How to Shop Linda’s Stuff Like a Pro

Recently, I lost 30 pounds.  When my husband and I relocated to California several years ago, I did free-lance consulting work, telecommuting from my home office.  I recently decided to look for a regular position and realized I didn’t have a decent interview outfit.  I then realized that my business wardrobe  was a mess, most things were a decade out of date and most stuff was way too big!  

I wandered the web and checked out sites like Poshmark, on-line name brand sites like Newman Marcus Last Call  as well as poking around on the random mass of vendors on e-Bay.  I had shopped Linda*s***Stuff via eBay several years ago, but, boy, have they grown!  Linda also owns Rue La La, which is even more selective in the merchandise they present.  But, Linda*s***Stuff via eBay, was the perfect place to retool an entire wardrobe. 

I surprised myself by doing almost all my wardrobe at Linda’s, as I thought I would find items I wanted across many eBay vendors.  But, I got comfortable with the idea of just dealing with one company rather than a sequence of random eBay vendors.  Linda’s is big and professional with a no questions asked 30 day return policy and shipping is always free.  Plus, with about 150,000 items, mostly women’s clothing, there is more than enough choice.

Doing a big shopping on line is different than going to the store in town.  Here is my advice from this experience.


1. Know your size and measurements and read sizing information carefully. 

 I have learned that “large” is one of the vaguest, poorly defined  sizes in existence.  Know your IT size and your EUR size as well as your US size.  Armani is Italian.  You are missing out on fantastic clothing if you don’t check for stuff in IT and EUR sizes.  My US size is 14.  I’ve learned my IT size is 48 or 50 and my EUR size is 46.  There are plenty of size tables on the web, don’t be lazy.  You are missing out by ignoring IT and EUR sizing.


2. Learn about brands and seek those that fit you well. 

I learned I was born to wear Armani and that the arm holes and sleeves on beautiful Parker silk blouses are too small and narrow for me.  I also know that Eileen Fisher petite larges and mediums fit me and that her regular larges are gigantic.


3. Know what fibers and fabrics you like.  

I love natural fibers like cotton, silk and linen with a bit of spandex added.  Rayon and Tencel work for me as well as some nylon blends.  I hate most wool as I find it itchy but cashmere is ok.  I hate polyester and jersey.  That’s just me.  Just saying, it is really valuable for you to know which fabrics work for you.


4. Look at pictures AND read descriptions. 

For example, it happens I am not fond of pinstripes.  Photos almost never capture fine pinstriping.  Sometimes, it is only the title and description that lets me know.


5. When shopping pre-owned garments, make sure you carefully read condition statements. 

I might find light pilling on a vintage Pucci dress acceptable, you may not.


6. Focus! 

You can burn a lot of time looking at stuff that isn’t your size or isn’t what you need.  Use search filters for size.  If you need a dress, do you really need to page through stuff that includes bathing suits?  Maybe you want to spend an evening looking through blazers.  Save the ones you like in your watch list.  If you finish the search, next visit you can sort by “newly listed” and don’t have to go through everything you’ve seen before in order to see new treasures.


7. Collect the candidates in the watch list.

Thin the options there.  Linda’s frequently runs a 30% off discount on the sale of 4 or more garments.  The sales and free shipping make Linda’s impossible to beat, price wise.


8. Don’t forget to check out the shoes and bags department. 

I just smile quietly at people who think it is unwise to even consider previously owned.  You can have awesome pair of ever so slightly used Donald Pliner shoes for 15-20% of original price.  I rewarded myself with a dreamy previously owned Celine black leather bag when I got my first employment nibble.  


9. If you are being budget conscious, purchase after ALL your searches are done.

Get everything in the watch list first and prioritize.  If you do dresses first, and buy six fabulous ones, you may end up going barefoot.  Yes, there are that many wonderful dresses at Linda’s that you need to show control.


10. Finally, once you get your big box of goodies from Linda, do you know what you can do with the box? 

Fill it with the good stuff you no longer wear and ship it to Linda’s!  There is a consignment form on line.  Linda’s pays the postage to receive your box!  Make sure it is just the brands accepted in the list and things are in good condition.  Now you have space to hang up your new stuff, and maybe a bit of unexpected cash as well!


Next blog:  Highlights of my new Linda’s wardrobe.


American Democracy: The Irony and the Hubris of Trump’s Victory

Yesterday was the Friday before the 2016 meeting of the Electoral Congress.  It was already a substantial news day with pictures from Aleppo of executed toddlers with single bullet wounds in the middle of their foreheads; China brazenly fishing US  Navy drones out of the South China Sea; a suicide bomber killing more than a dozen people in Turkey, and the president of the Philippines bragging about cleaning up the country by summarily executing drug addicts.  Just prior to Obama’s hastily organized press conference about Russia’s interference in the election, the FBI joined the CIA in expressing high confidence that it was the Russians who were responsible for the cyberattacks that left the DNC slowly hemmoraging private emails never written for public consumption, like your diary entries, like your soppy love letters to the best girlfriend you ever had.

Obama’s press conference made it clear that Russia’s Putin directed the interference with the goal of benefitting Trump’s campaign in the election.  Given the gravity of the issue, Obama appeared excessively casual. Maybe it was to keep the tension in the country low, or maybe he has already mentally checked out of presidency.  I had expected a more explicit announcement about the retribution the US would visit upon Russia for the cyberattack, but was disappointed.

I was surprised by what DIDN’T follow Obama’s press conference.  There was no dismissive and personally denigrating tweet from president-elect Trump.  A thundering silence.  It may be that Trump decided it was best to avoid discussing Russian interference.  Trump had derided the CIA’s statement on the interference as a political attack.  I think he was surprised when Congressional Republicans publicly contradicted him.  It almost surprised me.  I thought maybe there were no longer any red lines in US politics.

But maybe Trump’s silence was something more.  Could Trump have suddenly caught a glimmer of how really serious the presidency is; that the presidency is not just about doing even bigger business deals?  This afternoon’s Alabama stop on Trump’s victory tour seemed different.  Trump was off somehow.  Normally, Trump revels in the adoration of his core enthusiasts.  Normally, he throws complements at them and casts dispersions on all adversaries, real and imagined.  Was he actually bad mouthing their angry, violent and foul behavior, suggesting they were now going to be nicer?  It wasn’t particularly well received and seemed confused.  Could it be the fog of the political war was lifting and the thrilling adrenaline of the fight is subsiding for Donald Trump?  Did he suddenly feel the tug of the gravity of his new position?

Putin seems emboldened given Russia’s developing role in Syria, the role that enabled Assad’s butchers to go door to door and execute children. Did Trump suddenly realize that Putin is more than just a billion dollar business deal?  Lives are a very different currency than money.  Might he have suddenly realized that not everything in the world can be conceptualized as a business opportunities, that those pictures were real, actual children?

The great irony of Trump’s acension to power, the cornerstone that allowed Trump to grow and flourish, to develop his own independent self-reliant style leading to his fantastic business success, was the fertile ground of a liberal democracy that had a reliable rule of law and an infrastructure upon which to build.

Our guarantee of rights and rule of law has been rock solid throughout all of Trump’s life.  So rock solid that it was as invisible as the air we breathe.  Invisible, but as essential to Trump’s business success as oxygen is essential to life.  It is what enabled Trump to presume everything in the world is some type of business deal.  Through the lens of “the business deal” misinformation and propaganda was just smart marketing.  Overblown promises to voters was just a sales pitch to get your product sold.  Hillary was just his product competition.  Putin and Russia the next opportunity.

But not all billionaires like Trump operate secure in the rule of law.  In Russia, Yukos Oil CEO and one of its wealthiest billionaires, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, publicly criticized Russia’s state corruption and, in short order, was arrested.  He was directed to sign over his Russian business interests to the government and go into exile, like a prior businessman did.  He refused.  He was convicted and sentenced for tax evasion in 2005 and, in December 2010, he was found guilty of stealing oil and laundering the proceeds. His oil company was sold at auction to a shell company whose capitalization was $300.  The company immediately turned around and sold the company to the State.  Here is the Vanity Fair article describing the long sad story of Khodorkovsky.

It was the rock solid American political and legal system that permitted Trump to live in a bubble that perceives everything as a business deal.  It is substantially responsible  for Trump’s hubris in undermining our sovereignty by publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary’s emails, and wittingly or unwittingly using the ill-gotten intelligence to his advantage.  It was integrated into the most emotionally inflammatory misinformation-based political campaign in the history of the United States, where much of the misinformation dissemination was also courtesy Putin. Trump continues in corroding the legitimacy of our system by accusing the CIA and FBI conclusions as fabrication that is a politically motivated attack on him.

After the thrill of victory subsides, as Trump rolls over, has a proverbial cigarette, and watches the sun rise on a new country, will he clearly see who he brought into his house and bed?  Even if he does, Russia is that crazy bitch from “Fatal Attraction”.  She isn’t just going to disappear.  She thinks she owns a piece of him.  Trump isn’t going to like it.  Trump and Putin are not going to be happy dance partners, even if they both stand to make a fortune off of oil deals.  Both of them are going to want to lead. And Trump’s bullying  business tactics aren’t going to work.   Putin will laugh at him.  I am terrified of how quickly this will escalate as Trump  knows no other way than to double down on threats and aggression as he did in business.  But this is no longer business.  For forty years, we were perched at three minutes to worldwide nuclear holocaust during the Cold War conflict.  Nukes are still there, folks.  And as president of the United States, nothing stands between Trump and the big red button.

This Monday the Electoral College meets and votes, and I am not holding my breath for some kind of miracle.  I wait to hear the final declaration to end this purgatory.  Sadly, the great complexities that are now foisted upon us, I am not sure whether the world will start to spin again or it irrevocably grinds to a permanent stop.




Postmortem: Why Hillary Failed to Reach More Trump Supporters

While it seems I am all opinions, I sincerely tried to understand what happened in this election. How did so many people vote for Trump?

This is what I heard as I listened. I heard more and more people being in a less and less economically comfortable situation. Bless Bernie hearing that and focusing on that.

I also heard, overwhelmingly, that the reason they didn’t like Hillary because she sounded high handed and it came off as patronizing and elitist.

I spent time thinking about this and spent time re-listening to her carefully. I tried to “get it”.

Listening to Hillary, what I heard was an introvert needing to be an extrovert. I heard someone who has very complex ideas and was trying to make them accessible to as many people as possible. I saw a woman who wasn’t terribly charismatic being forced to “smile, smile, smile” because women in politics have to smile way more than their male counterparts. Those smiles sometimes felt fraudulent. Maybe many were. But she was told (and it is true) that she HAD to smile.

I also heard a person who had a masterful understanding of the facts and the implications of those facts.

There are three ways to convince people, 1) provide them the facts and patiently bring them along, 2) confront ignorance and dispel it with the facts, or 3) listen, empathize, understand and appeal from the heart.

It seems one of the many lessons I CLEARLY got from this election is that trying to be polite and bring “my unsubstantiated opinion is just as good as anybody’s” people along, and getting them to follow or even acknowledge the facts and implications is tough. Playing the role of dispersing facts and implications, is not a real dialog, and to those receiving the information, it can seem patronizing and high handed. And maybe, it is being patronizing.  The heart of an intellectually driven campaign with the public tends to be more of a unidirectional interaction with a window trimming of discussion not an engaged dialog.

The voting public are adults, not uneducated children. Talking to adults with the patience you talk to an uneducated child is patronizing. Also, unfortunately, ignorance sort of solidifies and becomes a bit intractable; it is natural for grown adults to be less malleable than children. Whether it is aptitude or lack of educational opportunity, it is far easier to inflame people’s emotions which holds no personal embarrassment in this day and age, than lead them through facts and a coherent argument.

The guy that plays their emotions and says, “she is lying about the whole thing” completely relieves them of responsibility for understanding her position. Besides the chant “lock her up”, I believe Trump’s most common expression is, “Believe me!” And Trump is skilled at speaking the the language of the “working man”.  A quick analysis on software indicates his speeches at well below the fourth grade reading level.  He is saying what the uneducated and frustrated want to hear, no matter how obvious the lie, it is much easier to see a perceived “winner” and just believe he will do for you what he did for himself.

We live in a nation where at least 40 million people believe that either dinosaurs walked the earth the same time as men or dinosaurs are a science “conspiracy” perpetrated by “Big Paleo”. FORTY MILLION!  They can also believe the moon is made of green cheese, as far as I am concerned. Right now, it is a free country.  They can even proclaim it in the town square.

It is unfortunate that these people want it taught in public school as science, “creation science”. In the face of this, and global warming denial, it is politically ineffective to continue with a strategy of knowledge-sharing and problem-solving. Hillary’s demographic weakness is with the less educated, particularly men.  As mentioned this sharing of knowledge and problem-solving is ineffective because it is not perceived as a conversation.  It has a feel of being too preprocessed for a discussion.  It seems the person in control of the conversation, Hillary, is disseminating information to the less knowledgible person.  In the still traditional male as leader within the family in Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christian homes, the unnatural direction of flow adds further tension with Hillary acting as provider, even if just information.  It might have helped if Hillary studied styles of women evangelists like Joyce Meyer, but, honestly, it seems like there are no easy answers to be more effective in an intellectual approach in this context.

The cornerstone role of patience in the bringing people along on an analytic approach is also extremely tricky.  Patience is necessary in order to bring along as many people in understanding the facts and analysis.  But in the context of trying to dispel falsehood and unsubstantiated beliefs can be misconstrued as validating these very things. Without very clearly labeling wrong beliefs as wrong, the presence of patient discussion empowers ignorant foolishness.  It is giving the mistaken impression that their opinion deserves some level of respect. No matter how unfounded the Chinese climate hoax idea is, each time it is mentioned it is reinforced as something worthy of address.  Given every attempt is made for this to be a two way discussion, there is no avoiding it’s mention.  Without being direct and clear, saying it is wrong, a lie, a manipulation, uttering the words Chinese hoax just reinforces it.   Finally,  the appearance of patience (which is different than patience) as the person disseminating information can generate contempt particularly when the”dialog” appears a pretense.

I repeat this point as it is important.  Excessive patience with ignorant, incoherent and dogmatic beliefs in order to explain fact-based positions is actually counter productive.  It creates the illusion that these opinions deserve respect and both reinforces the “validity” of the belief and could empower believers to continue an agenda based on these beliefs.

I have no interest in denigrating anyone’s religious beliefs, UNLESS it crosses the line between the separation between church and state. At that point, there is no choice. I have to tell them they are factually wrong and their “faith” does not constitute a science. I don’t believe what they believe and I have no reason to believe it. In the public square outside their church they are free to pronounce their articles of faith in public and I am free to tell the children in my family, just as publicly, that these people are free to think this, but any scientist would think their opinions were exactly as scientific as the Norse beliefs that Oden and Thor were in an eternal battle with the wind and frost giants until Fenres Wolf breaks his magical chains and the end of the world begins.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech does not include freedom from criticism or even mockery if it is needed to prevent religious beliefs from interfering with secular institutions.  Unfortunately, people dedicated to impose faith beliefs as science have learned to parrot science and present their “science experts”.  Again, anything less than labeling statements a “wrong” and experts as “frauds”, the showing of patience and rational argument actually reinforces the legitamacy of faith masquerading as science.

For those of you who want to stop reading because I am clearly “Godless”, you are wrong.  You are welcome to read the post about taking God back from Christian Literal Extremist titled “God, Pence and Trump”.  Christian Literal Extremists are every bit as bad as Radical Islamic Extremists and, right now, are responsible for way more terrorist acts in the US than Muslims.  If you stutter, but.t.t.t you have to respect my beliefs. WRONG.  Morally, I need to respect your personhood, not your beliefs I find ridiculous, as they are clearly contradicted by actual science.

To borrow an expression, I need to respect the person spouting the idiocy, not the idiocy.  My apologies for appropriating the wonderfully descriminating Christian jingo, “love the sinner, hate the sin”.

I hold no hope of rationally convincing 90% of Trump voters of anything. This is how Hillary failed.  Going forward, we need to find a way for knowledge to be treated with much more respect than it is now.  Anytime you hedge around the truth, trying not to insult ignorance, it just paints you as high-handed instead of knowledgable, and reinforces the legitimacy of ignorance and lies.  Kellyanne Conway was masterful in using the polite press to legitimize lies via debate.

No, humans were not around with the dinosaurs- there is no big Paleo conspiracies.

Yes, global warming is a fact- not some conspiracy theory.

Yes, the holocaust happened- the forensic evidence and records are undeniable.

Kit gloves don’t work. I believe all those Trump voters who found Hillary sounding high-handed didn’t like her patience sharing actual facts and implications.  That is what it sounds like to them.  What we thought was patience comes off as patronizing.  In some ways, it is.  Republican voters are not uneducated children.

So, I am convinced that we are left with the two remaining approaches.  The first is to make scientific fact have the respect it deserves is by flexing the muscle that science is intellectually entitled and make clear that, no, ignorant, idiotic opinions do not deserve respect. None. Zero. And  it is not required to respect idiotic opinions as part of respecting someone’s personhood.  I can respect the voter but contradict the idiocy they spout.  It would require we reintroduce words like”wrong”, “lie” and “ignorant” in polite conversation.  Arguments against idiotic ideas start with the statement, “You are wrong.”  You won’t be loved, but at least you are not providing patience that is misconstrued as recognizing some validity of these idiotic opinions. Hard to believe this will be terribly effective, but maybe it will cut down on the comfort level people feel spouting idiocy.  We have a fog of idiotic garbage being treated as acceptable discussion right now, and it needs to be stopped.  The 360 panorama of opinions does not require a token village idiot.

Finally, there is Bernie’s way.  I think Bernie had it right.  He asks questions about feelings and values.  He asks people what they need and uses their very valid emotions as a base to build a coherent framework integrating facts.  Hillary is not a “feelings” person.  She never builds a conversation from feelings expressed.  She just jumps to explaining how information will solve the problems causing those feelings.  This also comes off as “not really listening”, presuming, and high-handed.  There is a gap between feelings and her complex solution-oriented discussion.

The irony of all this is that Hillary handles problems like a man, and Bernie, like a woman, based on the “Men are From Mars, Women from Venus” framework.  It is the vastly different starting point of just listening and empathizing and not just jumping to problem-solving.  People were happy to blame email server and trust issues with a career politician, but it seems the “career politician” rejection is not a strong thematic point of rejection across US elections.  People are lazy.  They don’t always want to be analytic to figure out why someone makes them uncomfortable.  I think Hillary, being intellectual and not particularly charismatic, a woman, arguing like a man, still requires cultural adjustment.  At a certain point Hillary can adapt, but, ultimately, she can’t change who she is.

It would have been an interesting election had Trump run against Bernie.  It would have been an even more  emotionally charged struggle for the hearts and souls of the working class.  Hillary’s failure was not her fault.  Sometimes you can make all the right decisions and still lose, that’s life.  Historically, there are many fewer intellectual US presidents than war heros and charismatic ones.  And, in a world where the facts are growing exponentially, it is becomes harder and harder to make the case for the presidency to the average man from an intellectual perspective.  The take home lesson is that the campaign for the US presidency is more than ever before about winning the heart and soul of America.

Post Script:  I understand my perspective can be viewed as very uncivilized in how I believe we need to change the language and approach to defend against unsubstantiated, dogmatic and factually wrong beliefs.  I want to be explicit when this is appropriate.

It is inappropriate to speak so bluntly in people’s houses of worship.  In personal interactions, I believe the standards of patience, tolerance and kindness are still the standard.

The time for a new, direct language is in addressing people that are formally or informally acting as a spokesman or “voice” for unsubstantiated, dogmatic and factually wrong beliefs in a public arena.  I believe there is even a moral compulsion for this new mode of address when these private beliefs are insinuating themselves into secular institutions.  I believe the Betsy DeVos nomination for Secretary of Education will be a particularly appropriate place to address issues in a new blunt fashion.  Her transparent, activist approach to return Christianity to public education requires very blunt address.




The Price: Without Divestment, Trump Businesses will be Top Target for Terrorists Worldwide

I just had a revelation about the REAL threat of Trump retaining material participation in all his business ventures. Forget conflict of interest! Forget the make-believe that his kids will be in charge and keep him out of decisions. All those businesses labeled TRUMP in foreign countries have a bullseye on them for anyone interested in taking terrorist action against the US! And do you believe, for even a minute, that this thin skinned spontaneous tweeter will not want retribution immediately? Is he a man that will take those attacks with a cool head and respond appropriately? Or even just delay a military response?

Will US armament and other resources be used for securing or for retribution in the case of terrorist attacks on Trump’s business interests?

God, Pence and Trump

Last night Pence decided to defend the unfounded, indefensible lie by Trump that he would have won the popular vote had all those millions of illegal votes not been counted.  Right now,  Pence’s sole job at this point is to get Trump through the electoral college vote. Then, I believe he and Preibus will collude with the cabinet to remove Trump for being unfit. Pence just has to hang in there. If the electoral college finds Trump unfit and selects Romney or McCain or, God forbid, Hillary, then he is out of a primo job!  I have seen Mike Pence bear false witness out of fear for his position, in order to appease Trump.  Where is his fear of the wrath of God?  Every bone in my body despises Pence for his “Christian” self-righteous hypocrisy that allows him to serve a man such as Trump.

And with Pence, we will have a great big “Christian” renaissance destroying boundaries between church and state. Pence’s “Christian” values will place Creation Science in public schools as science and hobble young minds, making science an impossible career pursuit. He will legislate government controls over women’s bodies and he will do everything he can to roll back LGBT rights. He fundamentally does not respect individuals and believes he is justified in imposing his religious beliefs on others who, clearly, do not share them.

In trying to find a silver lining in this whole political nightmare, I am thankful for Trump’s election for one thing.  Trump has freed me to talk about things more directly and less gently than I ever before would have.  It is time for some unvarnished candor, and Trump has the honor of being standard bearer for the tone of my address.

Given this kind of candor can be pretty harsh, I have laser-focused some of my core values in order to remain true to my deeply held beliefs.  The first anchoring belief is that each person that walks the earth deserves respect.  My respect for people entails understanding they are each uniquely precious, that they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And for me, it includes having some nominal level of resources that ideally includes a bit of love for exactly who they are.

This respect for people does not require me to respect their unenlightened, unfounded, wrong or idiotic beliefs. Maybe to keep things friendly, I do not have to share my opinion of their beliefs with them. But, unfortunately, it has come to that point in this country that their delicate feelings can no longer be spared to get our nation back on track.

And this respect precludes tolerating hearing anymore crap about Muslims as an undifferentiated lump of threat.  Every Muslim is an individual and right now the lion’s share of terror going on in the United States is far more associated with White Supremacist beliefs than anything associated with Islam.  It amazes me how there is an attitude that every Muslim is responsible for the acts of any Muslim.  Beyond that, it floors me that this attitude is uniquely applied to Islam.   It happens that the White Supremist movement calls themselves a “Christian” movement. So let’s have a conversation about “Christians” for a change.   I am putting “Christians” in quotes because, while I have no doubt there are real Christians, I want to distinguish between hateful, misguided people from people on a meaningful spiritual path. I had very Christian neighbors who lived their faith and I thought they shared with one another, and even me, a Jew, deeply moral, meaningful lives.

If we can hold the spiritual community of Islam responsible for the behavior of individual Muslims,  how about a little parity in addressing some “Christian” behavior?  Maybe there is some reasonable value in addressing the role of communities in a member’s behavior.  But, if it is appropriate for the Islamic community, it is appropriate for the Christian, Jewish and other spiritual communities.

I personally have shied from talking about my specific religious beliefs because once you name something, like God, and start think on it, you are imposing your puny mental limitations on something that must, by definition, exceed your comprehension and lacks adequate language to describe. It may even be the situation that the sublime nature of God cannot be captured in any coherent human thought.  So, to me, it seems like espousing personal beliefs is an exercise in futility.  Maybe that is why there are commandments not to take his name in vain and forbidding images, as labels and images will confuse and always fall short.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled by circumstance to talk about God in order to take God back from the very large sect of people I have labeled “Christians” in the United States.  They are a self-righteous set of hypocritical, judgemental, uncharitable humans that view part of their religious practice as enforcing their prohibitions and requirements on all within their reach.  Implicit in their belief system is that no one has access to a relationship with God except through their belief system anchored in historic events over 2000 years ago.

A large portion of these “Christians” willingly engage in deception in an effort to bring all people who believe differently from them to the “true faith”.  On most college campuses it is routine for an invitation to a social gathering leads to a group of unsuspecting students being “Good Newsed”.   Of course the sponsor or purpose of the gathering is a “big surprise” because otherwise, no one would attend.  I am not sure who invented this approach first the “Christians” or Amway.  I will leave the entire category of “prosperity ministries” that prey on the weak minded poor for another day.

These “Christians” believe they hold the copyright on God. It has always been bad form to share your opinions with them about their illegible xerox image.  Maybe being too polite doesn’t work with people who knock on stranger’s doors.  My usual response is, “I’m a Jew.  I’m good with God.  I hope he leads you to knock on the door of someone who really needs some help and support.”  I am tired of repeating to myself, “They mean well.”  It seems much of secular society treats these “Christians” with the patience you have with children.  But they are not children and polite society has enabled and further emboldened them.

I now realize that enabling them by being polite has created a problem with drawing a line between church and state.  Many of the bully pulpits of these groups are highly political.  To me, that should end their tax-free status.  But no one has the nerve to really separate things.  The “visuals” could be problematic.

So these churches end up without check on their role in politics, and there can be big money there.   And they produce political candidates with the trademark teenie tiny hobbled perspective that worships some weird teenie tiny image of God.  This teenie tiny image of God requires them to reject established science because their image of God isn’t big enough to accommodate part of God’s own creation. These people are spiritually stunted and I have no interest in further discussing with them their “eye on the prize” salvation or their prayers for me. I have spent times in my life politely silent when meeting these sorts of people.  I regret enabling them.

It is important that everyone understands you don’t have to go full atheist like Hitchens to fight these “Christians” and their amoral manipulators.  They don’t OWN God, though they want you to believe they do. It is a sad tribute to modern monotheism that no one except complete non-believers have stepped up to call out such a large sector of organized religion in the United States.  But, if you can know men by their acts, these “Christians” might be worshiping something, but it certainly has no resemblance to an all encompassing fountainhead of wisdom and love.  I may not have a full grasp of what spiritual salvation is, if such a thing exists, but I am sure as heck these excessively literal people of limited understanding are not heading towards any kingdom of goodness and light.

My second, closely held believe is that freedom to practice your faith via conventional religion or personal journey helps us make sense of our time on this earth. So I am not saying these “Christians” can’t continue with their hypocritical, self-righteous excessively literal worship. Carry on, I say! It is your inalienable right protected by the Constitution.  But the US Constitution makes a clear separation of Church and State and I am tired of weird, ossified, small-minded “Christian” beliefs being hoisted me or anyone else who is not interested! I am talking to YOU Mike Pence, a man who will choke up a disgusting lie because he Has made a bound allegence to Trump.  Or, is lying to forward your personal religious agenda permitted?  Has Mike Pence received  a special dispensation to repeatedly break commandments in order to bring God’s laws to the country?

I don’t care if “Christians” are offended by what I just said. It’s been a long time coming, and this self-satisfied, repulsive hypocrisy and fear was fertile ground for Trump’s campaign.  I have heard the intolerate, hateful, ignorant, incredibly unGodly, just plain wrong-minded worship, and I am taking God back from these “Christians” as I am positive God wants nothing to do with their stupidity.  If maybe my language is harsh, please understand that the disrespect and nastiness you set loose, accepted and normalized during Trump’s campaign is not going back in the genie bottle after it has served your purpose.

For the “Christians” who take exception to my description of their behavior and beliefs as being disrespectful of them, none of the adjectives I used to describe them and their behavior are essential to their personhood.  These are accurate adjectives that are completely under your control.  If you are hateful, you can chose not to be hateful.  If it is in your hands, I can be critical of it and still be respectful of your humanity.

To my Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends, I hope it is crystal clear that nothing I have said here should offend you.  As a matter of fact, I am issuing a call to action.  If you have “Christians” in your church, you need to show them they are not Christians if you care anything for their fellowship.  If there are whole churches in your community that espouse judgement, hate or ignorance, it is incumbent on you that these neighbors are not permitted to tacitly assume they are right or justified or Godly.  Do not accost them, do not persecute them, inform them.  Let them feel the burden of having to publicly witness to the hate, arrogant judgement and ignorance they propagate.  It may be there are good people among them that just do not have the will to clean their own house. Show them they are not alone and that their spiritual journey should not be tethered to a house of arrogant self-righteous hate and ignorance.  Appeal to their “better angels”  and that they need to get back to caring about the poor, old and sick, loving without judgement those that are different from themselves because those are the post signs on the ONLY road to spiritual enlightenment that we have as individuals of any faith and as a nation. Silently standing by because it is awkward is not Christian, it is actually enabling them.

I also hold the same belief about “Jews” and “Muslims” in their communities.  Let us take God back from these unGodly people.  If this was tough for you to read, but if you could easily agree had “Muslim” and “Sharia” be switched in for “Christian” and “scriptures” in this essay, I may be addressing you, personally.  There is a wound, a mark on our collective soul and it can no longer be ignored. It is not limited to any particular faith.  It must be addressed and the band aid of civility must come off to treat and truly heal the ugly, unGodly divide that has been created.

American Horror Story : Roanoke -The Issue of Unreliable Narrators

Ryan was afraid we would get lost, so he offered us some information. “You cannot trust them,” Murphy told E! “I think all three of them are…what they said and what they explained in their version of events is not actually the truth.”

It is important to remember that when Ryan dropped the hint, we were watching the talking head interviews of MRN. Shelby and Matt were still together. They had not been to Palley Fest where Dominic made a move on Shelby. After MRN Shelby and Matt offered us very little about their story or perspective other than Shelby agreeing to return in order to win Matt back. There really was no opportunity for us to not trust what they say after MRN because they really aren’t conveying anything outside of their behavioral responses to what was going on around them. This hint was really to help us figure out what is going on in these interviews.

Let’s get Lee out of the way. Lee might be misrepresenting things because of Mason. It turns out this is true. Interestingly, I believe the primary reason Lana is introduced in the end is for the purpose of rehabilitating Lee’s reputation in our eyes. In this universe, Lana is the final word on someone’s character, she can read them. She tells us Lee is much like herself, and can be of singular focus, like a dog with a bone. Lee was all and only about her love for her daughter.

I believe the key reason that Matt and Shelby, particularly Shelby, should be viewed as unreliable narrators is Sydney. The whole MRN was “inspired” by a true story. Sydney bought the house and paid them to participate so long as they went along with his embellishments. (If you can’t suspend your disbelief in this theory, and go along with this for a while you might as well stop reading.) After Matt’s traumatic head injury, memory issues and being the object of Scatcat’s affections, I wouldn’t trust Matt to tell me the correct time.

Shelby said that the night Matt was knocked out was the worst night in her life. Really? Worse than a blood moon night in the Roanoke house visiting their cannibal neighbors? And how could they ever return after that experience?

It wasn’t such a big deal to go back because most of the big horror was Sydney’s fictional, extreme enhancements to spice the story up. Shelby and Matt’s real story was scary and mystifying, and searching for little girl in the woods is worrying, but what actually happened to them was not deeply threatening or horrifying.

Do you remember how there was really something “off” about Shelby when interviewed? Something didn’t seem right? The brief eye twitchy flutter just that once? It drove me crazy. Lily Rabe is such a fantastic actress, what was it about the character Shelby? The reason Shelby seemed so off was Sydney had her well beyond her comfort zone with the lies and exaggerations he spiced the show up with. But she had no choice. She committed to it, for Matt.

In this short essay we have covered many causes of unreliability of the story told.  But there may also be an issue of omission from the story, a collusion of omission by all three narrators.  Omission can be quite evasive while deceit is more readily unmasked.

And we shouldn’t forget there is an even more important narrator to all we see, Sydney.  I suspect he is the most deceitful narrator of all.

AHS: Roanoke- All Your Questions Answered!


Hats off to Reddit for providing a laboratory to watch people process this season’s AHS: Roanoke. I was as much a participant as an observer. It was fun, for the most part. And most of my theories were wrong as well, though I was more interested in exploring entertaining ideas than predicting what was actually going to happen on the show. People write there for all sorts of reasons. I did not start out as some kind of voyeur, but what I saw on Reddit was as interesting as AHS: Roanoke itself.

Recently, a philosopher friend reminded me that you should not always believe what you think. I’ve already written about how hard it is to put the Humpty Dumpty of truth back together after it has been through the media blender. The problem with expressing this is that everyone nods sagely in agreement. The educated ones mutter, “The medium is the message”. But everyone thinks they are the exception, that they readily extract cold facts from this information slushee. Almost everyone walks around uncritically believing what they think. My purpose revisiting Roanoke is to provide key examples of exactly why a ride in the media blender, even if it contains large lumps of factually correct information, makes accessing the truth an incredibly analytic labor; and we are too lazy to do this work even 1% of the time.

It seemed to me that prior to the finale, most redditors were of the opinion that if Episodes 6-9, commonly referred to as Return to Roanoke (RTR), were some kind of “Blair WItch Project”, faux “found footage” horror project, it would be lame and they would be pissed and feel disappointed. Ryan circumvented a direct confrontation on this by introducing yet another media genre, the amateur ghost investigators, kept the action distractingly fast-paced and focused on resolving only one of the story threads. My sense is that, of all seasons, opinions on this complete season were the most polarized. I thought it was brilliant, lots of people thought it was shit.

But I think there is reasonable agreement that the viewer needs to work hard at figuring out what we actually know, what are willful lies or exaggerations, and what is true when the person themselves has limited clarity. As the season progresses, the viewer becomes entangled in processing a story through the lens of common, almost mundane media genres: ghost story reenactments inspired by true events, faux found footage documentaries in the style of “The Blair Witch Project”, “life in a fish bowl” odysseys ranging from “Big Brother” to “Paranormal”, news reports, YouTube, interview shows, amateur investigation shows, and touching on live-streaming video that receives instant acclamation by trending on twitter, creating an odd feedback loop of being both subject and object of media. But, unlike most stories, where you learn the truth in the end, this narrative suggests that the impact of the media itself irrevocably alters and confuses the facts of the matter.   To get at the truth you need to untangle a set of views and personal motivations that are wound in a complex knot while looking through a kaleidoscope of media styles.

I want to add one more to my laundry list of reality style tv show genres that I just mentioned. I submit for your consideration, the “Real Housewives” franchise. How do you get a bunch of vain, aging, wealthy, well-educated (for the most part) women to parade their shallow, petty lives on television? Tell them it’s not them! Tell them they are playing a “character” in the exact same circumstances, with their name. Hand them a script describing their lives and conflicts and tell them this is the “character’s” story line. Their limited self-understanding has them parading all sorts of ugliness behind a tissue paper thin fig leaf.

Sydney, the cruel bastard, found the perfect candidate for the “Real Housewives” treatment, and her name is Audrey. He revealed this pretentious, cruel “that’s how I played her, fiery and pathetic”, vain, histrionic and insecure woman by telling her to just play herself. From her wedding tape, to her soliloquy on the three months of perfect love under the tree from which Rory hung, to her spontaneous eulogy praising Dominic as an excellent scene partner, we marveled at the remarkable piece of work that was Audrey. Fantastically entertaining, right?

But, back to the media frappe…

Ryan was afraid we would get lost, so he offered us some information. “You cannot trust them,” Murphy told E! “I think all three of them are…what they said and what they explained in their version of events is not actually the truth.”

It is important to remember that when Ryan dropped the hint, we were watching the talking head interviews of MRN. Shelby and Matt were still together. They had not been to Palley Fest where Dominic made a move on Shelby. After MRN Shelby and Matt offered us very little about their story or perspective other than Shelby agreeing to return in order to win Matt back. There really was no opportunity for us to not trust what they say after MRN because they really aren’t conveying anything outside of their behavioral responses to what was going on around them. This hint was really to help us figure out what is going on in these interviews.

Let’s get Lee out of the way. Lee might be misrepresenting things because of Mason. It turns out this is true. Interestingly, I believe the primary reason Lana is introduced in the end is for the purpose of rehabilitating Lee’s reputation in our eyes. In this universe, Lana is the final word on someone’s character, she can read them. She tells us Lee is much like herself, and can be of singular focus, like a dog with a bone.  Lee was all and only about her love for her daughter.

I believe the key reason that Matt and Shelby, particularly Shelby, should be viewed as unreliable narrators is Sydney. The whole MRN was “inspired” by a true story. Sydney bought the house and paid them to participate so long as they went along with his embellishments. (If you can’t suspend your disbelief in this theory, and go along with this for a while you might as well stop reading.) After Matt’s traumatic head injury, memory issues and being the object of Scatcat’s affections, I wouldn’t trust Matt to tell me the correct time.

Shelby said that the night Matt was knocked out was the worst night in her life. Really? Worse than a blood moon night in the Roanoke house visiting their cannibal neighbors? And how could they ever return after that experience?

It wasn’t such a big deal to go back because most of the big horror was Sydney’s fictional, extreme enhancements to spice the story up. Shelby and Matt’s real story was scary and mystifying, and searching for little girl in the woods is worrying, but what actually happened to them was not deeply threatening or horrifying.

Do you remember how there was really something “off” about Shelby when interviewed? Something didn’t seem right? The brief eye twitchy flutter just that once? It drove me crazy. Lily Rabe is such a fantastic actress, what was it about the character Shelby? The reason Shelby seemed so off was Sydney had her well beyond her comfort zone with the lies and exaggerations he spiced the show up with. But she had no choice. She committed to it, for Matt. The fabulous eye twitch happened at the question about Cricket.

Here is a list of stuff I do not believe happened and that Sydney made up for reenactment “inspired” by a true story.


Could you image going anywhere within a hundred mile of the place where you had this experience? You are offered jerky made from someone’s leg, have the source of the jerky tied to a table filled with arrows, and begging you to end their life, AND then watch someone murder them by smashing their head with a hammer and getting sprayed with brains, while grandma is calling you “sweet meat”?

Why I believe it didn’t happen.

The Polks told Audrey that her fate was on account of her getting their young’uns taken. How could they not remember that Shelby and Matt were responsible for that, given they held them hostage? They could not remember it because they hadn’t held them hostage. This leads me to think the whole meeting Elias in person was “inspired” by true events. I think the only Elias the Millers met was via those videotapes.


In court, Flora said she saw her mother smash her father’s head with a large stone. But this wasn’t enough of a reveal for much of Reddit. They were trying to figure out how he was burned after that? This illustrates how hard it is to let go of a lie. Some say, “But we saw the burnt ghost of Lee’s husband, Mason, walk down the hall in RTR.” Yes, and Sydney had also arranged for a piggy man to show up to keep things entertaining. I believe this is the reason we saw family pictures including the real Mason during the interview with Lana. He looked different from the man playing the ghost. He had hair, for one. The ghost was rocking a cue ball look, like the actor who played him in MRN.

In court, the discrediting aspect to Flora as a witness was NOT that she got the cause of death wrong, but because she believed she had a ghost friend.

This need to insist that Mason was also burned, because you received the smallest additional lie to reinforce this, is exactly how hard it is to extract truth from a media slurpee.


Many of those paranormal expert teams wish they would find stuff, but are prepared if they don’t. A bed sheet goes flying? Really? And it was so funny that they introduce Avery, the actor who plays the psychic Cricket. He stumbles upon a dirty bonnet, “We had one just like this on the show!” Then he proceeds to give a psychic reading of it, really? What did he say? “So much pain and desolation” or something like that. Psychic actor who played a psychic on the reenactment? Wow! Sydney really casts for realism, or what a coincidence!

And after Lee was surprised to find the Spirit Chasers there, she seemed pretty cool. Her gun was holstered. She’s seen all this fake shit before. And as the Spirit Chasers flee down the stairs from the two clean, cute nurses that unthreatenly stroll in front of the big second floor window, Lee calmly walks up the stairs to continue looking for Flora.

Gee, what great investigators Spirit Chasers were!  They can’t figure out there is a live child hiding in the house? And Flora seemed unfazed by the whole thing, even watching piggyman chop Avery, it must have been clear to her it was bs because she knows what a real ghost is.  If this doesn’t convince you, it seems to me the most authentic look we had at the nurse ghosts was when they were stabbing Rory to death.  They looked filthy and moldy.  No, don’t tell me ghosts get to wash up for the annual blood moon, Rory was killed during the blood moon!

But the most telling information was when we heard the morning news describing a hostage situation. A woman holding one or two girls. If those cops were shot with arrows, and others sliced by piggy and the butcher, wouldn’t the cops be reporting the murders and also be looking to apprehend the cop murderers? Same site. Yup. Nope. Spirit Chasers was yet another fraud. You were wondering why the Butcher looked a bit different, right? But in the adrenaline rush of the carnage, you either believed it or had to think hard about it to realize it wasn’t true.


For what it is worth, here’s my list of true stuff. Lee’s story recreation with Mason and centering on Flora’s abduction. Flora talking to Priscilla.

Dead pig on porch real. Probably Polks. Lee and Matt seeing the burning BBQ cross- probably put up by Polks to scare them off. Why did Polks want to buy the house? Simple, they didn’t want any neighbors.

A few reports to police about seeing stuff in the woods and Shelby’s trip to the hospital and drug testing.

Matt seeing nurses.

Argument with bank representative.

Matt’s seduction by Scatcat. I believe he ate a boar’s heart and Shelby saw him in woods with Scatcat. Don’t believe Polks were there jerking off. Shelby believed Matt didn’t remember and she probably questioned herself having been the subject of a psychological and drug review in hospital. Also, after losing a baby, it is not uncommon for women to face psychological obstacles during their recovery.

Matt and Shelby seeing Priscilla by the root cellar door. The videotapes, at least the first one, was real.

They attributed the moaning in the basement to Mott. They knew the Mott story of building the house. They may have found the hidden passages by following some moaning. I don’t think they necessarily met Mott, though he might have been of assistance as he just wants to be left alone.

Matt’s second encounter with Scarcat, in the root cellar where she shares her story seems real.

Everything about Lee’s murders of the Polks and the boar’s heart seems to hold under scrutiny.

And of course, the poetry, “I am the tree and the lightning that strikes it”. I think that is real because Lee recites it after eating the boar’s heart.

Trail of doll parts and pig parts arrangements- Complements of Sydney.

It is amazing that Shelby is not permanently in need of a cane after being hobbled by Ma Polk. And Shelby seemed to really recover quickly from the cleaver chop to the shoulder. Seems we have two possible explanations 1) Shelby is a witch with great healing skills and 2) all the injuries were fictitious. Seems either one or both are true.

If we think Agnes didn’t kill Sydney, maybe the whole attack on Shelby was staged. Who points a cell phone camera at someone about to kill them when the whole house is wired with cameras? She’s not a great improvisation actress cause she’s a yoga teacher. Audrey calmly bandaging up Shelby because she played a nurse in some production? And why did Dominic need to bring Shelby, a severely injured person, down to the basement to see what Matt was up to? This just smells of reality tv choreography. Could it even be possible that Matt and Shelby are still alive?

Finally, the British woman who was a Lee fan and made the YouTube post we viewed, seems a credible source, indicated that RTR was an exploitive work and they didn’t know if all those people were really dead or not. So, clearly, RTR was available for commercial viewing on tv or the internet somewhere. Certainly, information about all the murders would have been available in the news, especially Sydney’s death; he’s like a Ryan Murphy of that tiny AHS universe.

It seems entirely possible that almost everything was staged in RTR except the Polk conflicts, Lee accepting a bite of the Boar’s heart, Lee pushing Monet over the stair rail, and Lee chopping Audrey and pushing her into cellar.


There was only one question that threw Shelby for a loop during the talking head interviews, Sydney asked her if she knew what Cricket whispered into Lee’s ear. Here is my guess why that question received such a stunned look and mumble.  Cricket didn’t exist.  Now she is being asked to guess what a nonaexistent person said, out of earshot.

Sydney was so proud of himself for finding out about Emily via research. Remember, he seemed fixated on Lee as an unpunished murderer. If he is looking to make Lee appear even more the dark horse, he wants to work the Emily story into the narrative, even if it is completely unrelated. Sydney may not have cared if Cricket existed or what he might have actually whispered, Sydney could have decided whispering about Emily was the perfect way to introduce Lee’s lost child.  This is cricket’s role in the story.

Lee convincingly tells the secret Roanoke tale Cricket shared with her about the origins of the Butcher.  But Lee is from around there and I believe she knew all of this for herself by direct experience.  Saying a third party told you could be cover for your associations.  Sydney could have given the Uber guy a $200 to say Cricket was back and forth even if he wasn’t, and say he chased Flora, even if he didn’t.  We only saw tape of a reenactment ride, actually two different versions of the reinactment ride, not the real Cricket. I think the two slightly different versions of the Cricket Uber ride was really to cement the idea in our minds that Cricket had come and gone and ended lost in the woods chasing Flora and died at the Butcher’s hands. Nothing like a memorable punchline to have people recall things and reinforce something that might not be true. “Gay for pay” anybody? Another way to anchor a lie is to have the lie come up in more than one place, which happened with the Uber story. The uber driver having the last name Snow must not be coincidence. Snow is a witch family name from Coven and from the actual Salem Witch Trials.

And it just strikes me as wrong that Cricket held the negotiation in the forest with the Butcher about returning Flora in exchange for the Millers leaving. Doesn’t seem like her style. Not a talker. Besides, the butcher already said Pricilla had Flora off the sacred land, out of reach- I triple checked this, it was during the seance.   Further, Lee was able to hear Priscilla talk, she recognized her voice, but when the Millers went with Cricket to parler with the Butcher to negotiate for Flora’s release, we got a mime exercise by Audrey and Monet, demonstrating that they couldn’t see or hear the Butcher’s replies to Cricket.  It also seems that Matt too readily agreed to burn down the house to prevent intruders on the land, decided this with Lee and informed Cricket without informing Shelby.

And how is it that the house conveniently burst into flame as Lee sacrificed herself?  Gas leak?  What a well-timed coincidence?  It seems very odd to me that distraction of the house was of such paramount importance.  Seemed like a good source of sacrifice victims.  Or maybe it was Sidney’s spectacular finale.

Until the Butcher showed up the night the Millers fled Roanoke, Cricket was their sole conduit for communication with the Butcher. Cricket shared the story of the Butcher and Scatcat, and the story containing the stoning of Priscilla by the Butcher. Cricket explained what the Butcher said during the seance and, as mentioned, the parler in the forest.  Why didn’t Scatcat take Shelby or Matt back in time to explain?  It is because the whole Cricket story didn’t happen and Lee knew the story directly from the source.

Even if Cricket is exactly who he says or it was all Lee just repeating a story she had known, who could have passed that Butcher story down? No written records of the colony were found, and according to the story, the Butcher killed all the colonists, unless someone was sent to bed without supper that night. Ah, but Scatcat survived. This is the witch’s tale of Roanoke, history is usually written by the victors.


At the point in the interview when Sydney asks both Lee and Shelby (separately) what Cricket whispered to Lee, they both are caught off guard.  As this is after the whole nightmare, Cricket was supposed to be killed by the Butcher.  So who told Sydney about that private little whisper?  I cant believe it was Matt.  Clearly it was not Shelby or Lee.  I believe it was Cricket who chirped in Sydney’s ear.  Or Cricket was Sidney’s invention.

The most likely explanation to me is that Cricket wasn’t actually killed and Sydney preferred him as a fictional “murder victim” to spice up the story rather than as an actual interviewee.


The kiddie BBQ, maybe it’s true. But I wonder, how did they get the police tapes of those three kids being interviewed by the cops? It was definitely from cameras mounted in the interrogation rooms, if it wasn’t just actors playing police interrogators. You think real interrogation tapes would be available after those kids were murdered? But, Lee’s presence as the “Master of Ceremonies” makes the kiddie shish-kabobs appear more credible. Maybe it started out a fraud and suddenly turned real. I’m sure Sydney the sociopath would be happy with the footage either way.

The business of the teen kabobs following the car wreck ghost and finding the body of Sydney’s first assistant in the car, well, she didn’t seem all that decomposed. The body is there on video, then the cops check and no body? Guess she went home, she must still be working for Sydney.

It was interesting no information was presented on who else Lee accused of and tried for murder, of course Ma Polk and Jethers… but there were a lot of bodies lying around if we believe what we see. Of all the murders, the teen-kabobs would have been capital murder charges. Even if found innocent by mental defect, she would not have been walking free so quickly, she’d be institutionalized.  All the other deaths had midigating circumstances, but the teen-kabobs?


I wonder who got the video tape of Lot heading into the city for revenge. Do you think Lot has ever been to the big city? You know who I think did that interview? I think it was Sydney, the miserable shit of a human being. He probably had to explain how to get to Lana’s address to Lot, and how to use an elevator as well. Given the Polks shunned the outside world, rounded up the ladies with cattle prods, got pickled ears and jars of black strap molasses for Christmas, that was a pretty shiny and new semi automatic machine gun Lot had there. Present from someone?

Given I think there’s a chance that Sydney directed Lot to Lana just in time for the interview (hard to believe that was coincidence), it may even be the whole Kathy Bates crazy Butcher biz was a set up by Sydney as well, because if he survived, then the Agnes murder spree was fake. When you pull one loose thread, sometimes everything unravels. Note that the only people she killed were right by the trailer. Definitely an acting opportunity of a life time for the Bates character, Agnes. Nothing like having a real crazy woman play a crazy woman. And the whole sudden appearance and disappearance of those strings of stick figure fetishes? I think it was an invention in MRN and that they suddenly appeared in the house and the quick appearance and disappearance of them in the root cellar with Agnes during her “madness and regret soliloquy” in episode 9- don’t buy it. Why would the witch bother? Why would the ghosts bother? Maybe a reflection of Agnes’s insanity, then it is just filmography work. Maybe Lee packing a gun was unanticipated. Maybe things got out of hand and Agnes really did get shot, and that just got her more immersed in the role and her own craziness. I think the Butcher may have killed Kathy Bate’s Butcher, for what that’s worth.


Continuing this vein of thought, in the finale we have Flora dissappear one hour before the Lana interview, someone tapes Lot with his rifle vowing revenge on Lee, sitting in his truck (presumably heading somewhere) then we see the Lana and Lee interview being shot up by Lot. Lot is then shot to death on tv, Lee rushes to the Roanoke house to find Flora, as the Spirit Chasers, with surviving actor of MRN in tow, cut the fence to do an unauthorized paranormal documentary simultaneous to the Lana Winters live interview special? This has Sydney’s filthy fingerprints all over it. He just wants to get every last entertainment penny out of that house.


If the whole kidnapped by cannibals part of MRN was fiction, as I believe, how did Sydney invent the cannibal stuff and it ends up being true! It seems Sydney does his homework. He found out about Emily, right? After buying the house, he probably bribed a local cop to help meet the Polks as a new neighbor. He ingratiated himself to Jethers and taught him how to use the camera and gave it to him. He probably did a nice easy big weed purchase, so the Polks figured he was “ok”. Jethers probably told Sydney about anything he wanted to know. He did that with Lee. Sydney probably felt he hit a reality gold mine with them.


Ma Polk, Jethers Polk, Lot Polk, ZZ Top Polk, Lee, Monet, Rory, Butcher, Colonists, Agnes (so likely!), Mason, Audrey, Chens, Nurses, Nurses victims, Dylan


Matt, Shelby, Dominic, Elias, teen kabobs


Sydney the Shit, Salad Boy, Everything Breaded and Fried Assistant, Car Accident Assistant, whole Spirit Chasers team, anyone shot with an arrow




Scatcat, Priscilla, Cricket


I think the reason the only story that had closure was the Flora, Lee and Priscilla narrative because we really had little else that was clear or even true. For what it is worth, I think that Priscilla was Scatcat. Which ties up all the real, actual events in a nice bow.

It is quite possible that the first real conflict with the Butcher and her blood moon ghosts and modernity was just about to occur as we see the closing image of torch carried by a colonist heading down the hill towards the blazing conflagration that was the Mott house. It is interesting that the character is wearing fairly clean brown homespun doublet given all the ghosts were horrendously filthy up til now. And that doublet reminds me of Agnes’ Butcher costume. Have we come weirdly full circle here? When the real Butcher murdered Agnes, did she become part of the team for real now?


Sydney and the media blender we passed through has a recurring theme of manipulation.

And where there’s a witch, there’s a coven; and an Uber driver named Snow, Flora’s power to talk to Priscilla, psychic with secret Roanoke witch history, Flora spirited back to the house within an hour of going missing. Everything seems to conspire to bring Lee back, wanting to save her child who has been seduced into the idea of staying with Priscilla, where Priscilla was painted as a sympathetic child fearing the beastly Butcher.

Was Lee manipulated into being a willing sacrifice? Did Scatcat require a willing sacrifice? Butcher was manipulated into being a willing sacrifice. Is this the origin of the sacred taking?


Half of us have become so cynical, we think everything we see view in modern media is a fraud, the other half live and breathe every conspiracy and far fetched faux news as if it was personally witnessed. Will even the cynical believe a large, live-streamed battle between emergency services and the police that appears about to begin? How much would it take for a modern War of the Worlds broadcast to put half the population in a frenzy?

And, of course, we need to battle our own selective attention

For what it is worth, I think Matt, Lee, Flora and Shelby all had witch powers and did not completely understand it. I also think Scatcat derives her powers from “old Gods”. The image of Agnes offering her throat to Scatcat was eerily echoed by Lee offering her throat to Priscilla. But this essay isn’t about the ghost/witches/old gods, themselves, so anymore of that goes elsewhere.


The idea that the only real story is Lee, the only deaths are directly associated with Lee (Polks, Monet, maybe teen kabobs) emerges when all the fake reality stuff ran off the rails because of the real Polks and Scatcat feeding Lee a boar’s heart. That everything Sydney touched, including Spirit Chasers, is just fake reality tv seems consistent with the theme perfect illusion.


As I mentioned, the finale left many on Reddit feeling slightly lost and confused by the stilted focus. It took me a day or two to understand, at least a bit. But, it wasn’t all cliff-hanger and no closure. Ultimately I think the finale went exactly where it needed to go. I just wish Murphy left us a few more breadcrumbs to follow.

You can’t unscramble an egg, you can’t remove the sugar from your coffee and you can’t get at the truth easily once it has been liberally buttered with truthiness to excite and please the palate. Murphy provides an illustration that many common media styles and sources can inundate us with information of various levels of quality, but it can be difficult if not impossible to reconstruct meaningful knowledge at the end of the deluge. It took me a while to understand the shift in focus of the finale, it took a bit of thinking. And the moral of the story was just that.

There are consequences to this moral. Police decisions to respond to things become more difficult. Gaging your personal risk becomes harder. Maintaining a firm grip on how the world works becomes more tenuous. And when the narratives across the myriad sources and mediums contain almost no actual information and just dazzle, brand, and excite, we may not be able to make the best political decisions. And boy, that is first class horror.


I believe we did get a real glimpse of Scatcat when she fed Lee the heart.  Since the Scatcat we see in the basement with Matt is near identical, I’m leaning towards believing she’s the witch as well and not another of Sydney’s enrichments.  This would suggest Matt’s interaction with her was real.  Matt descended to the basement as if a bit hypnotized.  When he sees Scatcat (or whatever he sees in this mental state) he says, “I came back for you.”  Given the whole incest theme, could Scatcat be more that just some random neighborhood witch he hooked up with twice?

When Matt moved himself and Shelby back to this area he mentioned his sister and mother lived there.  How is it the mother was never a haven to them when the house creeped them out?  Couldn’t they have stayed there while looking for Flora?  When Lee kidnapped Flora, why bring her back to a place where she was talking to murderous ghosts?  Why not go to mom’s house with Flora.  I’ve written a great deal about all the Sydney-based intentional deceit in exaggerating and adding stuff.  But, what if Lee, Matt and Shelby intentionally kept one secret from everyone.  What if they knew about Scatcat because she was actually Lee and Matt’s mother?  It would also explain why Lee, upon her “first” direct encounter with Scatcat, was only slightly startled and was so easily fed the boar’s heart.  Scatcat was protecting Lee from the Butcher the only way she had, during a blood moon.

It is much harder to determine the existence and nature of a secret than to unmask deception.  The only evidence is the apparent comfort level that Lee and Matt show with Scatcat.  It is quite thin evidence for any conclusions.


The opinions contained in this blog are solely my own.  I am not in any way affiliated with AHS nor have I received any information that is not also publicly available.  I enjoyed the series and decided to put the effort in to figure out what was actually going on during the series.  I do not claim my theories have been verified, I have just shared my perspective after some serious consideration of all the episodes of the entire season.  Constructive comments or questions welcomed.