Are You Going to Watch Twin Peaks?

TwinPeaks_openingshotcreditsWith the first eerie guitar picks of the Twin Peaks theme song in 1990, the mood was set for a show that would put creepy on a whole new level. After the violent murder of Laura Palmer rocked a small town in Washington, quirky Special Agent Dale Cooper entered the scene to investigate. His love of cherry pie and “Damn good coffee,” contrasted with disturbing characters like the Log Lady and grieving Leland Palmer, strange settings, and townspeople who carried secrets like bags of groceries from the Bargain Market. The audience knew right away that evil lurked. I was hooked.

The supernatural elements of Cooper’s dreams really topped off the show. Riddles in poetic prose, a giant who told him, “The owls aren’t what they seem,” and a little person who spoke in reverse kept me awake for several nights at a time. When we find out Bob is a demon who possesses humans, the killer could be anyone.

Director David Lynch used strange color combinations, sound, music and odd characters to provoke fear by presenting the audience with the unexpected and macabre. Even the most mundane moments took on a sinister quality like when Donna delivers Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. Not knowing where the killer lurked, the audience expected the murderer to spring out at anytime. Lynch didn’t rely on gore or horror in general to scare us. Rather it was tightly wound suspense of the strange scenes that kept his loyal fans glued.

I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again. But it was The Diary of Laura Palmer, which revealed what the show could not. With the description of brutal torture, mutilation, and more clues about Palmer’s tormentor, I realized how dark Twin Peaks really was.

When I discovered Lynch would revive the Twin Peaks series after twenty-five years, I was more than excited. But television has changed a lot since the 90’s. Gory scenes have become mainstream and violent shows like American Horror Story have become popular. I cringe at people getting getting hacked up, preferring old-fashioned psychological tightening of nerve-endings to get my heart racing. Continue reading

Save the Count!

Dracula How many times have you flipped through the channels and then turned off your TV? It happens to me all the time. But one Friday night, I stumbled upon Dracula. Sucked in by the dramatic lighting, sumptuous costumes, sensuous actors, and sets that rival Academy Award winning films, I set down my remote.

The whole gang

Dracula poses as a wealthy American, Alexander Grayson, who takes up residence in London. He longs for love and light, both lost when his wife was burned at the stake by a secret society that cursed him with immortality. He is humanized by his grief and his need for revenge. He meets his reincarnated wife Mina Murray (Jessica de Gouw) and her boyfriend Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) which creates an interesting love triangle. The plot twists when he hires Harker, who seems to know everything about everyone, to work at Grayson Industries.

Dracula Episode 4

Grayson seduces a vampire tracker, Lady Jane Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit). She has incredible strength and is a member of the secret society. Rather than kill her, he sees Jane as the chink in the society’s armor. She has no idea she’s sleeping with the very prey she hunts. The society’s power is funded by money made in the oil industry. Dracula plans to dismantle and destroy them by introducing free magnetic power for everyone.

Dracula  and Wetherby

Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Dracula. He won several awards for his role in The Tudors and for Elvis. Born in Dublin and raised by a single mother, he spent some time in an orphanage. He was expelled from school at 16. He has a natural brooding quality perfect for this role and gives a raw and convincing performance as the nighttime predator. Continue reading

Cara Mia, It’s Halloween! Creator Charles Addams

I creep into the Halloween spirit by watching glimpsing at horror and thriller movies on television. While multitasking, I peek through my fingers once in a while to see what mayhem has arisen.

I’ve seen zombies, one of the Scary Movie series onslaught and one scene from Friday the 13th complete with Freddy Kruger. When flipping through the channels the other night, I stumbled upon one of my very favorite Halloween comedies – Addams Family Values.

The lines were poetic, the quips unrelenting, and the cast replete with Angelica Huston, the late Raul Julia, Joan Cusack, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd had me laughing out loud. I have always loved these deathly, creepy, and wonderfully morbid characters. Continue reading

Channeling Granny


After sprinting several laps around my kitchen while screaming with my Bichon Roxy trotting behind agitated and barking, I finally settled back down to the computer. Had my eyes played tricks on me? No. There it was. The post with my husband Danny and me in our Addams Family costumes had made the cover of Freshly Pressed on WordPress. I had been told on a WP forum the week before that the chance of being FP’d was, “one in a million.” As I began to call Danny, another line beeped in.

The elation turned to frenzied panic. The Halloween brunch I thought I was having on Thursday, got moved up to the next morning. I only had 5 hours before going out for the evening to play tennis. I had just written about how I decorate for the season and not one pumpkin or witch had been unpacked!

So I did what anyone in my position would do. I threw myself into Granny gear. No, not the easiest cog on your bicycle; Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies! Do you remember when she sped up in fast motion, only stopping to catch her breath when she finished her project? That was me. I finished cleaning, then busted downstairs and pulled out all of the Halloween storage containers. After 5 hours of rushing around the house and decorating like a madwoman including hanging bats from the ceiling, covering mantles and tables with cheesecloth “webs” and setting my haunted table, I was finished. Now I really felt like an old granny; completely exhausted with my chest heaving while trying to suck oxygen into my lungs.

The next morning I woke up and raced to the computer. The stats were mind-boggling! After baking a slab apple cake and finishing the preparations for the brunch, I flew down into the basement to look for a ghost costume. We read a collection of short stories for the meeting and I had added a couple of my own. Dressing like Maeve from “Stolen Regret,” I wore an old fitted white dress purchased at a garage sale years ago and covered it with sheer curtains, topping it off with a pale blonde page-boy wig and red shawl.

Everyone brought a dish to share and as soon as the fun get-together began, it was over. I took a deep breath and looked around my house, pleased that all the decorations were up. We could enjoy them for the remaining weeks in October.

I went upstairs to undress and that is when the problem arose. The “invisible zipper” on my ghostly costume had stuck. I tried moving it up and down and it wouldn’t budge. The dress was fitted so it couldn’t be wiggled out of. “What am I going to do? This is so uncomfortable! There’s no way I can wear this for the next 6 hours until Danny gets home from work.” The unbreathable polyester blend fabric started to overheat my worn-out body. The long sleeves suddenly seemed too tight and binding.

I hurried back downstairs and peeked out the windows, but as usual no neighbors were around. I thought of calling someone to come over and release me from my claustrophobic wardrobe, but that seemed like a ridiculous option. Driving in the car to a friend’s house would be even more outrageous. I tried to pull the zipper down again, but the dress was so tight and it was in such an awkward position, it just wouldn’t slide. “Argh!”

“It would be so convenient if I could dislocate my shoulder so I could slide out of this stupid  dress.” I continued struggling and then thought, “If I were double-jointed I could just reach up and unzip myselfDuh! My elbows are double jointed and make my arms stick out at funny angles. Maybe that’s the whole problem!”

Movement caught my attention through the front dining room window. The landscape guys had come to mow my neighbor’s lawn! My heart leapt in my chest. I sprang to the front door and opened it wide. I lifted up the dress so I wouldn’t trip while running down the stairs. In full ghostly white make-up with blue circles around my eyes, blonde wig, and costume I dashed down my driveway and crossed the street. The three men gawked at me with blank stares.

“Okay!” I said, “First of all I want you to know that I have no shame.” They broke into smiles.

“The zipper is stuck on my dress and I need someone to unzip me. And if you’re wondering, I had a Halloween party this morning.” The thirty-something guy closest to me ran over to help release me. I turned my back and just like magic, he slid the zipper down my back. It was too embarrassingly easy!

“I am sure this will be a fun story for you guys to share. Oh well. Thank you!”

I spun around and darted across the street with my bra strap exposed across my back, thinking to myself, “They never said a word. I think they were in shock!”

As I opened up the front door of my house, a question came to mind. “How would Granny have handled the wardrobe malfunction?” I changed my clothes, went back downstairs to my computer, and shifted my fingers into Granny gear.

 When was the last time you found yourself in hyper-drive?

Have you ever been in an unavoidable and embarrassing situation?

Photo by S. Lindau 

Weiner – It’s All in a Name

Anthony Weiner
The amount of media attention given to Congressman Anthony Weiner quickly “rose” this week when they “exposed” his lack of morality and decency, but the attention also took on a humorous slant. More than one chuckle has been made at his expense because of the irony of his name and the obvious correlations after his “wiener tweet.” Was he preoccupied with taking pictures of his privates because of his name? I don’t know what he said in his texts, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think that he too saw the double entendre. He became a successful Congressman and yet it took a sexting incident, to become infamous around the world.

I have often wondered if surnames predict careers. Is it a subconscious decision or deliberate? When I worked as an illustrator at the VA Hospital I observed many interesting parallels. I often heard their names called through the intercom system above my drawing board. “Dr. Bonebreak, Please come to orthopedics.” Yes. He was an orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Goodfriend continues to work as Chief of Medicine and has the role of flying across the country as a liaison for the hospital and in helping researchers apply for grants.

My favorite of all time is Dr. Bloodworth who was the Chief Pathologist and worked in autopsy down in the basement of the hospital where the morgue was located.

I have a friend who has a dermatologist named Dr. Boyle.

The ex-CEO of Krispy Kreme is Scott Livengood whom probably is; hence the “ex.”

In ancient times, it became common for a man to take the name of his profession as clans became towns that grew along with communities. People needed a way to distinguish themselves. Being a patriarchal society, families were handed down the surname of their father. We probably all know a Baker, a Gardener, or a Fisher, and everyone is familiar with Potter.

 My friend Johanna remembers working at a very large company called GTE with Carl Engineer and Firoz Doctor. Their names made it very confusing for a temporary secretary who happened to answer the phone one day when Carl wanted to speak to Firoz.

“Is Firoz Doctor there?” asked Carl.

“Wait. Doctor who?” asked the secretary.

“Firoz Doctor.”

“Which doctor did you want to speak to?

“I told you already. Firoz Doctor.”

“You mean Dr. Firoz?” asked the secretary.

“No! Not Dr. Firoz. Firoz Doctor.”

“I am sorry sir, but I don’t know who Firo’s Doctor is. Maybe you should ask Mr. Firo.”

“Just look up his name in the directory. F I R O Z  Doctor,” said Carl. He was more than a bit exasperated at this point.

“Oh! Here he is!”

“Just tell him it’s Mr. Engineer.”

In fact, Carl was an electrical engineer.

Here in Boulder we have our own Dr. Weiner. He practices urology and specializes in vasectomies. He prefers the pronunciation Winer.

I bet you know someone who practices the profession of their last name.

Oprah and Me


When I was in my late twenties and living in Madison, Wisconsin, I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled. I shuddered at the thought of  having my gums sliced open and impacted molars removed, but looked forward to a couple of days off from work as a medical illustrator at the VA Hospital. The day after the surgery I rested in bed at the rental house that my sister Patty and I shared. My boyfriend of three years planned to stop by later that afternoon to check in on me.

Later that afternoon and groggy on Tylenol 3’s with codeine, I decided to catch up on few programs on our small Zenith TV including a new show broadcast from Chicago, called the Oprah Winfrey Show. I curled up on the black “pleather” couch wrapped in a blanket, as the spunky host interviewed new candidates competing for a job as an advice columnist. The ten men and women perched in tall swivel chairs across the stage. Every time someone from the audience asked a question, they all would respond differently. Finally a caller asked what she should do about a relationship she was in. “I have been dating the same guy for the last two years and every time I bring up any serious issues concerning our future together, my boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about it.” The camera panned the row and they all had the same answer.

“Give him the ultimatum,” the first one said, followed by the entire row and the show faded to a commercial.

Well, you can only imagine how that hit me! Through a codeine-induced haze, I groggily formed a single thought. “I will give my boyfriend the ultimatum when I see him this afternoon!” I smiled as I checked the time and realized he would be knocking on the door any minute. I was recovering from oral surgery. You can only imagine what I looked like. My crack head hair stuck up in all directions. No make-up had come close to my bruised and swollen face which now vaguely resembled Jay Leno’s. I couldn’t brush my teeth or use mouthwash. Salt water rinses weren’t really cutting it for me. I hadn’t showered in 2 days.

When I heard the knock on the door, I flew through the house forgetting about the goofy eyeglasses I wore and the dragon breath which emanated from the clotted blood in the back of my mouth. As I greeted my unsuspecting boyfriend and reached out to give him a big bear hug. I noticed he physically flinched! “Oprah says that I should give you the ultimatum!” I blurted out.

He took a huge step backward almost falling off the front entry stoop. “I never had any intention of marrying you!” he replied which shocked me out of my foggy state of mind. He turned and briskly walked, almost ran to his bike. Oh my God! What had I done?

This started a break up that dragged on for a month. By Memorial Day weekend, I’d had enough. I told him to make a commitment or I was moving on. In a lot of ways I already felt like it was over. He went up to his family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. I called my Mom and Dad and suggested that we go to a Brewer Game to get my mind off all the drama. My Mom said that she had been to bridge club that week with Marilyn Lindau who told everyone her son Danny was coming to town from Denver, Colorado, where he had bought a toy and school supply business.

I grew up with Danny’s younger brothers and had always admired the oldest, from afar. Their family and ours had been close for years so my mom made a phone call to see if they were available for a road trip. The Lindaus were in!

piggyback ride

Patty and I called a few friends. We all met at my parent’s house and caravanned down to the stadium in Milwaukee. Timing can be everything and Danny and I hit it off. We blatantly flirted which each other during the tailgate. He told me how much he enjoyed living in Colorado and about his wholesale business. I could see where he would be a great toy salesman with all the enthusiasm he exuded. He had broken his leg jumping cornices skiing at Arapahoe-basin so he hobbled around on crutches. I used it as an excuse to wait on him, by keeping his cup full and filling his plate at the picnic.

family tailgating at Brewer game

After a very exciting day, Danny flew back to Colorado. My boyfriend came back into town and we broke up. I felt like I had blown my opportunity with Danny until an invitation arrived in the mail inviting my sister and me to the Telluride Blue Grass Festival in June. My sister couldn’t go, but I could hardly wait to fly out. My mom and Marilyn drove me out to the airport. It was a fabulous weekend filled with sightseeing in Colorado, amazing music, and relating to someone I felt I had known my whole life.

We booked the priest and the church over the 4th of July weekend and were married in October. When I mentioned to my friends that I had become engaged they responded, “I’m so glad you and your boyfriend are finally getting married!” I had to explain that someone new had come into my life.

danny and susie

After almost twenty four years of telling my story, Oprah is signing off from her show. The last one will air on Wednesday, May 25th. My only regret is that Oprah will probably never hear about the impact she’s had on me. She has helped thousands, maybe millions of people through the years. How she changed the course my life might seem minor compared to the influence she’s had on others. I only know the opportunity to make the connection with Danny could have only occurred that weekend, since he rarely visited Wisconsin.

The chain reaction of events which culminated in my happy life would never have transpired without the day I sat wrapped in a blanket and watched the Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time.

Thanks Oprah! I’ll see you on your new network OWN.

Photographs by Wikimedia and S. Lindau