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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban–Adaptations

Movie week! You know the drill. This week we discuss the actors and choices made by the production studio for what I (Hale) think is one of if not my absolute favorite Harry Potter movie. We kick off the episode with a promo from Hark! The 87th Precinct Podcast. Come join the conversation.




Joe Bae:

From Alcatraz to Azkaban–A History

Alcatraz 1.jpg

You can smell the salt in the air, despite the inability to see much around you. That infamous San Francisco Bay Area fog is making it impossible to see even the beautiful golden bridge only a few miles from you. The locals promise you the fog will lift, and the sites will be beautiful, but you can’t imagine any fog this thick clearing in time to see anything, anytime soon. You’re visiting the Golden City in June, and yet it is still ice cold on the water.

Suddenly through the fog, The Rock comes into view. You can see the silhouette of the buildings on Alcatraz Island, and guess many of them are the prison itself. Your first thought is that it looks like a hauntingly twisted replica of France’s Mont-Saint-Michel, with its singular high tower, keeping watch over the rest of the island. Even from afar, the graffiti atop the water tower is glaring. You struggle to read it, and fixate on it. As your ferry pulls into the dock on the island, you get your first real look at the tag on the tower:

Peace and Freedom. Welcome. Home of the Free. Indian Land.

There are rumors that Alcatraz was originally used as a fishing station by local Indian tribes. According to the first Spaniard to map the island, Juan Manual Diaz, there was no sign anyone ever occupied the isolated island in the middle of the bay, except birds. He deemed it “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” or “The Island of the Pelicans.” Over the next few years, the Spanish would build several buildings on the island. Interestingly, (Anya if you’re reading this, this one is for you) the origin of the word “alcatraz,” according to a book from 1915, is Arabic. It was often used in reference to alchemy, meaning a “recovery of valuables from a retort” or basically, the process of separating the valuable material from a mineral after a process of purification (The Rock). As the book thoughtfully notes, this is an interesting origin of the word, knowing what Alcatraz Island eventually becomes: a rehabilitation prison.

In 1846, the Mexican government gave the island to William Workman, a settler from (my own home state) Franklin, Missouri. He jumped on a Santa Fe Trail caravan and migrated to what is now New Mexico, where he became a smuggler. He and his family traveled to California, where they landed as one of the original settlers of Los Angeles. Workman was granted Mexican citizenship after his work commanding parts of the Mexican army during the Mexican-American war. He, in turn, gave the island to his son, Francis Temple, who sold it to the future Governor of California, John C. Frémont for the lofty price of $5,000 (upwards of $150,000 in 2018) in the name of the US Government. Frustratingly, Frémont never paid the five grand, and Temple sued, to no avail. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore set the land aside for the US Military. Around this time, the US began studying the stability of the island to be used as protection for the San Fransisco bay. Construction began quickly, and ended in 1858, when the first army battalion arrived.

When talks of secession began to stir around the country, the governor of Oregon feared that California and Oregon would fall to southern sympathizers, and asked President Lincoln for fortification of the West Coast. Immediately, the US Army replaced the commanding officers at Alcatraz, and they turned the island into an arsenal for the US Military. In 1868, through the Spanish-American War, the military began using Alcatraz as long-term prisoner holding. In the seventies, the definition of “long-term prisoner” expanded to include “troublesome Indians” or American Indians that would not submit to involuntary removal from tribal land, or forced assimilation.  In the book The Rock, a collection of newspaper articles written in 1915, it describes one particular “troublesome Indian”: “One of these was a boy about sixteen who arrived in full Indian costume. He was taken to the barber shop where his beautiful long hair was cut off…” (August 3). The italics are not in the original. They were added by me for emphasis. These are real people, with a real culture that Americans stripped from them.  But I digress… On the podcast, we will discuss (rant about) this issue extensively when we get to Three Day Road.


By the early 1900s the makeshift prison on the island was becoming overcrowded. Mainly at this time, the prisoners were associated with the military; some were deserters, some were civilians that committed crimes as they traveled with the military, and also POWs. Nearly two-hundred prisoners were transported to Alcatraz the night before the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 1906. Alcatraz itself took little damage; a pipe burst and the original lighthouse was damaged. They later decided to tear down the lighthouse, and rebuild. However, the coastline was severely damaged, and many of the jails around the city, including the famous San Quentin, caught fire. There was an actual discussion of if it would be better to leave the prisoners in their cells to burn to death, or if they should be released. Eventually, the prisoners were evacuated, and wandered homeless for two days before they were transported to Alcatraz Island, where they would wait out the week.

In 1907, The Rock officially became a military prison. This time period was the beginning of the building of the large cell blocks. The cell blocks were completed in 1912, and at the same time the builders demolished the military barracks to the ground level, creating a moat-like defense system on the island. Later, the first floor was incorporated into the cell block, leading to legends that there was a dungeon beneath the prison.

During the First World War, conscientious objectors to the war and draft dodgers were held at Alcatraz. One famous objector, Philip Grosser, highlighted the inhumane treatment in his book Uncle Sam’s Devil Island. There are accusations that the PTSD he obtained from his time in the prison led to his suicide in 1933.

In 1933, the island was turned over to the US Dept. of Justice, and turned into a federal penitentiary. The initial idea of the prison was to hold troublesome prisoners from other penitentiaries around the countries. The first batch of 137 prisoners arrived by railroad on August 11, 1934, pictured below. 60 US Marshals and FBI agents guarded the prisoners as they arrived in handcuffs. The original staff has 155 members, highly trained in security protocol, but not rehabilitation. In the early years of the prison, the US experimented with the newest technology of the day. The prisoners were surrounded by early metal detectors, but they often overheated and had to be turned off. The gun gallery guards were given machine guns, shot guns, hand guns, grenades, and gasses to maintain order in the prison.


Unsurprisingly, the citizens of San Fran were not thrilled with hardened criminals, mainly professional gangsters, being held just off the coast of the city. The police chief cited 17 different cases where military prisoners escaped the island in previous years. A woman’s club protested the prison by organizing separate swims out to the island to prove how easily the swim was achieved. Of course, nothing ever came of the protests, and the island continued to house “the worst of the worst” criminals.

Now for the fun part… Whaaaatttt? It’s already been a fun read! I know. But it is about to get funner. More fun? Anyway…

Alcatraz is more famous for the prisoners it held, than its history. Some of the top names of prisoners that spent much of their lives here are Roy Gardner, the last American train robber; Henri Young, the man who stabbed another prisoner to death with a spoon; Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, the last public enemy to be taken to the island; James “Whitey” Bulger, or the Robin Hood of Boston; George “Machine Gun” Kelly, not the rapper, of course; and Meyer Harris “Mickey” Cohen, a featherweight boxer arrested for tax evasion with ties to our hometown, Las Vegas. A famous inmate we must talk about is the Birdman. After a tough life and years of imprisonment, he was imprisoned at Leavenworth Prison. While there, he was isolated in solitary confinement, where he began to collect a colony of canaries, and author two books about them and their diseases. He was later transported to Alcatraz where he served the majority of his sentence, before he died in a hospital for prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Of course one of the most famous is Al “Scarface” Capone, enough said. I should mention here that an outrageous number of these inmates had ties to my hometown, Kansas City, Missouri, or several miles west in Leavenworth, Kansas and the federal penitentiary, or south to Springfield, Missouri. In short, gangsters come from KC. Fun fact: KC is still full of gangsters. 😉

220px-Al_Capone_in_1930      mgk

Speaking of gangsters… Let’s digress from the famous inmates for a minute to talk about history again for a second. Let’s talk about the Battle of Alcatraz. After an unsuccessful escape attempt by bank robber Bernard Paul Coy and five accomplices, overtook the prison. While one man, stationed in the kitchen as the cleaner, called for a guard to let him out to return to his cell, another attacked the guard. They released two other men from their cells. Coy opened some bars in the gun gallery, and with the help of weight loss, squeezed between the bars into the gallery. Armed with clubs, keys, guns, grenades, and gasses, they took block C and D, releasing the prisoners, before securing the yard. They took officers hostage, and attempted to move outside to use them to barter with the boatman at the dock. After all of their hard work, they were finally foiled by a jammed lock, and were forced to shoot it out with the incoming guards. Afraid the guards would testify against them if they surrendered, the inmates open fired on their five officer hostages. While a few of the inmates returned to their cells, the ring leaders decided they would not surrender and continued firing on advancing guards. Finally, the warden cut the electricity. Because of the positioning of the prisoners at the top of the cell block and with the weapons they obtained, it was nearly impossible to attack. The only option? They called in the motha’ fuckin’ US Marines. The Marines came up with a strategy to drive the prisoners into a corner by drilling holes in the roof of the cell block, and drop in live grenades. The prisoners avoided injury by falling into position in the corner of the cell block. Eventually, they sent in armed officers, guns a-blazing. The bodies of the escapees were later recovered in the corridor in which they were cornered.


Another famous inmate includes Frank Lee Morris,  known for his multiple escape attempts from other penitentiaries. He was supposedly tested multiple times for his IQ, and was positioned at the top 2% of the country. He used his smarts to aid him in his multiple escape attempts. It was him who convinced the Anglin brothers, John and Clarence, and Allen West to attempt an escape of the island. This escape attempt is also the most famous in the history of the island. There is some suggestion that the men had been imprisoned together before, and possibly knew each other. They were assigned adjacent cells in 1961, and worked on their escape plans through the night. Over time, they made the ventilation vent in their cells bigger using a makeshift drill from a broken vacuum, saws they found on the prison grounds, and spoons. They masked the holes by using cardboard and paint, and covered their noise by having Morris play his accordian. I just have a few questions… How in the world were the guards so careless they obtained these materials, and it wasn’t a bit obvious that there was an accordian playing all night? Did the guards not care because the island is inescapable? I. Just. Don’t. Understand.

Anyway… They opened their vents enough to crawl through, to create a work room inside the walls, atop their cells. In the workroom, they fashioned life preserves from raincoats, and made a raft. They used parts of the accordian to inflate the raft. Finally, they climbed through the ventilation system to the grill on the roof, where they would made their escape.

The night of the escape, West had some problems with the grate on his vent. By the time he made it out, the others were gone. He returned to his cell and went back to sleep. In the morning, West cooperated with guards to avoid further punishment. He revealed the escape plans, and preparations. By then, Morris and the Anglins were long gone, and only the papier-mâché heads they made of themselves remained. Guards later revealed that they had, in fact, heard the escape attempt when the grill on the roof crashed to the floor. When they heard no other sound, they did not investigate. I mean… what?! What even is this place?

A full search of the coast was immediately put into place. The coastguard found the remains of a paddle, the raft, and several life preserves, but no bodies were ever recovered. They also found one of the Anglin’s wallet, containing names and addresses of friends and family. The FBI concluded while it was possible one or more of the escapees could have made it to land, it was unlikely, due to the water temperature and the strength of the current in the bay. The FBI website says, “We officially closed our case on December 31, 1979, and turned over responsibility to the U.S. Marshals Service, which continues to investigate in the unlikely event the trio is still alive.” However, the US Marshals still classify it as an open investigation, and as recently as 2009, according to NPR, the Director told NPR that he was still regularly obtaining leads in the case and they are actively pursuing them.

Since then, Mythbusters have tested their escape and found it possible they survived. Evidence was released that the FBI did find footprints on an island nearby where the boat was found. The FBI once said the plan was to steal clothes and a car when they got to land, and there were no cars stolen in the area that night. That was later disputed. Anglin family members suggested they met with their brothers at the prison where they paid off the guards. Family and friends of both the Anglins and Morris claimed they have met with them since the escape. There is suggestion that they all ended up in Brazil. According to this CBS article, John wrote a letter to CBS San Fransisco saying, “My name is John Anglin. I escape from Alcatraz in June 1962 with my brother Clarence and Frank Morris. I’m 83 years old and in bad shape. I have cancer. Yes we all made it that night but barely!” This led to the FBI reopening the case. The letter also told the paper that Morris died in 2008, and Clarence died in 2011.


Another huge moment for the island came after the prison closed in 1963. In 1964, for four hours, a group of forty Sioux Indians, journalists, photographers, and a lawyer occupied the island. This was a publicity stunt for a movement to increase media attention on the Civil Rights protests already occurring in San Francisco. They claimed the US Government offered them 47 cents per acre when they originally took the island from the Indians, and they were offering to pay the government back in full: $9.40. Under threat of a felony charge, they left. In November 1969, after the loss of the Indian Center in San Francisco, and threat the island would be turned over for commercial use, another symbolic occupation took place. Though only 14 of the attempted 89 occupiers actually landed on the island at first, nearly 400 occupied it at its most populated time. This number came after many friends and family of the occupiers, supported by many artists and interest groups brought supplies to the occupiers. This occupation lasted 19 months before it ended peacefully, and lead to much of the graffiti on the island.


The history of the island was as much for me and my interests as it was for you. My own personal experiences will be continued in next week’s blog post, along with a comparison to the fictional Azkaban.




Works Consulted

Fund, United States Disciplinary Barracks Pacific Branch Improvement. The Rock. 1915,

Thompson, Erwin H. The Rock: A History of Alcatraz Island 1847-1972. Department of Interior. Denver, Co.

“Full History.” Alcatraz History, Ocean View,

“FBI History.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rovi Corporation,

Sullivan, Laura. “Escape From Alcatraz And A 47-Year Manhunt.” NPR, NPR, 21 Sept. 2009,

“Alcatraz Inmates Survived Infamous 1962 Escape, Letter Suggests.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 24 Jan. 2018,


Harry Potter 3-Background

Now that you’ve heard our thoughts on the third installment in the Harry Potter series, lets dive a bit deeper into the background that inspired this text. We discuss prisons, time-travel, and werewolves, oh my! Check it out and come join the conversation.




Joe Bae:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Recipies

IMG_1571This month we have two different drink recipes, and two different chocolate recipes! Our food this month is inspired by two major moments in the Harry Potter series. In their third year, team Chosen One meet their first dementor! Thankfully, Professor Lupin is on scene, and provides the necessary chocolate to help them overcome the intense cold and overwhelming sadness and hopelessness the dementors leave wizards with when they leave. This month, we decided to make our favorite chocolate recipes! Hale made (according to the internet) the BEST brownie recipe ever. It’s a brownie! I, Victoria, made chocolate ravioli. I have suggestions…

In year three, Hogwarts students are finally allowed to visit Hogsmead! This is the entirely wizard filled village near the school. The team visits the local pub (as one does) and tries butterbeer for the first time! So we decided this month, we’re drinking our version of butterbeer!


  • Butterbeer
    • 1-1/2 oz butterscotch syrup (recipe follows)
    • 1-1/2 oz apple crown/apple whisky
    • 1/2 oz butterscotch liqueuer
    • 1 cup ginger ale, cold
    • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Butterscotch
    • INGREDIENTS:2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 TB salted butter
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 cup hot water


  • In a tall sauce pot, combine sugar, the first cup of water and butter.
  • Turn on heat to medium low and stir until sugar melts.
  • Once the sugar has melted, stop stirring and turn up the heat to medium high.
  • Bring to a boil, swirling the pan to keep the mixture moving.
  • If needed, use a wet pastry brush to wash down crystals that form on the side of the pan.
  • Cook until the mixture is golden brown and caramelized, making sure to pull it off the heat before it burns.
  • Add the baking soda and stir it in (the mixture will bubble up).
  • Slowly pour in remaining hot water and stir until smooth.
  • If the mixture separates when the water is added, reheat it over low heat and stir until any sugar clumps melt.


Chocolate Ravioli


  • 1200g Heavy Cream
  • 800g Dark Chocolate

Heat cream to boil and add chocolate. Stir until completely melted. It will be thick. Place in freezer.


Pipe ganache into Fouille de Brick and wrap. Puncture with toothpicks to hold in place, or use egg wash to secure two pieces of pastry together around ganache filling. Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes.

I made my own Fouille de Brick, but I highly suggest buying it. It can get pricey, so it is probably okay to substitute fyllo dough for Fouille de Brick. I have never tried it, but the pastries are similar. Brick dough is just a bit thinner.

Fouille de Brick (Brick Dough)


  • 240 grams high gluten or bread flour
  • 45 grams durum flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Whisk dry ingredients together, and wet ingredients together, then combine them and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate mixture overnight. Place a non stick pan on the stove at low heat, even over a double broiler if possible. With a pastry brush, lightly brush mixture around pan in a circular motion on a thin, even layer. The best layer is one you can see through. When the mixture starts to crumble and lift around the corners, gently pull up on the corner and lift the pastry from the pan in one, clean motion. One batch makes about 40 sheets. Clean sheets up, and fill with mixture.

Hale’s Brownies:

  • 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for greasing
  • 8 oz (225 g) good-quality semisweet chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate, 60-70% cacao, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup (90 g) unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (110 g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • flaky sea salt, for sprinkling


  1. Grease a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) dark metal pan with softened butter, then line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on all sides. Grease the parchment with softened butter.
  2. Combine the chopped chocolate, ¼ cup (30 g) of cocoa powder, and espresso powder in a heatproof liquid measuring cup or medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter just comes to a vigorous simmer, about 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Immediately pour the hot butter over the chocolate mixture and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted, then set aside.
  4. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs in a large bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. It will be similar to the texture of very thick pancake batter.
  5. With the mixer on, pour in the slightly cooled chocolate and butter mixture and blend until smooth.
  6. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).
  7. Sift in the flour and remaining cocoa powder and use a rubber spatula to gently fold until just combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until lightly puffed on top, about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the baking pan from the oven using oven mitts or kitchen towels, then lightly drop the pan on a flat surface 1-2 times until the brownies deflate slightly. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  10. Return the pan to the oven and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the brownies comes out fudgy but the edges look cooked through, about 20 minutes more. The center of the brownies will seem under-baked, but the brownies will continue to set as they cool.
  11. Set the brownies on a cooling rack and cool completely in the pan.
  12. Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled brownies out of the pan. Cut into 24 bars and serve immediately.
  13. Enjoy!




Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-Analysis

Continuing our discussion on the hugely popular Harry Potter series, listen to our opinions on the third novel in the installment. We talk pirates and rum (don’t ask), murder and murder mysteries, friendship, and justice… and fan favorite Lupin. Come join the conversation!




Outro-Joe Bae:

The Handmaid’s Tale Adaptations

Join us for a discussion on the differences between the book and the show! Is season 2 a believable continuation? Were the roles casted correctly? Hear our thoughts on the prolific novel’s newest adaptation, with a shoutout to our friends at Unassigned Reading Pod.




Joe Bae:

Episode 3.2-Handmaid’s Tale Background

Now that you are all caught up on our thoughts on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, check out some of the information we found relevant to the series. Victoria discusses puritanism and witch hunts, Anya discusses Atwood herself and Phyllis McAlpin Schlafly nee Stewart, the inspiration for Serena Joy, and Hale discusses the history of forced adoptions. This episode showcases some of our podcasting friends, Frankenpod! Check it out and come join the conversation.




Joe Bae:

“Half-Hanged Mary” by Margaret Atwood

Let me first say, it was real hard to find the full text online. It is a longer poem, so many versions online have cut whole verses. Originally, I was going to just post a link to the poem, but the only copy of the full text I found was annotated with questions to prompt middle and high school aged kids to think about the poem in a certain way. Not that it isn’t helpful, but I’m a believer that everyone should approach literature with a clean slate, before being influenced in a certain direction. Therefore, I’m posting a clean copy of the poem before I give you my thoughts. And yes I know the formatting is a bit off. Technology failed me today.

“Half-Hanged Mary” by Margaret Atwood


Rumour was loose in the air
hunting for some neck to land on.
I was milking the cow,
the barn door open to the sunset.

I didn’t feel the aimed word hit
and go in like a soft bullet.
I didn’t feel the smashed flesh
closing over it like water
over a thrown stone.

I was hanged for living alone
for having blue eyes and a sunburned skin,
tattered skirts, few buttons,
a weedy farm in my own name,
and a surefire cure for warts;
Oh yes, and breasts,
and a sweet pear hidden in my body.
Whenever there’s talk of demons
these come in handy.

The rope was an improvisation.
With time they’d have thought of axes.

Up I go like a windfall in reverse,
a blackened apple stuck back onto the tree.
Trussed hands, rag in my mouth,
a flag raised to salute the moon,
old bone‐faced goddess, old original,
who once took blood in return for food.
The men of the town stalk homeward,
excited by their show of hate,
their own evil turned inside out like a glove,
and me wearing it.


The bonnets come to stare,
the dark skirts also,
the upturned faces in between,
mouths closed so tight they’re lipless.
I can see down into their eyeholes
and nostrils. I can see their fear.
You were my friend, you too.
I cured your baby, Mrs.,
and flushed yours out of you,
Non‐wife, to save your life.
Help me down? You don’t dare.
I might rub off on you,
like soot or gossip. Birds
of a feather burn together,
though as a rule ravens are singular.

In a gathering like this one
the safe place is the background,
pretending you can’t dance,
the safe stance pointing a finger.

I understand. You can’t spare
anything, a hand, a piece of bread, a shawl
against the cold,
a good word. Lord
knows there isn’t much
to go around. You need it all.


Well God, now that I’m up here
with maybe some time to kill
away from the daily
fingerwork, legwork, work
at the hen level,
we can continue our quarrel,
the one about free will.
Is it my choice that I’m dangling
like a turkey’s wattles from this
more than indifferent tree?
If Nature is Your alphabet,
what letter is this rope?
Does my twisting body spell out Grace?
I hurt, therefore I am.
Faith, Charity, and Hope
are three dead angels
falling like meteors or
burning owls across
the profound blank sky of Your face.

12 midnight
My throat is taut against the rope
choking off words and air;
I’m reduced to knotted muscle.
Blood bulges in my skull,
my clenched teeth hold it in;
I bite down on despair
Death sits on my shoulder like a crow
waiting for my squeezed beet
of a heart to burst
so he can eat my eyes
or like a judge
muttering about sluts and punishment
and licking his lips
or like a dark angel
insidious in his glossy feathers
whispering to me to be easy
on myself. To breathe out finally.
Trust me, he says, caressing
me. Why suffer?
A temptation, to sink down
into these definitions.
To become a martyr in reverse,
or food, or trash.
To give up my own words for myself,
my own refusals.
To give up knowing.
To give up pain.
To let go.

Out of my mouth is coming, at some
distance from me, a thin gnawing sound
which you could confuse with prayer except that
praying is not constrained.
Or is it, Lord?
Maybe it’s more like being strangled
than I once thought. Maybe it’s
a gasp for air, prayer.
Did those men at Pentecost
want flames to shoot out of their heads?
Did they ask to be tossed
on the ground, gabbling like holy poultry,
eyeballs bulging?
As mine are, as mine are.
There is only one prayer; it is not
the knees in the clean nightgown
on the hooked rug
I want this, I want that.
Oh far beyond.
Call it Please. Call it Mercy.
Call it Not yet, not yet,
as Heaven threatens to explode
inwards in fire and shredded flesh, and the angels caw.

Wind seethes in the leaves around
me the tree exude night
birds night birds yell inside
my ears like stabbed hearts my heart
stutters in my fluttering cloth
body I dangle with strength
going out of me the wind seethes

in my body tattering
the words I clench
my fists hold No
talisman or silver disc my lungs
flail as if drowning I call
on you as witness I did
no crime I was born I have borne I
bear I will be born this is
a crime I will not
acknowledge leaves and wind
hold onto me
I will not give in

Sun comes up, huge and blaring,
no longer a simile for God.
Wrong address. I’ve been out there.
Time is relative, let me tell you
I have lived a millennium.
I would like to say my hair turned white
overnight, but it didn’t.
Instead it was my heart:
bleached out like meat in water.
Also, I’m about three inches taller.
This is what happens when you drift in space
listening to the gospel
of the red‐hot stars.
Pinpoints of infinity riddle my brain,
a revelation of deafness.
At the end of my rope
I testify to silence.
Don’t say I’m not grateful.

Most will have only one death.
I will have two.


When they came to harvest my corpse
(open your mouth, close your eyes)
cut my body from the rope,
surprise, surprise:
I was still alive.
Tough luck, folks,
I know the law:
you can’t execute me twice
for the same thing. How nice.
I fell to the clover, breathed it in,
and bared my teeth at them
in a filthy grin.
You can imagine how that went over.
Now I only need to look
out at them through my sky‐blue eyes.
They see their own ill will
staring them in the forehead
and turn tail
Before, I was not a witch.
But now I am one.
My body of skin waxes and wanes
around my true body,
a tender nimbus.
I skitter over the paths and fields

mumbling to myself like crazy,
mouth full of juicy adjectives
and purple berries.
The townsfolk dive headfirst into the bushes
to get out of my way.
My first death orbits my head,
an ambiguous nimbus,
medallion of my ordeal.
No one crosses that circle.
Having been hanged for something
I never said,
I can now say anything I can say.
Holiness gleams on my dirty fingers,
I eat flowers and dung,
two forms of the same thing, I eat mice
and give thanks, blasphemies
gleam and burst in my wake
like lovely bubbles.
I speak in tongues,
my audience is owls.
My audience is God,
because who the hell else could understand me?
Who else has been dead twice?
The words boil out of me,
coil after coil of sinuous possibility.
The cosmos unravels from my mouth,
all fullness, all vacancy.

“Half-Hanged Mary” PDF


Alright, so… This poem has it all. So it seems to be in freeverse, because there isn’t exactly a rhyme scheme (that doesn’t mean it is completely free from rhyme, just no glaring pattern). There isn’t really a set meter, though parts of it seem to have a bit of a rhythm. Atwood tends to stick to certain sound patterns for parts of the poem, specifically in the 3am section. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.

First I wanted to go through some of the themes that stuck out to me. First and most obviously, and most relevant to The Handmaid’s Tale, is the feminism. Mary, the narrator, tells us that she was arrested for the way she looks, for having a feminine figure and boobs. This is probably less a suggestion that colonists were just rounding up any woman they see, and instead is a nod to the rhetoric used against women accused of witchcraft. Often these women were labeled succubi, or female demon seducers.

I love the shade she throws at the men who are tying her up. She implies they weren’t smart enough to just execute her immediately, and instead left her to die. People came to look at her hanging there, but also are we surprised? These are the same people that went and watched the revolutionaries on the battlefield with their picnic baskets. The women who came to look are all indebted to her in one way or another. She says, “I cured your baby, Mrs./ and flushed yours out of you,/ non-wife, to save your life” (9pm). I think this is a clear allusion to abortion, specifically termination of the fetus to save the life of the unwed mother. This could mean something was wrong with the baby and was hurting the mother, OR it could be a suggestion that if anyone were to find out, the men who hung Mary could try to hang her too. Regardless, this behavior, curing babies and aborting others would have been grounds for execution anyway–further proof Mary’s a witch.

The section 10pm is beautiful and tragic. She begins to question her faith. In the following section, temptation to give into death is everywhere. She feels it around her as her body begins to give out on her.

The 3 am section… I noticed several things about this section. First, some of the sound patterns (seethes and leaves) sounds a bit like wind, and hanging there alone all night would definitely make you notice things like the way the wind sounds around you. The repetition of birds and hearts reminds me a bit of birds chirping, perhaps other sounds Mary is noticing during the night. She is repetitive here, talking in circles, a bit like a person swinging from a rope. She’s fighting temptation.

As the sun rises with the 6am and 8am sections, the poem begins to get a bit more hopeful. She is starting to sound like a survive, rather than a victim. The snark we saw at the beginning of the poem, with her criticism of the men who hung her returns. She notes that few people get to experience death twice, and she will. As we stated in our background episode, she doesn’t experience this second death for many more years.

At the end of this poem, she seems to be gloating a bit. She’s happy this happened, because now she is safe. There is a bit of double jeopardy here… She knows she can’t be hung for the same crime twice. She is free. She feels

Overall, I really loved this poem. It took a few read throughs before I picked up on the complexity of this poem. At surface level, it seems child-like, an easy poem to understand. However, as with any poem, the details are in the layers.

Macaron vs Macaroon; or Forever Smelling of Oranges

Recipes to follow at the bottom.

  1. Roasted Chicken with Oranges, Brussels Sprouts, and Green Olives
  2. Stuffed Artichokes
  3. Butternut Squash Soup
  4. Fruit Salad
  5. Macaron Tree
  6. Can-died Pears
  7. Crimson Thread and Menage Trois wines

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I was a bit daunted by how to create a menu in theme with the book. In a dystopian society, what do they eat? How do they eat? How do they cook? Thankfully, Miss Anya Spector came to my rescue. “Why don’t we do a Birth Day Party?” Duh. A Birth Day Party. Though this is an oppressive society, they seem to splurge when it comes to the day their Handmaid’s gave birth. This fact opened up options for me. Here, I want to explain my research, as well as my choices for the menu for this week. The three stages in this process are as follows: research, prep, and cooking.

1. Research

The background of the book is a bit vague. We don’t really learn what happened to the US until page 174 of the Anchor Books edition. I tried to mark down any mention of food, but I also found a list on the website There were many foods mentioned, but the most mentioned were oranges and coffee. Because Anya Spector and I live on coffee, this would automatically make the menu. It is now tradition to begin a recording session with a strong cup. Oranges, however, stumped me. I knew we should do a luncheon, but what savory options would be included?

That’s when I found an interview with the production crew of the new Hulu TV adaptation. A lot of research went into making decisions of what to include in grocery stores like Loves and Fishes in the show. Production designer Julie Berghoff said to a Marie Clare writer visiting set, “Every piece of fruit had a thought process behind it—when she gets oranges, the implication is, ‘Okay, they conquered Florida.’ If they had artichokes, it meant they conquered California. The evolution of Gilead was always in mind.” So that was it. Oranges and artichokes were enough inspiration to start a menu.

In Gilead, there seems to be a black market where rich wives can find luxury gifts, from cosmetics and lotions, to exotic cheeses and canned goods. Following the logic of Berghoff, assuming Florida and California had been conquered, and the Marthas had access to their agriculture, as well as some black market items, they could create a bountiful Birth Day banquet, fit for a Gilead luncheon.

One thing that stood out to me in the books was that cooking had become a bit more pure. No longer are there processed, pre-made foods in Gilead. Everything is homemade, so that was something that we wanted to emphasize in our own work… Not that we’ve actually served anything store bought other than the Harry Potter Candy. However, the homemade bread from P&P, and homemade macarons are very different. Everything to follow is made by us.

2. Preperation

Because I agreed to make quite a big spread for this book, my preparation began days before our actual recording. Quick tip: most soups can be made in advance and frozen! Almost all soups have a base that can be separated and frozen, while garnish can be made the day-of.

So I made the soup first. Butternut squash is hard, so make sure you have a sharp knife, sharp peeler, and strong grip. When roasting, make sure you dice vegetables as uniform as possible for even cooking. Metal spoons work wonders at scraping out squash. Save the pulp for a squash bread, especially pumpkins. The seeds can be roasted and salted for a healthy snack! When roasting the squash (see recipe below) toss roasting vegetables in the combination canola oil and EVOO. This mixture lowers the smoke point and help avoid over caramelizing the vegetables. Then I place a small piece of butter at each end of the roasting sheet for the nutty browned butter flavor. Finally, just barely cover the roasted vegetables with vegetable broth. You can always add more, you can’t take it out. However, if your soup becomes more like a puree, thin with more broth. Remember the more you thin, the less seasoning it will have so be sure to continue to taste. Separate into servings and freeze for freshest taste. Thaw the morning-of.

Next I prepped the artichokes. Artichokes have a low yield, so we try our best to avoid cutting the yield down further by wasting much of the plant. Cut the stems off to make the artichokes sit flat on a cutting board. Next cut tips off, at least an inch and a half down the artichoke. Trim the other untrimmed leaves with kitchen sears. Soak in water with fresh squeezed lemons, and be sure to rub the leaves and stem in lemon to prevent discoloration. I’m soaking mine for half a day. When they are done,  I will steam them until the are tender, around half an hour. The day of the book club meeting, I will stuff them and roast them.

For the chicken, the oranges can be sliced the day before. Beware! You will smell like oranges all damn day. The Brussels Sprouts can also be cleaned. I tear the outside leaves off the sprouts, cut the stems off, and slice them in half. Store in water and lemon to prevent discoloration. The chicken can also be cleaned and trussed the night before. Run under cold water, and pat dry. Stuff with garlic cloves, onion halves, lemon and orange halves. Truss chicken to prevent the stuffing falling out.  Rub in butter. Salt and pepper the chicken just before it is cooked. Pan sear for a beautiful golden brown color. For the gravy, make sure you pre-make the veloute base (blonde roux with stock, reduce until thickened. Skim the scum it creates to reduce floury flavor!). Mix veloute base with drippings and reduce.

Finally the fruit. For your fruit salad, make sure you have a good arrangement of fruit. Too many tart fruits together will make your mouth turn inside out (i.e. pineapple, oranges, grapes, green apples, raspberries…). Instead, mix with softer flavors like strawberries, red apples, melons, etc. For the “can”-died pears, we’re using canned fruit so it is already soft. Don’t overcook these, or they will turn to mush. You only want to heat these up. Immediately mix in the butter with spices. Finish with the whiskey. Be careful! Any time you are cooking with a high-alcohol content liquor, there is a chance it will go up in flames! This is called flambe. Don’t panic if it happens. Enjoy the pretty colors! Alcohol burns off very quickly. As long as it stays in the pan, you are safe. If you try to fling it into the sink, you risk spilling it on something that will actually catch fire. Instead, tend it carefully and it will go out.

**Macaron vs Macaroon

Okay let us get one thing straight. There is a difference between these two cookies, so let me educate y’all. For this podcast, Hale graciously cooked us macarons and we put them on a painted foam tree for pictures. However, many people will think they are macaroons, which would be untrue. Many of you may know the double-O Macaroon. This meringue cookie is popular in the US during Passover, and to understand that you need to understand the history of the cookie and how the French macaron became the coconut macaroon you find in cookie tins.

So the “French” Macaron actually came from Sicily (shout out to my fellow Sicilian co-host Hale).  Macaron is actually related to the Italian word ammaccare, meaning “to crush.” This relationship probably refers to the act of crushing almonds into powder, the process necessary for your perfect French Macaron. However, until the 18th century, the cooks in the United States could not get their hands on many nuts or nut powders. Instead they substituted potato starch for a bit of texture, and substituted coconuts for almonds or other nuts, which were more perishable. Because the cookie has no leavening agent, they are considered acceptable for Passover! Thus, we have tins of chocolate dipped coconut macaroons for Passover in the US! However similar in history these cookies are, in the 18th century with the rise of French cuisine, these cookies deviated from each other. Though both are egg white meringue based cookies, the “flour” used is quite different. The French style is said to be more tedious and particular. Below you will see the difference between the coconut macaroon and the French macaron, respectively.

3. Cooking and Final Product

Roasted Chicken with Oranges, Olives, and Brussels Sprouts:



  • Whole chicken (for 3-4 people)
  • 3 Oranges
  • 2 Cans Olives
  • 1 lb Bussels Sprouts halved
  • 1 Small Onion
  • Butter/Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste


  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Clean, stuff, and truss chicken, salt and pepper to taste with a bit of butter rubbed over it
  • Line greased pan with oranges, halved Brussels sprouts, and green olives
  • Place chicken on top
  • Mix orange juice and honey and pour over chicken and everything on roasting tray
  • Roast in oven until done; start checking around the hour point.
  • When the chicken comes out of the oven, save drippings.
  • Mix drippings with veloute sauce. Reduce to desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper, orange juice if needed.
  • If the sauce isn’t thick enough, add a corn starch slurry

Fruit Salad


  • Banana, Papaya, Oranges, Grapes, Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Mango
    • Cut uniformly and serve

Butternut Squash Soup:


  • Cubed squash oiled on a roasting tray with salt and pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, rubbed sage, rosemary, and thyme
  • Roast at 400 until tender, about 30 mins
  • Puree with warm vegetable stock to desired thickness
  • Season to taste
  • Garnish with bacon lardons

“Can”-died Pears:


  • Canned pears quartered sautéed with butter and cinnamon/nutmeg
  • Saute in butter until they turn golden, mix in brown sugar
  • Finish with honey whiskey–flambe
  • Top with ice cream

Stuffed Artichoke:



  • 3 large Artichokes (for 4-6 people)
  • Lemons
  • 1 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • 8-10 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parsley, Basil chopped
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • Butter/Oil


  • Clean artichoke, soak, steam until tender (see tips above)
  • Mix together breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, cheese, and melted butter or oil
  • Spoon mixture between leaves of artichoke
  • Roast until brown at about 375 degrees

Macarons (not Macaroons. See note)


For the macaron shells:

  • 300g ground almonds
  • 300g powdered sugar
  • 110g liquefied egg whites (see below)
  • + 300g caster sugar
  • 75g water
  • 110g liquefied egg whites
  • Liquid food dye to splatter: pink, blue and yellow


  • 1 batch fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting
  • 1 drop each of yellow, green, blue, purple, red and orange food gel


For the process, use the directions the creator of this recipe uses. Follow the link below.

For a butter cream recipe, look to our Harry Potter themed birthday cake from last months’ recipes:


Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum

It is a phrase that means rebellion. It is a phrase that means resistance. It means dissidence, and upheaval. It means friendship, and solidarity. It means “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” Most of all, it means hope.


It also doesn’t mean what you think it means.

What started off as a schoolroom Latin joke, has now become a rallying cry of feminism and rebellion. People have tattooed the phrase on their bodies. Think about that! People have permanently tattooed a fake Latin phrase onto their body, because it means so much to so many people. It serves as a reminder that someone out there will always be there to be your friend. It means you aren’t alone.

Of course, like many others, the phrase served as an interest for me as I read the book. Waterford tells us that someone was messing with our narrator, and the phrase is nothing more than that. Even if it is fake, it doesn’t take away from the meaning projected onto it by Handmaid’s Tale fans. So I wanted to give this iconic quote a closer look.

According to both Vanity Fair and Refinery29, the phrase is actually a joke from Atwood’s school days. It is grammatically incorrect, and uses two words that are not Latin at all: ‘bastardes’ and ‘carborundorum’. According to both articles, neither of these words exist in true, ancient Latin. The correct translation would read something similar to “Illegitimi non carborundum” or don’t let the illegitimate grind you down. It just doesn’t pack the same punch.

‘Carborundorum’ is actually a word, it is just an English word given a Latin ending. According to the OED it was first used around the 19th or 20th centuries, with some suggestion it could have been used as advertising language made up to mean “to grind” as in like grains into flour.

The correct version of the phrase, Illegitimi non carborundum, is actually recorded in history. It is attributed to American slang in the early 1900s, and was used as a rallying cry in WWII. Oddly enough, the phrase most recently has appeared on a plaque on former Speaker John Boehner’s desk.

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

Regardless of how bad the Latin is, or how many words are made up, the phrase has meaning to some people. Language changes based on usage, and meanings of words change all the time, i.e. literally. As humans, we have a need to communicate effectively and efficiently, and we tend to make up new words all the time. Imagine asking your great great grandmother to google something for you, or to search the web!

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum means something to us. It means hope.