Author Archives: shabanamalone

About shabanamalone

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern currently practicing in Southern California. My other passion is film. I believe movies and television are like funhouse mirrors reflecting reality. Art imitating life.

When you’re left ‘Home Alone’ you become a “Party Monster’

“Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behavior, it certainly fucked you up, it made you have sex with a psychopath!” – Billy Loomis in ‘Scream’

Okay, I kinda think Kevin McCallister was a sociopath anyway.  Some of them are born that way.  But the abandonment by his entire family during Christmas pushed him over the edge.  Image

He took WAY too much pleasure in inflicting what should have been deadly pain on two burglars!  And he didn’t even seem scared of them.  That’s a sociopath.  What looks to the world like an adorable, precocious tow-head is really a bundle of pain (you heard me, Dakota Fanning!)  Why was this a fun family comedy?  Kevin McCallister was a childhood Jigsaw (of the ‘Saw’ franchise).  If his violent behavior wasn’t enough, wasn’t it weird how he explained his hygiene regimen to no one in the bathroom mirror just like Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’?

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Then he went on to commit credit card fraud and more violence in the sequel, where he felt awfully at home in New York City.  Sociopath!  I’m sure he’s not the only sociopath who uttered the words, “I made my family disappear” with a satisfied smirk.

Then he committed infanticide over his mommy issues, killed a dog, caused a massive car-pileup and aimed to kill his sister and mother in ‘The Good Son’.


Finally he graduated to killing his own drug dealer in ‘Party Monster’.  That’s just the lowest of the low.  Killing your drug dealer because you don’t want to pay up!

So parents, it’s 10 pm.  Do you know where your children are?


This could happen to you.

Can I un-unwrap that gift?

Given that it’s Christmas Eve, I can’t help but think about how Christmas gifts remind me of guys. I’ve always loved Christmas even though I’m not Christian and I never believed in Santa Claus (my mom never even tried to pretend he existed.)
Although I never believed in the jolly red-suited fat man, I still believed in miracles to some extent. I believed that if my elders loved me enough or if I pouted enough, they would get me exactly what I wanted. (That was when what I wanted most could still be obtained with money.)
The thing about Christmas presents was that they usually hung around for at least a month. My sisters and I started shopping early. So I had a month to hang out under the lit tree and moon over the shiny wrapping paper. I had ample time for visions of sugar plums to dance in my head. I would fantasize about what could be in each of the boxes, even though we usually stuck to very specific wish lists and it could only be a few different things. There are no true surprises Christmas morning.
I think the buildup of wondering what was in the box was more exciting than actually opening it up and finally getting my gift. Christmas gift wrap represents mystery, possibility, a maybe-miracle. Opening the gifts was anti-climactic.
That’s why it reminds me of guys. When I like a guy I tend to fantasize about what he could be like on the inside, not to mention moon over his shiny outsides. Rarely do I revel in the reality of what he really is. Rarely do I actually see who he really is underneath that shiny wrapping. And the disappointment I sometimes feel is worse than unwrapping a shitty gift. He becomes like that BB gun I wanted for so long and then I toss it aside as soon as I’m called for dinner.
I wish sometimes that Christmas gifts could stay wrapped forever, the possibility of perfection still alive, the mystery still encased within the shiny paper.


Dexter Season Finale Manifesto

ImageI don’t usually review my favorite show because it’s always perfect to me, but I felt compelled to do so for the Season 7 finale entitled “Surprise, Motherfucker!”  I found it haunting and entertaining, but was also disappointed by certain choices the writers made.

Like the main character, the writers are getting sloppy.

First off, I was beyond disappointed and surprised when Hannah admitted to poisoning Deb in the first scene of the finale.  How anti-climactic!  Everyone I knew thought Deb had drugged herself to set up Hannah, which would have been a compelling twist.  That one twist would have sent the season finale in an entirely different direction–one in which Dexter has to choose between the two women in his life.  Then there could be a crucible in which Dexter considers killing Deb to protect Hannah.  What a twist that would be, if Deb’s love for Dex drove her to be devious and Hannah was actually innocent.  Episode 11 was all set up for that twist, being that Hannah’s denial was so convincing, and the car crash looked like it could have been staged by Deb (the mechanic commenting “Sorry for your loss” when all Deb got was a broken wrist).  I found it really interesting that I never knew what to make of Hannah.  Every time I thought she was pure evil, she seemed justified in her actions and then in one moment became wholly unlikable and crazy.

It was bad enough that I always felt like Hannah was a just blonde, watered-down version of season 2’s Lila, who already saw, accepted and loved Dexter for who he is.  This whole, “She sees me and accepts me” thing is not novel.  The main difference between Hannah and Lila was that Lila tried to manipulate Dexter and that pissed him off.  But once Hannah poisoned Deb, she put herself in the same class as Lila when she broke into Rita’s house: she became a threat to Dexter’s loved ones.  Why did Dexter react so differently to both women?  I suppose that’s for another article.  At least the prison scene served to illustrate just how impossible love is without trust.

Second, I didn’t like the Doakes flashbacks.  They seemed like a spoof of Seasons 1 and 2 and Dexter’s wig is just weird.  I don’t feel very enlightened about why Doakes hated Dexter.  No big revelation there.  For the same reason Dexter can sense other killers.  It takes one to know one.

Finally, the ending was anti-climactic as well.  I have been hoping Dex would have to kill La Guerta for a long, long time, but I thought it would have been cool if he let Deb do it.  So when she shot La Guerta, it wasn’t a huge shock, but how broken up she was about it kind of was.  Isn’t this the same social-climbing, manipulative, scruples-free boss from hell who made Deb’s life a nightmare from day one?  Why are we supposed to be surprised Deb shoots her?  Doesn’t everyone want to kill their boss?  Said boss trying to lock up my fake brother/tabooed love object would just be one more reason to do it.  Not to mention the fact that Harry doesn’t approve.  Hasn’t it already been established that Dex is killing outside the code?  Not just Hannah’s father (who’s not quite “innocent” but does not meet the code), but back in Season 3 when he killed the pedophile who was checking out Astor.  Again, this isn’t novel.  Season 7 repeated a lot of themes from Season 2, which isn’t a criticism.  Season 2 was my fave.

I’m beyond annoyed by the fact that a show about forensics could have such major forensic fuck-ups.  Dexter’s idea to frame La Guerta is amateur at best, stupid at worst.  Why didn’t he assume she would call for backup?  Why DIDN’T she call for backup?  And why didn’t he just disappear them both into the gulf stream like he always did?  I felt like I was watching a first season episode of ‘Law and Order SVU’ still finding its sea legs.  Where was the blood on Deb’s dress after she hugged La Guerta?  Why did they go to the party?  To alibi themselves?  Deb requesting La Guerta’s whereabouts right before the party will raise suspicions, as will the last call made to La Guerta’s cell phone.  So many cock ups.  Messy, messy.  They will HAVE to dump the body to avoid discovery of Deb’s trace evidence on the body and the bullet from her gun.  Duh.  Why did she feel the need to shoot her at that moment?  La Guerta was incapacitated on M99.  She wasn’t an immediate threat.  The questions go on and on, and we have to wait a whole year to have them answered.

On the plus side, Jennifer Carpenter’s acting was better than ever.  And I love the Darwinian parallel between Estrada killing Dexter’s mom and Dexter killing La Guerta.  Their respective reasons for killing are about “survival of the fittest”, which makes them the same.  It brings it all full circle, not unlike the movie ‘Looper’.

I also loved how truly dark this season finale felt.  No slow-motion fantasy parades or hokey Dexter music. Just darkness.  It reminds me of the difference between the campy, humorous ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ sequels versus ‘New Nightmare’, which was just dark and creepy by comparison.  I welcome the new darkness.  It feels serious.  But I hope our intelligence isn’t insulted in the final season more than it has been so far.


I was in there…somewhere. Is that me between Dex and Deb?

Is Choosing a Car Like Choosing a Boyfriend? Read if you have trouble choosing either.

I had to buy a car recently, and the process made me think of a line in ‘Blue Valentine’.  In discussing how women choose a mate, Ryan Gosling says, “…it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and is gonna stick around.”

Much like dating, buying a car can be exciting but also a huge pain in the ass! You go into it with a certain idea and sometimes end up driving off with something entirely different.  The entire process made me think about settling in relationships, and how sometimes we date a person because they have enough of the “features” that we need at that moment.  They may not be our “dream car/guy”, but they get us from point A to point B.  And for the moment that’s enough.  Kinda like the difference between “Mr. Right” and “Mr. Right Now”.

I was originally so scared and desperate about the prospect of walking in LA that I said I just wanted any car that would get me to work without breaking down on me.  I don’t really have a dream car like a Maserati (a Brad Pitt) so I had no standard or starting point. Then I started doing research, looking around and being romanced by car dealers.  I got stuck on the idea of a Honda or a Toyota because they’re cute, affordable and reliable.  Color is the first thing I notice on cars (but that doesn’t make me a racist!), and I like compact cars (but not compact guys) so I really wanted something like this:

I have a bit of a wandering eye, so no matter how hot the guy is that I’m currently dating, I tend to look at other boys and think, “Should I be dating him?”  I’m the same way with cars.  I might be driving just the car I wanted but will still look around and think, “I should have gotten that FIAT or that MINI!  It’s sooo cute!”  That mentality kept me stuck in the process of looking and negotiating and also kept me in a rental for 2 weeks!  I just wanted a car already!  But like with anything else, TIMING IS EVERYTHING.  The person you’re dating and the car you’re driving RIGHT NOW are the result of where you are, what you can afford, and what you need in this moment.  Sometimes the car or the guy will find you. After a long, grueling process that I just didn’t want to do anymore (much like dating), I ended up buying on a Kia Spectra–something I’d never even considered, because it was the best available deal on the lot that I happened to be on that day:

Sure, it’s cute.  It’s reliable.  It’s got decent gas mileage and I like the color.  But will I still be checking out every cute teal-colored Honda or blue Mini that I didn’t purchase?  Of course!  That’s the wonderful gift that comes with doubting every decision I make.

The Kia reminds me of the guy I was dating at the time who helped me pick it out.  It wasn’t the most head-turning car, not my ideal by any means, but it had what I needed at the time and it was available.  I wound up with monthly payments that were slightly higher than I had originally tried to bargain.  So in the end I wonder if I should have buckled and leased a Honda from that shady dealership.  But alas, I walked out on that deal.  I also turned down a blue Nissan Versa, which I think I would have loved. Hell, at least I know that no decision is final and I can always trade up eventually. Thanks for letting me share.

All My Crushes Are Dead (What does that say about me?)

The saddest thing about the below crushes being dead is not so much that they are dead, but how they died. Though autopsy reports are often inconclusive and cryptic in the press, they all died from the same disease I have.  I guess it shows what a broken picker I have.  I need al-anon.

1. Corey Haim: My first official crush after seeing him in License to Drive, this 80’s heartthrob never stood a chance, being a child actor and a teen idol with money to burn.  He died of an accidental overdose at age 38.  He used to be so cute but drugs had their way with his looks. He is survived by his other half, the other Corey.

December 23, 1971 – March 10, 2010

2. River Phoenix: Seeing him play a narcoleptic gay hustler in My Own Private Idaho, it was hard not to have a crush on this gorgeous tortured soul.  He died of a speedball overdose on Halloween.  He was only 23.  Funny thing about him was that I didn’t really develop the crush on him until after he died.  Does that make me a necropheliac?

August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993

3. Brad Renfro:  I know, he was a little young for me but I look and act younger than my age.  In high school I wrote a parody of the Smashing Pumpkins Bullet With Butterfly Wings called Pervert with Flutterfly Wings.  It went like this: “The world is a pedophile…Sent to ra-e-a-e-ape!  Secret molesters…scoping out eighth grade… Even though…I’m…old…I want Brad…Ren…fro…”

He had that cute little lost bad boy thing going on.  I used to dream about meeting him when I got to LA, picturing his clean cut Huckleberry Finn looks.  I didn’t know how “bad” he was until I met him at an AA meeting and saw the track marks and the alcohol bloat.  He was dead a few months later, a heroin overdose at 25  years old.

July 25, 1982 – January 15, 2008

4. Jonathan Brandis: I used to watch the Neverending Story 2 over and over even though that huge flying dog and most everything else about it freaked me the fuck out.  Then I used to rent Ladybugs and Sidekicks like they were porn.  The role he played that was closest to reality was in a TV movie called Her Last Chance, in which he portrayed a drug addict who took a hallucinogen and then was pushed off a roof.  He hanged himself at 27 years old.

April 13, 1976 – November 12, 2003

5. Paul Walker: Another one bites the dust.  All the way back when he was on ‘Charles in Charge’ (he stole my attention briefly away from Scott Baio), I saw the beauty.  He didn’t die like the others, in some version of alcoholism/addiction/self-hatred.  But he was a crush nonetheless and he is gone.


September 12, 1973 – November 30, 2013

I’m sure you’re wondering why Heath Ledger and Kurt Cobain are absent from this list.  Technically I never had crushes on them, but they are two more examples of extreme beauty and talent snuffed out too soon by this deadly disease.  Anyone who wonders what the movie the Happening was about, this is it:  plant forms (which many drugs are derived from) that make you kill yourself.

I’m surprised Edward Furlong isn’t on this list.  Jonathan Taylor Thomas would be, if we were talking about careers.

The end.  RIP.

Black 70’s Swan

I’m already fairly certain there was a “girl-on-girl action” clause in Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman’s movie contracts.  But was there also a two-movie contract for both actresses saying that they had to follow up ‘Black Swan’ with fuckbuddy romantic comedies?

Or is it just a coincidence that Natalie and Mila both did the same movie with different titles, respectively called ‘No Strings Attached’ and ‘Friends with Benefits’?  I initially refused to see either, already knowing how both would turn out–unnervingly unrealistically.  But I broke down and saw ‘FWB’ and then ‘NSA’, and was surprised that both were quite funny and well-written, if a bit implausible.  I was even more surprised that I liked ‘No Strings Attached’ better than ‘Friends With Benefits’, being the huge Timberlake fan that I am.  (By the way, why wasn’t HIS movie called ‘No Strings Attached’, to match ‘N Sync’s record-breaking sophomore album title?  That would have been hilarious.)

But wait, it gets weirder…

Two of the stars of the fuckbuddy movies were also in ‘That 70’s Show’ (which the ‘FWB’ writer poked fun at with the line, “It smells like the 70’s in here!”).  Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were boyfriend-girlfriend on the show and then played the casual lovers in opposite movies.

So, I’m imagining the criteria for casting these two films?  1. All the lead actors have to be ridiculously good-looking, to remind all the regular folk why this shit don’t happen to them (though at least Ashton had the decency to tone down the hotness he displayed in ‘Spread’ and look close to normal).  2. If you’re a girl, you have to have played a bird.  3. If you’re a guy, you have to have Punk’d someone. 4. It helps if you were on ‘That 70’s Show’

I know this is insignificant, I just see funny connections everywhere.  What can I say?  I’m easily amused.

I wait now with bated breath for the third rom com titled ‘Booty Call’, starring Barbara Hershey and Wilmer Valderrama.

I’m in the Witness Protection Program

I like metaphors.  So I’m going to share one here.  My therapist often says that my disease is like the mafia.  I didn’t understand his reference at first until he further explained the metaphor:  My ISM, like the mafia, is bigger and tougher than me and it offered me insulation and protection from other perceived threats.  My gorilla was all, “Oh, that jerk-off hurt your feelings?  Have a drink, you ain’t gotta worry about nothin’  We’ll take care a dis!”

I thought it was my friend at first, but then it started asking me for things, and eventually started just taking things.  And like mobster movies, my disease was entertaining to watch from the outside but scary to live in.  I owed it big time for protecting me, but there were times I coughed up payment when I didn’t want to .  I belonged to it, I was afraid of it, but it was too late.

My sister and I realized that the program I’m in, being anonymous and all, is not unlike (love double negatives!) the witness protection program.  You enter it, you change your identity and everything about your life in exchange for guaranteed defense against the big, bad mafia.  The most obvious similarity is that it’s a seee-cret!  Meetings are like safe houses, and I’ll duck into one any time I feel like I’m still being followed.

We are everywhere, like ‘Fight Club’.  We hide in plain sight.  This is not to be confused with the Witness Relocation Program.  That may just be a geographic.