17. Blade

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/17-blade

54% Rotten Tomatoes

I don’t know HOW this movie only has 54% on rotten tomatoes. It’s inconceivable, but I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.

It’s safe to say that Blade was responsible for my sexual awakening. This was my first introduction to vampires. I knew of them, of course, but I had never read any vampire literature or seen any other vampires on TV, unless you count The Count from Sesame Street. One: ah, ah, ah. If I’m remembering my Nikki history correctly, yours was Lestat?

Let’s look at some of the different types of vampires out there. I’m going to summarize from an article in Wired.com called “The Wild Evolution of Vampires, from Bram Stoker to Dracula Untold” which deals mainly in film and television vampires, and I’m going to add a few of my own observations from modern literature. I ain’t touching video games with a ten foot pole – let’s just leave it at boobs and guns. I may have played around with some of the category names, but I’m essentially summing up Devon Maloney’s points:

The Original: Count Dracula (1897)

It’s not actually the original, but it’s definitely the most popular, and is the origination for how we think of vampires. The cold-blooded, paper-skinned creep Dracula first appeared in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula has been tied to a few different origins, but who cares at this point. Vlad Tepes has his own grisly mythology, even without vampirism in the picture. What Stoker’s original work gives is the core elements of vampire: creepiness, alluringness, eccentricness, sex stuff, and a vaguely threatening pall cast over the whole thing. Well, sometimes overtly threatening. The more I think about mid to late 19th century literature, the more parallels I see with our current times. Everyone was afraid of everything – outsiders, a changing moral code, advancements in science and technology, epidemic diseases, the crumbling class structure. GEE sounds familiar. Maybe that’s why vampires made such a resurgence in the last fifteen years.

The Lesbian Vampire: Carmilla

The actual original! Never heard of this one, but apparently in 1871, this was a “safe” way to explore homosexuality, since vampires aren’t real, and Stoker had already established them as immoral and wicked. The Wired article calls the tenor of the time “moral terror”, and if you’ve spent any time at all reading Victorian literature, you recognize this. Picture our current obsession with celebrity reality TV, now replace it with an obsession over evil, powerful creatures bent on influencing the innocent into a life of sin. I suspect this kind of anxiety had to do with the weakening power of institutionalized religion, but in the late 19th century, no one was even burning witches anymore! Science and medicine were burgeoning into respected and trusted fields, and were just starting to be seen as a source of truth about the world; a position previously held only by philosophy and religion. What’s surprising about Carmilla (apparently) is that it’s not a denunciation of homosexuality – Carmilla is bad, but the text doesn’t condemn the lesbian relationships.

The Classic Film Vampire: Bela Lugosi’s Dracula (1931)

This is notable for being the first horror movie and also for Bela Lugosi’s precedent setting portrayal of a vampire. This movie really freaked people out, and a few years later the movie industry started enforcing the Hays Code (basically the morality police for movies), and so the horror movie genre was watered down almost as soon as it was created. Luckily for us, by the 60’s the Hays Code had become unenforceable and was abandoned. Take that, people who force others to live by their own particular set of religious hang ups. Naturally, chaos ensued, and in the 70’s the rating system we’re familiar with was created, so that people could choose their level of explicit and debaucherous content. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Production_Code)

The Fancy Vampire: Christopher Lee’s Dracula (movies from 1958-1976)

“Hammer movies” was a term I heard often but never understood. If you are like me and had no idea what movie buffs were talking about but didn’t want to seem ignorant so kept your mouth shut, I am here to help you. http://www.hammerfilms.com/about-hammer/ Hammer Films is a movie studio founded in 1934 that chugged along, making all kinds of movies. WWII pretty much shut down operations, but post-war England (and America) saw an increase in prosperity and for the first time in a long while, people had pocket money and could indulge in entertainment. The movie industry blew up and Hammer thrived. In 1955 they released a movie called The Quartermass Xperiment, a horror movie about alien viruses or something. People lost their shit; they loved it, and so Hammer decided to really go for it in the horror genre. They spared no expense on gore, which pissed of the censors, but titillated audiences. Cornering the market on horror, they produced movie after movie featuring big theatrical baddies and full of gratuitous everything, and also sequels to their features, which all became their stamp on the genre. The golden age of Hammer was over by the 70’s when television became commonplace fixtures in homes. Moping around for a decade, Hammer finally figured out that television was also a thing they could do, and so they were back, baby, but as a TV house now, instead of a movie house. That changed again in 2010 with Let Me In, and they have resumed making horror films once more. We should consult a horror nut to see if they’re as good now as they were then. Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula represents this era of campy and overdone yet marvelously enjoyable horror.

The Teen Dreamboat Vampire: Dark Shadows (1966-1971; 2012)

Dark Shadows was a supernatural soap opera marketed to young people, and from what I can gather the first time vampires were shoved into the pants of pre-teen and teenage girls. As Wired points out, this is the Vietnam era, and a time of relentless political unrest, so this seems like a safe way to work out some anxieties about young people’s experiences with horrifying situations, made light. Armies are made up of young men (true at the time), and those young men knew other young people that stayed behind. Reading letters from soldiers and trying to understand what was happening to them was likely a difficult and emotionally taxing process, so you can see how it would be appealing to a young woman whose lover was suffering an affliction she couldn’t help him out of (being subjected to the horrors of war). She could easily relate to a governess stuck helping a family with a lot of big, unmanageable problems.

The Blaxploitation Vampire: Blacula (1972)

Oh, the 70’s! If you haven’t watched any Blaxploitation, you’re missing out. May I suggest Coffee, starring Pam Grier. I watched it in college in a film class, and I loved it. Speaking of Pam Grier, she was in the sequel to Blacula. Wired suggests that Blacula may be somewhat responsible for inspiring Blade, so we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. But seriously – Blacula, and Blaxploitation films in general, served to point out just how very white movies were. There were no other black vampires in the movies at the time. The vampire genre is still overwhelmingly white, but Blade did establish a solid cultural reference to a vampire of color.

The Genteel, Self-Loathing Vampire: Lestat (1976 (Interview with the Vampire: 1994))

As mentioned earlier, it seems that every time the world experiences a scary change, we also get a rise in supernatural or sci-fi media? I will assume these genres have a built-in helplessness against a big bad enemy of undue proportions. The big baddies in the 70’s was war, civil rights, and feminism. War is never bad for the establishment, but upsetting the balance of power by granting access to women and people of color is absolutely terrifying. Anne Rice, being a woman, contributed some new vampire attributes. They were more powerful, more charming, more able to fit in with society. Lestat and company were not relegated to a creepy cave mansion where they lured innocent victims to seduce/prey on them – they mingled with high society. They could fly, heal, and make do on animal blood when necessary. They didn’t have any of the ridiculous and arbitrary vampire weaknesses like garlic and crosses. In short, they were well-suited to survive and thrive. There were vampires coming out of the shadows and into your face, and maybe they weren’t sooooo terrible. Just like women and black people! Wired points out that Anne Rice’s vampire archetype is more heavily borrowed from in subsequent depictions than Stoker. This marks the beginning of the era of more glamorous vampires. It was only a matter of time before glitter was added. Side note – I think the Vampire Diaries fits into this category as well.

The Angsty Teen Vampire: The Lost Boys (1987)

The 1980’s was undoubtedly the era of John Hughes – teens were very much at the center of the film world. We were all obsessing about the plights of the almost-adults. The Lost Boys preyed on the fears of parents – what if we lose our children? To drugs, to gangs, to predators, to theatre school. Also, this gives the popular kids the malevolent nature that all misfits feel exuding from them. It also speaks to misfits because you have a group of teens living outside of polite society, as well as never having to reach adulthood and deal with grown up life (the title is a Peter Pan reference). It’s a movie for everyone, and helped bring the genre even closer to teens.

The Feminist Vampire Love Interest: Buffy (movie: 1992; show: 2007-2003)

WE GET A LADY HERO?? WHAT?? Oh wait, she falls in love with the bad guys. Siiiiiigh. Way to be a stereotype, Buffy. But it’s not all bad. Buffy is a competent, intelligent young woman who we can take seriously as a heroine. Rather than being an overconfident buffoon who gets in too deep and has to be rescued from her own stupidity, this woman has the skill and ability to carry out her duties. Even though she’s blonde and pretty! GASP! And Joss Whedon is great, so the writing and production were good enough to be taken seriously as well. Much like Blacula, Buffy gives us a female entry in the genre. While she’s not a vampire, she is a presence.

The Human Protector Vampire: Blade (1998-2004)

Blade is half-vampire, called dhampir. He is a Marvel character, and frankly should get more attention all the time. I think he’d work perfectly in the Defenders. Get that bratty privileged Iron First out of there and give us Blade.

So, the comparisons to Blacula are obvious – they’re both black. But Blade is a little more serious. Okay, a lot more serious. I don’t think he smiles throughout the entire movie. He has an incredibly well-constructed back story (I guess vampirism is a virus that crosses the placenta?), the full emotional gamut for his motivations and world view, and he has sophisticated weapons and chemical warfare gadgets.

Even though he’s a halfling, his vampire nature seems to define him more than his humanity, though it’s a struggle he’s been locked in his entire life. He deeply resents his vampire thirst, and has an unmitigated hatred other vampires, which granted, are uniformly evil. He’s cleansing the earth of evil in a subconscious attempt to save his mother. The self-hate coming off of Blade in waves is masterfully portrayed by Snipes – he’s not mopey or pitiful like some Cullens I know. He’s pissed, and channeling all that rage into a productive purpose. And wearing a badass trench while he does it.

The Sexy Progressive Vampire: True Blood (books and movies: 2001-2014)

This universe that Charlaine Harris has created, is pretty much an alternate universe where vampires/werewolves/witches/fairies/etc are a stand in for non-straight, non-WASP societies. The main threat of vampires, eating humans, has been removed by a synthetic blood substitute – essentially tofu for vamps, so now they can re-enter society and confront the prudes with all kinds of not subtle societal issues: vamp/human relationships stand in for bi-racial relationships. Using vampire blood as a way to get high stands in for the opioid addiction epidemic. The politics, my god the politics, stand in for the party politics we all have become so passionately in hate with. All this is set in the deep south, noted for it’s progressive and accepting attitude of a changing moral compass and upsetting of the status quo. So instead of just being a show about shredded vampires, it’s really a story about people treat other people, just with fangs and lots of white makeup.

Also, RIP Nelson Ellis, you magnificent man. You gave us Lafeyette beyond when the books killed him off because you made that character AHMAZING.

The Innocent, Self-Loathing Vampire: Twilight (2005-2012)

So, we’ve seen a lot of rebellion against social norms and mores in vampire culture, but Twilight turns that around. These are super beautiful vampire people, but our heroic Cullens are basically a sweater set and and Volvo in humanoid form. Ultra conservative, Edward refuses to have sex with Bella before they’re married, despite Bella’s insistent and repeated attempts to change his mind. Also, the family is very much patriarchal. Dr. Cullen created this family against their will, and then demands that they live according to his strict moral code, which is horrendously difficult as it goes against their nature. Nothing like being set up to constantly disappoint your parents.

BUT – Twilight did serve to introduce vampire lust to an even younger generation of girls. With PG content, it’s not exactly inappropriate, though it is problematic. Edward is essentially a possessive, controlling stalker. Bella is entirely too eager to give up everything about her life and let Edward completely consume her (both literally and figuratively). It’s quite a step down from Buffy, but being an adult woman with an already mature brain when I first read it, I still liked it. But as an adult, I understand the purpose that the fantasy of books serves. I can only hope that young girls know the difference between fiction and reality as far as relationship goals.

The Philosophical Vampire: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013-2014)

This one I have never seen, but from what Wired told me, we are to be sympathetic to the vampires in this. The story is told from the point of view of a vampire couple, always on the run from the humans out to get them and also removing themselves from the temptation of eating them. It’s an interesting idea, and speaks to how long the vampire genre has been around that we’re now feeling bad for the poor, misunderstood monsters.

The Warrior Vampire: Dracula Untold (2013-2014)

This is supposed to be the origin story for Dracula, and by extension vampires in general. And again, we were supposed to be sympathetic to the vampire, and to empathize with him. This movie sucked, and not even Wired has that much to say about it.

Those are the categories of vampires that Devon from Wired identified. Ima add some here:

The Ancient Religion-Affiliated Vampire: Dark Hunters

This is a series of books written by the prolific Sherrilyn Kenyon. They feature an army of immortal revenge-seekers, turned so by the goddess Artemis to fight Daimons, a race of demon-type guys who eat the souls of humans so they don’t expire and die. While dark hunters don’t need to drink blood to survive, they can if they want to, though they would be outcast if they did so. They share most other vampire traits – the sun is deadly to them, though it’s because of Artemis’s feud with the sun god Apollo; they’re pale, and they have super strength and sexiness, gifts bestowed on them by Artemis so they can get the job done.

Most vampires are turned by a bite or some other fluid exchange. The selection process is a little different for dark hunters. If you suffer a terrible betrayal and then die because of it, Artemis will come to you at the moment of your death and ask you if you want to stick it to those that did you wrong. If you agree, her price is your soul and your freedom; you’ll be in her service until such time as you die (for real this time), or you negotiate for your soul back after a few hundred or thousand years of service, which is a difficult and risky prospect not offered to many. If you say yes, you have 24 hours to maim some mother fuckers before you officially report for Dark Hunter duty.

The I’ve Accepted My Fate and Am Cool With It Vampire: The Mortal Instruments

Cassandra Clare has a couple of loosely-connected series set in her delightful universe. She’s got quite a cast of characters; there are nephilim, demons (of ALL shapes, sizes, and substances), warlocks, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, selkies, faries, and on and on. What I like most about her series was the emphasis on individuality. Each type of being has their own community and culture, but they’re as individual as any human. Being a vampire doesn’t make you bad, just as being a nephilim doesn’t make you good. There is a lot of bigotry; those on both sides that would rather an entire species (or all but their own) be wiped from existence than have to continue tolerating them. The vampires in the story have a complicated hierarchy of leadership, but otherwise are no different from humans except for the fangs and the blood and the sun avoidance. It’s aimed at young adults, but Clare’s writing is incredibly thoughtful. Even within the different groups there are characters struggling with LGBT issues, childhood abuse, drug addiction. She doesn’t shy away from anything, and treats all of her subject matter with respect while still being funny and an excellent story teller.

The Detective Vampire: Samantha Moon

Written by J.R. Rain, the Samantha Moon novels are about a former federal agent who was attacked and turned into a vampire. Her marriage crumbles, she nearly loses her children, she struggles to figure out how to manage to still be a parent while coping with the lifestyle changes now necessary. She lives in terror that she’ll someday harm her children. No longer being able to go out during the day, she becomes a private detective so that she can set her own hours. Her psychic abilities and strength definitely come in handy while she’s solving cases.

Rain’s story is different because this woman is a mother, and instead of going off and starting a new life full of drama and adventure, she is firmly tethered to domestic life. This creates a lot of opportunities to reflect on what life would be like if you WERE turned into a vampire since it’s somewhat more realistic.

Vampire literature provides a lot of variations on the theme, but the most common traits that show up in an individual afflicted are: a very strong thirst for blood and harm (of some sort) from the sun. Other traits which vary by author: garlic allergy, no access without RSVP, harm from crosses, holy water, sacred ground, fangs, shape-shifting, super strength, mind control, psychic abilities, healing abilities, coffins?, grave dirt from their homeland… am I missing any?

The blood thing I totally get – these are dark magic creatures, technically dead, and so you can make the logical leap that blood sustains their life force. And by logical leap, I mean within the confines of the supernatural horror genre. But the sun – I don’t get it. I get why Superman has a strong reaction to our yellow sun (which actually isn’t yellow, btw); he’s an alien and his genetic makeup is different. I guess with vampires, it’s to emphasize the “creature of the dark” aspect of vampires and give a physical framework to the social and emotional alienation they experience. And it gives them an excuse to be super creepy. Also, sexy stuff happens in the dark, so I think for writers, everyone wins.

Consent, or Why Being Turned Into a Vampire is Often Rapey

Occasionally we will see people who beg to be turned into vampires. Based on some of the later depictions, it actually sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you don’t mind avoiding the sun and slurping pig blood. There are times I have thought those are perfectly reasonable sacrifices to make in order to gain strength, beauty and healing. Plus all vampires seem witty, if they’re not mopey. But the vast majority of vampire shows and books and movies are people who are desperate NOT to be turned into a blood-thirsty ghoul. Similarly, most depictions of vampires turning a human are of women. Now, we know that men are turned vampire, because… well because there are male vampires. But we choose to depict stories of women being forced to submit to the big strong man with the teeth. Or we see a woman desperate for Mr. Teeth to turn them into a vampire. The act of biting is often a metaphor for sex – seemingly the forbidden kind. “Oh nooooo, society doesn’t want us to be together, this is so hot!” or “That girl left her house after dark, of course she was abducted and bitten.”

Ah, life.

Favorite Quote: “There are worse things out tonight than vampires.” – Eric “Blade” Brooks

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

16. Stranger Things 1.1 – The Vanishing of Will Byers

(The Stranger Things series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/stranger-things-11-the-vanishing-of-will-byers

Episode 1.1 “The Vanishing of Will Byers” – original air date July 15, 2016

Nikki and Sher launch another sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Stranger Things, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Nikki and Sher talk 80’s nostalgia, the lovely heft of old technology, and .

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.” – Chief Hopper

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

14. Outlander 1.4 – The Gathering

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/14-outlander-14-the-gathering

Episode 1.5 “Rent” – original air date August 30, 2014
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Nikki and Sher look up Angus’s kilt, talk about camping, wax nostalgic about their horsey days, invoke Chris Hardwick’s hypothesis of age divination, discuss advanced modern feminism (and its paradoxes, re: bloody men) and accidentally thought-stalk an unwitting man.

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS, both for the television series and for the books. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “The highlands are no place for a woman to be alone.” – Geillis Duncan

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

13. Outlander 1.3 – The Way Out

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/13-outlander-13-the-way-out

Episode 1.3 “The Way Out” – original air date August 23, 2014
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Nikki and Sher bring you commentary on “The Way Out.” We talk about the absurdity (or not) of Claire’s immense borrowed wardrobe, the intricacies of horse grooming, and Geillis’s weird clothes, among many diversions and much laughter.

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS, both for the television series and for the books. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “Why are you two drunkards still takin’ up space in my kitchen? If you’re not workin’ here, be gone wi’ ye!” – Mrs. Fitzgibbons

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

11. Outlander 1.2 – Castle Leoch

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/11-outlander-12-castle-leoch

Episode 1.2 “Castle Leoch” – original air date August 16, 2014
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Nikki and Sher are super jealous of the gorgeous view in “Castle Leoch” (both topographical and manly), talk about bear attacks, get incredibly hungry, and discuss a few of the quirks of smaller characters.

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS, both for the television series and for the books. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “Just try not to get flogged or stabbed today.” – Claire Randall

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

15. Outlander 1.5 – Rent

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/15-outlander-15-rent

Episode 1.5 “Rent” – original air date September 6, 2014
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Nikki and Sher discuss the ways in which knowing the future SUCKS, how sisterhood was such an important commodity in the 18th century, and how hard work really makes your day.

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS, both for the television series and for the books. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “I’ve never heard a woman make a joke!” – Rupert MacKenzie

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Travel While Angry, Or Why Eminem is Your Ideal Traveling Companion

By Sher

There are times in your life when you plan as much as can. Yes, I know, never count on a plan coming together. But I’m not talking about getting rained out of a picnic or having a packet of red dye find its way into the washer and explode all over your bright white yachting clothes mere hours before before you’re supposed to meet Chad for an afternoon of cutting insults masked as flirtation and judging the peasants who have to rent their yachts instead of using Daddy’s (the horror of middle class!). For those situations, you will have to find your advice elsewhere. I’m talking about travel plans hijacked by fate and circumstance. It should never be a surprise; it’s always a possibility. But nevertheless, when it happens, it creates a tornado of black rage in one’s heart.

Consider: You arrive early at your gate and smugly drink your expensive jarred Starbucks frappuccino that you’re only pretending to like (we all know Starbucks tastes like burnt bile, and yet we all keep drinking it; that’s the power of marketing for you) while watching the wretched souls run through the airport as though the hounds of hell are after their firstborns. This is a fun past time especially if you’re already bitter about other aspects of your trip having been ruined ahead of time (no need to go into details). The heart is a great container for ire and contempt, but it tends to leak out in ugly ways.

Assured in your competence as a professional traveler, you board your plane and congratulate yourself on having an entire row to yourself and settle in to read in peace. After an uneventful flight, you mosey to a departure/arrival information board to locate the gate for your next flight, anticipating a leisurely meal and adult beverage, only to find that your connection has been canceled. Not delayed, but canceled. This can’t be, you think to yourself. I planned.


The ire that has been bubbling industriously away in your heart begins to darken even more. You find customer service and sigh inwardly at the huge line, realizing that your prospects for being rebooked are dwindling with each person in front of you. But remember – you are a professional traveler. You know how this works. You call the airline while in you’re in line, thereby increasing your chances. The friendly ticket agent apologizes profusely (you care not) and rebooks you on a flight. In twelve hours. The heart of ire turns to solid ice, unable to maintain the heat that has so far been rising. Twelve hours, you say. Very good. Thank you very much. You manage to leave the line without a primal scream and promptly find the nearest alcohol vendor. Thus installed, you mope and contact your sibling, apologizing for now making him pick you up in the middle of night, well after you should already have begun shenanigans befitting two perpetual adolescents.

Now you’re caught up with the proper state of mind. We can commence with the coping mechanisms.

Coping Strategy #1: Find the Angriest Music on the Planet


There are many, many ways to execute this. It doesn’t have to be a typically angry genre. You can listen to Carrie Underwood smashing up cars with a baseball bat. You can listen to Twisted Sister assert that they will no longer be taking it (the “it” is usefully vague – you can fill in the specifics with your own situation).

There are your angry standards – heavy metal is always a good choice. Slayer is adequate. You have to be careful with anything from the 90’s however; you may just end up angsty instead of angry (Nine Inch Nails is especially to be treated with caution). Punk can be a great option, though they veer toward contempt of institutionalized culture and politics. There’s the hard-to-pin-down rock/rap/funk, like Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys. Hard to go wrong there.

My go-to angry artist is Eminem. He may be the angriest man on the planet. While problematic (more on that later), he may be the only artist able to scare the fury in my heart into retreat. Because rest assured, no matter angry you are, Mr. Mathers is most definitely angrier. Just look at that mean mug! It’s so impressive!


You know what the sin-eater is, right? No? Allow me to explain. In western Europe, a sin-eater was a person employed in the old-timey days to come to funerals or wakes and assure the deceased could ascend into heaven with a clean slate. This was executed by laying bread and salt around the body. The sin-eater would come and eat the bread and salt, thereby absorbing the sins of the dead person through some kind of metaphysical alchemy so common in religious ceremonies (no word on the prevalence of high blood pressure in sin-eaters).


Sin-eaters’ reward for guaranteeing the eternal salvation of loved ones was that they were not paid well, and they generally skeeved everyone out, so you can imagine that theirs was a lonely, spartan life. You can read all about them in this great article.

Eminem, Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers, whatever you want to call him, is my anger-eater. Instead of coming to my funeral (although that would be badass) and eating stale bread, he comes to my darkest of hearts through the magical alchemy of internet and earbuds (it is nothing less than magic – fight me) and gnaws on the chunks of hatred thrown up from the volcano under my beating breast. After a few hours, my boiling heart has submitted in deference to a true master. I’m still plenty angry, mind you, but I’ve essentially just forced myself to confront the fact that whatever I’m pissed about could be exponentially worse, and that I don’t make such bad life decisions after all. Note – if you actually do make terrible life choices, don’t feel better about it. Get your shit together.

More on Em in Coping Strategy #3.

Coping Strategy #2: Amuse Thyself

On your incredibly long layover, you must find ways to amuse yourself, while at the same time avoiding the notice of TSA agents. Here you should use your judgement. Some options:

  • Create elaborate and sordid backstories for fellow airport residents. That man over there, sleeping on his suitcase? He’s been ousted by his wife who discovered he had a fetish for bloodthirsty clowns and has been frequenting the Dark Circus. That lady with a squalling baby? Her husband is an astronaut who left for space long before she became pregnant. Now he’s coming home, and she’s taken the coward’s way out and left the house with just a note on the kitchen counter saying “need milk, be home soon”. The family of four with harried parents? The kids are actually x-men recruits headed to Hogwarts. Yes, you will eventually become so tired that you’ll cross your universes.
  • Relive that Tom Hanks classic, “The Terminal”, to the best of your ability (remember – you are avoiding the TSA). Use funny accents at all times, changing them frequently. Strike up conversations with strangers that begin, “In my homeland of Segborkia…” Fall madly in love with an airport employee. The sky’s the limit (pun intended).


  • Engage all of your social media friends by chronicling your airport adventures. This lets them know you’re miserable, which is a nice feeling. Just make sure they’re all thinking about you the whole time. It will keep you going. I have provided an example of my own effort at this strategy here. You can see my mental faculties (and hair) deteriorate hourly. Yes, I know I’m bad at Instagram. The captions are the important bit.














  • Drink. This is to be taken with a few qualifiers. Public inebriation looks good on no one, and also may attract TSA attention so you have to make sure to pace yourself. Also, if you get righteously drunk, you may fall asleep somewhere and miss your flight. In which case you have to start this whole process over. This is not a desirable outcome. Take caution. 
  • Locate and lure the animals. There are a surprising number of dogs in any given airport. You should stay away from the working dogs, as they are usually attached to TSA agents by a not-so-long leash. However, you may find a lot of passengers toting dogs or service animals. If their human seems approachable, take the opportunity to ask for some doggy petting. It can do wonders for your spirits. Be warned, however: travelers in general are crankier than the general population. You may be soundly rejected. If this happens, it’s important to remain calm. Dogs can smell embarrassment and will not react favorably. Just ask One-Eyed Dan, one of my “The Terminal” alter-egos. 
  • Go shopping. I don’t mean buy some fancy chocolate or local football team gear. I mean try your best to skeeve out the airport cashiers with your selections. These people see everything, so this one is not for beginners. You might try placing hair bands, hemorrhoid cream, and dental floss on the counter, all while squirming and grimacing during the checkout process. Keep them guessing. Are you going to try to tie off a hemorrhoid in the bathroom? Who knows! It would be impolite to ask. This takes a special level of concentration, so you want to do this late enough into your layover that you’re slap-happy, but not so late that you’ve lost the will to live.

Coping Strategy #3: Lose Yourself in Needlessly Deep Thought

This one is a natural consequence of being left alone for too long. You will likely not have to put much effort in here. What follows is a 1,000% exact transcript of my stream of consciousness thoughts as a conversation with myself around the midway point of my twelve hour layover.

Now – as I said earlier, Eminem is problematic. This is true. You will hear a lot about faggots and hoes. If you are of the female persuasion, as I am, this may be a confusing experience. (I can’t speak to the homosexual reaction since I am not one, but I feel what I have to say may apply adjacently to you as well.) You will feel as though you’re not supposed to be enjoying this as much as you are. You will soothe yourself by knowing that you are not the type of woman that Em wants to take a machine gun to. You have an idea that what you’re hearing is a one-sided conversation with Mr. Shady’s unresolved feelings after a particularly bad romantic experience. Maybe, you think, he’s just brave enough to say out loud what we all think after being wronged by a lover. Who among us has not wished a slow, painful death on someone for whom we once cared? Not I, you say? LIAR. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR.

But I’m a FEMINIST, you cry, horrified at yourself when you nod along to a lyric like “I’m back on my fuck ho’s / But a whole new hatred for blondes, but bias? / I hate all bitches the same, baby come on.” The mental calculus required at this point to be okay with what you’re hearing is challenging to say the least.


Feminist you may be, but understand that here you have a heterosexual male artist infamous for giving zero fucks, and for him the most hurt he’s going to receive will be from women. Thus they will receive the most shade.

Which brings me to my Philosophy on Rap Guys’ Girlfriends. No props for the solid Sir Mix-A-Lot reference? Rude, Becky. Moving on, slightly miffed. The thing about fame is that the more famous you become, the fewer regular people you interact with. Those you do interact with tend to be screaming at you or shoving a phone in your face to take a picture you did not consent to. Doesn’t sound pleasant, although the pay is good. Therein lies the paradox of fame. Can you blame the famous for tending to stick together, or with “pre-vetted” humans that have somehow managed to infiltrate their circles? If you go to a party thrown by another famous person (I can only assume here…), the people there are probably safe to be around as regards their lack of propensity to charge you like a defensive lineman protecting their quarterback (which in this metaphor is their long-held fantasy of becoming your paramour – “if <famous person> could just meet me, they would see that we are soulmates”). This is not an apology for celebrities who complain about being mobbed by fans; see above, they are paid well for it. I’m just asking you to put yourself in their shoes to understand the rest of this philosophy. Although it’s probably a hypothesis. I’m leaning towards philosophy simply because I have no way of ever testing this. The  point here is that famous people will stick to meeting and knowing people that go to other famous people’s parties.

On to personalities. Have you ever seen a rap guy’s music video? You would have had to search one out since MTV became a misnomer. They are filled with buxom women – curvy in the right places and skinny in the rest of the places. They have large, beautiful eyes rimmed by eyelashes stolen from giraffes. Their hair is either entirely fake, or augmented with color, textures, streaks which can be either highlights or lowlights (wtf is the difference), and is generally engineered for maximum attractiveness with ingredients harvested from asteroids. The face has been sculpted, either with a scalpel or a makeup brush, so that any pores, pimples, defect in bone structure, or stray beard hair would not hold up in a court of law under the closest scrutiny. Their clothes are revealing and flattering, though uniformly uncomfortable looking (those shoes cause bunions, ladies; enjoy it now until your feet become a Minecraft task). Any skin on display has been attended to so that is the right color and texture. No stretch marks or unsightly lumps anywhere.

This is the Cult of Desirable Objects the rap guy lives in – he seeks to have that which is coveted. The above described, we are led to believe, is the woman-person that is desirable. This woman-person however, does not exist in nature very often, if at all. Any woman-person wanting to be like this is probably going to spend more time on her appearance than on building her personality and life experiences. Again – this is a generalization. Many beautiful women are probably also really great people. But I would bet that number gets lower the harder they have to work at it.

This is a great time to point out that you can pretty much swap out genres and genders and sexual orientations here as much as you’d like. We all want to be surrounded by beautiful robot wo/men. Proof? Here’s a still from a Nicki Minaj video. Look at all the glorious flesh, and Nicki herself at the helm! (Yes, another Sir Mix-A-Lot reference. You’re welcome.)


Now, I have no idea where these women come from or where they go when they’re not at parties or in music videos. I assume they are created on an assembly line and stored in a warehouse, to which they return periodically to charge their battery pods. It’s the only logical conclusion – I have never seen someone who looks like that out walking around in the world.

So, if you’re a rap guy and you want to have a party, what type of women would you stock it with? Janet from Poughkeepsie who works at a Rite-Aid stocking toothbrushes overnight to keep her family in Hamburger Helper, or Purrdita; an exotic blend of all the right ethnicities and master of all the female maintenance techniques mentioned above and who has stepped off the Acceptable Woman assembly line (no shade to Purrdita – you may be a perfectly nice human). Janet’s busy anyway. Feeding her kids is very important to her, and she doesn’t have anything prostitute-casual to wear regardless.

We have so far established that Purrdita is a very nice lady with no ulterior motives. BUT – imagine the hordes of other women who have been conditioned by these music videos and culture in general, those in which the rap guys are throwing cash around (and I mean that literally; who does that?? Does anyone actually do that??) and treating their entourages to only the finest life has to offer. These women look in the mirror and see that they are beautiful and shapely and skinny (try pulling that off) and think “yes, I have this earned shinily ever after” so all that’s missing is the rap guy from whom the cash shall pour forth. Sexy pursuit to follow.

Love and sex are hardly the same, and yet they remain inextricably intertwined. Gender stereotypes would have you believe that females are slave to the former, and men to the latter. I think not. I have found that men are capable of being hurt on a level much deeper than we as a society acknowledge. And some women are just as well versed in the brutality of the heart as some men are in the brutality of the body. Neither of these things is right, and each one is it’s own wicked problem that keeps getting perpetuated generation after generation. That is not a thing I feel like tackling at this point. Until the singularity exists and materialism becomes an artifact of the analog past, just accept that it exists and we’ll move on.

So – these prospective rap guys’ girlfriends use the weapons of their sex and the means of their minds to bag a rich guy. Maybe there is some mutual attraction and affection, maybe not. But for the lifestyle, it doesn’t matter (this applies generally to all famous people of all genders and sexual orientations; I just really like my Sir Mix-A-Lot reference and I’m committed to it). Heartbreak ensues. Not the usual “we couldn’t work it out” heartbreak, but heartbreak on a “you deceived me and betrayed me for nothing more than my fame and my money” level. This cycle keeps perpetuating because normal people are unapproachable and to be avoided at all costs. This means that the pool of people a rap guy will meet is inordinately concentrated with assholes and gold-diggers. Thus, opinions form. Songs are written. Records are released. Feminists and homosexuals are alarmed.


I’m not going on a rant and saying there needs to be a #notallwomen movement, I’m really just selfishly coming up with a justification so I can listen to music that is not intended to be enjoyed by someone like me; a heterosexual thirty-something white woman.

More on Slim later. What are we here for again? Oh right. Angry travelling. See how much time #3 can take up? Use it to your advantage!

Coping Strategy #4: Don’t Lose the Will to Live

This is difficult. If the three prior strategies fail you, you have to find a way to rally. Usually you’ll want to find the nearest alcohol vendor, unless that’s where you lost your will to live. These are the doldrums of layovers, where the airport ceases to be a finite, temporary structure and instead subsumes your humanity and becomes your own personal hell. Imagine – a place where you are never alone, but never with anyone, either. Where the bathrooms are plentiful, but always occupied. Where you can buy any kind of food you want, but each meal is a gamble with botulism. If you’re lucky, you’re at a larger airport where they’ve got outlets everywhere so you can charge your electronic devices. Take advantage of these. If you’re extremely lucky, you’re on a layover in Japan where they have sleep pods. No matter the cost – rent a sleep pod. Your will to live and to persevere is all you have at this point, airport resident. Do whatever it takes.


At some point, you will either disappear into the void of Airport, or you will be placed on an airplane. Once you are ass-in-seat on that plane, you may be overcome with the most infinite joy you’ve experienced, far surpassing the birth of any children, or that time you ran out of cheese and tortilla chips at the exact same time. Be warned – this feeling is fleeting. Very, very fleeting. You’ve just been plucked from relative psychic desolation and dropped down into a cesspool of humanity. Remember when you were stretched out on the floor at an empty gate, or sitting comfortably in a bar with your stein of beer? You now are on a plane, with no leg room, no fresh air, and an unmitigated and irrational hatred of those assholes up in first class. You’ve been sat next to a frantic looking mother holding a baby under six months old, who has decided to place her five-year-old between you and her. Five-year-olds are notorious for their lack of regard for the personal bubble, or awareness of where their elbows are at any given moment.


And then the drink trolley comes.

Coping Strategy #5: This Too Shall Pass; Be Elsewhere Until it Does

This five-year-old will spill her drink on you. This has been predetermined by the fates back when the first threads of the tapestry of the universe were woven. It’s just a matter of time. All you can do now is make sure your pockets on the that side are empty and that you have made no eye contact whatsoever with the creature’s mother so that when the inevitable comes to pass, you and the child can both ignore what has just happened to avoid talking about the matter. The benefit here is that kids are generally limited to juice and clear sodas, so while you may be sticky, you probably won’t smell too bad when you reach your final destination. If you are seated beside a belligerent drunk, I can’t promise the same.


Now is the time you want to imagine you’re in a Nicholas Sparks movie. One where the protagonist (usually a middle-aged, middle-class woman, but just go with me here) must endure seemingly endless personal disappointment before being swept off her humdrum feet by Richard Gere. If you’re like me, you’d rather swap Richard out with someone like Dean Winchester (you heard me; I didn’t say Jensen Ackles, I said Dean Winchester), but to each her own. This is your escape fantasy, so go for broke. You want Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? All the better for when you’re flying over the ocean and there’s turbulence. The important thing here is that you keep making lemonade. Speaking of which, if you want to pretend you’re Beyonce taking a bat to every single human person who has ever contributed to the marvel of commercial flight, be my guest. Whatever gets you through.


If you’re on a window seat, it’s pretty easy to cry at this point. Just turn and face the window. The terrifying rocking and shimmying of rough air should mask your shoulders shaking. If not, you may have to retreat to the bathroom, but that’s going to be a negotiation between asking someone to move (if you’re in the middle) or waiting in line after the portly gentleman you saw eating a meatball sub right before boarding. The individual situation should inform your decision.

Eventually you will land, and your designated mode of transportation, or friend/family member will be waiting for you. At this point, you will feel like crying again. Big, fat, ugly tears of relief. There are two ways to go about this. If you’re averse to emotional displays like I am, you will want to stifle this urge so as not to appear a weak ass bitch. You may need to pump yourself back up with a little more angry music; as much as it can calm you when you’re angry, it can also replace feelings of sadness and desperation with a little anger when needed. If you’re fully in tune with the full gamut of emotions (which is a healthier way to live, I fully admit) then take this opportunity to wrap your arms around your loved one (or the steering wheel of your rental car) and shove your teary, snot-leaking face right into the sensitive flesh of their neck so that they may absorb your heartache and relieve you of the burden.

You have made it, my friend. May your next journey be uneventful. In the meantime, enjoy this Aquaman:


Oh wait…

I promised more on Eminem, didn’t I?

I didn’t set out to spend so much time on him. But he’s a fascinating figure. A true underdog story of undeniable success, but one in which the hero can’t shake the shackles of his attendant torture. Would he have seen such success if he didn’t have such a tragic backstory? Is that his muse? If he found true happiness, would he cease to be productive; cease to be his current self? Is this a standing argument for nature over nurture, or proof that the two work in concert? Who can tell. The undeniable truth is that the man has obscene talent (pun intended). He was crowned artist of the decade for the 2000’s. Let me reiterate that: Artist of the DECADE. Not year. So for as problematic as he was and is (the picture below sums it up nicely), there were a hell of a lot of people with whom his music resonated truth. We can ask all kinds of questions about why that is, but we won’t be able to answer any of them. The Slim Shady LP came out in 1999, a time when angsty, moody artists were everywhere. Rabbit was certainly not the only one with a chip on his shoulder. He may have just been more honest and relatable. He told you exactly where he came from and why he was here. He was pissed off at his parents and had a profound hatred for his time in school. What teenager wouldn’t relate, even if they didn’t have quite as bad a time as him?


Which leads me to be believe that we’re punishing the oracle instead of the prophecy. Yes, his lyrics are not politically correct. Sure, he talks quite a bit about violence against women and homosexuals. But like all artistic mediums, there is a divide between the art and reality. Parents and censors were up in arms (who’s to say they’re not the vocal minority, though) about Eminem encouraging rage and violence in our children, but I question whether listening to a song will make you into an angry person if you had nothing to be angry about to begin with. What he did was give a voice to rage and let people know that the darks seeds that sprout in our minds don’t make us freaks – we all feel that way. I don’t believe that he intended for anyone to take to the streets and harass or harm women and gays. That may have happened as a consequence in some isolated instances, but again, the offenders had to have felt that way before Eminem found his way into a recording booth. If I listen to a bunch of country, I’m not going to have relations with my truck and force my wife into a patriarchal existence. If I listen to reggae I’m not going to grow dreads and take up weed as a recreation. If I listen to heavy metal I’m not going to start wearing leather and the blood of my enemies (I already do that, so there). I know this as truth because I listen to almost every type of music and have remained at my core the same person I always was.

Also – if you listen to his albums (plural – this is important) as a critical analysis, you can hear his conflict and you realize that a lot of his songs are in some ways conversations he’s having with himself. He doesn’t like himself any more than you do. He’s not any happier than you are. This is the exorcism of the soul of a kid who was never wanted anywhere he went, who had to learn to use the contempt of others to fuel his own confidence, and that’s a hard place to break out of. He is the second part of Newton’s third law. He’s the opposite and equal reaction to those who push against him. As a fellow contrary, stubborn ass, I can relate to the execution, if not the sentiment. He’s not doing what he does for you or me. He’s doing it for that little kid frozen in time who’s cold, alone, and afraid.

So in conclusion, I can’t justify Mr. Mathers’ use of language of hate against women and homosexuals and pretty much everyone, but goddammit I can understand it because I feel the same way about elements and fixtures in my life. So what does that mean for me? That I’m just an asshole and shouldn’t pretend to be nice? Or that the whole world is a mess. (Another solid reference – come on, people!). Regardless, he gets me through the hard times in my life when I just want to break anything in front of my face, so for that, I thank him.


“Fuel” – Metallica (1997)

Hey, are you my Uber?
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Do you need to stop for gas or something?
Turn on… I see red
Adrenaline crash and crack my head
Nitro junkie, paint me dead
And I see red
Oh hey, I think you just ran a red light back there… and you’re going really fast.
One hundred plus through black and white
War horse, warhead
Fuck ’em man, white-knuckle tight
Through black and white
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
I don’t think that’s what fuel is.
And on I burn
Do you smell smoke?!
Churning my direction
Hey this isn’t my turn; I’m going to the airport!
Quench my thirst with gasoline
Omg are you drinking out of that gas can??
So gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Turn on beyond the bone
Swallow future, spit out home
Is that like dip?? Wtf are you doing, dude??
Burn your face upon the chrome
Holy shit stop putting your face on the hot chrome!! Why is your dash chrome? WHO ARE YOU
Take the corner, join the crash
Headlights, head on, headlines
Another junkie lives too fast


Yeah lives way too fast, fast, fast, oohhOH!
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
And on I burn
Churning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline
So gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Oh Yeah-heah
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
My desire
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
And on I burn
Churning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
On I burn
… oh hey, we’re at the airport;  alright man, that was quick. Five stars.


Carry On Wayward Son

“Carry On Wayward Son” – Kansas (1976)

Carry on my wayward son
Wtf dad, what is wayward?
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Done with what? Is this about college? I know you said science is a safe bet, but I’m gonna be a film major. Kevin Smith is a huge inspir-
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Oh no, is this another story about you doing acid as a teenager? I’m not on drugs. And no one does acid anymore.
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say
Dad, those are flashbacks. You probably need to see a doctor.
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
… does this mean you’re not going to give me shit about film?
Masquerading as a man with a reason
Oh my fuck.
My charade is the event of the season
… are you trying to come out? Because if so that’s totally cool.
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
Wait, so…
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say
Wtf dad.
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
It’s not that big a deal, anyway. You don’t have to have a specific degree to get a good job anymore.
Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Wait, you’re not dying, are you?
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you
Am I dying??
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
I gotta go.


No One Like You

“No One Like You” – Scorpions (1982)

Girl, it’s been a long time that we’ve been apart
Much too long for a man who needs love
New phone, who dis?
I miss you since I’ve been away
Aww, that’s sweet. Did you break up with someone?
Babe, it wasn’t easy to leave you alone
It’s getting harder each time that I go
If I had the choice, I would stay
Is this like a restraining order situation?
There’s no one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
Oh man, that’s really personal. Did you read the part where I’m not who you think I am?
I imagine the things we’ll do
Well… I got a little time…
I just want to be loved by you
Oh yeah?
No one like you
Wait – which is it?
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
Oh, right on. You meant THERE’S no one like you.
Girl, there are really no words strong enough
To describe all my longing for love
I don’t want my feelings restrained
I knew it! Restraining order!
Oh babe, I just need you like never before
Whadja do, man? Stalking? Beating up another dude? Not cool.
I just imagine you’d come through this door
You’d take all my sorrow away
Hold up – that’s unhealthy. You gotta fix yourself first.
There’s no one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
So uh… what kinda things are you imagining? I’m not seeing anybody right now, so…
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
… You said that already. Is this like a tease thing? I can dig it, but I really want to get more into what you’re imagining we’ll do.
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
… are you having a glitch or something?
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
I can see why she got a restraining order. You suck.