Category Archives: Humor

American Horror Story 6 Has Lost All Its Horror


Mock-umentary Spoilers


With all the secrecy and brou-ha-ha surrounding the sixth season of Ryan Murphy’s and Brad Falchuik’s anthology series American Horror Story, I was ready to be awake with nightmares after viewing the premiere. Instead, I was put to sleep. That’s despite the usual strong performance by Sarah Paulson, who should have won the Emmy for last year’s stint as Hypodermic Sally in AHS: Hotel.  The premiere, which let us know the season will be set up like a mock crime documentary, with actors playing people who supposedly went through the “nightmare” and other actors playing the actors-playing-the-people-who-went-through-it-all. Instead of lending authenticity to the story, the mock-documentary style added emotional distance to My Roanoke Nightmare. Instead of suspense, the premiere, cleverly titled “Chapter 1,” delivered a horror story about as scary as Saturday morning’s Scooby-Doo mysteries. American Horror Story has lost all its horror.

All the crazy trailers, which viewers could vote on to be entered in a sweepstakes to win a Mercedes Benz, which is, apparently, the official sponsor of season 6, led us to believe that all the previous seasons of American Horror Story might have something to do with this sixth season. I didn’t see anything from the teasers that might have had anything to do with the premiere, unless it was the freaky mobile left in the house of Shelby (Lily Rabe, in the mock-umentary; Sarah Paulson, in the mock-re-enactment, below) and her husband Will (André Holland, in the mock-umentary; Cuba Gooding Jr in the mock-re-enactment, below).


The couple moves from The City after Will is randomly attacked in a knock-out, and after Shelby loses their baby in a miscarriage. They go to Will’s home state of North Carolina, find a monstrously huge “farmhouse” (how about, mansion, you crazy AHS guys) in the middle of the woods, and despite being totally and completely abandoned, the place is in incredibly good condition, like no rotting floors or broken windows or even cobwebs as far as I could tell.


To make the sale of the mansion/farmhouse even more unrealistic, there are only two bidders for the abandoned three-story-Gothic, which comes with mega-acreage that is “protected” as green space or something like that: one of the bidding groups is Shelby/Will, and the other is a group of redneck hillbillies who look more like they came out of the mountains of Appalachia than from North Carolina. (One viewer — Marcy Leavitt Psy.D (@LifeCoachMarcyL) — tweeted that one of the hillbillies was played by Chaz Bono, whom I didn’t even recognize, but his image serves well enough for all the hillbillies in the premiere.)


The bidding starts at $20-25K, I think, but to out-bid the hillbillies, Shelby and Will offer $40K — their whole life savings, I guess, which is supposedly why the couple has to remain in the haunted mansion after it’s clear that there’s something obviously wrong with the entire set-up. Around the mansion, it hails teeth, and not clean little baby-teeth but grungy adult molars. Too bad Shelby is the only one who sees those teeth. Two ghosts trail across the hall, but, again, Shelby is the only one who sees them. Is she crazy? Is this an allusion to the second season of AHS, when Sarah Paulson’s reporter-character voluntarily committed herself to an Asylum to get the inside scoop? Nah, it’s just a predictable “horror” story, where only one person (and the viewers) sees what’s really going on, and nobody else believes her.

So Will goes off to work — he’s a traveling salesman — and Shelby tries to get comfortable in the house, doing yoga, drinking rosé, cooking, taking a dip in the hot-tub which is out in the yard in the dark in the woods which is so cray-cray I knew something bad was going to happen. And it did. Somebody pushed Shelby underwater and held her there, but then the cops said there were no footprints or other evidence that anyone had been there.

So what does Hubby-Will do? Convinced that it is “just those hillbillies,” he runs out and buys a gun to protect himself and his often-alone-wifey. Wrong! He installs security cameras all around the property (but not inside the actual house as far as I could tell) so that he can watch future paranormal or harassing incidents on his Smartphone from his hotel room in whatever faraway city he happens to be selling his products. How predictable is this getting? Yeah, you guessed it.

To make it more interesting, or just to have more guest stars in the show, Will asks his newly sober former-cop sister (Angela Bassett) to come stay with Shelby while he’s on his next trip. Shelby and Sis-in-law have some underlying hostility, mainly about Sis’ drinking and Shelby’s wanting to live in The City. So, I guess Sis thinks Shelby is making up all the creepity-creepy stuff so she can get hubby Will back to The City, and Shelby thinks Sis is still drinking and not being supportive. Okay, so an empty wine bottle rolls into Sis’ bedroom, and she yells at Shelby, and Shelby yells back, and then they hear something that makes them go to the door of the basement.

And here’s where it gets even more ridiculous. Though Sis can’t get any lights on, and though she’s told Shelby she still has her gun, Sis goes down into the dark basement, with Shelby following, without any weapons. Oh, those crazy girls. Then the door gets slammed and locked — no, really? — and the two of them hear this noise which is some weird video on a television in the middle of the basement. Sis has a wrench by then, but the two of them just stand there watching the video, which looked like it had Dennis O’Hare with a beard, lying under something: it was way to grainy and jumpy to tell exactly what was going on. But instead of being freaked out by the fact that somebody got into the basement and put a video in a television in the middle of the floor, the two just keep watching it.


At some point in the show, a creepy mobile appeared in the entry way of the house, looking like something Rust and Cole were seeing in the Bayou in True Detective season 1, and then Will watched something scary from his Smartphone but of course he couldn’t do anything about it, and then the next thing I knew, Shelby was running out of the house, jumping into the car, and driving away. Of course, she hit somebody standing in the middle of the road. It looked like a woman. And then, because she’s so scared and freaked out by all the spooky things happening at her house and running away from it all, she jumps out of the car — in the dark, on an abandoned road, in the middle of nowheres-ville — and starts shouting that the woman, who is beginning to look like a really grungy Kathy Bates, let Shelby take her to the hospital.


Injured woman goes into the woods and, contrary to all common-sense, Shelby follows her, gets lost (ya think?) and can’t find her way out, falls (really? I mean, really?), feels the ground moving creepily under her hands, then jumps up and starts screaming.


All I could think of was Tippi Hedren’s story about when she was making The Birds with Alfred Hitchcock, and her character was supposed to go upstairs where she knew those nasty birds had broken into the house, and Hedren asked Hitchcock, “What’s my motivation for going upstairs?” and Hitchcock said something like, “Your motivation is I’m the director and I’m telling you to do it.”

‘Cause, you know, otherwise, it makes no sense whatsoever.

That’s how I felt about American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare. The series lost its horror long ago, and is simply churning out the same stories (Death House and it mirror-story,  Hotel, for example) with some new stars.  The premiere of season 6 was not scary, some of the story made no sense, and the actors seemed to be doing things just because the writers and the director told them to.

And that’s sad, because I really loved Death House.

That is still the scariest season of American Horror Story yet.


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Filed under Actors, American Horror Story, Horror, Humor, Movies/Television, Recap, Review

On Hairballs and the Writing Life



I meant to get a lot of writing done today. I hadn’t necessarily intended to do a blog, especially after I spent the entire morning doing the state taxes for our businesses (mine’s writing, of course), but I wanted to get some work done on that 15th Anniversary Edition of one of my books that I’m revising. Which was supposed to be published in December 2015.

Missed that deadline by being Mommy to a doggie that had to get an emergency tooth extraction, to one of our kitties who was diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes and who had to be hospitalized (who’s now in remission), to another kittie who has FORLS — a dental disease found in 20% of Rescue cats which causes their teeth to break and expose the root — requiring two emergency tooth extractions, and to another kittie who has Stomatitis, an auto-immune disease in which the cat is allergic to the natural bacteria on its own teeth, causing its tongue, gums, palate, and throat to get inflamed and swollen, leaving the cat in great pain and unable to eat or drink. The only possible cure: complete extraction of all her teeth. But she still occasionally gets lesions on her lips, allergic lesions, which cause her great pain and prevent her from eating. So she has to get NSAIDs every third day, and get blood work every three months to make sure her kidneys are functioning properly.

As if that weren’t enough to keep Mommy from having any writing time over the last few months, the dreaded HAIRBALL Season has begun.

If you have cats, you know what I’m talking about. That horrid time of year when the weather begins to warm and cats’ hair begins to shed. Only it usually ends up in their mouths and digestive tracts from grooming before it gets a chance to be swept up by your vacuum. Last week, it was 50-60F every day. Shed-city.

And before we knew what was happening, Hairball Disaster Zone.

IMG_0576_1024 2Sascha is leading in this race to cover the house with slimy, disgusting, smelly hairballs. She’s hurled 7 of them just in the past few days, 4 of them this morning and this afternoon. None of them has been less than 5 inches long, and each is as wet as a dripping beach towel. I’m thinking of giving up washing the blanket I put on the couch to protect it. Water is a more precious commodity in the desert than a couch, even if it does get stained. Meanwhile, Sascha, who doesn’t think much of the hairball gel, is giving me the Evil Eye and the Arched Back from the top of the highest Cat Tree in the house.

Eli’s become a real pro at this Hairball Game. He can drag out a Hairball, leaving little gnarly puddles of food and… well… imagine it… all around the room in a circle before he finally coughs up one humongous hairball. His must be at least 6 inches long and 3 inches in diameter. It wouldn’t be so bad if he did it all in one place, like Sascha, but he prefers to try to cover as much ground as possible while discharging the hairball and all its accompanying contents. He’s only done 3 today, but when you have to clean the entire carpet in the room each time he hurls one, it makes it seem like so much more.


Ling seems to be annoyed that the LongHairs are getting all the attention, so she dropped 3 in an hour today. And even though she likes the taste of the hairball gel, she made us chase her for half an hour before letting us get some into her. Then she stalked away and promptly ejected another gnarly mess.

Trixie just gave us the Evil Eye To The Max when we tried to approach her with the tube of hairball gel: I believe she feels she has “done her time” — for life — after being subjected to Blood Glucose tests, which require ear-pricking, and insulin shots for the past 2.5 months. Don’t tell her she might come out of remission: she might run away and join the circus.

IMG_1095_1024 3

Sophie is totally simpatico with Trixie on the hairball thing, even if she does like the taste of the gel if she’s in the mood. Neither of them were in the mood today. And both of them like to expel their hairballs on the top of things like my computer keyboard, my desk, the book I’m currently reading, my iPad (cover closed, thank god).


Baxter likes the gel, but not all the commotion. After depositing his slippery hairball gifts on the kitchen chairs today, he jumped up onto the top of the cupboards. I guess he thought it might be fun to see us climbing on chairs and ladders to try to catch him. We eventually surrendered to his High Ground, though I’m sure there’s a pile of hairballs up there by now.


Shooter Tov — THE Alpha male in this household — not to be outdone by his little brother Baxter, who sometimes gets the privilege of playing Alpha Male if Shooter’s taking a nap, watched Baxter cover the cushions on the kitchen chairs, watched Mommy and Daddy sponge-sponge-sponge-ing them off, and then climbed onto the kitchen table and decorated it with a hairball that would rival any canvas of Jackson Pollock’s.

So, there.


The only person who has NOT expelled a hairball today is Sadie-Doggie, but she’s been following the cats around as they do them because she loves the hairball gel and insists on getting some each time one of them does. Mommy’s trying to write and Sadie’s begging for more gel. I can just hear her asking, What does a dog have to do to get some yummy-yum-yum hairball gel around here? Cough up a hairball?

And I’ve just been told that Shooter is attempting to deposit a slimy gift in my bag, which I accidentally left sitting on the kitchen chair while I went to clean up Sascha’s latest offering.


Ahh, the life of a Mommy.

I had to write this blog today to remind myself that I am actually also a writer.



Filed under Cats, Humor, Philosophy, Real Life of a Writer

Love on the Tech Support Line


fairy-tale-1314678Having updated my computer recently, I needed some help recalling how to restore my files and information from the external hard-drive backup to the new computer. First, I called Apple. Since I use their Time Machine, I thought it would be a relatively quick and painless process. Though the average wait time was supposed to be “longer than usual,” my call was picked up relatively quickly. Maxwell said he could help me without any difficulty whatsoever. He asked me to verify my name. I did so.

“Wow,” said Maxwell, “Alexandria Constantinova. That’s a beautiful name.”

“Thank you.”

“I don’t think I ever heard a name so beautiful.”

“Thank you very much. I changed my name as soon as I was legally and financially able to…”

“And your voice… It’s so… beautiful…”


“And I just love your laugh.”


“It’s really beautiful…”

“Maxwell, could we…”

“Alexandria Constantinova. It sounds like Russian aristocracy. Are you Russian aristocracy?”

“Yes. My real name was Anastasia, but it got too much attention, so I changed it.”

“Are you as beautiful as your name?” said Maxwell. “Do you look like a princess?”

naficeh-1432782Now, if I were about the age of the lovely princess fairy in the photo above, I might be flattered by the fact that Maxwell kept addressing me as “Princess.”

If I lived in a palace like this,

hluboka-castle-at-night-1-1486316or in a castle like this,


I might even request that Maxwell call me “Princess.”

But I’m not a fairy princess, don’t live in a palace or a castle, and I had a lot of work to do. I needed to get my computer restored. I reminded him why I’d called. Coughing nervously, he again told me that he’d never heard of a name more beautiful or spoken to anyone who was Russian aristocracy before…

I began to wonder how long Maxwell had been drinking on the job, and whether his fellow tech support  unit could see him sitting at his desk, surrounded by fumes of vodka. I wondered if they were aware of his fixation on Russian aristocracy, which has not existed since the Tsar and his entire family were executed during the Russian Revolution.

Claiming I had another call coming in, I discreetly disconnected from Maxwell — who did not return the call, by the way — and called in to another tech, who led me through the steps without drooling over my name.

princess-1-1577494Next on the list was Microsoft. It’s changed the way it handles Office and Word, including Office for Mac, which I use in creating e-books and other documents. Now customers pay for a subscription, which basically means that for $99/year, you get unlimited phone, chat, and email support. Since I’d bought the new Office 365, with Office for Mac 2016, while my computer still on the FedEx truck heading for my office, I hadn’t downloaded the software.

Also, more troubling, I couldn’t find the product activation key anywhere, though I had all the purchase order numbers and emails verifying my purchase. And I’d paid for the small business package, so that I could load it onto 1-5 computers.

I needed tech support. Irving came on the line. After I explained that I couldn’t find the download page, he, too, asked me to verify all my personal information, including the email I use with Microsoft. I did so.

princess-1-1434100Irving set up a “screen-sharing” session, when the Tech Support personnel can see what’s on your screen and guide you through the necessary steps. I’ve done it many times in the past, mostly with Apple, and I’ve used Microsoft Word and Office since 1989, so I was comfortable “sharing my screen” with Irving.

The major difference between Apple’s and Microsoft’s “screen-sharing” sessions, however, is that Apple can only point a big red cursor at what it wants you to click, while Microsoft can actually control your computer with its cursor.

Chatting merrily away, Irving got the download started, clicking Okay, Agree, and Continue to everything — which is what I would have done, of course, but then the cursor whipped across the desktop to a folder titled “Alexandria’s Books.”

“What’s this?” said Irving.


“This folder here.”

“My books.”

“You write books?”

“I do.”

“Had any of them published?”

“All of them.”

princess-headwear-1-1424186Now, I have to admit that something similar to this part of the conversation has happened before, with various tech support personnel, from many different companies. Often, when I’m buying software or computers or upgrading said items, support personnel ask me what I want to do with the equipment and software.

When I tell them I’m an author, they sometimes ask if I’ve written anything they might have heard of. I usually tell them they probably haven’t, but I have had a few tech support people in the past who had heard of my first novel, for example — and some had actually read it — or of my Mastering Point of View (1st edition) because they wanted to be writers themselves.

They’re usually very excited to be talking to an author, and they do everything they can to help me get back to work as soon as possible.

“Oh, my god,” Irving suddenly blurted out while we were waiting for the installation of Office for Mac 2016 to complete. “Is that you?”

“I’m still here,” I said, not really understanding the question in the first place.

“No, I mean, is that picture you?”

I had no idea what Irving meant since no tech who “screen-shares” can see your desktop photo, and, in any event, mine is of Mads Mikkelsen.

“What picture?”

The Alexandria Papers,” said Irving. “Is that you?”

“Oh, that’s my blog. What’d you do: look me up on your computer while waiting for the download?”

“Is that picture of you?”

“The typewriter keys?” I said, trying to steer him away from any tangential conversation. “No, that’s just a photo of the kind of typewriter I learned to type on. You know, the manual kind. ‘Cause I’m lots older than you are, I’m guessing.”

“I mean, is that red-head you?” said Irving, not to be distracted by anything as trivial as my age.

“Uh, well, yes…”

“How recent?”

“About 2 weeks ago. Maybe 3.”

That red-head is you? Oh, my god…”

“You’re probably looking at the wrong page, Irving.”

“You’re so beautiful,” said Irving. “You look like a princess.”


Irving sent me his email, his phone number, and his cell number — and I’m guessing Irving lives in India since it was an international number — in case I ever needed to get in touch with him about the download and the installation.

All of which Irving was handling just fine remotely, clicking away until everything was up and running.

I thanked him profusely and finally managed to get off the call after I checked my email, while Irving waited on the line, to reassure him that I had, indeed, gotten his email with all the pertinent

My last call that longest day ever was to Verizon since I’d decided to raise my data allowance. Despite Apple’s constant denials, ever since its Mavericks & Yosemite OS, and its iOS 7-9, the data drain has been enormous, especially if you leave your WiFi on, and even if your computer is asleep. I knew iOS9 was coming out, that the new El Capitan OS was coming, and I do have blogs to write, tweets to tweet, Facebook posts to post, for the remainder of the month, etc., and I didn’t want to go over my data limit.

Wilken was more than happy to help me adjust my monthly data allowance, while giving me a substantial discount for being such a loyal customer since 2008, with so many “unencumbered” devices (which means that I bought them elsewhere, so only one of my devices is under contract, and that one is only under contract for a few more weeks). Verizon is happy to give you a discount on each device that could be taken to another company without penalty, for up to two years, but you have to ask for it: Verizon doesn’t advertize this fact.

While I was waiting for the final monthly bill figures, Wilken suddenly spoke, sounding strangely dreamy.

“Alexandria Constantinova,” he said. “What a lovely name. It sounds like the name of a princess.”



Filed under Humor, Memoir

Claire and Jamie and THE JOY OF SEX: Starz’s OUTLANDER


Warning: Spoilers
About Opening Scene

claire jamieIf you missed episode 10 of Starz’s Outlander last night, you missed one of the most interesting openings to an episode of any show I’ve watched recently: husband Jamie performing oral sex — apparently quite expertly — on new bride Claire. It gave a whole new meaning to Claire’s question on their wedding night, “Where did you learn to kiss like that?” as well as to Jamie’s response: “I said I was a virgin, not a monk.”

He sure wasn’t “kissing” like a monk in the initial scene of episode 10.

In fact, I was so surprised by the scene, complete with Jamie’s waiting for Claire to climax before answering the insistent pounding and shouting at their bedroom door, that I turned to my boyfriend of 21 years to ask him a question about that particular scene and get his male perspective. While my boyfriend doesn’t watch the show, he knows the premise. I’d already watched episode 10 once, and it was just starting again.

“Jamie’s a newlywed, and they’ve been separated a lot,” I said, indicating the television, where the show was playing, on mute. “How’d he learn to do oral sex so well and so quickly if he was a virgin when he got married?”

My boyfriend looked up at the screen.

“Her breasts look better when she’s lying down than when she’s standing up,” he said, referring, of course, to Claire (Caitriona Balfe).

“Do you think she taught him how to do oral sex?” I said.

“What time period is this?”

“The past,” I said.

“What year?” said my boyfriend, still staring at Claire in the bed, bare to the waist, her leg over Jamie (Sam Heughan)’s shoulder with his head buried against her lower body.

“1793… I think. Why?”

“Looks like he’s doing it right,” he said.

“What’s that got to do with the year?”

“Nothing. I was just wondering what time period it was: past or present.”

“The present in this show is still the past: it’s 1945.”

“Who’s her husband in 1945?”

“The one playing the bad guy in the past: the one with the dark hair. His name is Frank when he’s her husband, but in this time period, he’s Black Jack Randall.”

“Okay,” he said, looking at the screen, his book lowered, waiting, apparently, for another shot at Cait’s bare upper body.

“Do you think Claire taught Jamie how to do oral sex? Or do you think he knew how to do it before they got married, even if he was a virgin?”

“How would I know?” he said, still watching Cait. “Did he come through the stone with her?”

Stones,” I said. “No. He’s her husband in the past.”

“And he was a virgin when they got married? At his age? Back then?”

At this point, Claire climaxed, and Jamie’s cousin was permitted to enter the room on his urgent business. Since Claire covered her breasts, my boyfriend lifted his book and started reading once more.

cait sam tobias“Her character liked oral sex in the show’s present, too,” I said. “She left her undergarments at the Bed & Breakfast when she and her husband Frank visited the castle.”

“Undergarments?” said my boyfriend, looking over at me.

I told him about the scene from episode 1, with Claire sitting on the table in the decrepit and abandoned castle, husband Frank (Tobias Menzies)’s remark about her “leaving her undergarments at home,” and then his kneeling down to please her.

“Uh-huh,” he said, going back to his reading.

“You didn’t answer the question,” I said.

“I don’t know how her red-head-husband learned oral sex,” he said, turning the page. “I don’t watch the show.”

“How did you learn it?” I said.

He kept on reading.

“Did someone teach you?”

“From The Joy of Sex,” he said.

“You learned oral sex from a book?”



“Yes. Does the red-head-husband know how to read?”

“Joy of Sex wasn’t published back then,” I said. “You really learned oral sex from a book?”

“It had pictures,” he said, looking intently at the book he was reading in bed.

“How old were you?” I asked.

“Younger than that guy,” he said, glancing up very briefly at the television screen where Jamie was getting dressed.

I waited patiently for my boyfriend’s answer to my question, but he continued turning pages as I prepared to click off the television.

“So, you don’t have an opinion on whether Jamie’s being a virgin on his wedding night was a technicality or not?” I said, wanting to know a man’s opinion on the subject.

“A technicality?”

“He could have been doing oral sex on girls but not having intercourse with them,” I said. “Either so they wouldn’t get pregnant, so he wouldn’t have to marry them, or both.”

“I guess.”

“No opinion?”

“I don’t watch the show,” he said, looking up to see if Cait’s character was nude to the waist again. “I don’t know anything about it.”

“I was just asking your opinion,” I said, snuggling closer to him, “as a man.”

“I learned it from The Joy of Sex,” he said, kissing me on the forehead before slightly adjusting his position in bed so I wasn’t lying on his shoulder any longer as he continued to read his book. “I don’t know where the red-head learned it, but it looked like he was doing it right.”

I never did get an answer, from a man’s perspective, to my question.

But Claire looked quite happy with new husband Jamie’s performance.

jamie claireI wonder which of the two characters in Outlander will be reading a book in bed after they’ve been together 21 years.



Filed under Actors, Books, Humor, Movies/Television, Outlander, Violence

Bernard Rejects Rejection


Writing is very hard work. Being an author is an incredibly difficult job, one fraught with constant rejection. The only career I can think of that probably has even more rejection than being an author is being an actor. Still, if you are to survive as a writer, you must constantly write, improve your craft, and deal with rejection: from family, friends, colleagues, grocery clerks, neighbors, and even strangers.

If you wish to go beyond the “career” of writer and become an author, you must deal with rejection on an exponentially larger scale, experiencing rejection — and sometimes insults — from agents, editors, publishers, readers, reviewers, family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, the person who bags your groceries, and even strangers.

Bernard is a writer who wants to be an author, and he found a unique way to  deal with all the constant rejection in an author’s life. Bernard rejects rejection.

I advise every writer and author to follow Bernard’s example.

You’ll feel so much better after writing that letter.

Just don’t ever mail it.


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Filed under Authors, Creative Writing, Editors, Humor, Indie Authors, Real Life of a Writer, Self-Published Authors