Bob Ross Presents: The Joy of Whiskey

by Katrina Monroe

 

A couple of weeks ago, the internet went fucking bananas because Netflix, in their infinite wisdom (may we worship them until the television becomes sentient and kills us all), added Bob Ross’s “Beauty is Everywhere” to their list. Relaxing, nostalgic (though none of us can really remember why), and just fucking delightful, people dropped their lives to binge-watch the Man Himself paint happy little trees.

Like any self-respecting booze-hound writer, I got hammered and watched until I passed out.

This is my journey.

 

Hour 1:

Phthalo blue is not a real color, Bob. Phthalo is the name of a hobbit, cousin of Bilbo, who still doesn’t know how to spell his name at the age of 549, or however long those little fuckers live.

I don’t like the way you smile when you say, “Beat the devil out of it,” Bob. Do you know something we don’t? You’ve made deals, haven’t you? That’s why it takes you twenty-three minutes to paint an entire landscape with zero self-loathing and trips to the bathroom to “get a little inspiration.”

Phthalo still isn’t a color, no matter how many times you say it, or how much crimson you add to it. And while we’re at it, that color is purple, not blueandcrimson.

Ohmagawd this is so relaxing and this whiskey is delicious.

“Just make some decisions,” he says. Like he knows me. Pfft. I have until the first of the month, just like everyone else.

Where the shit did all those trees come from?

I don’t think indication means what you think it means, Bob. That isn’t the indication of a big fucking tree; that’s an actual big fucking tree.

I could totally paint this. *sluuuuurp*

 

Hour B:

Okay, okay. LISTEN. Shhhh. I’ve got an idea.

BOB. Bob.

Drinking game. Ready? Cool.

Beating the devil out of a brush: take a shot.

“Little doers” make an appearance: take a shot.

SOME RANDOM FUCKING ANIMAL SHOWS UP OUT OF NOWHERE: Pet your cat because she’s adorable, then take a shot.

“Oooh that’s nice.” Take a shot. Hell, take two, because it reminds you of how little you’re getting laid.

Drunk yet? *sluuuurp* Me, too.

“The canvas will pull out what it wants, and give you back what’s left.” Since when are we getting deep, Bob? What are you hiding from me? Are you seeing another pitiful drunk woman?

I’d murder a mildly innocent person to get you to say fuck, Bob. Say fuck. Just once. You could even whisper it. Listen. Fuuuuuuuuck. Isn’t it lovely?

… No I don’t want to see your little creature, Bob. Especially not your “pocket squirrel.” Just paint, god dammit. Perv.

 

Hour 3.5:

I have a theory. It’s not a good theory. And probably not even a theory. I’m not drunk. Just speaking cursive. His shirt matches the first color he uses on the canvas. There’s probably some deep, meaningful reason for that, but it eludes me at the moment, much like my sobriety.

Yellow ochre. Phathalo blue. Van Dyke Brown. Bright-motha-fuckin’-red. Could you not think of ANYTHING to compare red to, Bob?

*snort* Bushes. I ought to ladyscape soon.

Using odorless paint-thinner is like drinking non-alcoholic beer, Bob. How dare you condone such behavior? THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Or if not the children, think of me.

What is this insanity? You just STOP PAINTING? The painting isn’t finished when you DECIDE. It’s finished when you can’t stand to look at the fucking thing anymore. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

 

Hour… uh… something:

I was in the kitchen for five goddamned minutes, Bob. You couldn’t wait five minutes to finish the lake? How do I paint those little doers by the shore? Which obscenely complicated combination of colors did you use to paint that rock? WHERE DID THAT MOUNTAIN COME FROM?

I’m useless. I will never be able to create landscapes as beautiful and efficient as this winter wonderland.

That chip was burnt. Ew. Oooh! Pizza. Praise the baby cheezus.

Why does that evergreen tree have more friends than I do? Am I too person-like? Do I have too few branches with which to shade them?

Life is pointless, Bob. You know that? I think you’re lying about the paint thinner fumes.

But that seascape is fucking beautiful.

No, YOU’RE crying.

I wonder if there are any new episodes of Kimmy Schmidt.

Fuck you, Netflix.

 

 

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Books You MUST Read Before You Die

 

Pretty dramatic with the titles, aren’t we?

Most people keep a bucket list of things they’d like to do before they die. It might be a literal list, or just something we keep changing and adding to in our heads. Some of us don’t really care what we do, our bucket list is about what we want to read. So, a few of the Dolls thought maybe you’d like some help on your reading bucket list. Here you go. Five books we think you MUST read before you die and why we think so.

price of salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Price of Salt

By Patricia Highsmith

Recommended by: Katrina Monroe

 

 

From the cover:

A chance encounter between two lonely women leads to a passionate romance in this lesbian cult classic. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover.

Author Patricia Highsmith is best known for her psychological thrillers Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, The Price of Salt was heralded as “the novel of a love society forbids.” Highsmith’s sensitive treatment of fully realized characters who defy stereotypes about homosexuality marks a departure from previous lesbian pulp fiction. Erotic, eloquent, and suspenseful, this story offers an honest look at the necessity of being true to one’s nature. The book is also the basis of the acclaimed 2015 film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

I avoid the “Gay and Lesbian” section of the bookstore like the plague. It’s mostly a black hole of straight-woman aimed erotica and stereotyped love stories. It’s hard, but not impossible, to find GOOD gay fiction. Many of you probably saw the movie “Carol” with Cate Blanchett and Noomi Rapace. EXCELLENT film. It was a book first, though, called THE PRICE OF SALT by Patricia Highsmith. Not only is it an accurate portrayal of lesbian relationships circa 1950, it transcends stereotypes of what a lesbian ought to look like, decades ahead of its time. It’s a quick read (I finished in an afternoon) and definitely a must for readers.

 

 

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A Prayer for Owen Meany

By John Irving

Recommended by: Renee Miller

 

From the cover:

Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents; he believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal, tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created.

“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!” — A Prayer for Owen Meany

I read this book when I was in high school. We had “free choice” of any book in the library and were told to choose wisely, as our final assignment would be based on the book we decided to read. I’d like to say I had a reason for choosing it, but I can’t. I just picked the first cover that appealed to me. With the armadillo on the cover, I thought it looked weird, and I only had a few minutes before the bell would ring and we’d have to leave the library, so Owen Meany it was.

From the first words, “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice,” I loved this book, and I know this sounds cliché or weird even, but it changed high school me forever.  A Prayer for Owen Meany is perhaps one of the most perfectly written stories I’ve ever read. From pace to characterization to plot to dialogue; everything in this book is spot on. It is about faith, but not just in God. It’s about faith in yourself and the people close to you. It’s about feeling like an outcast, even if you’re surrounded by friends and family. For high school me, it was about learning to accept the weird inside of me, and knowing everyone, from the kindest to the meanest, has a place in the grand scheme of things. I needed this book when I read it, although I didn’t realize this until much later, so it’s kind of cool (and a little unnerving) that I stumbled across it when I did.

Later in my life, I found myself recalling certain passages at different times, and the words Irving writes hit their mark again. For example,

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

It is rare to find a novel that can affect you no matter where you are in life. It’s also rare to find an author who can inspire you to be a better writer (or even a better person). With this book, Irving creates a timeless story that is relevant to the reader at any stage in life, no matter what pile of shit you’re trying to find your way out of.

 

sleeping beauty

 

 

 

 

Sleeping Beauty Trilogy

By Anne Rice

Recommended by: Lacy Grand

 

From Amazon:

“Something very special . . . at once so light and yet so haunting.” -The Advocate

In the traditional folktale of “Sleeping Beauty,” the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind’s unconscious. Now Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure, retells the Beauty story and probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince awakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty’s complete and total enslavement to him . . .

 

Most people are afraid of erotic novels. Perhaps they believe such books are poorly written, or they contain elements that are distasteful or uncomfortable (if they’re written properly they do), or maybe, if they’re honest with themselves, they’re afraid they might like what they read.

If you’re new to erotica, please, for the love of God and whatever else you hold dear, do NOT begin with 50 Shades. Begin with master storyteller, Anne Rice. I spent my teen years obsessed with everything written by Anne Rice. The Vampire Chronicles, Lives of the Mayfair Witches, and in later years, I continued this obsession, with her Life of Christ novels, and eventually, my reading led me to her exquisitely written Beauty series.

With these books Rice shows the reader that erotica is not just about sex. Yes, the sexual elements are distinct. They’re graphic and (sometimes) disturbing, but she also skillfully weaves plot and characterization so that you’re not just reading to “get off.” You’re actually invested in the story and its players.

Yes, this is what erotica should be. It’s what any well written book should be. Happy reading!

 

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Wyrd Sisters

By Terry Pratchet

Recommended by Steve Wetherell

 

From the cover:

Terry Pratchett’s fantasy classic Wyrd Sisters, a novel in the Discworld series, is the story of Granny Weatherwax, the most highly regarded non-leader a coven of non-social witches could ever have.

Generally, these loners don’t get involved in anything, mush less royal intrigue. but then there are those times they can’t help it. As Granny Weatherwax is about to discover, though, it’s a lot harder to stir up trouble in the castle than some theatrical types would have you think. Even when you’ve got a few unexpected spells up your sleeve.

Granny Weatherwax teams with two other witches — Nanny Ogg and Margat Garlick – as an unlikely alliance to save a prince and restore him to the throne of Lancre, in a tale that borrows — or is it parodies — some of William Shakespeare’s best-loved works.

 

Everyone knows that Douglas Adams is the undisputed don of zany, snarky British comedy. Everyone, however, is wrong. It’s Terry Pratchett, a man who took the swords and sorcery genre, filtered it through a wryly critical brain, and created one of the most magnetic and strangely logical fantasy worlds in literary history; the Discworld. When people ask me which Discworld novel to start with, I usually just laugh and throw books at them until they retreat, but perhaps the safest place to start is where I did with Wyrd Sisters. The Discworld is a depository parallel universe where the rules that govern our stories are very real forces, so when the plot of a familiar Shakespeare play begins to unravel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve guessed the ending. However, the witches in this world are no-nonsense, iron-willed matriarchs, unwilling to see themselves re-written as meddling old hags (even if they are.) Narrative satisfaction runs headlong into sheer bloody-mindedness in this hilarious and wonderfully written novel.

 

dice man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dice Man

by Luke Rhinehart

Recommended by: C.M. Saunders

From Amazon:

Classic novel of the 70s, back in print.

The cult classic that can still change your life…Let the dice decide! This is the philosophy that changes the life of bored psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart―and in some ways changes the world as well. Because once you hand over your life to the dice, anything can happen. Entertaining, humorous, scary, shocking, subversive, The Dice Man is one of the cult bestsellers of our time.

 

When I was a mature student with a lot of free time on my hands, I read a book called The Dice Man. What grabbed me was the sub-head, ‘This book will change your life.’ In a nutshell, it tells the story of a psychiatrist (called Luke Rhinehart) who, feeling bored and unfulfilled with life, decides to stop making decisions. Instead, he rolls a dice, and lets fate decide which path he should take. As far as I remember, the rule of the ‘game’ is that you give yourself six options, one for each number on the dice. Five reasonably attractive things that you wouldn’t mind doing, and one thing that you don’t want to do.

On the surface, its a book about freedom, and fucking the system. I was so taken with the concept that I bought a one-way ticket to Spain and decided to live by the dice for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let it decide anything important. Just things like which places I should visit and in what order, and when I got there which cafe I should I stop at and which hostel should I stay in. It was a liberating experience, but slightly unnerving. I wasn’t in control of my life anymore. Something else was, some higher force. Call it what you want; fate, destiny, the cosmic joker, God, whatever.

Luke Rhinehart is the pseudonym of George Cockroft, who has written numerous other books and essays, including several other ‘Dice’ books. The original, first published in 1971, has attained cult status, and been published in over 60 countries. In 2012 he pranked his own death, but in reality is still going strong at the age of 83. Throw a dice for him. You won’t regret it. Actually, you might regret t. But that’s part of the fun.

And there you have it. Got any recommendations for us? We’d love to add to our bucket lists, so please share.

 

 

Deviant Book Review: Babes in Gangland

 

 

 

 

 

BABES IN GANGLAND

By Bix Skahill

Babes in Gangland

 

Review by Katrina Monroe

 

 

From the cover:

No Woman Could Change His Ways, Only His Diaper…

When Marrowburg’s most fearsome gangster, Kid Phoenix, gets gunned down behind Stripping Through History (a titty bar that combines nudity with feminist history), there is a silver lining: he gets a second chance at life.

Coming back as Baby Jaydon, whose perpetual five o’clock shadow and penchant for swearing aren’t going to win him any friends on the playground, he’s adopted by a well-to-do family and goes to live in the suburbs with no memory of his former life. But after a chance run-in with his ex-henchman, Ram Bountybar, Baby Jaydon begins to recall fragments of his former underworld life. He forsakes his quiet existence of building blocks and afternoon naps to find out who put five slugs in his back behind Stripping Through History.

With the help of Ram and Kid’s former moll, Ruby Redd, who’s now a nun, Baby Jaydon goes on a dangerous journey through Marrowburg’s twisted underworld to find out who killed him. Blood and formula flow as Baby Jaydon, Ram, and Ruby Redd encounter onion and chive-scented mobsters, rabid ocelots, and the world’s angriest travel agent.

 

The best thing about bizarro fiction is the anticipation of the unexpected. Picking up a story like BABES IN GANGLAND, you know you’re going to get something insane and you just hope your psyche is malleable enough to take it in.

The tone is set right away—noirish without boxing itself into the genre. Bad guys and cops. Dames with bodies men kill to get a closer look at. But surrounding it all is an air of what-the-fuck. Is there such a thing as subtle bizarro? If not, Skahill might be its founder. Details like a tanning salon/hospital and a feminist strip joint that features ladies attempting to teach their patrons while grinding on them come at the reader from left and right, jarring the story just enough to knock the reader around a bit before getting on with the plot.

“It’s always a fucking surprise when I see my fucking reflection.”

“The darkness is scary and Berry Bear protects me from that shit.”

I’ve only read one other novel with a baby point of view and it wasn’t pretty. The tool can typically go one of two ways: badly, or less badly. But Skahill pulls it off with hilarious results. Baby Jaydon is the epitome of what parents, over-tired and frustrated, imagine their infants to be beneath all the goo-gooing and glazed smiles—tyrants who wouldn’t banish the thought of putting a bullet between your eyes if you don’t hurry up with that binky.

After his mom’s—er—untimely death, Baby Jaydon and his loyal henchman, Ram Bountybar, set off to seek revenge on the sonofabitch who twitched him. At a little less than a hundred and twenty pages, this story moves quickly, with a straightforward style that pushes the reader to keep up, lest she get left in the dust. Move too fast, though, and you’ll miss little details that send the bizarre of the story over the top.

And some of these details hide within the characters themselves. Each has a quirk that makes him memorable—French onion B.O., progeria, an I (heart) snatch tattoo. With few words, Skahill gives the reader just enough that you’re certain you know these people, though you’re scared to wonder what unfortunate bender introduced you to them in the first place.

BABES IN GANGLAND is one of those books that, once the last page is turned, the reader hugs her knees to her chest and rocks, gently, murmuring until the white coats come to pick her up. Strange, monumentally screwed up, but a pleasure to read.

The J-Horror Movie Marathon

By C.M. Saunders

I have a thing for Japanese horror. It’s pretty unique, partly because ghost stories have permeated Japanese culture for millennia and been granted more respect and freedom to evolve than in most other societies. Other than that, Japan is one fucked up place. Have you ever seen Japanese porn? In a practical sense, because they so often work within limited budgets, Japanese film-makers are forced to rely on plot, atmospherics and acting ability, to make their work shine. Things that are sadly neglected in Hollywood these days. One recent Saturday night, with a pathetically empty social calendar and a storm raging outside, I decided a J-Horror marathon (with English subs, obvs) was in order.

5:55 pm

one-missed-call

 

 

 

 

Title: One Missed Call

Year: 2003

Director: Takashi Miike

Running time: 112 mins

 

On the back of successful fore-runners like Koji Suzuki’s classic Ringu (The Ring), Pulse, and Dark Water, in 2008 One Missed Call became the latest Japanese horror movie to be remade by an American studio for an international audience. I’d watched the remake for comparison a couple of days earlier, and though the basic storyline pretty much stays true to the original, it’s more of a sugary teen flick lacking any real resonance and emotional impact. In short, the movie stinks.

The original is something else entirely.

On the surface the premise is pretty standard fare; a young student receives a voicemail on her mobile on which she can hear herself screaming. Putting two and two together, she decides the message must be from her future self, warning of her imminent demise. When the message proves prophetic, it soon transpires that it’s just the latest in a long line of similar events and the girl’s friend Yumi takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. The result is a pretty intense, suspenseful, psychological experience, rather than the kind of uninspired gore fest we are so often subjected to. Typical of J-horror, there is a curse involved, some rogue technology, and hot girls in danger. We’re off to a decent start.

7:48 pm

 

spiral

 

 

 

 

Title: Uzumaki (Spiral)

Year: 2000

Director: Higuchinsky

Running time: 90 mins

 

No rest for the wicked, it’s straight into movie number two, which proves to be one of the weirdest, creepiest, most fucked up films I have ever seen. It was adapted from a Junji Oto manga series, so I should have expected as much. His other notable works include Tomie, about an immortal girl who is so beautiful she makes people go mad, and Gyu, about killer fish with metal legs. Yep, that’s the kind of guy we are dealing with.

Uzumaki is about a town obsessed with spirals. To be ‘at one’ with uzumaki, one character commits suicide by crawling inside a washing machine. His wife then becomes so anti-spiral that she chops off all her fingertips so as not to have anything resembling a spiral on her body. That plan falls apart when she learns that there is a spiral-esque vortex buried in the deepest part of the human ear. I won’t say anymore so as not to spoil it, but you can probably guess it doesn’t end well for her. Oh, and then all the students at the local school start turning into giant snails. What the absolute fuck? I’m glad I watched this early on in the marathon. It’s the kind of thing that can make a grown man go scurrying off crying for his mother.

 

9:20 pm

 

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Title: Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman

Year: 2007

Director: Koji Shiraishi

Running time: 90 mins

 

After a quick pit-stop to make coffee and grab some Dorito’s, it’s straight back on it. The subtitles were out of synch on this one. I didn’t know what people were saying until about three minutes after they’d said it, which made the whole experience even more surreal. Someone would do something, then you’d find out why they were doing it later. The name alone is enough to give you shivers. The Kuchisake-Onna (slit-mouthed woman) is a bi-product of a real playground legend. Those Japanese kids, huh? A tall, skinny woman wearing a long trench coat, pointy shoes and a surgical mask covering her horribly disfigured face is said to appear and ask ‘Am I pretty?’ before carting off unruly school kids and doing unspeakable things to them with a massive pair of scissors. So far, so creepy. But things take a nasty turn when the urban legend turns out to be real, and one-by-one kids start disappearing. A pair of young teachers then set out to uncover the truth, and reveal one shocking secret after another. Harrowing and atmospheric, Carved contains most of the elements audiences have come to expect from J-Horror. Curses, vengeful spirits, abused children, disused buildings, a haunting musical score and cold, brutal violence. It’s all here. If one film sums up post-Ringu J-Horror, it’s this. The last scene will chill you to the bone.

Am I pretty?

 

10:50 pm

 

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Title: Ju-on: The Final Curse

Year: 2015

Director: Masayuki Ochiai

Running time: 90 mins

More coffee and more Doritos. You might not know this, but whereas the turgid American incarnation of the Grudge franchise was wisely curtailed after three instalments, the Japanese juggernaut just kept on rolling. And rolling. If you include that trio of western Grudges, this is the eleventh Ju-On (Grudge/Curse) film in the series originally created by Takashi Shimizu, and a continuation of last year’s Ju-On: The Beginning of the End, itself a reboot of the earlier films.

Phew. Now that’s all cleared up, on with the show. This latest (and allegedly last) instalment is a Paramount Pictures production, meaning it’s much more polished than you would normally expect. No shaky camera work or sub-par special effects here. Without getting too much into it, the plot revolves around Mai, who goes in search of her missing younger sister, the elementary school teacher from the last film (which is helpfully re-capped at the beginning). Let’s just say she gets more than she bargained for when Toshio, the terrifying little kid who makes those cat noises, puts in an extended appearance. The plot is a bit stretched, as it would be after ten previous outings, but overall this film is pretty slick.

 

12:20 am

 

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Title: Grotesque

Year: 2009

Director: Koji Shiraishi

Running time: 73 mins

 

It’s that man again. Our friend Koji of Carved fame. To be honest, I don’t know what he was thinking with this. This film is banned in the UK, which is usually a good sign. I’m a horror fan, and I’ve seen some pretty far out shit. I’ve developed a reasonably strong stomach, or so I thought. Not this time. This is way out of my league. It’s downright fucking nasty, and I was soon sorry I munched all those Doritos. I’m no prude, I believe violence has its place. In literature, art, films and even in real life. But there has to be a reason for it. This is exploitive torture porn, plain and simple, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Two young lovers are walking down the street, minding their own business, when they are kidnapped by a mad doctor who then proceeds to do the most awful, sadistic, depraved things to them. That’s the whole story-line right there, and it’s not fun to watch. In fact, it’s extremely fucking hard to watch. Which I guess is the point. If so, mission accomplished, Shi Shiraishi. You twisted fuck. This is the only film I’ve ever not been able to finish. I don’t know if that’s a criticism or an accolade.