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Issue 1.1

Music Spotlite: Ani DiFranco

One booted foot thumps down on the stage, the crowd silently anticipating a strum of the acoustic guitar she carries. The light shines down, highlighting the aspects of DiFranco: nose ring, funky hair, a "fuck-you" sort of stature, tattoo across upper chest, and then her mouth moves; she sings. The crowd, which despite Ani's burgeoning popularity remains mainly women-oriented, roars at her very presence. She begins to sing, play her guitar, interact with the audience with cheesy little stories that get every person in the house laughing, like they are sitting down with Ani and having their own little conversation. This is her essence, the snag that keeps the Ani fans wanting more: the feeling that Ani is going to sit down and have a little folky conversation. She says the shit a lot of girls won't, but encourages them to speak up for themselves. She sings about universal love-torment- sex type situations, and because Ani has gone with both sexes, she has experience from hetero- and not-so-hetero- standpoints. No matter who you are, there is bound to be an Ani song that you can relate to. Abortion, not fitting in, being dumped: she's done it all.

Little Plastic Castle, her new release, is quite the album indeed. Because so much hype has been surrounding DiFranco about her being a money-maker by magazines like Ms., and because some of her fans have been deeming her a sell-out (due to her love relationship with "Goat Boy" - a guy in the DiFranco crew of sound and tech-stuff; her MTV status; her sold-out concerts at any venue given, etc.), this CD had a certain reactionary feel to it: Ani was making her rebuttal to her (pissed off) fans. With the lines "Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind" and images of her being "trapped in [her] glass house", DiFranco responds to the hype. Her fan base is getting bigger by the second though, and many women are getting tuned into the DiFranco message of being independent in a world where people expect women to be dependent.

Regardless of whatever poor media or bad word from fans there may be about her, Ani is moving up on a grand scale. Her music has progressed from purely political folk (in Ani DiFranco (1990)) to her recent edgey sounds, with a more technical, produced sound. The powerful lyrics remain, as well as her strong acoustic background, and that is what will make the sound of Ani DiFranco always belonging to Ani DiFranco.

CD Overview: Title:Little Plastic Castle Previous Albums and Such: Ani DiFranco (1990), Not So Soft, Like I Said, Imperfectly, Out of Range, Not A Pretty Girl, Women in (e)Motion (Import), Dilate, More Joy/Less Shame (EP), Living In Clip (2CD), and she's got some import EPs.. she's also featured on a few soundtracks here and there has done a compilation with Folkguy Utah Phillips called The Past Didn't Go Anywhere. Record Label: Ani's own, completely independent label: Righteous Babe Records (Call 1-800-On-Her-Own) Venus Honey Favorite Tracks: Deep Dish, Pixie, Glass House, Pulse Classification: Highly-flavored-folk-pop, with a dash of funked political pepper and a dash of good-ol' love.

Girl Adventure: The Hick Experience

Well get this. It was me, driving my supersporty Silver Ford Tempo '89 complete with front-near- the-headlight-on-the-passenger side dent, with my partners in crime, H and Stichy (I have no cool names, I'm just Anne). So we're a group of chicks listening to Ani DiFranco empowerment tunes, driving 50 in a 40 on Erie Boulevarde (Upstate New York), on our way home from Zopie's Caffeine Fix (of Syracuse, NY). H and her herbal black currant tea, Stichy with her double mocchacino, and me with my caffe mocha and endless refills of house cups, well, we were feeling pretty obnoxious. So we're at one of the thousands of stoplights on Erie B., when we hear two loud-ass pick-up trucks pull up next to us, swirving about, being drunken stupid hicks probably. You know the type: gun rack in the back, guys with mullet-style greasecoifs, confederate flag air freshener dangling from the rear view, NRA member bumperstickers, rusty ford pick ups (with standard stick shift system) with numerous flattened Michelob boxes in the back next to the overgrown spare tire, the tool box, and sometimes, the golden retriever spedmuttdog. Well, these assholes summed up everything hicks are about. You could smell their store-brand-version of Brut Cologne just wafting off their rednecks.

Revving their engines, with their windows rolled down (it's about 45 degrees out) and 80's heavy metal blasting (perhaps it was Ratt), they are creeping out beneath red lights, racing each other down Erie B. Stichy decides to be funny and make faces from the backseat of my car, which they pick up on, and are probably pissed for a bit, but then they speed past us, with a cloud of thick unleaded exhaust. One of the trucks turns, and the other gets in that lane to turn also, until I zip by and beep my little Tempo horn. We laugh, we figure that's the end of it, because he's locked into that lane (when you pull up in a lane that has a "left only" sign above it, and the light's red, you stay there, right?). Well, despite the fact that it's a red light, and I'm already on the other side of that light pursuing the green lights down the rest of Erie, he zips out of his lane, runs the red, (therefore committing two major traffic violations, which is okay in the hick book.. if they could read) and chases after me going about 55 (in a 40, another traffic violation). Scared shitless, I start speeding at 55, but Stichy is having a ball with this, despite my cries "he has a fucking gun rack!" She starts making nasty hand gestures, mouthing naughty words, doing obscene things, really getting this hick pissed off.. and he caught up. We're all screaming loud, as he's in the lane next to us....

but then we turn, and we lose him... he doesn't follow. We beat the hick down! Afterwards, we laughed, still being loud and obnoxious, deciding that we could just take on the night after taking down the hick. Whether we really took him down or not, that doesn't matter. It sure as hell felt like we did.

Home Economics with Miss Mantis

Shakes and Curtains

1. Recipe Me, Honey!

Yes ladies, get out your lacy french maid aprons, rev up your mixer, and let's talk cooking. Actually, I am what you would call an effecient cook. Since I only cook for myself, perhaps I overlook those basic four food groups, but to hell with them anyway... oops, pardon me.

Anyhow, I make sure my meals have the things I like in them, but also certain nutrients I need, like chocolate and caffeine. A breakfast of Diet Coke and a hershey bar isn't the most pleasant taste first thing in the morning, at least not to my liking. But who wants to down a few cups of Dutch Cocoa Coffee when it's July either? Well, here's something you can suck on. I call it The Wake Up Call, and it's a tasty pickerupper for breakfast. In fact, when I can, I prefer to use blenders and microwaves and such. I prefer to avoid ovens, because the damn things never quite work right...oh dear, excuse my language.

Ingredients:

Procedure:

The night before you need your Wake Up Call, freeze the 2 cups of strong-brewed coffee (dark roast or french roast punk this baby up) in an ice cube tray (therefore you get little coffeecubes in the morning). That morning, throw half the cubes in a blender (unless you have some industrial capacity superblender, keep it to half of the cubes) with 1/2 of the cup of milk and a teaspoon of sugar, and half the chopped chocolate. Blend for about half of a minute, until the ice is finely chopped and the chocolate is well distributed. Add whatever extract you want (only a bit now) and if you want a thicker, smoother milkshake-feel to your drink, add a scoop or two (depending on thickness desired) of the frozen yogurt. Blend again for a bit until well mixed, then pour, top with whipped cream, and drink. And with the remaining ingredients, you can fix up another serving, for yourself for another day, or for yourself that morning if you're pretty hungry, or if you have company that finds your Wake Up Call tempting. Enjoy, ladies!

2.Sew What?

I won't lie to you all. I don't own a sewing machine. In fact, Mr. Needle and Mr. Thread aren't my best friends. But does this stop me from fixing a button when I need to? Of course not! I'm an independent lady. When necessity comes a-knockin', I answer the door. Sometimes, it's challenging, but I do fine enough. I do know how to make curtains! You're probably sitting here thinking, "but I got curtains", but let me tell you, you can make the phattest.. now, did I just say that? Anyhow.. you can make curtains that will make your neighbors envious every time they try to play Peeping Tom at your window.

Look around your room. What motifs do you have? Are you a flowerfreak? Are rainbows your thing? Do you happen to have lots of furry creatures hanging out on your bed, or are you big into music posters on your wall? Is it a little bit of everything? Make a list of what kind of stuff you want on your curtains.

You can buy a big piece of lace, cut it down the middle, sew up the tops, and make lace curtains. It's that easy. You don't need a machine or a lot of cash. But I like the eclectic look, and the more stuff you make your curtains out of, the more original they will be. You'll probably end up with curtains that you could never buy anywhere, and no one will ever be able to duplicate.

Needs:

Procedure:

For starters, this doesn't take an amazing amount of sewing genius. If you can get the thread through the cloth from point a to point b, that's all that's important. There is no complicated hemming here or anything, this is just assembling. In fact, if you use a light enough fabric (like muslin or broadcloth, no velvet or faux fur), you could probably just use a hot glue gun to put pieces together.

Measure from the top of your windowsill to the bottom, or where you want your curtains to hang. You'll need to buy that length of fabric for your base. Now, I highly recommend getting a cheap 45"-width piece of muslin for a base to build on for these curtains. It's cheap.. get whatever color you'd like but remember you're going to put stuff over it anyway. Now, cut the fabric vertically down the middle (so you'll end up with something that looks like two long, boring curtains with no seams at top). Next, sew some seams. Get your curtain rod or dowel and lay it on the very top of your fabric. Then roll the fabric over to see how much room you need to give the fabric to fit over it. Leave an extra 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch for a safety measure. As a rule of thumb, don't make your top opening any more than 3 inches wide unless you have a superthick dowel or curtain rod to slide into it.

Now, with what you got, you could throw up as curtains and they'd be boring, but they'd be curtains. But we want to make these fun. This is the part where the rest is up to you. You can cut squares of fur any size, lay them on the base curtains, sew them down (don't glue fur) and make a furry curtain. Or, you can buy different pieces of broadcloth fabric and glue it down (but when you hang them on your window and the sun shines through, you'll see the glue streaks.. so, for aesthetics, you might consider sewing). Embellish with buttons, zippers (those you have to sew), strands of beads going every which way. Using these very simple base curtains as your canvas, you can go nuts.

I made some purple, orange, red, and green-patched velvet curtains with vinyl flaps to put pictures in. All you need to do is get some clear vinyl at the fabric store, cut it into little (or big or whatever) squares and sew (make sure to use a very tight stitch.. meaning as soon as you bring the needle up through both the vinyl and cloth, you bring it back down.. it takes a lot more time, a lot more effort, and you have to watch carefully.. but it's worth it) the sides and bottom of the vinyl square down onto the cloth. The open side (top) will be where you slide in polaroids, magazine clippings, pieces of poetry, etc. It makes for the most original curtains around, especially when you display in your vinyl squares your own creations.

Horoscopes with Madam TB Sykik

Scales (libra, 9/23-10/22): Venus, your ruling planet, is somewhere in the universe which causes you to tell off every construction guy in the fifteen-mile radius, whether he talks to you or not. This habit is addictive, and unfortunately, you get addicted, so in these next few months expect weird weather, and your construction-worker-heckling skills to improve vastly.

Scorpion (scorpio, 10/23-11/21): Despite your name, scorpion, you have an intense fear of bugs. Stock up on cans of RAID and flyswatters. You may find "tough" jockish guys offering you a hand to kill the "spidey-widey" for you, so keep in mind that flyswatters aren't just for killing bugs, and RAID potentially could be a weapon (but that's slightly extreme, now isn't it.. it's worse than pepper spray, probably). If you are vegan, expect to live in fear for a while.

Bows-n-arrows (sagittarius, 11/22-12/21): Problems at work/school/mall/etc. !! But we all have problems, so don't be surprised. You're really not the violent type, by nature, unless someone pisses you off or makes the first move. Well, if someone does, think it over first. You don't wanna act all tough, wind up, and land a punch on someone just to find out then that you're a wimp. I suggest a vigorous weight-training routine, and maybe some weightgainer45000. Keep an eye on goats.

Goat (capricorn, 12/22-1/19): Uh oh. You get into a fight with a Bows-n-arrows type of person, but fortunately for you, they haven't been taking their weightgainer45000 and you have. You're arnold-buff now, so you'll probably win the fight, but the downside is you lose your prom date, and your favorite lipstick dropped out of your purse while you were delivering a huge upper lefthand to the chin!

Faucet (aquarius, 1/20-2/18): Why are you so dramatic? Everyone doesn't hate you, you're just paranoid. Then again, your family relations are going downhill, you are totally date-less, and for the past three saturday nights you've found yourself sitting at home watching your collection of Dawson's Creek episodes on tape. While eating chocolate chip cookie dough out of the package of course. Maybe you are a bigger loser than I thought.

Fishy-Fishy (pisces, 2/19-3/20): Knock off your whining. You score major tickets to a local Hanson concert, so you got nothing to whine about. Be happy about that! Everyone is jealous, including me, Madame T.B.Sykick!

Ram (aries, 3/21-4/19): Nobody likes your infamous red shirt. But if you go to the gap now, and find a new blue shirt, and wear it often, everyone will forget the red shirt and you'll redeem yourself in the eyes of the fashion-conscious.

Bully (taurus, 4/20-5/20): You need a job, or a better one if you already have one. Your cash flow is minimal, and don't expect your parents/friends/lovers to support your lazy ass anymore. They're all broke too.

Twins (gemini, 5/21-6/20): You spot a super-kewl Spice Girls poster that says "girl power" on it, and you just have to get it! But where's your money! Uh-oh! Wallet at home on kitchen counter! Dammit! It's okay, just steal it. Any legal trouble is well worth going through if you get a really great SPICE GIRLS poster! Yeah!

Crabby (cancer, 6/21-7/22): You can dance, and you know it, so if you dance enough in school, or work, or wherever, eventually people will take notice of you. The after-effects of your dancing will depend on the dance you chose to do. If you went for the tootsie-roll, expect to be fired or expelled. If you went for the roof-raisin'-meets-backstreet-boyz, expect to be murdered.

Lioness (leo, 7/23-8/22): Next time you are going to puke, let people know around you. Soon, your stomach will rebel and you will find chyme-y goodness crawling up your esophagus, and your biggest crush will be somewhere nearby. Just warn him/her, or you might find him/her puking back at you. Then again, a mutual bond might form over digestive propulsions.

Virgin (virgo, 8/23-9/22): Stock up on tampons, girl, there is a scarlet tide coming with your name on it! Just kidding. Your menstrual patterns ought to be only slightly askew, because Jupiter is in your house, or something.

Cokoa Plasstick's Advice Column

~Letter Numero Uno~

Dear Cokoa Plasstick: please help me!! My boyfriend is a total loser. He calls me at nine at night, even when he knows I need my beauty sleep, and I go to bed at eight. I mean, it is cool that he cares enough to call, which is more than I can say for most thirteen year old guys. But he pays for me when we go out to the movies and McDonald's. SO... here is the problem (it is worse than the calling thing): he is pressuring me to do *stuff*!! He keeps putting his arm around me at the movies, and then he'll try to hold my hand! I push him away and he stops. Then he asked if he could kiss my cheek! Oh my! He is a loser! Lame-O! What should I do?? I don't want to break his heart, even though he is dragging my rep down bigtime.

Signed, Lucille in Illinois
P.S. I'm really 16 and a half. I will be 17 next July!!

Well, I would certainly hate to be the one to break it to you, but obviously this tedious task has been thrown into my lap (actually onto my desk) : He's not the loser, you are. Bed at eight, no holding hands, pushing him away, lying that you actually have a rep when you probably don't. Hon, it adds up in the end. Here is my true advice: dump him, he probably deserves someone closer to his age who will want to at least hold hands, and someone he can see in his classes (maybe you are in some of his classes, I don't know). He also deserves someone cooler. You aren't cutting it! Go out and live life a little.

~Letter Numero Dos~

Cokoa! What should I do?? I ate a spoonful of rotten sweet corn and now I have horrible gas. And the prom is tonight! But I'm still hungry for corn! I love corn, and I'm hungry, but .. I just don't know!

Bertha in Boston, 47

Well, seeing as how I got this letter probably a week after your corn ordeal, I'm hoping everything went well. But I have a question for you: Why are you going to the prom when you are a middle-aged woman with a horrid name?

~Letter Numero Tres~

To Cokoa Plasstick: I think I have a medical problem with my potted houseplant. It is a cactus, and I have been watering it regularly (twice a day). Yet, it has become soggy and mushy, with moist bread pudding qualities. I just don't know what to do!! I live in Northern Alaska, so I don't think I can plant it outside, or can I?? Please rush me some Venusian Honey info... fast!!!

Signed, Angie in Alaska, 29

I love potted houseplant questions!! Unfortunately, yours doesn't require me to flaunt all that planty knowledge I have. In fact, your question could be answered by any elementary school student who can not yet define bread pudding (I still can't). And here it is: Don't put a plant outside in N. Alaska, and no plant needs to be watered that much or bread pudding consistency I am sure will be acquired. So lay off the water; it is a cactus, you freak. There, I have just flexed my botanical-knowledge muscles.

Yer Stuff (contributions)

Poems

dreamgirl

she could be my everything
if I could only find her
she could be the only one for me
if she existed in reality

but for now i seek and pry
i keep one eye peeled
in hopes we might just meet
she could make me complete

she'd be everything I'm not
she could make me whole
every thing that scares me
she could make melt away

she could make me change
for the better, overall
she could make me change
she could rearrange me

I need someone like her
I keep a picture of her in my mind
she's out there somewhere
I just have to find her

she's my soulmate
my dreamgirl
the one who shows up unexpectedly
when that one peeled eye blinks

-By "An Anonymous Chick In Love"


Shaved Head

shaved head shadow
sleeping behind his eyes
arms cradling his knees
anchoring him to himself
as though he'll float away
in some dream he is dreaming

he's sleeping on his feet now
floating away into the air
as we all walk by he's slower
his pace adrift, his shadow trailing
on some invisible string
shaved head and all

-By Alison E.

Thoughts, Stories & Such

Weird Dream

I had a weird dream just moments ago (it is six something in the morning). It freaked me out totally, simply because I fell asleep at five in the morning and I was in a deeper state of subconscience. I don't remember how the dream actually started, but I blurred into standing up from my current surroundings when I was sleeping (I fell asleep on the couch, in my dream, I rose from the couch) and I saw a thick stream of baby flies. They were swirling in a hump and didn't move out of formation. I mean there were many, and of course I spazzed. So I run to the phone to call dad (I have no idea of the time when the dream happened, but the lights were on.) I ran out to the kitchen cordless, and grabbed the cordless, and I looked up into the light and there was a huge spider web spanning the inside of it and there were baby flies stuck to the outside of the bulb.

Next thing I know dad is home, and he laughed at first and thought I was kidding or seeing things. Then I showed him the flies, and here comes the freaky part, our recliner started shimmy and shaking towards us, making a buzzing noise. It was so weird. We tried to run from it but it followed us. You would think we would be smarter than a chair going 2 miles an hour. But anyway, we ran upstairs(but they weren't the right stairs for my house..they were the stairs to my Uncle Ray's house and those stairs were always frightening for me as a little girl), and the chair followed, buzzing and being all scary like buzzing recliners are, and we went to my dad's room, and I noticed the light was on in my room, so while I was yelling at my dad "who went in my room?" the chair had climbed the staircase (I don't know how) and so we hurried and locked his door and the chair kept thumping upon it. It then came to me (while still dreaming) that I could find a spell to banish the evil ghost possessing the chair. Then I can't remember what happened, but I verbally yelled (in and out of dream) to my dad, and my voice was weak, thank god, because my father was up, but that brought me out of my dream. So a yell for "da-a-ad" brought me out of the dream.

Now, it wouldn't have been so bad if it were a light dream...this is a dream where I am dozing off and I can't recall it when I wake up, but if I wake-up in the middle of it to change position or something, and then go back to sleep, I fall right back into the dream. Light dreams are okay because even if they are nightmares, I know I am just dreaming and usually can keep pulling myself out of the dream until it fades. Deep dreams are like the ones I had, I was actually interacting with the dream. I was in it, but I was in it on a different level, I was in it on the reality level. The reality level means I thought it was real, I could have sworn it was actually my reality realm. I was actually thinking of ways to cure my problem in my dream. Thinking like I would normally, while in a dream, usually means I am in the dream way too deep. Also, a deep dream is shown by relief when I get out of the dream, because like I said, I didn't think it was a dream. To me, it was reality. I didn't know any better.

I have had good dreams, but never concise ones with a definite motive like those dream dictionaries say. My dreams are fragments of thought, randomly shoved together. Here is how I picture, interpretively, the dream process: A little man is in the back of my brain and he stands to a bunch of file cabinets. Across from the file cabinets is the dream machine where the dream is fed to the front of the brain where I think it out. So the man gets a dream command, and he randomly pulls out files from the cabinets. He pulls out some fear files from age 5, some happy memory files from age 9, and a couple of place and time files from my current age. All these sheets are thrown onto the floor with no actual correct order; the man just walks over and places them into a pile and feeds them into the dream machine. Then I get stuck with whatever there is.

Now in reality, I imagine that the brain does something like this, omit the little man and actual cabinets. I do think the brain is an accurate way of storing information and such. I do not believe that most people have to hear things or see things seven times before they can commit to memory. I believe after one time, it is stored. Just where it is stored is the thing. Back of the mind or front of the mind. One is simply more accessible than the other.

If we used our entire brain, we'd be amazing. We would never forget anything. We would automatically know things once we saw or heard. We could recall things with amazing detail. Since we use an estimated ten percent, we have memory lapses. Actually, I do think we use most of our brain, just not at once. During dreamtime the back of our mind, our subconsicence has the chance to take over and it does it's job well. If we don't dream it doesn't mean we aren't thinking while we sleep. Our subconscience is working around the clock. What it takes to access it is another story. It is hard to figure why only when we dream we can see into our past...............by Elli Roberts

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