Tales From A Hungry Life

October 28, 2015

Not-So-Scary Halloween Movies

by Maria Schulz

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

With Halloween coming, there are a ton of commercials on TV for the latest spooky, scary, spine tingling, made in a day and cheap as can be movies out there. If you can play a slasher, stalker, zombie, psycho, witch hunter, demon slayer, vengeful demon, or homeowner of a possessed home you refuse to leave, you’re in luck.

If you’re like me, these movies do nothing except add onto the already sleepless nights you’re having. Is that noise on my roof an acorn…or A SEVERED HEAD? Is Jack the Ripper coming back through a portal in my closet TO KILL ME? How do I protect myself from the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE? I’d take a sleeping pill, but nobody needs me out driving around while I’m still asleep.

Since I don’t need any help frightening myself, I’ve come up with a few Halloween movies that people like me can really enjoy. So, here are my:

The early years

The early years

8 Not-So Scary Halloween Movies for Wimps Like Me

  1. MIDDLE AGED WEREWOLF: our hero remembers his glory days as a Teen Wolf when a terrifying night out meant lots of blood, huge memory gaps where he apparently painted the town red by killing lots of people, and some severe social problems caused by being a blood-thirsty maniac. These days, he works all day long at a soul-crushing desk job, does 12 loads of laundry at night, drives his teen werewolf kids to paint the town red, has huge memory gaps that are not caused by having any fun, and goes to bed by 10 pm. “Terrifying!” Middle-Aged Parent
  1. ZOMBIE H.R.: In the post-apocalyptic world, our Zombie H.R. hero must navigate the many social issues caused by regular folk having to work with zombie folk. He must call humans into his office to remind them that they have to wear torn, bloody rags, not have their mothers call to complain about work policies, and stop threatening to kill their co-workers just because they want to eat their brains. Since most offices don’t have lots of workers with brains, the carnage is kept to a minimum. “I’d love to find a motivated worker, even if he was a zombie.” H.R. professional
  1. SEVEN + SEVEN: A psycho has been leaving the word LEGCAPS in perfect script on a chalkboard easel along with the math problem of the day, with a note explaining that it needs to be re-written 100 times in perfect handwriting, erased, and then both erasers clapped for at least 5 minutes or there will be HELL TO PAY. The cops have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. The break in the case comes when one of the officers (a Catholic school kid) realizes that LEGCAPS stands for the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust/Envy/Greed/Covetousness/ Avarice/Pride/Sloth) and that the math problem can’t be solved because it was never taught. A used tissue on the ground makes him realize that the psycho is actually SISTER FELICITY! “I knew it was her all along!” Terrified former student

    Is that you, SISTER?

    Is that you, SISTER?

  1. GRIMM REALITY: After a poor performance review, God realizes that the Grimm Reaper is burnt out. In His infinite wisdom, He sends Grimm to earth to live among mankind where he must work as a midlevel business executive. He goes by the name “Mr. G.,” works endlessly in PowerPoint and Excel, participates in fantasy football, and talks a lot about metrics, quotas, and return on investment. He soon realizes that he would like to kill himself, but he can’t, since he is Death. “What a nightmare!” Non-business executive
  1. DEMON SEED: A demonic force possesses the soul of a landscaper and wreaks havoc on all of the lawns in town. Crabgrass! Dandelions! Burnt patches! Empty spots! Untrimmed Bushes! Now the local priest with a green thumb must take on this unholy visitor and send it back where it belongs…the city. “CRABGRASS! UGHHHH!” Stressed-out suburbanite

    OH NO...WEEDS!


  1. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD DMV: The undead take over the local Department of Motor Vehicles…and for the first time in anyone’s memory, it begins to run with speed and efficiency. “I’ve never enjoyed going to the DMV more!”—Moviegoer
  1. CHRISTINE: A middle-aged woman takes a sleeping pill to get some rest. As far as she’s concerned, she’s asleep. Actually, she is driving around town mowing down unsuspecting pedestrians, eating tacos, and singing with a mariachi band. “Hey…that’s just like my dream last night!” Middle-aged movie-goer

    Are you a vampire?

    Are you a vampire?

  1. TWILIGHT: A young, bored teenage girl starts dating a local boy who may just be a 100-year-old vampire. Oh wait…this is a real movie. “I cried when Kristen and Rob broke up! I’m a Twi-Mom!” –Scariest Moviegoer of All

Here are my choices for some real movies that let you celebrate Halloween without the gore:

young frankensteinYoung Frankenstein

Arsenic and Old Lace

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Monster House


The Birds

Any Twilight parody

The Hunger Games

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Meet Me in St. Louis (funny Halloween scene, because as my husband always says, somebody has to kill the Brunkhorsts)

Monsters, Inc.

Get your popcorn here!

Get your popcorn here!

Recipe: Scary-Good Halloween Popcorn

2 cups Popcorn (air-popped)

½ cup gummy worms

½ cup gummy bears

½ cup M&Ms

½ cup of your favorite chocolate (Hershey bar, Kit Kats, or Nestle Crunch, chopped)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cayenne to taste (optional)

Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Make popcorn. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus a little cayenne, or cinnamon instead. Toss the popcorn with the spices of your choice, and then add gummies, M&Ms, and/or a favorite candy bar that’s been chopped into bits. Grab a handful and enjoy! Don’t forget to share.

So, Hungry Lifers: what would the plot of your not-so-scary movie be? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks—and Happy Halloween!

May 21, 2014

The Pursuit of Art

by Maria Schulz

The other day, I was sitting at my desk when I overheard a conversation between two co-workers. They were discussing the author, Stephanie Meyer, and her Twilight series.

Are you a vampire?

Are you a vampire?

Neither of them were big fans, so they were talking about what a stupid story line the books had, how ridiculous they seemed, the fact that all that glitters is not vampires, and more. This lead one of them to finally ask:

“If you could write a series of novels that made you MILLIONS, but they would be ridiculed and mocked by many…WOULD YOU DO IT?”

I immediately jumped out of my chair and said, “I’M IN!”

Another writer chimed in, “Me too. I’m too old for art!”

The fact is, I’ve lived in penniless obscurity for way too long. Bring on the book tours! Bring on the movie offers! Let me hold GIANT royalty checks in my hot little hands!


A great thinker

A great thinker

Please, please dear God, let me argue with the movie producers over casting choices. George Clooney or Jon Hamm? Sandra Bullock or Cate Blanchett? If Robert Pattinson says he absolutely refuses to play the lead in my movie if Kristin Stewart is cast as the leading lady, sorry babe—but you’re out. Oh, I can’t wait until all of Hollywood is fighting to get a part in my book-turned-movie.

Just wait until the Academy Awards! I’ll get my own stylist and wear a stunning red dress by Prada that makes me look 100 pounds lighter as I sashay down the red carpet. Joan Rivers will try to make fun of me and I will come back with a witty remark on the spot (instead of the next day, while I’m crying in my Chunky Monkey ice cream) that will simultaneously cut her to bits and make her my BFF. Every reporter there will say things like: “Writers don’t usually get invited to these things, but that’s MARIA SCHULZ!”

Take me home

Take me home

Oh, but there I go again. Dreamers gonna dream.

The writer’s life can be frustrating. You spend years in college learning how to write, reading the classics, and contemplating the world’s beauty and all of its compelling ideas. Then you graduate…and you learn that the workplace doesn’t care about the classics (Homer? You mean Homer Simpson?), or that you were President of the Great Reads Society. So what if you are a creative problem solver and big thinker? What were your grades in Math and Science?

You go out there and search, search, search for any job that will let you write. In the process, you get a lot of jobs that teach you the joys of filing and typing.



When you go to cocktail parties, people first ask, “What did you major in?’ and later the question will change to, “What do you do?” When you answer, “English,” or “I’m a writer,” they look like they’ve got GI distress. Most people will let it just pass, like gas pains. But some people will ultimately say:

“What? Why be a writer? You’ll never get a decent job!”

But to a writer like me, you might as well say: “Why do you keep breathing?”

This kind of interaction happens early and often, until you can’t imagine writing like Dorothy Parker or Ernest Hemingway. Why not settle for Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey)? Why not take the BIG money, trips to Cannes, share cocktails with Robert Redford at the Sundance Film Festival, and score millions of dollars when your characters become immortalized as Barbie dolls?

I can see myself now: absorbing all the criticism, playing with my new Barbie dolls, and happily cashing the checks.

Let's play

Let’s play

I did learn a long time ago that “success” as defined by others isn’t really what drives me. It’s the need to create that drives artistic types forward, even when criticism is probably waiting on the other side. That fundamental need is something I live with, and something I noticed in my mother when she was afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

To keep Mom busy, we signed her up for an Alzheimer’s program that let her pal around with others who were in the same boat. They sat in a circle and: talked about current events (always heartbreaking, since these once bright, intelligent people couldn’t remember any president past Ronald Reagan), their favorite TV shows (The Golden Girls was always the right answer), and ate a snack of cookies and milk. The day was long but enjoyable, in my mother’s words, because no one would get angry with her for forgetting anything since they were just like her.


By far, my mother’s favorite activity was arts and crafts. Most of the projects that she attempted were not good. It takes a certain amount of skill to throw a vase, pitcher, or statue, fire it up, and then paint it.

But somehow, even though my mother couldn’t remember who we were all the time, or who she was some times, she always remembered the artistic streak that lived inside of her. That streak drove her to create little treasures that she would bring home for us.

photo 2

I still have the blue vase she made, as well as the white milk jug with the blue and green polka dots. My daughter has a blue glass slipper and some statues of a little boy and a little girl who, when placed right next to each other, look like they’re kissing.

When Mom first brought those treasures home, I hated them. At that moment, I looked at them as examples of how far she had fallen. But my mother, in her Alzheimer’s wisdom, saw it as an expression of what she could still do, and not an expression of all that she never would.

photo 1

I can still learn a lot from her.


Pasta Primavera





Spring is a time of hope, and this recipe is just the fuel you need to keep those creative juices flowing.

So Hungry Lifers…is cashing in on your dreams a sell-out? Would you be IN? What’s your favorite springtime recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks.

October 16, 2013

Halloween Fun

by Maria Schulz

I was listening to the radio the other day when the DJ announced the results of their unofficial Halloween survey. The topic was: What are the Top 10 Scariest Halloween Movies of all Time? The answers weren’t exactly what I was expecting.

The happy family

The happy family

10) Poltergeist

9) The Exorcist

8) The Omen

7) Halloween

6) The Shining

5) Friday the 13th

4) The Blair Witch Project

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street

2) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

1) Psycho

Okay…what I want to know is: how on earth did The Exorcist come in at #9??? That movie freaked me out FOR YEARS! Likewise, The Omen messed with my head for far longer than I ever thought it would. And while I know from talking to my mother that Psycho was a truly scary, terrifying movie back in the prehistoric era—and it belongs on a scary movie list—there’s no way I would’ve ranked it as the scariest movie of all time.


I never thought The Shining was scary. Creepy, sure. Jack Nicholson axing his way through the door was kind of funny. But scary? Nah. Likewise, The Blair Witch Project did not scare me at all.

In fact, since The Blair Witch Project was a movie I saw on one of those early parenthood date nights, I remember being bored and almost falling asleep while watching it. At one point, the main female character yells, “We’re all gonna die OUT HERE!” and I yelled: “We’re all gonna die IN HERE!”

As you can see from my post, Halloween Candy and a Movie, I have a long and tortured history with some really scary movies. My Top Ten Scariest Halloween Movies list would look like this:

10) The Terminator

9) The Silence of the Lambs

8) Psycho

7) Seven

6) The Birds

5) Bram Stoker’s Dracula

4) Poltergeist

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street

2) The Omen

1) The Exorcist



And while we’re at it, here are five of my favorite “funny” Halloween movies:

5) Fright Night (the 1985 version)

4) Monster House

3) Scary Movie

2) The Nightmare Before Christmas

1) Young Frankenstein

young frankenstein

Speaking of movies that were funny and not necessarily scary, no Halloween post would be complete if I didn’t mention the phenomenon that was the Twilight series.

When my older daughter went through her Twilight phase, I read the books and watched the movies. I didn’t see what she saw in them, but I figured, “this can’t last forever…right?”

Right…until my younger daughter encountered Twilight. Oh geez. Here we go again.

I discussed this movie in some detail in my blog post Valentine’s and Vampires, but I still find myself wanting to understand more about Edward Cullen. Why do young women (and older women who should know better) love him?

It got me thinking…as long as I have to have this character in my house constantly, why can’t I ask him some questions along the lines of “what makes Edward Cullen TICK?” Sure, the answer is probably deer hunting and sullen-faced teen beauties, but come on! I have questions! So here’s my:

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Interview with a Glittery Vampire

ME: So, Edward, thanks for coming here. I know how busy and tormented you undead folks are, so I really appreciate it.

EDWARD: Certainly. I understand how much it means to ardent Twi-Moms like you.

ME: Um…yeah. So, are you mad at your “father,” Carlisle Cullen, for making you a vampire?

EDWARD: Yes and no. Yes, because I kind of think it crosses the boundary of patient/doctor relationship. I mean, I was dying of the Spanish Influenza in 1918. Don’t you think maybe I would’ve preferred dying to being undead? I’m just sayin.

And then again, no. I really love being a tortured, undead person forever and ever.

ME: Really? Don’t you ever get sick of being 17?

EDWARD: Well, maybe a little. I mean, I am sick of going to graduations and listening to the valedictorian. You’d think I’d get at least one shot at being the valedictorian myself—I mean, I’ve had over 90 tries at it—but NOOOOO.

ME: You’ve got to be pretty sick of the prom, right? I mean, I only went to one and that was enough.

EDWARD: I know, right? Except my vampire friends tend to keep things interesting.

ME: How’s that?

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?

EDWARD: Well, there was this time that my vampire pal, James, crashed the prom and killed all the chaperones. Ha, ha, boy was that a fun prom. We had a keg and everything! Or the time that my vampire brother, Jasper, cried because he wasn’t voted Prom King and he killed everyone! Boy, those were some good times.

ME: So, I guess you were not surprised when Victoria showed up and started to plot Bella’s death at the prom?

EDWARD: Oh, I knew she was there. One of my undead abilities, in addition to glittering in the sunlight, is a very keen sense of smell. So I knew Victoria was hanging around.

ME: What does she smell like?

EDWARD: White Castle.  You can smell her from miles away.

Worth the trip.

Worth the trip.

ME: But when you caught her smell, weren’t you worried about Bella?

EDWARD: No, at first I was just hungry. It’s what I crave!

ME: But what about when you realized it was Victoria?

EDWARD: Oh, yeah well. Once I knew it was Victoria, I was kind of disappointed. But then, I was kind of glad. The truth is, that night Bella was a drag. I kinda wanted Victoria to kill her. I mean, she didn’t even compliment my tuxedo. AND what was with those clunky shoes?

ME: She had to wear those shoes since James tried to kill her…because of you.

EDWARD: Oh sure, get technical. Anyway, I can’t go to the prom with the same human every year! Plus I couldn’t really bust a move because James broke her leg. So that meant that I had to be all romantic. Yuck.

twilight prom

ME: Okay, moving on…. I need to know something. How exactly did you realize you glitter?

EDWARD: Funny story! I was still eating humans at the time (it’s a really hard habit to break. Sort of like smoking, or playing Candy Crush Saga). Anyway, I was tracking this big fat guy who would’ve held me over for days when I stepped out into the sunlight.

All of a sudden, I had 40 humans pointing at me screaming, ‘He shimmers! He sparkles! HE MUST BE RADIOACTIVE!’ Of course, that was when I lived on Love Canal, so I wasn’t the only one.

ME: You mean they didn’t realize you are a vampire?

EDWARD: What the hell kind of vampire did you ever hear of that shimmers? Most of the vampires I’ve met spend their days lounging in a coffin because they’ve got this Goth thing going on. But me? I had to have a vampire Dr/Dad from a beach town! He was totally into sunshine so now he glimmers in the sunlight instead of burning or tanning. And now every vampire he’s ever made does too!

ME: Is that why you skip school so often?

EDWARD: No! I’m working on my valedictorian speech. I’ve taken Intro to Statistics 95 times, and I can tell you that the odds of my becoming valedictorian get greater and greater every single year.

ME: Now that you have 95 diplomas, why don’t you just go to college? Or maybe get a job?

EDWARD: Well, my Dad says that people in college ask too many questions. Like, say I had to share a dorm room with 3 other guys. They might wonder why I never sleep or eat or drink. Plus, my 95 framed high school diplomas might give me away.

ME: But you could still get a job.

EDWARD: I had a job once working the late shift at the Taco Bell drive through.

ME: How did that go?

EDWARD: I was forced to quit after I ran after a carload of diners and dashers.

ME: Oh no! Did you kill them?

EDWARD: No, I gave them their Nachos Bell Grande before I realized that they never paid me. My boss got so mad he threatened to make me clean the walk-in-freezer, so I quit. I mean, that walk-in freezer is SCARY!

Wait! Wait! Your Nachos!

Wait! Wait! Your Nachos!

ME: All righty…let’s move on. Does Jacob threaten you? Are you afraid that one day Bella might leave you for him?

EDWARD: Well, I was in the beginning. But then I realized how much she loves me when I inexplicably broke up with her in the middle of a forest and left her laying there for days, despite the fact that Victoria was looking for her and meant to kill her. I mean, if that’s not love, what is?

ME: Don’t you think that was kind of…stupid?

EDWARD: Possibly, but when you’re a 112-year-old vampire, you see humans do lots of stupid things.

ME: Like what?

EDWARD: Let’s take Bella’s dad, for instance. He’s a cop that never seems to realize that his population of 100 people consists of about 98 vampires and werewolves. So, he and Bella are the only people who aren’t actually dead. Doesn’t that seem stupid to you?

ME: Sure does. But what kinds of stupid things have you seen Bella do?

EDWARD: There was the day she went to the gym wearing her “Team Jacob” tee shirt. She thought it was hilarious, but it took a dozen silver bullets and an entire box of milk bones to get rid of Jacob.

And he's the happy-go-lucky one

And he’s the happy-go-lucky one

ME: That does sound pretty dumb. Say, young girls really seem to love you. Can you explain why?

EDWARD: It could be the horrible way I treat Bella. Chicks dig that. Or it could be that I’m insanely jealous of that dog she hangs out with.

ME: Do you mean Jacob?

EDWARD: No, I mean Pepita, her Chihuahua. Pepita loves to say, “Bella loves me more than you!”

ME: Are you saying that you and the dog can talk to each other?

EDWARD: Yes and no. Pepita is from Tijuana, so her accent is hard to get sometimes. But mostly, yes.

ME: Okay! Look, I know you have a lot of important, undead-related activities to attend to, especially with Halloween right around the corner.

EDWARD: No problem, I’ve got all eternity! Ha, ha, ha. Little vampire humor there for you.

ME: Right! So if you could share the most romantic things you’ve ever said or done to win Bella over, what would they be?

Happier times

Happier times

EDWARD: First of all, say sweet things like, “I love watching you sleep when you don’t know I’m even here,” and “I hate you for making me love you. I wish you were dead!” Girls love that! And if your girl friend ever says, “did you follow me?” you should always reply, “Of course I followed you! I even watch you when you’re in the bathroom. I have X-Ray vision, you know.” Another line that always kills (literally) is: “I’d rather see you dead than with him.”

ME: Anything else?

Meet the in-laws

Meet the in-laws

EDWARD: Yes. Remember, when romancing a young lady, make sure to take her to fancy places like Rome. Introduce her to your friends, even if doing so can end up with her being killed by a weird Vampire council.

Next, promise her a beautiful wedding on a lush tropical island. Make sure you leave out the part about impregnating her with your demonic half-vampire spawn, though. It kinda ruins the fantasy.

Promise you will fight to the death for her no matter what. Then kill her. This way, she and your demonic half-spawn can fight too.

Accept her friends, no matter how much you might like to kill them. This one is true even for non-vampire relationships. Just remember to insist that they keep their shirts on, get de-clawed, and go for weekly flea dips.

ME: Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for. Thanks for answering my questions, Edward.

EDWARD: My pleasure! I haven’t had this much fun since World War I!

ME: That’s it, folks. Next year, I’ll try to interview Bella if and when her undead schedule permits.


Dead Man's Meatloaf

Dead Man Meatloaf

This recipe looks easy to make, got great reviews, and is a scream! I forgot to ask Edward if he likes meatloaf, but it looks good to me.


When I was little, my mom used to make the best stuffed peppers. Here’s a recipe for stuffed peppers with a Halloween twist:

Jack-o-Lantern Stuffed Peppers


halloween stuffed peppers

So, Hungry Lifers: which movies are your scariest Halloween picks? Funniest Halloween movies? If you could ask Edward Cullen one question, what would it be? Please leave your comments below, and let us all know. Thanks!

September 4, 2013

Welcome to the New School Year

by Maria Schulz

There is nothing quite as exhilarating, terrifying, joy inducing, and potentially heartbreaking as the first day of school. And that’s just for parents.

It’s been a long, wonderful summer. However, even I have to admit it’s time for the kids to go back to school.

I can still remember the day my older daughter got on the bus for the very first time.  My younger daughter, dog and I paced the streets of our town, quite literally lost without her. That half day of kindergarten seemed to last forever.

Eventually, my little one got on the bus too, and waved goodbye to her big sister and me. Then my older daughter got on her bus, and the dog and I went back inside the house because my dog had gotten too old to walk for long.

Now, two big kids, one new dog, and many first-days-of-school later, I have learned a lot about the educational process. As a veteran of the back-to-school wars, there are a few things I would like my children (and really, all children) to know.

Since we have reduced every last bit of learning to constant, standardized testing, I thought I’d make up a list of test questions that kids everywhere might have some chance of answering correctly. So here goes.

The Back To School Standardized Test (The BTSST)

These are going to cost you

These are going to cost you

1. When parents ask if you have everything on your school supply list, you should:

a) Check your supply list and answer immediately

b) Take your headphones off and engage in a conversation with your parents

c) Ignore your parents and continue to dance to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”

d) a & b


2) It’s 11:30 pm on Sunday night. Now would be the perfect time to:

a) Tell your mother and/or father that you need a 16G flash drive for tomorrow’s 8 a.m. technology class

b) Pull out the computer and begin writing a 30-page report on the Mesozoic Era

c) Start screaming because there is no more paper in the printer and you have a 30-page paper to print starting at about 4 a.m.

d) All of the above

e) None of the above



3) If a train leaves Boston headed for New York at 8:47 a.m., and another train leaves Philadelphia at 9:32 a.m., and both must reach New York in 3 hours, how fast should they travel?

a) 180 mph

b) 215 mph

c) You must know the number of miles that have to be covered in order to solve this equation

d) How the hell should I know? I haven’t taken Algebra in 100+ years


4) The following line was NOT written by William Shakespeare:

a) To be, or not to be? That is the question.

b) A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

c) Deny thy father, refuse thy name!

d) You da hottest ho in dis place! I feel so lucky. Hey, hey, hey. You wanna hug me. Hey, hey, hey. What rhymes with hug me? Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

e) All of the above

f) d & e


5) Since you picked out all of your new clothes for the upcoming school year, you should:

a) Thank your parents for helping you lose your last shred of individuality so that you could look like everyone else

b) Praise us for not insisting we take a “selfie” with you at the mall

c) Throw yourself on the floor and cry because your parents didn’t use your clothing budget to get you into the VMAs to watch Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus “perform”

d) a & b

e) c & d


6) Please decipher the following text:

U R my BFF 4 EVA

a) You’re my best friend, forever

b) Like, we’re best friends today, maybe

c) Um, I really hate you, but I also really love you

d) Once high school comes, I won’t ever speak to you again

e) All of the above


Uh oh.

Uh oh.

7) Your Caller ID pops up with your teacher’s name on it. You should immediately:

a) Tell your parents that someone set fire to your teacher’s hair

b) Mention that your teacher is delusional and always thinks his hair is on fire, except this time it’s true, and you had something to do with it

c) Delete that post you just put up that says, “Setting Mr. Smith’s hair on fire was so much fun – and it was TOTALLY MY IDEA!”

d) Hand your parents Mr. Smith’s medical bills

e) All of the above


8) It took 10 trips to the mall and approximately 90 visits to over 15 different stores to find the perfect school bag. Now you should:

a) Throw it into the bottom of your closet and never, ever use it because you HATE, HATE, HATE it

b) Search for last year’s bag, cause, like, it’s cooler than this year’s

c) Ask if you could buy a new bag, like NOW

d) None of the above

e) Use the damn bag


Pure poetry

Pure poetry

9) In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. This phrase comes from it:

a) Four score and 7 years ago….

b) We hold these truths to be self-evident…

c) Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

d) Ok now he was close/tried to domesticate ya/but you’re an animal/baby it’s in ya nature./Just let me liberate ya/you don’t need no papers/that man is not your maker/hey, hey, hey…

e) All of the above


10) In order to have a successful school year, you should:

a) Get 8+ hours of sleep every night

b) Do all of your homework and class projects on time

c) Join extracurricular clubs and activities to meet new people and make new friends

d) Play Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” at least a thousand times, morning, noon and night

e) Text your friends about what you’re going to wear to school until dawn

f) d & e


11) Creativity is something we should all value. Knowing Art History (past and present) is also important. Pick the statement that is TRUE.

The Artist Currently Known as Brent

The Artist Currently Known as Brent

a) Vincent Van Gogh enjoyed fame and fortune throughout his career

b) Michelangelo was not considered the greatest living artist of his time

c) Edgar Degas was not one of the founding members of the school of Impressionism

d) Brent, a 37-year-old chimpanzee, was declared the winner of a nationwide art contest

e) The song, “Blurred Lines,” is possibly the greatest masterpiece of all time.


Brent's award-winning painting

Brent’s award-winning painting


Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

12) Which landmark character defined the vampire genre?

a) Edward Cullen from Twilight

b) Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

c) Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

d) Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer

e) None of the above



Look at what a little baking soda and vinegar can do

Look at what a little baking soda and vinegar can do

13) The Science Fair is next week. You should immediately:

a) Tell your mother to stock up on vinegar and baking soda, because you’re going to make a volcano that rivals Krakatoa for sheer size

b) Ignore your teacher when she tells you that if you make another volcano, she will fail you

c) Try to conduct a science experiment that does not require an interaction between vinegar and baking soda

d) Wait until the night BEFORE the Science Fair to tell your parents that you need to make a project, and no, it can’t be a volcano

e) All of the above


Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

14) Your teacher hates you with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns. When your parents ask why, you reply:

a) I set his hair on fire

b) He seems to be mistaking me for my older brother

c) I guess he hates all the smart kids

d) He is evil, soul-less, and possibly Satan

e) None of the above, except for “a”



15) You have no friends with the same lunch period as you. You should:

a) Seek the resident glittery vampire on campus and pledge your love for him

b) Look for someone you might know, or make a new friend

c) Cry, stomp your feet, and consider this proof that the universe is out to get you

d) Insist that even though you’re bound to know someone, NO ONE YOU KNOW HAS LUNCH AT THE SAME TIME

e) Date the resident werewolf. No, he’s not glittery, but at least he doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to your vampire boyfriend

f) All of the above


16) Your program schedule has just been changed for the 5th time. You should:

a) Have your mother call and berate the guidance counselor

b) Lay across your guidance counselor’s desk, sobbing THE UNIVERSE IS OUT TO GET ME until she changes your program back

c) Make the best of it. The world will not end, and the universe has better things to do than mess with your school program

d) Consider throwing yourself off the roof, even though the school is only 1 story high and you’d probably just mess up your hair and then all the kids and teachers would laugh at you.

e) Complain incessantly to your parents that YOUR LIFE IS OVER.

f) All of the above


This is not good

This is not good

17) Your guidance counselor has recommended a welding school and/or license plate making institution upon graduation. You think this is because:

a) He hates all the smart kids

b) He has never forgiven you for setting his hair on fire

c) Your PSAT scores suggest that, perhaps, your dog took the test for you

d) Your love of matches suggests a long, happy career in arson that might be interrupted by an even longer stay in a maximum-security prison facility

e) All of the above


18) There are 180 days in the school year. This means you should:

a) Skip at least 90 days.

b) Save up your absences for May and June, cause that’s beach weather

c) Mix and match your ditched classes. On Mondays and Wednesdays, you could miss Math and English. And on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, you could miss whatever else it is they teach there.

d) Attend school every day, unless an actual illness or personal calamity strikes.

e) All of the above, except “d”


19) For those of you who are about to begin your college search, you must always remember that:

a) Your college essay is a window into your soul and requires careful consideration before you begin writing

b) Teacher recommendations are no big deal – I mean, what teacher doesn’t remember YOU?

c) You should definitely ask the teachers who will actually remember you, but not the ones whose hair you set on fire

d) Any college would be LUCKY to have you

e) Hopefully you have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around, or enjoy being in debt

f) All of the above


20) Your school’s Heritage Day celebration is coming! You should probably:

a) Tell your mother or father about a month in advance, so she/he can pick the easiest ethnic dish she/he feels comfortable making for a room full of strangers

b) Not sign your parents up to make Sauerbraten and potato dumplings for 80 people when you could’ve gotten a German chocolate cake from the bakery

c) Tell them you’re Italian (even if you’re not) so your parents can send in a box of Italian ices

d) Should all else fail, make zeppole





Some people call these “Italian donuts.” I call them “Little Pieces of Heaven.” Here’s a recipe from Giada:


Make these zeppole and you’ll instantly transport yourself to the feast of San Gennaro, or any outdoor Italian festival, or even the State Fair (who doesn’t like funnel cake? Zeppole is basically funnel cake with an Italian twist). Don’t forget the powdered sugar!

So, Hungry Lifers: if you could tell students anything, what would it be? Does the fact that an ape won an art contest irritate you, or am I alone in being jealous of an ape? Do you love zeppoles? Please leave a comment below and let us all know.

Also—if you enjoy reading this blog, please click on the “Sign Up Now” button on the right. Once you do, you’ll get email notifications every time I write a new post. Thanks!

February 14, 2012

Valentine’s & Vampires

by Maria Schulz

Valentine’s Day is here, and suddenly you can’t turn the TV on without finding a timeless, romantic movie playing. The Last of the Mohicans has been on a few times, along with The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, You’ve Got Mail, Pride & Prejudice, Jerry McGuire, Sleepless in Seattle, and even Wall-E, which is really a sweet, adorable love story when you get right down to it.

You had me at "Wall-E."

But one of the movies heralded as wildly romantic has heroes that I find disturbing and a heroine who I find annoying. Of course I’m talking about The Twilight Saga. Now since I’m the mother of two young girls who are the right age (even if they are not Twilight fans), I possess a lot more knowledge about this series than I ever wished for in the first place.

The world of Twilight revolves around a moody teenage girl named Bella who has just willingly left her home in sunny Florida to live with her father in the always rainy, miserable small-town of Forks. She is afraid she will never fit in when she notices a very handsome young man who comes to school in an expensive car, surrounded by his equally handsome siblings.

Bella gets to meet “Mr. Wonderful” in her biology class, where he is going to be her lab partner. His name is Edward Cullen, and he will barely look at her at first. Why? Well because, as he tells her, he can’t tolerate her smell. Now if that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is.

What Bella doesn’t know is that her scent drives him batty (sorry) and he is drawn to her. For her own sake, he is trying to stay away from her. But does Bella take the hint? Nah. Instead, she insists on getting to know him.

The dialogue here is riveting. She says such things as “are you a vampire?” and “you sparkle and shimmer. You’re beautiful!” Edward eventually responds by saying things like “I want you to have dinner with my family!”

Oh, by the way, Edward’s vampire coven family may just want to eat her, but never mind these pesky details. It’s a date!

Meet the (Vampire) Family

Once the family manages not to kill her, they invite her to their softball game (?) and ask her to be their umpire. Of course it’s all good clean fun, until a gang of savage, marauding vampires try to crash the game and realize that Bella is NOT A VAMPIRE when she stands downwind. Never mind that she’s the only one without weird gold eyes and sparkly, shimmery skin, boy does she smell yummy!

See, this group of vampires is evil because they EAT HUMANS. Unlike the Cullen clan, who considers themselves do-gooder vegetarians because they only eat animals like deer (ask the deer what they think of that one). See, the other vampires have blood red eyes and the Cullens have gold eyes, which nobody seems to notice except for moody, sullen Bella.

By this time, Bella is TOTALLY in love with Edward. She wants to DIE to be with him! Which is great, because she might just get her chance before too long. Edward may be a vegetarian, animal-blood-drinking, deer-slaying vampire, but he has the brain power of a slug and keeps putting Bella in danger.

I am not sure what it is that draws Bella to Edward. Is it the angry way he tells her to love someone else? The shimmery skin? The glowing eyes? The nice car? I can’t really say, but I would bet that my parents said the same thing about lots of my old boyfriends.

By the way, can’t Bella date any NORMAL boys? How come her best choices are a moody vampire with a death wish or a muscle-bound werewolf with anger-management issues? Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. Wow, I don’t envy her father.

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

And what the hell is wrong with her father? How does one get to be Chief of Police and not realize that violent creeps have overrun your town? And here’s another thing: if I dashed off to Rome to save my idiot, glowing vampire boyfriend from exposing himself to the tourist masses, I had better be home by 12 a.m., or my Dad would kill me! Forget about the Volturi, if you want to see something really scary, try walking through the door past curfew in the Lagalante household.

What I really want to know is, how come Edward, Jacob, the Cullens and the other werewolves don’t just “off” Bella? She’s a big pain in the neck and constantly causes trouble. Perhaps I’m being “anti-Monster” here, but I don’t think evil supernatural beings have a lot of patience with whiny humans.

I wonder what they will do when their daughter, Renessmee (really? Renessmee???) enters her vampire “teen” years. Will she rebel by wearing bright, festive colors, singing Kumbaya in the local church choir, and dating traditional (gasp!) boys? Will Bella say things to her like “Oh sure, just go ahead and get great grades and date the star quarterback. But that church choir singing has got to stop!!!”

Renessmee and Friends, Singing Kumbaya

Most normal marriages hit the skids after 30 or 50 years of constant togetherness, but Edward and Bella will be together FOREVER. What will they do to spice things up? Will they cause another vampire civil war? Join a snowflake softball league? Invite Mr. and Mrs. Creature from the Black Lagoon over for cocktails and a little swinging?

Let's swing!

If I could just chat with Bella, here’s what I would tell her:

  • Vampires are not really your best dating option. There’s all that blood, and the possibility that his being hungry could lead to you being dead. Sure, he’s glittery, but is that really enough?
  • I know this, because I did date a vampire once. Okay so I have no scientific proof of this, but he was very tall and thin, didn’t like venturing out in the daytime, and had skin so white that it kind of glittered. Plus he was moody and angry. Too bad we broke up before I could have the “are you a vampire?” talk with him.
  • Supernatural beings in general are not really the kind of guys you can count on. Of course it’s nice to date someone who can read your mind, fly, bend steel with his bare hands and protect you from angry Vampire councils. But then again, if it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t need help with any of that.
  • Vampires don’t actually eat, so you can’t go to all the best restaurants with them. Sure, you can jet off to Rome where your life will be endangered countless times, and you can even get married on a Caribbean island owned by your vampire boyfriend’s family, but they will never eat a single thing with you. They like to watch you eat, of course, which puts the “C” in CREEPY. I could deal with the blood, I could deal with the vampire angst, but what do you mean you don’t want to share my flan? I’m outta here.

And he's the happy-go-lucky one

  • Werewolves may seem like a good option, but that’s only when you’re dating a vampire. See #3, above.
  • When you have the “are you a vampire” talk, and he responds, “why yes, I am a vampire,” there is really no need for the conversation to go any further. Just say something like, “oh I just needed to know because I’m allergic to peanuts and vampires,” and run away. If you are worried about him being insulted, ask him to hold a bag of peanuts before you start talking.

What a sense of humor!

  • If you absolutely must date a Supernatural creature, choose the Invisible Man. There are bound to be surprises a-plenty with him by your side. Just think of all the ways you can prank people! The laughs would not stop coming.
  • Try dating real humans. If you think vampires are moody and unpredictable, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Want to see someone show supernatural strength and bend steel with his bare hands? Turn off the football game he’s been watching for the past 3 hours when it’s 3rd and goal and there are just 03 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter. I guarantee you his reaction will be a lot more frightening than anything your vampire boyfriend has ever conjured up.

As for me, I will spend tonight with my husband and girls, and we will definitely not be watching the latest installment of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Instead, we’ll try not to get our hearts broken by the Knicks. Go Jeremy Lin!

It's "Linsanity!"


What Valentine’s and Vampire’s blog post would be complete without a Bloody Mary recipe?


And as long as I mentioned Flan, here’s a recipe for all of you adventurous types:


So, Hungry Lifers…what “romantic” movies do you love? Which ones do you hate? What do you think about Twilight? Have you ever dated a vampire/werewolf/supernatural creature? Please leave a comment and let us all in on the fun.

Happy Valentine’s Day!