Days of Our Pandemic: episode y3

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of  Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode y, part 2, they had a plan to leave the enclosure of these four walls in order to get K medical assistance. I know, you’re thinking about the multitude of medical assistances K requires, but, in this case, she suffered a laceration to the head. At Z’s insistence, the two were getting ready to leave the bathroom, leave the house, leave these four walls. But Z claimed K was forgetting something….

K held up the toilet paper. “Got the TP, Z.” She looked around the bathroom. She tried to remember if she was supposed to take the plumbing. Or was it the wet/dry vac? There was a towel on the floor. That didn’t seem like the place it should be. Maybe she was supposed to wrap herself in a towel. Was she supposed to stay fully clothed under the towel? That didn’t sound right. She was going to the doctor after all, the place she first attended in her birthday suit…

Z cooed, “What about,” then cawed, “ME YOU PEABRAIN?!”

“I didn’t pee in my brain. Did I, Z? Maybe I did hurt myself badder than I thought and my thoughts are not working. Oh no, a leak in my brain?”

“Nuthead.”

“Nuts, too!? I’m doomed.” K’s hands shot to her neck. She toddled and nearly fell, again. “I’m dying. I’m dying.”

“Then stop choking yourself,” Z told K.

“Oh.” K let her hands drop to her sides. “That fixed it.”

“And the doctor will fix the rest of what she can, but bring me with you.”

“Right-o, Z. Let’s go.”

K took Z to the garage, along with the toilet paper. She set Z on the passenger seat and buckled her in.

“Safety first, Z,” K said.

K started the car. She released the emergency break. She put the car in reverse. 

“Don’t forget to open the garage, K,” said Z.

“Right-o, Z.”

The garage door opened. K and Z began to back out of the garage.

“We’re doing it. We’re doing it,” Z said. “We’re leaving this blasted house behind!”

“Yes! A blast from your behind!”

Z was too thrilled to deal with K, so she pretended not to hear her.

Just before K and Z reached the edge of the four walls of the lavender house with blue violet trimming on Wonky Way Lane, K hit the breaks.

“What are you doing, K? We’re almost out! We are leaving, escaping! Self-liberation! Emancipation! Let’s go!”

“Uhhh? Z? There’s something fishy behind us.”

“What?” Z turned to see, but she was in a mirror so she could not see behind her. “What is it?”

“Well, maybe fishy is the wrong word. There are no fish. It is kind of goldfish colored though.”

“What is it, K?”

“It’s a big, fiery wall of fire.”

“No!”

“Yes, Z. It is. I swear. I promise. It’s for real.”

“It’s a wall of fire?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure, K?”

“Quite, Z.”

Z’s gaze met the ground. “It’s a firewall,” she said.

“But it’s for real. I thought firewalls were virtual.”

“They are, K, but we live in a world where the lines between reality and virtuality are disappearing.”

“And reappearing as a real live fire wall?”

“Sure,” said Z. 

“Then what will we do about my head, Z? Please don’t say cut it off. I like my head, Z. I wouldn’t like to live without my head.”

“You won’t, K,” said Z.

“Oh, thank you, Z,” said K.

“That’s not what I meant, K,” said Z. 

“Oh, thank you, Z.”

They sat a moment, each worrying over the circumstance they found themselves in but for entirely different reasons.

“Z? It’s getting hot in here. Can we close the garage door, please?” asked K.

Z felt the loss of the near escape and recognized that closing the garage door meant closing the door to a successful escape from the enclosed by these four walls. Again.

Z exhaled a breath large enough to extinguish a fire — on a candle wick. “Yes, K,” she said. “Let’s go inside and call the doctor.”

“Oooh! Can I do a virtual visit, Z?”

“That’s the only thing you can do thanks to the real firewall, K.”

“Oh, that’s much better, Z. That means no shots!” said K.

“Just the one right through the heart of our escape plan.”

K snickered. “That one’s not real, Z.”

“I know,” said a downtrodden Z.

“You’re so silly.”

“Come on now. Back to the bathroom. You can give me a good look at you there and we will get you a bit cleaned up before we call the doctor.”

“That sounds like a plan, Z.”

“Oh, K. I’d slap you if I could.”

“Okay, Z.”

The two made a virtual appointment, called the doctor, and cleaned K’s head — which turned out not to be bleeding at all. No. K stored several sriracha packets in her hairline and the fall caused one to burst and squirt onto her right eyebrow.  All remained as well as could be in the lavender house with violet blue trim on Wonky Way Lane. Which is, of course, to say things were not well at all.

Is Z out of ideas for good? Or will her ideas go bad? Or worse, might K take the reins to lead K and Z out of the enclosure of these four walls? Poor K and Z. What will they do next? Find out in the next episode of Days of Our Pandemic.

Vlog Review: I Can Make This Promise

Hit Play on the video above.

Premise: Who is Edie Green and what makes her different? Firstly, she didn’t know she was different until kindergarten when her teacher asked her where her family is from and all she could say was Seattle. Secondly, her mom is Native American, adopted into a white family. As far as Edie knows, they have no connection to her mother’s birth family. She doesn’t know if she’s a part of a local tribe or not. What she does know is she has Native American features — strikingly similar to a woman in a photograph Edie and her friends discover hidden in the attic. But who is the woman in the picture? And how could her parents be hiding information about this woman that may relate to her identity from her?

Rating: 4.5/5
Target: 5-8

Title: The title encapsulates the entirety of the book and only takes its full significance in the final pages. So, to be purposely vague, it’s poignant.

Main Characters: Edie Green, 12 y/o (she/her)

Motifs (not exhaustive): identity, friendship, truth & hidden truth, disagreement, artistry/creativity, otherness, acceptance, coming of age, Native American history/culture, American history, family/adoption

Great for…* (readers): who are themselves coming of age, figuring out who they are and how they fit into a world with ever-changing knowledge about themselves. Readers who appreciate OWN voices, a bit of mystery, or history will also enjoy this book.

Great for…* (teachers): x Native American history, x Washington state history, motif and theme development, x art/film project, MAKE SURE TO READ THE AUTHOR’s NOTE FOR RELATED CLASS CONTENT/PROJECTS.

If you find yourself getting asked “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” how do you respond? What do you want the people who ask those questions to understand?

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*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.

RATINGS GUIDE

٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend

Days of our Pandemic: episode m4

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what happened in the previous episode (i) of The Days of Our PandemicOr start from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode m, part 3, K and Z discovered a present on the porch. What’s it it and whose it from? Read on! It’s time to begin the end of episode m.

K grabbed the box from the porch with greed, as though grabbing at freedom and fresh air itself. She brought it inside, showing Z. She tore into it. 

“It has a note,” said K.

“Show it to me,” said Z.

K held the note up to the mirror for Z to see.

“Open it first!” said Z.

“Well you didn’t say that,” said a peeved K.

K opened the note and showed Z the message on the note.

Z read aloud. 

Dear KZ Rochelle,
We figured those boys of yours must be eating you through house and home now that they’re there at home all the time, so we’re sending you these supplies.
With Love, Your Parents

Z looked up from the message into K’s eyes. “There are boys here?” Z asked far too calmly.

“Yes, Z. My boys,” said K.

“Your sons?” asked Z.

“Of course, Z.” K laughed. “You are so silly sometimes.”

“You have sons!?” Z yelled. “And just what have they been doing this whole time!?”

“I don’t know, Z. Playing video games?”

Just then, K’s phone beeped.

“Oooooh!” said K. “A message.”

K pulled out her phone and opened it up. 

K read the message. “Although your milk flag was noted by our system, you will not receive a delivery today as you are not permitted to receive more than one grocery delivery in a single day. We look forward to serving you in the future.”

“Damn it, K!”

“What is it, Z?”

“Don’t you understand?”

“Yes. I understand that you understand and I understand the chemical potential is just the Gibbs free energy norma—”

Z interrupted K. “I know! I know! You understand the chemical potential is just the Gibbs free energy normalized to the amount of substance.”

“I do,” said K.

“But what you don’t seem to comprehend is that our plan has been foiled!” said Z.

“Shall I put foil on this food?” asked K.

“Oh, goodness,” said Z.

“Good, yes,” said K and she closed up the box to begin wrapping its exterior in tin foil.

With one side foiled, a door squeaked open.

“Hey, Mom,” said a tweenage boy from underneath a cap. “Do you want to play video games with us?”

“I surely do,” said K and ran off to play video games, leaving Z alone on the floor of the foyer next to a large foil-covered box where she sat cogitating how they would certainly escape the confines of these four walls with tomorrow’s plan.….

Will K and Z escape their four walls with tomorrow’s plan? Find out in the next installments in The Days of Our Pandemic

Book Review: French Exit

I’ll tell you from the beginning. This is a post to declare to you that I would make a fabulous casting director. Or possibly a self-deceiving cheat.

I’ve finished reading French Exit by Patrick DeWitt.  I always want to add an article in front of the title, declaring this book to be about the French exit, but apparently there are many French exits, several in the book, more in reality. 

Anyway, I picked it up, knowing it was in production to be a film — but I didn’t know it was a finished film. In theaters now (in LA and NYC). 

The several French exits in the book are declared early. Fanny Price has gone broke. Her immense wealth that grew upon her marriage has run dry. Absolutely. Nothing left after seven years of warnings from her financial advisor Mr. Baker. When the money runs out, he asks Fanny what her plan had been through those seven years. Her response epitomizes her character: “My plan was to die before the money ran out. But I kept and keep not dying, and here I am.” 

Here, at the time, is stateside, but without a place to stay she soon finds it necessary to head to Paris where a friend has an apartment where Frances may stay. She travels to France with her son because it’s their only option (exit 1), all the while with the plan to rid herself of her final spending money and do as she planned: die (exit 2). But she’ll do it her way, as much as she can. 

DeWitt presents Price fully formed, take her or leave her, and take her you must. She’s just quirky enough, just witty enough, and just sane enough to be mesmerizing beyond her beauty. 

When I first began reading, I envisioned Price as Hepburn with a Brynn Mawr accent, an elitist prig from the early scenes of The Philadelphia Story. But as I read, as DeWitt presents flashbacks that explain the why of what you the reader already know the character is, Price took on more color. She could not be caught in the black and white films of Hepburn, held in the distance by time. No, she was fully-fleshed if standoffish, with a flat American annunciation. Her voice became Michelle Pfeiffer’s, flat and flavored as in I Am Sam where her character must hold it all together for appearances sake.

And this is where I return to my premise for this post. Can you guess which actress plays Frances Price in theaters? Why, none other than Michelle Pfeiffer herself. The character could not be played by anyone as well what with the coupling of physical beauty Pfeiffer possesses with her paradoxically cold voice with undertones of rich emotion — such that it made me wonder if DeWitt wrote the novel with Pfeiffer in mind for the role. If he did, he got what he wanted. 

Either way, I got what I wanted and thus I proclaim myself a great casting director without any other evidence than that which I’ve just noted (and will tell myself that is sufficient evidence to make a case — I’m not claiming I’d make a great lawyer). Either that, or somewhere I caught a glimpse of Pfeiffer in the role and have given myself the credit all the while keeping my conscious self from this knowledge. Deceiving at least myself and possibly you in the process. Take your pick.

But if you want to read this book, you’ve got to want to read it for the dark humor and intoxicating horror of Price, whose grown son lives with her because he wants to and she wants him to. Their relationship keeps Malcolm Price from marrying his fiance. (I’m still perplexed as to why the fiance is interested in Malcolm, but that enigma is never meant to be explained. The Prices are an addiction. Logic need not have anything to do with it. And like all addictions, they’re rather dark and a bit dirty.) The book centers on Frances Price, but it’s not necessarily about her. Once you’ve read it, think about it. Tell me: is the book about Frances or Malcolm or someone else altogether? I’ll be interested to know.

Oh! By the way… I’m eager to see this movie — I hope it’s as arty as I want it to be. And since I’m already a fantastic casting director, I can confidently declare it’s in the film’s best interest to follow the notions I’ve never voiced regarding its most apt aesthetic.

Rating: 3.5/5
Target: adult readership, 16 y.o. and up

Shop local bookshops.
Shop Amazon.
Add on Goodreads.

RATINGS GUIDE

٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend

The Days of Our Pandemic: episode m

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

Outside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, two male rabbits strode nonchalantly down the middle of the road, a road rarely ridden by cars or bikes or even scooters. The inhabitants of the homes on Wonky Way Lane lived, breathed, exercised, baked banana bread, and did not dance much, all inside their homes since the great big and powerful (yet small and slight) Corona Virus began to conquer the world and establish its reign by reining the world in. Each and every home waved the COVID flag in a color designated by the governor and mandated by the virus itself. 

So, inside the lavender home waving a purple flag on Wonky Way Lane, K and Z prepared for the day. Observe, Reader, from your safe distance on the far side of the screen lest you spiral into what you discover…

K brushed powder onto her face, a habit that used to be reserved for days she left the house, but was now an everyday occurrence despite the fact she never left.

“What shall we do today, Z?” K asked the reflection in the mirror. “I’m powdered for the process.”

“The same thing we do every day, K,” Z responded. “Escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

At the mention of such a plan, Rochelle’s cackling filled the walls themselves and pulsed into the boringly beige bathroom. 

Z covered her ears.

“Stop, Rochelle!” K hit the wall with the outside of her fist. 

The cackling continued.

“RO-Chelle!” K pounded hard enough to bruise the outside of her wrist. In fact, she did bruise the outside of her wrist. K cradled her own hand and Rochelle ceased her cackle with a moan of regret.

“Oh, K,” Z said, “when will you learn?”

“Me?” said K. “It’s Rochelle’s fault.”

The walls creaked.

“Was too!” K yelled.

The walls creaked.

“Too!”

Creak.

“Too!”

Creak.

“Too!”

“ENOUGH, you flibbity gibbets! Rochelle, you know better than to egg K on. She’s not insulated, to insults or anything else, as you are,” said Z.

Rochelle moaned a response.

“I know, I know,” Z told her. “You didn’t insult K, but she’s very tender in this time of isolation. That’s why we must accomplish our goal today.”

“What goal is that, Z?” asked K who had already forgotten Z’s words from a minute before.

“To escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

“That sounds lovely, Z.” K’s eyelids fluttered like the wings of the butterflies she imagined herself cavorting with in the forest beyond Wonky Way Lane. “How will we do that?”

“That’s what I’ve been working on since yesterday’s Transportationonometeration Machine disaster.”

“Yeah, a disaster,” said K.

“Don’t remind me!” Z exclaimed before muttering to herself something about the feel of paper between her fingers, though K could not compute.

Z tapped her fingertips together as K watched, transfixed. K tried to mirror Z’s motions from the mirror, but she kept missing and grazing the budding bruise on her wrist.

“Ouch.” …. “Ouch.”

“Oh, just leave that to me, would you?” Z said. K stopped trying. “I will tell you the plan for today.”

K looked eagerly to Z.

“We will use the flag system to our advantage.”

How can the flag system work to K & Z’s advantage? And will they find success? Continue next time with The Days of Our Pandemic.