I've got a confession to make: I'm an avid reader of Hints From Heloise.
It's not exactly my fault, though. See, in my local paper, they station her column right alongside the comics section, and it becomes impossible for me to get through a Classic Peanuts strip without seeing that timeless, eerie face looking up at me, telling us all how to save money by recycling our urine as a cheap alternative to the exfoliating salt bath.
Somewhere along the way, I started looking forward to Heloise's columns. The way I figure it, at the rate I drink, I'm probably not too far off from making a really impulsive bet that ends up with me getting a sex change and changing my name to Betty. After that, I'll be a hairy housewife and all these tips'll surely come in handy.
For those who've never heard of Miss Heloise, she's got this nationally syndicated newspaper column that consists solely of moneysaving household tips. It's a long running and highly successful series, so even if we say it sucks, she's obviously got something going for her cuz her damn stupid hints have enjoyed more longevity than most national governments.
Sadly, Heloise reign on top stops short in the direct-to-video market, as I had the intense pleasure of finding out a few weeks ago, when I landed a copy of her All-Time 101 Favorite Hints on VHS, circa 1994. I knew it'd make for great writing material, and at a yard sale cost of 50 cents, the price exactly matched my allotted X-E per-article budget. Funny how things works out. Course, that half a buck is coming back to haunt me in a big way now, because I didn't really consider the sheer torture I'd have to go through trying to digest that much goodwill from Ambassador Heloise. There's only so many methods of household conservation a guy can take before turning to hard drugs or black market surgeries to remove sight and hearing.
I made it through the video basically unscathed, but now I've got this annoying habit of picking up any piles of dog shit I see on the street because it's cheaper than plant fertilizer and just as effective. Damn Heloise. Unfortunately, I just can't have that much faith in your collective attention spans, so we're only going to take a look at a select few 'special hints' from the first trimester of the tape. If you like what you see, lemme know, and when I'm feeling particularly in need of self-inflicted punishment, I'll do a supplement Heloise article.
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We open up with a shot of Heloise at home, explaining the purpose of the tape. She's an interesting character, I'll give her that much. This movie is from the mid-90s, but Heloise speaks like the iconic 50s housewife - if it weren't for her computer's screen saver successfully marking the time period, I would've assumed this was some sort of masochistic reissue. Heloise uses the word 'nifty' to describe everything, as if the producers gave her an incentive-based contract where she got paid 36 trillion dollars every time she spoke the word. As a feature film star, Heloise could've done herself wonders with a thesaurus.
I was also bewitched by her hair's uncanny knack of changing color from scene to scene - the styles change too, but that's forgivable because maybe she's just indecisive. Though the magic hair goes from pure white to silver to dark gray with every different shot, like an enchanted Prism God trapped in the luscious locks of the world's biggest thrifter. I'm also having some trouble figuring out her age - some scenes make her look damn good, all things considered. I'd hit that. But some of the others lend credence to the rumor that Heloise did in fact spurn our universe's big bang some twenty-five trillion years ago. Does anyone out there have any valid proof of her age? If she is indeed older than our planet itself, it means she's an alien, and it'd totally explain how her hair can change colors so quickly. Simple UFO powers.
Heloise is obsessed with Lazy Susans. Those are the spinning shelf things some people use for spices and whatnot. In our hero's case, she just uses them for everything. Half of the hundred tips on this video somehow incorporate a Lazy Susan. Did she invent them or something? It's unreal - she'll be showing you how to avoid t-shirt lint by putting your clothes in the dryer inside-out, and just when you think it's safe, the camera will pan out a bit to reveal a Lazy Susan spinning out of control, offering Heloise an assortment of fabric softeners.
The really cool part is how Heloise gets so into the spinning. She doesn't just demonstrate the device - she goes into a psychotic trance, spinning her six-thousand Lazy Susans for 85% of the tape's running length with this creepy grin on her face that tells the tale all too well: Heloise is schizophrenic. One part Household Value Goddess, one part Mutated Human Hyena. Nifty.
Tired of having a completely disorganized pantry? Seek Heloise for help. She's here to offer you a bonanza of ridiculous ways to keep your kitchen cabinets in order - not the least useful of which being color-coding. Heloise explains that anything in a red bottle should be grouped away from anything in a green bottle. I'm not exactly sure how efficient her plan is, but all I've got in my cabinets are two boxes of cereal and a bag of alfalfa hay for my rabbit, so I can't test the theory out.
In what had to be an unscreened ab lib, Heloise makes a passing reference to an alternate method of shelf organization: do it alphabetically. Jesus, can the girl stop time? Who'd spend half a day making sure their cans of tomato sauce were placed well after the capers? Just what kind of Devornian Hellcat is Heloise, anyway? Much like the current state of pro-wrestling's booking, and every He-Man episode plot, I think Heloise's 'hints' universally look better on paper.
Having a barbecue? Trouble with the burgers? Come on, don't be ashamed -- we've all had trouble wit da burgers. It's nothing to feel low over, especially with Heloise here to help. So, some people like it well-done, others like it rare. You're caught in between - how do you keep both sides happy without having to stand at the grill all day making sure some of the burgers are really dead while others merely bloody? Simple:
A) For well-done burgers, poke a small donut hole in the center, which Heloise affectionately calls 'hamburger holes'.
B) For rare burgers, repeat the hamburger hole process, but PUT AN ICE CUBE IN THE MIDDLE SO IT DON'T GO COOKIN' TOO MUCH ON YA!
Guys, I'm not making this stuff up. It may very well work, but that doesn't mean it's not a totally freakish weird thing to do. Plus, I'm not sure the guests are gonna be too pleased with you sticking your fingers through the middle of their lunch, especially because you're probably gonna be so proud of what Heloise taught you that you'll announce that you did the infamous finger-stick, sheerly on impulse. I don't care if it's rare or well-done, most of the cooks at the barbecues I've been to would impose a serious health hazard to myself and others if they jammed their dirty fingers in the middle of what they were feeding me. I wonder where Emeril's loyalties lie on this one.
Heloise loves cheese, but she hates when it goes bad, so here she is, going into a severe epileptic fit that ends with her throwing vinegar-soaked rags into Ziploc bags full of cheese. It's not just that though - in the course of around 40 seconds, she goes through this kind of voodoo ritual where she's pulling all sorts of household items out of the pantry in an immense effort to Save The Cheese, and it all goes by so quickly and oddly that I just have no freaking idea what the hell she's trying to imply.
On a strictly serious level, as totally nuts as Heloise is, I can appreciate the vision and appetite she has to do what she's doing. I mean yeah, if you did go through with using some of these hints, you'd probably be institutionalized or issued a prototype pill for spontaneous combustion by all the people you're annoying with it. But I've seen a lot of these self-help gigs, and 99 times out of 100, the creators were just in it for the fast buck. You can really tell that Heloise believes she's helping the common folk, and at least that's commendable. I just wish she wasn't so set on introducing foreign household rituals from her home planet of Zendar, and that she'd stick to more mundane, useful stuff -- kind of like this next hint on storing food:
Heloise suggests putting all your boxed goods in plastic bags, because if your house is anything like hers, it's full of bugs that infest anything edible. No, I'm serious, that's her reason for doing this. You know, call me old-fashioned, but if one of my constant worries was that my pantry was swarming with insects, I'd likely call a fumigator instead of fighting a losing battle by putting everything I eat in a vinyl vault.
I just can't believe she's able to say this stuff with a straight face, no hint of hesitation, restraint, or the slightest notion that she's being completely asinine. She's got all the classic traits of a hardcore sociopath, making me truly believe that she learned to be so clean and tidy after all the times where she had to make sure there was no blood trails or fingernails leftover from her murder victims. To avoid libel, I should mention that Heloise is not a proven murderer, moreover just someone who likely killed a few people along the way strictly by matter of circumstance. There's a difference.
I know it's a little difficult to make out what's going on in the pictures above, so let me fill in the blanks for y'all. Heloise is going through a simple lesson on ways to extend the uses of your freezer. Apparently, putting candles in there will make 'em drip less. That's cool with me, wax drips are real tough to get off the rug. But Heloise refuses to quit while the going's good. No, she's gotta keep pushing that envelope and adding suggestions till she comes off looking like a complete and total psychopath.
Hey, do me a favor - go grab all your insurance papers, your will, birth certificate, all that important stuff, and THROW IT IN THE FREEZER. See, Heloise explains that this is the least likely place for it to get burned or stolen. I mean really, it's a great idea. You could always use your safes and deposit boxes to store the leftover venison, anyway.
Kid: Mom, did you get me that chicken potpie I asked for? I'm real hungry!
Mommy: But of course! I got your fabled pie this morning.
Kid: Well, where is it?!
Mommy: In the freezer, right between your sister's baby pictures and the deed to our summer house. Make sure you don't cook and eat anything important.
Heloise also spends a good fifteen minutes suggesting that you combine half-used bottles of detergent to save space, which is fine, but she does all this weird stuff involving pouring all the detergent into drinking glasses before depositing it into a third, unrelated container. Sometimes I think this video is a big colossal joke filmed by some smart-assed college kids who knew a fun loving older woman who just happened to look exactly like Heloise. The Heloise I know wouldn't pull a subversive three-card Monty using clothes detergent for no readily apparent reason other than for a surreal visual. The Heloise I know is just way too much to-the-point for that sorta bullshit.
More money-savers: Heloise is proud to announce that, if you keep your canisters of cream cheese upside-down in the fridge, they'll last longer. That's good to know. Course, the poor sicko can't help herself, and starts suggesting keeping everything in there upside down - butter, fruit, vegetables, and of course, your car registration and dental plan contracts.
I dunno though, I think she'd be pretty fun to hang out with. I can't imagine how she could possibly be married, because I don't think there's a single person on Earth who could keep up with this much tidiness and overall manic behavior. Unless she's with Tony Robbins. But it'd be pretty nifty to play bocce ball with her or something - you'd win every time, since she'd forfeit the game by being unable to resist the urge to line up all the balls in a color-coded sequence, thus breaking all the rules. Chances are pretty good that she'll throw half of them in the freezer anyway. I love Heloise, I love her hints too.
Oh yeah - this woman? She's a blinker!
See? Longest. Blinks. Ever. She's like a snake trying to shed it's skin. Maybe blinking your eyes for a longer-than-usual period of time helps you save money on mascara and saline solution, I don't know. Either way, when she's doing this, since we can only see her torso, it looks like she's getting oral sex. But don't worry, she's not: she'd never let that happen while she's wearing clothes, that's like intentionally wasting 30 cents worth of detergent later. She would have sex in the pantry, but only if she's naked, and if you retrieve the condoms from the freezer first. These eccentrics are so set in their ways. I wonder if Dear Abby is a headcase too.
One of the biggest problems I've faced in life is knowing how to tell the difference between a normal egg and a hard-boiled one. Every time I pick one of the oval sons'a bitches up, it's a troubling game of Russian Roulette - what's inside? Semi-soft goodness or slimy wet death? Come on, admit it - it's impossible to tell. Sure, a hard-boiled egg has a totally different feel and only a complete idiot wouldn't be able to realize the difference, but somehow, according to Heloise, it's an issue we must face head on.
The solution? Use a pencil to draw 'X's over your hard-boiled eggs. It makes sense. If you're too stupid not to know what kind of egg you've got simply by holding it like everyone else in the world, you're also likely stupid enough to sit in your kitchen drawing all over eggs on a Sunday morning. The Egg Fun doesn't stop here - may I present Madame Heloise, and her spooky scary creepy Table of Horrors.
I have positively no idea what's going on here. Heloise breaks out all these ceremonial bowls of salt, barrels of unidentified liquids, sandpaper, and a heap of other materials all as part of her eternal quest to demystify the origins and contents of her eggs. It's enough to make you swear off edible ovulation forever. If you went vegan, at least you wouldn't have to draw all over your food before being able to recognize it for what it was. Course, there's a downside to being vegan - you've gotta somehow learn to enjoy lentil soup. The further upside? Heloise doesn't bother doodling on lentils, mainly because they don't come in a hard-boiled variety. I'm still pretty sure she puts them in the freezer, though. I wonder if all these eggs and lentils are what gives her hair that silver medal sheen. Either that, or she's drinking plutonium. Whatever the case, she looks like a crossdressing version of Saruman the White.
Heloise just drones on and on and on with her hints, but I think we'll call it quits here. I think you've all had a sufficient sampling. I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone doing themselves in, especially when I'm not there to videotape it. Bear in mind, this is only about a twelfth of what's on the tape. 101 totally insane ways to cut corners with your wallet.
In comparison to other videos of this type that I've seen, and some that I've reviewed here on the site, I guess this one's pretty harmless. Heloise has this ancient innocence about her that completely makes you forget just how ludicrous what she's saying really is. It's a raw talent few people share: blind, hopeless, despondent insanity. There's really one question that remains here, and I leave it to you, the faithful judges, to answer:
Good or Evil?