glasses are back, so one of you already has some. ONE OF YOU HAS TO GET BANGS. The other has to cut them like you’re in a college kid in your dormroom and you’re sure you can give haircuts like a professional.

The Little Mermaid & Flounder
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If you are half-fish and your BFF is all-fish, then this costume is for you. If you feel like it’s the Mermaid Day Parade everyday, make this part of your world.

How to do it on the cheap: If you’re a mermaid and you don’t already know how to make this happen, then I suggest to you pick a different costume. Flounder should wear a blue tulle skirt, a yellow top, yellow tights, and make some stripes happen with painters tape.

All of the Murder Victims from Clue

So maybe you’ve got a lot of besties? If you’ve got a big crowd of people you platonically love and you want to go as a cohort, think of this as a macabre version of The Village People.

How to do it on the cheap: You should go all out on this one. Get real costumes. No one wants to see a singing telegram phoning it in.

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Pretty in Pink is All About Harry Dean Stanton and Jon Cryer

Pretty in Pink, a classic tale: Boy meets Girl. Boy is rich. Girl is poor. Girl’s BFF is an eccentric guy who is madly in love with her. Girl picks pretty rich Boy. Boy ditches her for shallow reasons. Girl makes ugly dress. Girl goes to prom alone only to be rescued by consolation prize BFF. Girl ends up with pretty rich Boy in the end anyway because everyone loves Andrew McCarthy.

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Of course, thirty plus years of re-watching this movie has led to a general consensus amongst viewers that Andy should have picked her BFF Duckie. One day that pretty smile of Blane’s will fade or he’ll try to use it to weasel out of some dumb crap like flirting with the pretty woman next door while Andy tries to hustle their brood of children into their suburban mansion, juggling the groceries alone.

And she’ll look back on her largely lust-driven, desperate need for validation from the cool guy and wonder why she didn’t notice that their relationship was rife with communication issues from the start–or why she didn’t care that his friends were all colossal jerks that she now has to make nice with at the country club. After all, what was his big gesture of romance after spinelessly shunning her after James Spader shamed him for “slumming it”? He shows up to prom alone and claims he “always believed in her”?? Barf. But you’ve heard that all before and I’m here to talk about Pretty in Pink‘s sub-plot.

That being, of course, that Andy’s mom ditched the family three years prior to the start of the film and her father is utterly blown apart, barely functional, for most of the film because of it. I first saw this movie at eleven and I thought he was an alcoholic because that was most of the dysfunction I had seen in my own extended family. I didn’t know what grief and depression looked like. I didn’t understand what it feels like when someone you love deeply abandons you out of nowhere. I certainly didn’t realize how short three years could be and, for Andy as all of us, the difference between thirteen and sixteen must have felt like a lifetime.

But her father, it isn’t. He wakes up every day in the same house he lived in with his happy thirteen year-old child and his seemingly happy wife. He wakes up alone, haunted by his memories of the past and the memories of his aspirations for what his family could have been. It must feel like someone has died. It must feel much worse than if someone had died. And yet, he is still deeply in love with his wife.

I re-watched a scene between Andy’s father and Duckie as soon as I heard of Harry Dean Stanton’s passing. He’s a terrific actor. He’s shown off his chops in much better movies than this. I find Pretty in Pink to be a pretty weak entry into the John Hughes cannon (go ahead, fight me in the comments if you will), but it’s Harry Dean Stanton who offers the one sage piece of advice in a script full of melodrama unsuitable for the subject matter.

In this scene, Duckie (Jon Cryer) meets with Andy’s father (Harry Dean Stanton) to reassure him that he is serious about Andy’s welfare and cares deeply about her wellbeing. Of course, he doesn’t need to offer his assurances because he and Andy aren’t dating. And let’s be honest, this whole exchange shows that Duckie has some pretty poor boundaries, so maybe Andy should just wait until college to get serious about anyone. But Duckie’s feelings are genuine and her father–no stranger to unrequited love–offers him some advice.

In my opinion, Duckie is the real winner of Pretty in Pink. I guess we’re supposed to think that he’s such a “good friend” that he wanted Andy to be happy with Blane and that’s why he’s such a good sport at the prom. But I hope it’s more that he learned how to be a good friend to himself.

John Hughes’s original ending would have subverted this exchange between Duckie and Andy’s dad. If he had his way, Duckie would have ended up with Andy, but ultimately this didn’t test well (see above re: Andrew McCarthy’s smile). And that makes this subtly poignant scene with Harry Dean Stanton feel all the more relevant to the overall plot of the film. I’m not worried about Duckie ending up sad and alone in his middle age like Andy’s father. I feel like he’s going to bounce back from pretty much whatever life throws at him and he’s going to do it while wearing a bolero tie.

Hey, Remember My Golden Girls Board Game?

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It’s no secret that I love both television and board games. I even had a little fun with a Golden Girls Cheesecake game back when I was bored at work on a Friday afternoon after 99% of the office went home and I had to stay just in case someone called or something. I called it “Catch that Cheesecake” and it was basically a rip-off of Clue.

Here’s the idea I sketched out with pencils I found in my desk drawer. (Thanks former desk occupant. Those pencils were dope and I took them with me when I left.)

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Alas, someone with corporate backing and actual licensing rights to Clue, seems to have made a much better version of this. You can purchase it here.

The game pieces are freaking adorable by the way. Check out the “weapons”:

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And I would literally fight anyone who dared not let me play as Stan with the fake-monkey-Dorothy-surrogate.

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And the board game is literally just the house, which definitely seems more logical and Clue-esque than my idea of like having the kitchen and the lanai and then other random locations. But those “?” mark spaces…anyone know what those are?? Are they like my idea of having “gold” spaces with action cards? The list of items on the official page say that they include “distraction” cards, which sounds kind of like my idea for the “golden ticket” cards that would sabotage game play. So…listen, if I’ve got my finger on the pulse of pop culture board games, please reach out to me and hire me at your board game store (that’s what they’re called, right?) thanks!!

Dating: Does Anyone Really Like This?

“I can’t wait until you start dating again. It will be fun.”–by BFF after I broke up with my ex.

Fun.

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Here are things other than the word “fun” that I would use to describe dating:
-Weird
-Confusing
-The most awkward thing I’ve done since I had to kiss my long-time crush in our high school musical while simultaneously pretending that it was not my first kiss and that I was in fact an expert kisser and oh my God I got red lipstick right below his bottom lip, should I wipe it off or no????

Also, I’m in this situation where my last relationship lasted for over five years and I literally never want to mention that for the following two reasons:
1. Dudes will assume I want a relationship when I just want to hang out.
2. I will have mentioned an ex which I think is literally the worst thing ever because if you’re talking about your ex, then I don’t want you talking to me. (My rule of thumb for this has always been and always will be: “If your ex went horseback riding through Utah with Frank Zappa, then obviously I want to hear about it. If your ex styled her hair similarly to me, please don’t point that out.”)

But here’s the thing. The dating landscape has changed a lot since the last time I was single. Here are some things that didn’t exist the last time I dated new people and now are things I am quietly learning about:
-Dating apps*
-The term “ghosting;” “back burner;” “fuckboy”**
Treatment resistant gonorrhea***

And then there’s having to deal with actual humans on top of all of that!!

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but humans are THE WORST.

And just when I thought I could take no more, I did the only thing I could do. I asked Tina Turner for help. But first, a little context:

Several years ago, when I was first dating Turd Ferguson (you guys remember Turd, right?) my godbrother asked me about him.

The conversation went as follows:
GB: Is he good to you?
Me: Yeah
GB: I’m not asking if he’s a good guy. I’m asking is he good to you? Do you understand the difference?
Me: (pause) Yeah, yes. I do. He’s a good guy and he’s good to me.

Pause. I appeared to be introspective. I wasn’t. I was hesitating. There were red flags I couldn’t define even then and I shrugged off that kernel of doubt. But you should never hesitate when someone you love asks, or better yet–you ask yourself, this question.

There are plenty of good people in this world. There are plenty of awful people in this world. The difference between the two types of people, in practice, is surprisingly oblique. So regardless of whether you’re just hanging out, just friends, or in a partnership with someone, you’d better be good to each other. You better make sure you’re giving your time to someone who is treating you right. No excuses.

In all seriousness, I first heard this song on an episode of Miami Vice. Admittedly, you can lose the significance of the lyrics if you’re sucked into the visuals of Gina and Trudy on shopping spree for hooker outfits, which is a thing that I am 100% sure all undercover cops actually do.

But this song is PREACH, Tina, PREACH. I’ve listened to it before and used it in the exact opposite way that it’s intended. I’ve been like “Yeah, you better be good to me!” and then felt emboldened to go right back into whatever crap situation I was in with a false sense of empowerment. But these days, I’m trying to actually practice what Tina preaches. Do you understand the difference?

P.S. In case you’re wondering, now that I’ve turned this into an occasional dating confessional that I very loosely tie to pop culture, no I do not mention this blog to potential suitors. I only mention it in job interviews.

It’s important to do this because I want to makes sure that all of my coworkers are weird as hell. It’s how I landed my current job! #NEVERGIVEUPONYOURDREAMS

*Incidentally, I haven’t used these yet and have instead decided that I would prefer to talk to random strangers IRL because I am an ENFJ dammit!
**I am still not sure what the term fuckboy means, so please leave your best definition in the comments.
***Please don’t panic. Click the link. Also, I recently used “no glove, no love” in all seriousness because I am a child of the 90’s and that was the first thing that came to mind. It worked and I actually looked like I was being humorous.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism: Another Book I’m Sad I Didn’t Write

This cover called to me from the drab piles of “new release” paperbacks at my local Barnes & Noble. “I’m not like the others,” it said. “I’m everything you’ve ever wanted in a creepy beach read,” it cooed as I ran my fingers over it’s soft-matte cover. It looks like a freaking VHS rental tape and I SOOOOO wanted it. IMG_1004

People sell books like this in major retailers?? Maybe I’ve missed my calling!! But ultimately, I put it down because I got worried that the scary parts would be less Stranger Things and more the actual-movie-The Exorcist. But I don’t know. I’m still thinking about it, so maybe I’ll be bold and give it a read.

Hey Dude: Melody’s Brother (My White Whale, My Broken Teenage Heart)

Very Special Readers, I am very excited to share with you “Melody’s Brother,” a.k.a. my white whale of Very Special Episodes. This is a “lost episode” of Hey Dude, and I have been looking for it for YEARS. (Hey, this blog just had it’s 3rd birthday. The VSB isn’t a toddler anymore. Aw, it’s growing up so fast.)

01-07-brownHey Dude is a show about a bunch of teenagers working on a dude ranch. I was really into it as a small child, but I think this was mostly due to the fact that there was a girl named “Brad” on the show and I thought that “Brad” was a cool name for a girl. Incidentally, Brad was the name of my first boyfriend. I don’t think the two facts are related since I was mostly into him because he was into Nirvana and had blond hair.

Sadly, things ended badly with Brad. He brought another girl on a date to a football game at my high school (which he did not attend) mere days after he crushed my little fourteen year old heart while Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” played in the background. (To add insult to injury, I had only slightly earlier in the day determined that this would be “our song.”) But it’s funny how life goes because now I look back on this fondly as one of my better break ups. (For the record, Brad apologized to me a year later, so we’re good. I’m not here to drag some dude through the mud for youthful transgressions over a decade later. OVER A DECADE. And the VSB is 3 years old. OH NO, I AM AGING.)

Alright, alright, I promised you a very special episode.

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Would you let that kid in the middle fix your toilet?

Melody’s brother comes for a visit and tells her he’s going to propose to his girlfriend. She refuses to be a bridesmaid, which is pretty rude, and invites him to go canoeing. He’s like NOPE I AM GOING TO CHILL WITH MY FRAT BROS. (Rude family.) He presumed that she would be working, and she says, “No, I switched with Brad.” (Brad being the girl character on the show and not my ex-boyfriend.)

On his way into town, Melody’s bro invites some of her coworkers into town to a bar that WILL NOT CHECK ID. But they’re good ranch hands, so they say no. Listen, The VSB would NEVER condone underage drinking, but as someone who is a few years past the legal drinking age, I must say that I will never again be able to drink like I could drink when I was 20. Would that I could, Hey Dude, would that I could.

dude12Danny (played by the “missing” Joe Torres but this guy on Facebook says he’s Joe and not to worry), says that he doesn’t want to go because a friend of the family had a drinking problem. Melody’s brother says, “there’s a big difference between having a few beers with your friends and having a problem.” He’s right, but obviously this is the Chekov’s gun of this episode.

He leaves the room and the ranch hands comment on his stank alcohol breath. (Oh, yep. Here we go.)

Danny, says that the friend of the family betrayed all of them by becoming “another Indian with a drinking problem.” Therefore, Danny can never drink even if he wants to lest he become a stereotype. Shit, things got culturally heavy here.

Later in the afternoon, Billy dry heaves by the cabins. He doesn’t want to join Melody for dinner. His jeans are ripped and he has an injury that he can’t explain. He says he only had two beers. (LIES!)

12-38-melody-delightedThe overzealous ranch hands see Melody talking to her brother and they’re like oh hey, your brother is drunk. And she gets all defensive and says he’s just tired. Meanwhile, it’s dinner time and everyone wants to tell Melody her brother has a problem in their judgey voices but no one wants to help this guy metabolize that booze by encouraging him to eat some bread or drink some water. Have we no plain pasta, people???

In a flagrant violation of child labor laws, the manager insists on opening up the room where Melody’s bro is “sleeping it off” so that a thirteen year old can presumably fix the plumbing. This obviously fails, so her brother has to move rooms. While they’re moving the luggage, a big old bottle of brandy falls out of his bag.

Melody is PISSED. Apparently, their dad is an alcoholic too. But her bro says he’s just having a hard time right now. You know that girl he wanted to marry? That girl broke up with him and is in love with someone else.

Okay, Rule #1. Don’t drink when you’re sad. 
Rule #2. Enjoy your fast metabolism while it lasts and STAY HYDRATED.
I’m dishing out very special lessons all over the place today, guys.

Melody’s bro promises to never drink again (but don’t count on it because this episode still has several minutes left.) He leaves the ranch to go see a movie and…uh oh…this ends with the cops calling to say there has been an accident. He’s alive, but he has a DUI. Melody decides to practice some tough love and not bail her brother out of jail. Woah. Damn. This episode is rough.

37-73-melody-billy-2Her boss bails him out and big bro is mad as hell that Melody wasn’t there to support him. Melody is devastated and she says that she’s already been lying to everyone for him and is starting to resemble their mother covering for their father. (GUYS, THESE PEOPLE NEED THERAPY AND CRAP I’M SO GLAD I DIDN’T SEE THIS ON NICKELODEON AS A KID.)

She says, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe you don’t have a problem with your drinking. But I do.” Mic drop.

Turns out, he lied AGAIN. That girl from earlier (the one who he wanted to marry but she broke up with him because she was in love with somebody else), she wasn’t really in love with somebody else. She broke up with him because they argued all the time about his drinking. Damn, those overzealous ranch hands are perceptive. Be careful who you invite to hang out with you. They may just expose your deepest secrets in an instant.

Anyway, he has to fly home to their parents’ house since he no longer has a drivers license.

Very Special Lesson: Listen, there were some veritable truths dropped all over this post. I cannot even synthesize this post in a witty one liner because I have an overwhelming urge to listen to “Undone: The Sweater Song.”

GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Friends, lovers, countrymen (oh that’s not how that goes?), it has been a minute. I hope you’re all enjoying the beginning of summer. Here are some things I have been up to since we last spoke:

-I started dating again! Highlights include: a man who told me he lost all of his friends in his last relationship 45-minutes into our first and only date!

-I struggled through a hangover at my new job and was very successful at fooling everyone into thinking I was fine to “jump on that call” and didn’t feel like curling up in the fetal position under my desk. (Sadly, I don’t think I can add this to the “skills” section of my resume.) This was only the 2nd time I have ever been hungover at work: the first time being when I went out with a group a couple of years ago and elbowed the CEO in the eye on the dance floor! It’s okay. We’re on good terms. We still talk!

-I binge-watched all of the new Netflix series “Glow.” And that’s what brings me here today. I enjoyed every minute of this series, but I knew it would indelibly change the pop culture landscape of my mind when SPOILER ALERT: Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” was featured in the final match of the season. (Oh, that’s not something most people consider a spoiler? Well, excuse me for trying not to ruin the magic for those who are also big, big fans of The Legend of Billie Jean.)

Glow is a semi-biographical look at the 1980’s women’s wrestling show. (But I can say that having watched now the series AND the documentary–I am SERIOUSLY into Glow, guys–Netflix seems to have taken a lot of poetic license with this. The stars are Alison Brie and that woman who played the lady doctor in Nurse Jackie, but if you look at the image below, just over that dude’s shoulder…

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Yes, that woman biting her thumb is none other than the incomparable Kate Nash, songstress of my late teen years. Actually, I didn’t even recognize her, but I was singing “Pumpkin Soup” in the shower this morning, so is my subconscious that strong? Or maybe it’s the first bullet point on the list of things I’ve been up to?

Anyway, thanks to a former coworker (who may actually be my pop culture soul mate?) I have some really sweet videos from the real Glow to share with you.

If I had to give an elevator speech for Glow (the real series, not the Netflix series) I would say, “It’s kind of like The Warriors but if all of the gangs fought in a pink wrestling ring and also they did some MadTV-type sketches–oh and also some “rapping” in the style of Deborah Harry.” Go ahead, see for yourself:

Also, Jackie Stallone is legit Sylvester’s mom. HOW GREAT IS THIS? I cannot believe this beautiful, beautiful piece of camp existed and I didn’t even know about it. Did any of you watch this in the 80’s?? Please tell me all about it in the comments!