Friday, June 12, 2009

Undead By Any Other Name

This week, watching horror flicks with the teen got me thinking. Why are some supernatural creatures (like vampires or werewolves) treated as sexy, seductive, potential boyfriend material, while others, (like zombies, mummies, or dancing skeletons) are treated as vile, hideous monsters?

You have to wonder (I know I have): would Twilight have been such a success if Edward Cullen had been a less desirable undead creature? Would Edward be nearly as desirable if he was, say, a shambling, flesh-eating zombie? Consider the following scene:

Bella Swan: You're impossibly slow, and dumb. Your skin is pale green and squishy. Your eyes fall out, and sometimes you speak like— like you have no vocal chords. You never drink anything. You keep trying to eat my brain. How old are you?

Edward Cullen: Uuuuhhhh.

Bella Swan: I know what you are.

Edward Cullen: Gaaaahhhh uhhh.

Bella Swan: Zombie.

Edward Cullen: Urrrrr.

I was sure of three things. One, Edward was a zombie.
Two, there was a part of him, and I didn't know how strong it was, that hungered for my brains. And third, I was irrevocably in love with him.

Not nearly so sexy, is it? Vampires really do get all the breaks when it comes to being undead.

It's hard to say exactly what is it about vampires that makes them so appealing. Is it the money? Mummies guard vast hoards of treasure, and you don't see the ladies lining up. Yes, they usually are dust-farting old piles of bones wrapped in bandages, but at least they have a steady job, and they often have a pretty swank pyramid to live in.

Is it the sense of lust intermingled with danger? The offer of immortal life? It can't be that. The zombies mentioned above are pretty lusty in their pursuit of eating human flesh, and that - you must admit - is rather dangerous. And when they kill, their prey rise up and become immortal zombies. So what is it then?

The only answer I can think of must be wardrobe. Girls are suckers for a sharp dressed man, even if he lacks a pulse. Be it Dracula, Lestat, Bill Compton, Edward Cullen or the Count from Sesame Street, vampires always dress well. They're really the only undead creatures with panache and style.But for a pair of Pradas and a well-cut suit, I can only presume my wife would be lusting after this:

He may not be perfect, but at least he knows
how to show a girl a good time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Onward and Upward

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the incredibly tardy post. As you can imagine, since
the photos of Robert Pattinson standing shirtless in Italy were released, it has been very difficult for me to get near the computer.

(I thought I could sneak a post in earlier this week, but then - alas - the New Moon trailer came out. Add to that the particularly fine weather we've been having in Vancouver lately, and you can perhaps forgive me for my lapse.

It was, in fact, the release of the infamous "shirtless photos" that finally tipped me off to some peculiar behaviour my wife had been exhibiting for some time now.

Shortly after the "shirtless pictures" went online,
my wife just happened to stop by the local sporting goods store and brought home a set of weights.

"Well, it's summer soon," she said, by way of explanation. "You want to look good for the beach, don't you?" she asked innocently, in between replays of the animated shirtless vid on YouTube.

I became suspicious.

Was I being groomed to look like Edward Cullen?

This wasn't the first time this had happened. Up until a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have guessed how many brands of glitter body paint there are. And I remembered an odd conversation we had a while ago over the dinner table:

"Stare at me."
"Stare at me like you want to eat me."
I frowned. She waited patiently.
"No. That just looks constipated."

It's easy to tell if you're being groomed to look like Pretty McSparkle. Pay close attention to your wife's behaviour and you'll soon picked up the pattern:

1. Random gifts of hair gel ("Try putting your hair up for a change, honey.")

2. Signing you up for piano lessons ("You said you wanted a new hobby.")

3. An unusual interest in your skin care routine ("The UV index is too high. here, wear this SPF 50 sunblock. And a hat. And cover your arms up.")

4. Your wardrobe has taken a decidedly… vintage look lately (“It's what all the guys are wearing now, trust me.”)

Honey? Why can't I wear shorts to the beach?

5. You are certain she keeps calling you by a different name (“No, you misheard me… I said “I love you, onward!”)

6. She makes you stand out in the cold for a half-hour before letting you come to bed (“It’ll tighten your pores”)

It may be paranoia on our part, I admit. But just remember, when she pages you at work and you hear “phone call for Mr. Cullen,” odds are it isn’t just a slip on her part…

Monday, May 25, 2009

Twilight Denial

The other night, my wife and I were enjoying dinner with another couple (friends from my wife's university days) when the topic of the Twilight phenomenon came up.

"I can't stand that series," the other wife said. "Such terrible writing! I can't believe this kind of thing passes muster at book publishers these days."

The husband was equally dismissive. "Yes. A really good example of the dumbing down of American culture. Not that it needed any help in that direction," he sniffed.

I can't remember the rest of the conversation, but I do recall phrases like "adolescent wish-fulfillment," "anti-feminist" and "utter trite."

I was about to point out that many of the Twilight blogs and fan sites my wife has been forcing me to read are terribly witty, remarkably self-aware and often delightfully self-deprecating
, when I felt a sharp pain in my shins. I looked at my wife. She was giving me her strongest warning look.

I suddenly realized that my wife was ashamed of being a Twilight fan. The same woman who hasn't watched any other movie but Twilight for the last 6 months, and signs off her emails with "xx days until New Moon!" was suddenly unwilling to identify herself as a Twi-hard .

My wife was in Twilight Denial. And I realized this was not the first time. She told the clerk at the video store that she was buying the Twilight DVD for her niece. The only problem is - she has no niece. She bought the books "for our son" when our son hadn't shown the slightest interest in the series at all. And I suspect that she is not the only Twilight Addict to be in denial about the depths of her problem.

Somehow, up until now, I had missed all the classic signs of Twilight Denial:

  • Refusal by your wife to acknowledge any previous interest in Twilight whenever it is brought up in public.

  • Wife claims that she did not enjoy the film when subject is broached, or weakly admit "it wasn't too bad."

  • When guests comes to your house, your wife spends the previous afternoon hiding any Twilight paraphernalia.

  • Wife makes concerted efforts to suppress any emotional response whenever the words "Robert Pattinson" are uttered.

  • You begin to get e-mails from Twilight bloggers asking if she is okay because she hasn't logged on or commented in days.

Once your wife has been exposed to normal society's disdain for Twilight, she is bound to be conflicted, and you may decide to use her confusion and shame to your advantage by suggesting she permanently remove all of the Twilight merchandise from the house, or threatening to "out" her to friends and family not yet in the know.

This is the most dangerous you can do.

As with any crisis of faith, there will come what is called the "Moment of Truth." When this time comes, your wife will be forced to choose between returning to normal society and rushing back to Forks with her arms spread wide.

While I encourage all my fellow Widowers to be optimistic, odds are she will once again choose Edward over you. Since you have become accustomed to the familiar feelings of rejection this will arouse in you, I want to assure you that you will recover (I urge you to look at your motivational posters again if need be).

However, if you tried to take advantage of her momentary crisis by removing her access to all things Twilight, or exposing her to potential ridicule, odds are she will hold this against you for some time.

There are inherent risks in using your wife's Twilight Denial against her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hang in There

The average Twilight Widower endures a great deal.

Since Edward Cullen has entered our lives, we have had to cope with loneliness, resentment, and an increase in the amount of housework we are expected to do.

Being the pillar of strength all Twilight Widowers are expected to be is never easy. There is no manual, and support groups are few and far between.

But you are not alone in this struggle. With a little help from Automotivator, I have created some motivational posters for you to print and hang in the garage or storage room.

In your most desperate moments, I hope they will bring you strength and solace.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teen Heartthrobs II - The Reckoning

The other day, while trying to talk my wife down from buying a full-size Edward Cullen poster for our bedroom, I had an eerie sense of deja vu.

Hordes of screaming girls. Object of adoration plastered on posters and T-shirts everywhere. Impossibly sexy hair.

And then it hit me. I've been here before.

It was 1988, and teenage boys everywhere were up against a force even their powerful hormones and youthful optimism could not defeat.

The New Kids on the Block (NKTOB) had arrived. This hair-gel based boy band stole the hearts of obsessive teenage fangirls the world over, leaving a trail of jealous, less-perfect boys in their wake. Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jordan and Jonathan lip-synched their way to fame and fortune, producing the kind of mass swoons even Robert Pattinson has yet to achieve.

Uncanny, isn't it?

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would once again, over twenty years later, be forced to compete with an equally formidable adversary: Stephenie Meyers' fictional vampire Edward Cullen, as embodied by British sensation, Robert Pattinson.

At first, I felt uncomfortable reliving my most awkward of years. But the fact that I had lived through this before gave me hope: it didn't last then, and it cannot last now.

Sure, in 1988 they were bigger than Jesus.
But by 1992, NKOTB experienced a wave of backlash they never recovered from. First came the disastrous self-produced album. Then allegations of lip-synching. Finally, persistent rumours that the band members hated each other took hold, and sales slumped.

Then in flash, they were gone.

Fast forward to 2009.

Twilight-mania has reached a fever pitch. After the release of the highly anticipated final chapter in the series, a successful movie and with a much-hyped sequel in the wings, we are experiencing the same high-water mark as NKOTB in 1989, between the release of Hangin' Tough and their number one single Step by Step.

If the parallels continue as they are now, I expect a final waning of the Twilight phenomenon due approximately in Fall 2014.

While this may seem like a long time, it is reassuring to know that this will eventually come to an end. With the continued support of blogs like this one, us Twilight Widowers should be able to weather these dark times, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang in there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Knowing When To Step In

A few days ago, my wife seemed really depressed. She was downright inconsolable. I was worried; did our cat die? Had our son decided to become a musician?

"It's awful," she said, trying to keep a brave face. "This is the last day Robert Pattinson is filming in Vancouver."

"Oh. Is that all? I thought it was something important."

Even as I said it, I knew that was the wrong thing to say. As she stormed out of the kitchen, grumbling about how I just didn't get it, I began to wonder if maybe she was too deep into her Twilight obsession.

Does your partner have a Twilight addiction?
There is a distinct difference between a harmless past-time and a full-blown addiction. For example, the way you keep baseball cards or can recite the entire script of the Empire Strikes Back is just a hobby and is in no way obsessive or sad. On the other hand, when you Significant Other has a large collection of Edward Cullen memorabilia and can quote line-for-line the movie Twilight is obviously an out-of-control obsession.

But do not jump to conclusions. There are some signs that your lady's "passing interest" in the blood-sucking glitter-boy may have passed into the realm of addiction:

  • Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness, particularly involving 23-year old English actors.
  • Change in overall attitude / personality. ("Did she just squeal like a 13-year-old girl?")
  • Changes in friends: new hang-outs (Twilight Blogs), avoidance of old crowd (non-Twilight fans), new friends (Twilight bloggers).
  • Change in activities; loss of interest in things that were important before (i.e., You).
  • Difficulty in paying attention; forgetfulness (Remember: Adding the words "Robert Pattinson" into your conversation randomly will help keep her focused).
  • Defensiveness, temper tantrums, resentful behavior ("I cooked for the first 14 years of this marriage! It's your turn!").
  • Unexplained silliness or giddiness.
  • Excessive need for privacy; keeps door locked or closed, won't let people in.
  • Possession of Twilight paraphernalia.

Is it time for an intervention?
If you have come to the realization that your SO is exhibiting some or all of these signs, it is important to know the steps toward staging a successful intervention.

Plan it out.
Go to the people around her or and speak to them privately about the idea of an intervention. You want the people closest to her, who care about her, and who she cares about as well. If it helps, tell them you are planning a surprise party and there will be cake.

If your SO doesn’t care about the people confronting her, it won’t work. She has to respect these people, and value their opinions. (It might not be a good idea to invite your mother.) It is also important to ascertain these people are not also closet Twilight Addicts. Inviting them to the intervention may undermine you efforts.

Try to keep the number in single digits, if you can. A more intimate group will be more effective. It also has to be clear that this intervention is a surprise, to keep the addict from avoiding the situation (please keep in mind, however, that it is inappropriate to ask intervention members to hide and then yell "surprise" when the addict arrives).

Prepare in advance.
The group should meet beforehand to lay out how they will approach the addict and what they will say to her. Taunting songs such as “Edward isn't real, nah nah nah nah nah” are not recommended.

Treatment options should be researched in advance, so that help can be suggested and offered immediately. This may be difficult, since established Twilight addiction services are not available at present.

Be careful during the intervention.
Keep the atmosphere positive. You want the addict to know you are here to help, not to blame. Yes, you may have gone to bed alone for the past eight months, and you're doubtless upset that the children now call Robert Pattinson “our new Daddy,” but a confrontational attitude will only make her more defensive. DO NOT insult or berate Edward Cullen. Any headway you may have made up to this point will be lost.

Take immediate action.
Following the intervention, the addict will either admit that her obsession with Twilight is beyond her control, or deny it. If she admits it, escort her to her stash of Stephenie Meyers books, help her pack it all into a trash bag, and dispose of it promptly. If she denies it, unfortunately, your intervention has failed. Cook her a nice batch of mushroom ravioli instead (see last post).

This is an ideal time to strike.
If ever there was a time to stage an intervention, it is now. Filming for the New Moon movie is coming to a close, which will make the Robert Pattinson updates less frequent. As well, there are no new Twilight books on the horizon, and she has read all four books (and the accompanying unpublished manuscript) at least eight times. Just as she has grown tired of your ability to belch the alphabet, she is bound to grow sick of these books

Be patient
Perseverance is the watchword of all Twi-Widowers. Addiction cannot be beaten overnight. She must be ready to stop. Guilt, ultimatums or bargaining will not work. Just remember: while Edward Cullen may be immortal and will always look good, Robert Pattinson will not.

Robert Pattinson - 2009

Robert Pattinson - 2013

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mushroom Ravioli

Filling Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup sliced portabello mushroom
  • 1/2 cup sliced oyster mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/8 cup low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

Pasta Ingredients
  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water

How to Make It:

  1. Melt butter in pan.
  2. Add olive oil to melted butter.
  3. Add mushrooms. Saute until soft.
  4. Add shallots, saute until translucent.
  5. Add pepper, salt, and coriander.
  6. Add 1/8 cup beef stock and let mixture reduce.
  7. Remove from heat and let cool.
  8. Add cheeses to blender/food processor.
  9. Add cooled mushroom mixture to cheese.
  10. Blend together until smooth.
  11. Set aside.
Pasta Dough
  1. Sift flour and salt together.
  2. Place flour mixture on a board, making a well in the center of the flour.
  3. Drop eggs into the flour well, using your hand or a fork, break the yolks and beat eggs slightly.
  4. Combine the eggs and flour together, gradually adding enough warm water to make a stiff dough.
  5. Knead dough well, until smooth; cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Cut dough in half and roll each half of the dough out on a floured board, into a very thin sheet (about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick).
Filling the Ravioli
  1. Drop about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls of filling about 1 1/2 inches apart all along the dough.
  2. When the sheet of dough is fully dotted with dabs of filling mixture, cover filling with other sheet of dough.
  3. Press dough down between each portion of filling to seal it.
  4. Cut ravioli into squares or medallions.
  5. Refrigerate ravioli. Allow it to dry for at least one hour before cooking.
Cooking Instructions
  1. Carefully drop ravioli into a pot of boiling water. Cook for about 8-12 minutes.
  2. Remove cooked ravioli from pot carefully with a slotted spoon, and drain well.
  3. Serve immediately. Recommended with a creamy sauce, or a blend of olive oil and herbs.
Serves 4.

Jacob Black - Honourary Widower

The other day, my wife confronted me for not meeting one of my Man Duties.

"You still haven't fixed my bike," she scolded. (I had promised to do so some months ago.) "Edward would have fixed Bella's bike by now," she huffed.

"No he wouldn't," I said. "Jacob Black would have fixed Bella's bike. If Edward wanted something fixed, he’d make Rosalie do it."

"Or Edward would have bought her a new bike," she retorted.

“That’s a waste. Why spend money on a new bike when the old bike just needs a tune-up?”

“Edward would make sure the old bike went to someone who needed it.”

I stared at her, flabbergasted. I had forgotten the first rule of Twilight-Widowhood – never pick a fight with Edward. You won’t win.

As I slunk off, I suddenly felt a strong surge of kinship with Jacob Black.

Like Jacob, deep in our bones, we know better than to try to compete with Edward, but still, we can’t help trying. And the similarities don’t end there.

Jacob Black. We know just how it feels, brother.

Jacob, like us Twilight-Widowers, is just a regular guy. Both Jacob and Twilight-Widowers have problems with excessive hair growth and odours. (Hair and scent are the true measure of a man. You should always be suspicious of a man who smells good and doesn't have to shave his face.) When you need something fixed, like Bella with her motorcycles, you come to us.

We never claim to be able to read minds, but we know you better than Edward does regardless. Once we've imprinted on you, there is no getting rid of us. We don't buy into such noble nonsense as "It's safer if I'm not around you," or "I bring nothing but danger into your life." Maybe we're bad for you, but we don't care, 'cuz you're pretty.

And like Jacob Black, we'll violate our promises, oaths, and sacred traditions at the drop of a hat if we think it will impress you. Sure, Jacob might have broken an ancient pact with a coven of vampires that has kept the peace with his people for generations, but a pretty girl asked him to. Can you blame him?

But, at the end of the day, how can a guy who rebuilds engines and eats hot dogs compete with someone who can buy an island? He can’t. That’s why I think Jacob deserves some special recognition from Twilight-Widowers. After all, Jacob was the first guy to lose his love to Edward Cullen, which, in a sense, makes him the very first Twilight Widower.

Poor Jacob Black.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reaping the Benefits

My mother was always fond of saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

This post from Mr. brightredink, a fellow Twi-Widower, got me thinking about the upside my wife's new relationship with Edward Cullen.

You may be wondering exactly what benefits there are to sharing your wife with a rich, impossibly handsome work of fiction who never has to leave his runners on the doorstep to "air out." Surprisingly, Mr. brightredink has some very good points to make on the subject, to which I have added my own observations and experiences.

1. Edward takes the mystery out of gift shopping

As the teenager and I were doing our Mother's Day shopping at the mall last week, we remarked how much easier it had become to buy the wife presents lately.

Before Twilight, I would have to subtly draw hints from her for weeks to determine what sort of gift she wanted for special occasions and then would get it wrong anyway, despite all my careful detective work.
(She told me she wanted a food processor; how was I supposed to know it wasn't a good Valentine's Day gift?) But now that she has given herself over to Edward Cullen, knowing what she wants is ridiculously easy.

Now the only question is - birthday or anniversary gift?

2. More time to pursue your own lame obsessions

Now that your formerly mature, articulate S.O. has turned into a squealing fangirl, she can never again criticize you for standing in line for the midnight premiere of Transformers. And she can't say a damn thing about game night with the boys, your weekly poker game, or the Star Trek convention either.

Edward will also happily occupy your wife during the hockey playoffs.

3. Now you set the standard of cleanliness

Before Edward, my wife always managed to find fault with my housekeeping skills. Without fail, she would find the speck of food I'd overlooked on a fork or the patch of carpet I'd missed with the vacuum. Since Edward has entered our lives, however, she has let her standards slide considerably. This is great. The floor in front of the dresser was where I kept my socks before we moved in together, and she doesn't seem to mind anymore.

4. More enthusiasm.

One of the first things I noticed about the wife's Twilight obsession was how...frisky she seemed to be after spending time with Edward. One night, after she'd finished Eclipse for the first time, she rolled me over, pinned me down and rowed me like a boat. And it wasn't even Saturday.

Maybe the Cullen kid's not all bad...

So the next time you feel like the 3rd wheel on a bicycle built for your wife and Edward, remember that there are at least some small compensations for the repeated blows to your masculinity, your pride, and your self-esteem.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to look for the Twilight soundtrack. Fingers crossed...

It's All Right Now. In Fact, It's a Gas.

Turns out, not everything about Edward draws you in.

As a Twilight Widower, you may sometimes find yourself wondering how you stack up next to Edward Cullen. This is natural - after all, your wife does it all the time.

Inevitably, once you get started down this road, you will feel inadequate in comparison. Edward seems to have it all: he's stronger than you, richer than you, and, quite likely, better looking too.

But there's one area at least where we share a common frailty. Flatulence.

Hear me out.

After some extensive research (i.e. googling 'Edward+Cullen+Fart') I unearthed a compelling argument that proves, conclusively, that Edward Cullen does indeed fart.

I cite, in my defense, a blog called Normal Mormon Husbands. NMH did his own extensive research (i.e. Wikipedia) into the science of flatulence. Then, by rigorously testing some well thought out hypotheses (i.e. wild-assed guessing), he surmised, conclusively, that a vampire can indeed pass wind.

Here is NMH's reasoning:

According to Wikipedia, Nitrogen makes up 20%-90% of the gas that is released during flatulence. Edward's diet consists of blood, which contains Nitrogen. Therefore, every time that Edward drinks blood he is ingesting Nitrogen, which will continue to build up in his body until it is somehow released. Edward, therefore, would most likely pass gas in order to release the excess Nitrogen building up within him.

Now, while I know this news will be of great comfort to my Twi-Widower brothers - at last, an Achilles Heel! - I must caution you against gleefully bringing this to the wife's attention.

Your wife will defend Edward regardless of the scientific evidence. Even if you can convince her that Edward is capable of farting, she will insist that, being the consummate gentleman, he would refrain from doing so in a woman's presence, using his superhuman control to suppress his gastric discomfort.

It's an argument you can't win. Better to keep this to ourselves, as a small nugget of solace we can hold on to during our darkest, loneliest hours. This blog's purpose isn't to bash Edward; it's to provide support for my fellow Tw'idowers as we cope with the loss of our SO's. Brothers, take heart. The next time you feel like you can't compete with a figment of Stephanie Meyer's imagination, remember that even he can't pass up a chance to pass gas.