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The Classic I’m Not (totally) Commending

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One of the few advantages of having your birthday in proximity to Christmas [1] is getting multiple gift checks – which is what we aging children get from our parents – in the same proximity. I used last year’s gift $$ to purchase a new kayak earlier this year. An Oru “origami” kayak. Origami – no lie. It folds up, with all of its parts, into its own carrying bag. So simple, or so the promo shot would have you believe, a headless woman wearing vastly impractical water sport footwear can do it blindfolded. [2]

 

folding

 

It’s been fun [3] learning to unfold and fold it, practicing in the living room. I hadn’t found the time to take it out on the water, until Monday, a day my son K had off from his summer job, and (finally) a day which promised not to be the kind of swelter-crap summer days we’ve been having that make you not want to leave the house for any reason. K & I schlepped Flicka and the Oru kayak into the van and drove to Brown’s Ferry Park, which has a public access boat launch for the Tualatin River.

Flicka [4] is the name of my other/first kayak, a Perception recreational model (the Swifty line, which I don’t think they make anymore). Flicka has served me well for many years. Now she has a stablemate, of sorts.

 

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

 

I’ve yet to name the Oru kayak. Something will come to me.

Here is what it an Oru kayak looks like, unfolded and put together:

 

oru

 

Here’s what mine looks like, drying out upside down in the garage, after its first river outing:

 

k3

 

I’d been wondering about the viability of accessible local kayaking venues. What with the drought, I was fairly confident that Smith & Bybee Lakes, never deep waters in even the most wet of winters, would effectively be Smith & Bybee Mud Marshes. And Haag Lake…well, no matter what its water level, it attracts too much of the jet ski/Coors Lite crowd for my taste. [5] Most of all, I find it boring, paddling-wise.

The Tualatin River has several access points within decent driving distance, but, due to the lack of rainfall and those pesky high temps I wasn’t sure how enjoyably navigable it might be. Would it be deep enough to have portions that could be said to run, smoothly or otherwise? Fortunately, you can check the river’s flow level and current conditions online. Which I did. And so we went.

It turned out to be quite a pleasant outing. We impressed an older kayaking gent walking his dog near the boat launch with our wacky folding kayak. We surprised several great blue herons, one of which was quite protective of its riverbank hunting grounds, and K was “buzzed” by a red tail hawk crossing the river. I got one picture of K approaching a spot on the riverbank where geese and ducks were hanging out on some rocks, a spot where there was also, K called out to me, a “big ass frog.”  I got one lousy picture, before my phone’s camera fritzed out on me.

There's a big ass frog ahead on a rock the riverbank, trust me.

There’s a big ass frog ahead on a rock the riverbank, trust me.

*   *   *

The Salad I Keep Making

Despite what you may have heard on NPR about the downgrading of the American seafood supply, here in Oregon we’ve great access to locally caught seafood in our local farmer’s markets. Which is why I keep making this crab salad, which is IMHO the perfect use for our West Coast summer bounty (lettuce, fresh white corn, tomatoes, avocadoes, red onion, crab, cilantro-lime-crumbled ancho chili-dressing). This week, I augmented the last of the Dungeness crab we had in the freezer (wrangled by MH earlier this summer during a trip to Manzanita) with Oregon coast halibut.

crabsalad

.

*   *   *

Department of Crab Segues

A bit o’ crabbiness for you now, relating to the blog’s title, in the form of Cinematic Criticism of an Acclaimed Classic ® . Which was prompted by my recent bookstore purchases: The Princess Bride, and As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

The latter book is actor Cary Elwes’ memoir of …well, of just what the title says. I enjoyed As You Wish…., despite the prevalence of a certain, how you say, narrative tone noted by both moiself and my friend SCM, a tone which I charitably chose to think of as the author’s younger, star-struck, fanboy-like awe and respect for the movie’s cast and director. [6]

Like many of the book’s and movie’s aficionadas, I can quote TPB’s memorable lines at appropriate situations (never mind about the inappropriate ones).  I loved the book, and I love the movie, fervently…but also wistfully. I wish I could say I love the movie unreservedly. [7] But I can’t, because I don’t.

I love the fact that the book’s author, William Goldman, claims he wrote the book for his daughters. I hate the fact that the movie of the book is populated by so few daughters.

 

TPB cast

 

I love that the book is filled with fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes, and I hate that the movie’s fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes are, with few exceptions, the exclusive province of its male characters. The movie’s main female character – the title role, Princess Buttercup – is essentially, to quote Cary Elwes (who plays Westley, Buttercup’s true love, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts), “the straight man.”

“Buttercup falls in love, loses her love, gets kidnapped, is forced into an arrange marriage, reconnects with her one true love, and then lets him go in order to save his life. It really requires a great deal of emotional range. What it doesn’t require – or at least doesn’t display – is the comedic talent for which The Princess Bride is so well know. Goldman wrote a screenplay that we now know is filled with great, classic funny lines. Unfortunately, few, if any, of those lines are given to Buttercup.”
(Cary Elwes, As You Wish)

The male characters run the gamut from a cowardly manipulative royal, a gentle giant with a pea-sized brain and a heart to match his height, a blustering, ego-maniacal assassin, a vengeance-seeking alcoholic (yet expert) swordsman; a dashing and confidently self-effacing pirate…. The female characters are a beautiful princess, a few crowd scene peasants, and a crone.

 

Ok, so she does get one great line, but she has to share it with Billy Crystal.

Ok, so she does get one great line, but she has to share it with Billy Crystal.

 

‘Tis likely my critique would provoke the movie’s champions to muster the tried but true, TBIABTTM [8] defense. And, as is often the case, I suspect any criticism with the translation of a story from novel to movie would be cast upon the screenwriter. The trouble with that is, the book’s author [9] also wrote the movie’s screenplay. Who better to know the essentials of the story, right? His distillation of book-to-movie is indicative of his mindset, that the vital-to-the-story characters he wrote were in a 11-2 male-to-female ratio.

This male-female protagonist discrepancy is,[10] sadly, par for the course in Hollywood. I won’t be getting’ all Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on you right now – I’m just feeling a bit wistful, wishing that one of my favorite movies was even favorite-er.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3sLhnDJJn0

*   *   *

Department of More Stupid Things That Bother Me

Have you seen Hollywood Game Night, a summer replacement nighttime game show on network TV? You should. It airs Tuesday eves on NBC, and is hosted by the Witty Tall Person I’d Most Like to Play Charades With © , actor/comedian Jane Lynch.

 

HGN

 

I find the show quite entertaining. It appeals to my affinity for silly parlor games…even though I would probably and massively suck at this particular show’s games, what with the emphasis on knowledge of contemporary celebrity names and trivia.

So. Last week we were watching HGN, and one of the contestants, Ms. Ditsy TV Starlet Who Shall Not Be Named, [11] blew what should have been, IMHO, an easy question that had to do with the mere existence of the Mars Rover.  After the answer was revealed, instead of a red-faced, I-can’t-believe-I-missed that! reaction, Ms. Ditsy unabashedly announced that she’d had no idea there was a thing called “a rover on Mars.”

And I just lost my shit.

 

tvyellpng

 

I was watching a TV game show, populated by (I assume) celebrities chosen not for their SAT scores, IQ tests or knowledge of current events but most likely due to their availability to promo some project they’ve got going on the host network. And yeah, I was already a bit piqued at the sight of a Pretty Young Thing (Ms. Ditsy) who, at her tender age, was already/obviously botoxed…and it’s not like she’s ever going to be in any sort of political and/or scientific policy making position…but she’s a citizen, dadgummit, and she had no idea the Mars Rover project even exists, and worst of all, she displayed no shame at her lack of awareness.  THIS IS YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY WHICH IS  SPENDING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON THIS PROJECT, AND EVEN IF IT HAD COST NO MORE THAN YOUR LATEST MANICURE THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC VENTURES OF THE CENTURY.

Don’t you hate it when the caps lock gets stuck?

Yep, I’m pissin’ in the wind, here. But it got me to ruminating on one of my pet peeves: the downside of democracy. Specifically, the fact that, in This Wonderful Country of Ours, ® our votes are not weighted on criteria having to do with civic engagement or grasp of reality.

Thus, PYT Ms. Ditzy Starlet can be totally ignorant of the New Horizons flyby of Pluto; she and others like her can believe that global warming is caused by polar bear farts and/or that the U.S. Civil War was the result of “Northern aggression” against the gallant Southern states and had little or no connection to slavery, and/or that gay marriage makes the baby Jesus cry…and her vote counts the same as mine. Grrrrrr. [12]

 

So like, Horizons airlines flew that Disney Dog? Ya sure, I knew that.

So like, Horizons airlines flew that Disney Dog? Ya sure, I knew that.

plutoplanepng

*   *   *

May your rivers run deep,
may you find movies to love without reservation and game shows to watch without consternation,
may your vote always count,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] If I haven’t already, I’ll get around to complaining about the disadvantages in a future post.

[2] Without a head, you don’t really need a blindfold, do you?

[3] If you enjoy judicious use of profanity, as regular readers know I do.

[4] Because, she’s my friend.

[5] Yep, I’m a snob.

[6] And which SCM described as, “Can he (Elwes, the book’s author) get his head any further up Rob Reiner’s ass?”

[7] You know where this is going, don’t you?

[8] The Book is Always Better Than The Movie.

[9] Goldman is also an award-winning screenwriter, whose credits include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men.

[10] Protagonists? Hell, the effect even extends to crowd scenes. If you were an alien anthropologist learning about Earth culture from the movies, you’d have no idea that the world’s human population gender balance is essentially equal.

[11] And whose name I cannot recall now, nor was I familiar with her when she was introduced. See what I mean about pop culture trivia?

[12] Shall we make it an even dozen?

The Elder I’m Not Abusing

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Before the Deluge

Ere I begin my Rant of the Week ® I simply must share my favorite texts [1] of the week. This was yesterday’s exchange between moiself and daughter Belle, whom, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, is working as a summer ZooCamp counselor. This week’s campers have included many second-graders whose physical and emotionally maturity (read: lack thereof) proved challenging for their college-age camp leaders.

Belle: It finally happened – Colin finally peed his pants.

Moiself: Sorry, but ☺

Belle: Also, Ethan punched another kid in the balls.

Moiself: Hope Colin brought a change of clothing…
and the other kid a change of balls.

Belle: Ha! We had to give Colin spare shorts. After he changed he put his shoes on the wrong feet. But we didn’t notice until lunch so he was wearing them like that for 3 hours.

Moiself: This is way too much fun for me to read.

Belle: It sprinkled rain. Heather pulled a swimsuit out of her backpack and insisted she had to wear it. Because of rain.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

*   *   *

I’m not one much for literary boycott or censorship, other than the self-imposed kind. That said, this is my appeal to y’all, for which I am using my Asa credentials:

As a writer, and mostly as a human being, I urge you to please not purchase nor read Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s supposed prequel to her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The background of Lee’s “new” novel is suspicious, to say the least. If you’re unfamiliar with the details (which you can find here and here and here and in many other heres), the controversy centers around Lee’s capacity to consent to the release of a book she steadfastly refused to release – or even admit existed – for  over 50 years. And now, here come a motley crew of distant family members, new attorneys and publishing scions who will profit from the out-of-nowhere, out-of-character reversal of Lee’s lifelong, principled stand.

 

mockingbird

 

Harper Lee never married and had no children or grandchildren. Her older sister, Alice Lee, Harper’s lifelong companion and confidante, was an attorney who served as her sister’s lawyer and advocate. Alice Lee would likely have profited handsomely if any of her sister’s post-Mockingbird writings were published. Instead, she loyally abided by Harper’s wishes, and protected both Harper’s estate and Harper herself from the attention Harper so ferociously avoided.

Since the 1960 publication of TKAM the publicity-shy Harper Lee notoriously – and more importantly, consistently – refused to submit any of her other writings (or even admit that she had any) for publication. She said what she had to say on the subject, was her patient if terse response the few times she bothered to answer critics or fans who wanted “more.” If that wasn’t plain enough, she vowed that, “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”

In 2007 Harper Lee suffered a stroke. Now aged 89, Lee has been living in an assisted living facility for many years and must use a wheelchair for mobility. Her health problems include almost total vision and hearing loss, paralysis on her left side, confusion and memory problems. [2] In 2011 Alice Lee wrote that her sister “can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”  Then in 2014, a mere two months after Alice Lee’s death, publishing house HarperCollins, along with the attorney [3] who replaced Alice Lee, astonished the literary world by announcing the release of Harper Lee’s “rediscovered” first novel.

The manuscript was “found,” Lee’s new lawyer [4] claimed, by rummaging through Lee’s attic and other personal items “in a secure place where Ms. Lee keeps her archives.”

Go Set a Watchman; right. Make sure he watches overhead, for vultures circling.

IMHO, the “finding” and publishing of GSAW is elder abuse. I won’t abet it in any way.

*   *   *

“….salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning that occurs after ingesting contaminated food and/or improper handling of contaminants including feces from pets, and reptiles, poultry or rodents. Symptoms of diarrhea to fever to abdominal cramps to….”

Department of Why Do We Need These Warnings From the Government?

Specifically, why do we need to be warned not to Kiss Chickens?

Oh, that’s right – because chickens are cute. And people are stupid.

 

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

*   *   *

On a related note, the following is either:

  1. the title of the book I’m reading
  2. my life’s motto
  3. my suggested slogan for the upcoming Republican Presidential candidate’s debates:

Let’s Be Less Stupid

Okay, it’s all three.

stupid

 

*   *   *

Department of Duh

That’s one big ass hosta.

 

hosta

*   *   *

Department of Cruciferous Haiku [5]

The cabbage sits tall
and proud on my counter. Or,
should I say, stands?

Do the words apply?
 I’m anthropomorphizing
a vegetable.

Cabbage cannot sit,
nor stand. Still, I think this one
would strut, if it could.

It bears dignity;
a certain nobility
 belies its odd shape.

Thus, I’ll treat it with
respect, despite its likeness
to a school dunce cap.

cabbage

*   *   *

Op-Ed Opening Line of the week (or year)

In return for helping to raise money for veterans who lost limbs in a war that he started, former President George W. Bush took $100,000 from their charity for giving a speech in 2012, and another $20,000 to be flown in on a private jet.
(from the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial, July 10)

bushleg

*   *   *

I Skimmed The New York Times Thursday Styles Section So You Didn’t Have To

It’s a section I usually toss aside.  But something about yesterday morning – perhaps the early morning dream I had in which Brad Pitt was trying to gaslight me – made me throw usually to the wind.

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the diversion (although I’m still a bit unnerved by the dream), because I might have missed this Important Fashion News. [6]

For some reason, I’m really hoping this catches on:

 

pithair

 

And not this:

 

yellow

*   *   *

Department of How Cool is This?

Pluto

 

The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and a complete absence of craters – discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA’s New Horizons mission image and provided punctuation for a journey nine and a half years in the making.
Pluto’s Portrait: Ice Mountains, No Craters, and for Scientists, a ‘Toy Store’
New York Times, Thursday July 16, 2015 )

Wouldn’t you love a job where you made discoveries that baffled and delighted you? For most of us, our reaction to work-related baffling discoveries is along the lines of, Holy Honeybadger crap, it isn’t supposed to do that!

*   *   *

Department of Please Oh Please Let It Happen

“…something similar (to the Cambrian Explosion) is happening in human culture. Institutions—not just religions but also universities, armies, corporations—are now faced with how to change their fundamental structure and methods to deal with the fact that everybody’s living in a glass house now.

“Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything.”

(Author, scientist, philosopher, The Clergy Project co-founder Daniel C. Dennett, from the interview, “Churches Can No Longer Hide the Truth: Daniel Dennett on the New Transparency,” Religion Dispatches May 18, 2015)

make it so

*   *   *

May your motives and methods be transparent,
May baffling discoveries delight you and your chickens never bite (or kiss) you,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi

 

 

 

[1] Names of campers changed to protect the not-so-innocents.

[2] Lee’s mental and physical decline has been revealed via family and friends in court via legal wrangling over control of her writings.

[3] I don’t want her name in my blog, stinkin’ fucking carrion-eater that I think she is.

[4] Okay, the stinkin,’  fucking, carrion-eater is Tonja Carter.

[5] Supported by a generous combined grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Food and Drug Administration, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

[6] Excuse the oxymoron. And by oxymoron I do not mean the dude in yellow.

The American I’m Not Proud To Be

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“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
Albert Einstein, scientist (1879-1955)

There was this thing, between the last blog and today’s – this national holiday. It was a big one – arguably the most important, as far as national holidays go.

 

love it or leave it

love it or leave it

 

And now we’re in that post July 4 and pre- [1] official political campaign season, wherein possibly or marginally sane and erstwhile sensibly dressed men and women

 

on second thought...

on second thought…

 

have to start wearing flag lapel pins and touting their I love ‘Murica credentials.

The endless posturing begins, re who is more proud of their country and who has the best ways to love it, along with all that American exceptionalism jabberslop [2]

 

heybabypng

 

…which inevitably lead to accusations that certain sentiments or political positions are evidence of a lack of robust pride in being a USA citizen. I might as well warn the rabid Red Staters up front: do not ask moiself if I’m “proud to be an American,” [3] because you probably won’t like my answer.

No, thank you. I am not proud to be an American.

At least, not as I understand the concept.

The various dictionary definitions of proud are linked to achievement and action, as indicated by the usage examples given for the word:

They are the proud parents of a hero.
I was proud that I never gave in.
She’s the proud owner of a new car.
Her proudest accomplishment was to finish school.

I am not proud to have brown eyes, to be of Irish-Norwegian-Welsh-French-Cherokee heritage, nor to be a woman. These and other, more or less noteworthy attributes are mine, but neither by choice nor achievement. Moiself, I only take pride in intention, behavior and accomplishment, not in something resulting from the roll of the DNA dice nor, in the case of my being an American, the luck of geography when it came to my place of birth. [4]

I feel fortunate to be a citizen of the USA, but not proud. [5] Perhaps if I had been born in another country and had sacrificed and struggled and waded through red tape and green card bureaucracy to become a naturalized US citizen, that’d be something of which I was proud. I am an American because I was born on US soil to US citizens and, according to the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment , that’s all it took. My own worthiness, desire, skills and/or initiative had nothing to do with it.

 

different

 

However, a recent Freedom From Religion Foundation blog post gave me something else to consider on this issue. In Proud to Be An American, the July 3 FRFF blog, Staff Attorney and Constitutional Consultant Andrew Seidel writes that he takes pride in being an American because

…this nation, despite its faults and missteps, was the first to separate state and church. That “wall of separation” as Jefferson put it, is an American original.

This is not to say the idea is necessarily an American invention, but it was first implemented in the “American Experiment,” as Madison put it. Until then, no other nation had sought to so full protect the ability of its citizens to think freely. No people had sought to divorce the terrible power religion holds over the supposed afterlife, from the power government has in everyday life. Until then, the freedom of thought and even the freedom of religion, could never have truly existed.

Now, that’s something to be proud of – the Americans of the past who fought hard to establish a religion-free constitution, and those who remain vigilant in upholding our resultant freedoms.

I’ll drink a toast to that.

But I still won’t wear a fucking lapel pin.

lspelpin

*   *   *

Department of Blame the Parents? The weather? The Internet? Donald Trump?

Daughter Belle is working as an Oregon Zoo Day Camp Camp Counselor. The camps run all summer long, one week for each session. This week she is working with the “Giraffe” camp, which is for children entering the second grade.

Every evening at the dinner table MH and I ask about her day. The first three weeks, when she was working with kids of kindergarten age, she regaled us with stories about how children that age should NOT be entrusted with either water [6] or shoelaces, how the boys “form little kingdoms and hierarchies” that quickly dissolve; i.e., they are friends and allies one minute and crying to the counselors five minutes later (“He called me a big baby – waaaah!”), and just how much hovering certain helicopter parents are capable of. Belle is starting to develop opinions, to put it mildly, as to children’s behavior and maturity levels and as to what and/or who is responsible for the miscreants little darlings’ manners.

Tuesday eve, when I picked her up at the light rail station and asked about camp, her expression curdled. It seems that one of the girls in her group (“One of the blondes; I forget which one – all the blonde ones look kind of the same, you know?”), apropos of nothing, approached her with this stimulating conversation opener.

Blonde Girl: “You should do something with your hair.”
Belle: ????
Blonde Girl:  “It looks kind of tired.”

Hair much too busy to be tired.

Hair much too busy to be tired.

*   *   *

Last weekend as MH and I were returning home from a walk, we passed a house in our neighborhood which is occupied by “unschoolers.” Or so we assume from the bumper stickers the house’s vehicles have sported over the years that promote unschooling. [7]

I got to wondering to MH:  If parents practice unschooling for their children, what about the adults? Does that philosophy – of self-direction and pursuing only that which interests you at the moment – carry on into other aspects of their lives? Is their house un-kept and un-maintained? [8] Do they un-cook their meals? Are they employed, and if so, do they practice un-working?

From an unschooling website info section, “What is unschooling?” (emphases mine)

There are as many approaches to unschooling as there are people, by design. A child is supported to read when ready and interested, not on another’s timetable, for example. He can and will be encouraged to pursue a wide range of interests, based on his interests, such as free play, inventing, experimenting scientifically, video gaming, role modeling through friendship, spiritual development through inquiry of self and others, athletics, learning to trust himself and others…..

An unschooled adult, or parent, is one who is loving the self designed life they have created for themselves. (sic ) [9] They may be entrepreneurs, travelers, create large incomes or small, simple ones. They know what foods, friendships, work, play and spiritual connections allow them to feel alive and challenged and satisfied.

MH said he doubted his own project managers and co-workers would look kindly upon him if he took up un-working,

“You know, I’m not interested in working on our cache memory project this week – it’s just not on my timetable right now…”

and that if he did so, he might soon find himself practicing un-employment.

 

Unschooled teen learning to pursue his wide range of interests.

Unschooled teen learning to pursue his wide range of interests.

*   *   *

For the past few weeks it’s been too damn hot for me to drag my loves-the-cooler-Pacific-northwest-climate butt out and shoot some arrows. I’ve missed going to a somewhat local, free, outdoor archery range, and while I’ve discovered a relatively nearby indoor fee range, I haven’t been motivated to make the time (or pay the fee) to go there. While taking practice in my self-designed, “indoor” (read: garage) range this week, [10] I reflected upon a common experience several of my archery class-mates (the female ones) shared with me: it seems that every other person who finds out you have taken up archery asks if or assumes that  you’ve done so because you liked The Hunger Games books and/or movies and want to emulate the hero, Katniss Everdeen.

While I admire many things about The Hunger Games franchise, I’d been interested in archery a long time before Ms. Everdeen strapped on her recurve bow. Any delusions of Katniss-osity were the furthest thing from my mind when I took the intro to archery class.

Part of the fun the class instructor had with us archery neophytes was to ask us to choose names (or “avatars”) that had something to do with our living or working situation, where we were born, or other personal attributes or interests. He’d then divide us into pairs or groups according to those names and have us compete in various aiming and scoring games. I came home after one of those sessions, wherein a fellow (male) student had chosen the name Katniss, and announced to MH that I had found my archery avatar.

Call me Catpiss.

MH was less than impressed, and remained so, even after I told him that although my interest in archery was strictly for the zen of aiming and concentration, if I ever did take up bow hunting, he could provide the duck calls. [11]

 

An off day for Catpiss.

An off day for Catpiss.

*   *   *

 

 

May your hair be manage-ably energetic, may your aim be worthy of your avatar,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Ah, how I wish indeed it were “pre,” but the presidential campaigning season gets longer and longer and…

[2] I was going to say jiggery-pokery, but Justice Scalia took the gibberish right out of my mouth.

[3] Like they are soooooo interested in my opinion.

[4] Which, as it happened, was a doctor’s locker room (or, “a doctor’s broom closet,” as my late great father used to tease my mother), but it was a locker room on American soil, dadgummit.

[5] And sometimes embarrassed, depending on policies supported by my fellow citizens.

[6] Which, according to Belle, they spill on themselves at every opportunity and then shriek as if someone’s tossed acid on their clothing.

[7] John Holt, the “father” of unschooling, believed that children didn’t need to be forced to learn in a structured environment but would learn naturally if allowed freedom to follow their own interests.

[8] From what I’ve seen of their front yard upkeep…well…insert (un)snarky comment.

[9] I can’t help but gloat over the unschooled and uncorrected redundancy and punctuation mistakes.

[10] Designed for safety – the neighbors (and the water heater) needn’t worry.

[11] A subtly placed fart joke – thank you, ladies and germs. Although, my ignorance of hunting is probably showing. I imagine bow hunters go for larger targets (deer, boar) than ducks.

The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

Comments Off on The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

 

Happy Birthday, JWW.

jbday

*   *   *

The SCOTUS decision is responsible for this blast from the past: back in late 1992, a man from the OCA, a conservative Christian PAC in Oregon, was canvassing my neighborhood. He seemed pleased to see an obviously pregnant, married (I actually caught him glancing at my ring finger!) woman answer the door, and tried to get me to sign a petition supporting the OCA’s efforts to prohibit “special rights” for homosexuals. His pitch included the provocative warning that time was of the essence – before you know it, “the gays” will bring about the ruination of the “normal” family unit, and even demand the right to marry!

 I smiled sweetly (it took some effort, let me tell ya), patted my mother-to-be bump, and replied, “Not only do I support gay marriage, I think *every* marriage should be a gay marriage!”

 Dude left skidmarks departing my porch.

 I’m still trying to absorb the momentousness (is that even a word?) of this decision. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to have their family rights recognized. It doesn’t happen often enough, but humane human values seem to have prevailed.

That was my FB post last week, after I heard about the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Anecdote expansion: years later I was having a conversation with the “product” of the afore-mentioned pregnancy – my son K – about current events, and the two of us simultaneously wondered aloud if that issue – the rights for gays to marry – would be the defining civil rights issue of his generation.

 

lesboring

 

Amidst all the justifiable jubilation, I’ve been thinking about other landmark SCOTUS decisions and legislative acts. Loving v. Virginia allowed, some thirty-plus years after its decision, for my brother to enter into his “interracial” [1] marriage with little fuss…although I know that is still not always the case for other such marital unions.  Brown v. The Board of Education , the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Roe V. Wade separately and collectively didn’t eradicate the attitudes and racism and gender discrimination that led to the Charleston massacre and murderous misogyny and internet harassment of women…. And there is always a backlash to progress.  I hear that in at least one state, [2] county clerks have refused to grant marriage licenses in defiance of the SCOTUS decision….

But, I’m not gonna go there right now. It’s nice to breathe deeply and whoop loudly, and celebrate for a moment, sans consideration of whatever is to come.

 

gay cake

*   *   *

Department of Stream of Consciousness
Slice of Life Division

So I ran over to the nearest grocery store to grab a couple of things I was missing for dinner prep, and a wine rep was doing a wine tasting in the store, a rep whom I thought looked kinda sorta familiar and she later recognized me, after she asked to see my ID and I pointed my finger toward the lines framing my eyes which she pretended not to see (the lines; she saw my finger) and she said, No really, we do need to card anyone who looks 26 or under and I laughed heartily and told her my age and she spewed the reflex response to age-honesty, which I know is meant to be polite or even flattering but which nevertheless makes me cringe – she gushed No way! and stammered that I look essentially thirty years younger, which I know I don’t and I wish it didn’t have to be meant as a compliment in our ageist society but wine sample woman goes on and on about it and I flashed a knowing look to the young man standing behind me who was patiently waiting to sample some wine and who shook his head as if to say Yeah, sure lady, you look whatever your age is, now, how do we get her to shut up? and then I really took a good look at him in all his youth and thick blond hair and suspenders and shorts but no shirt and I knew we’re in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave and it’s 99 in the shade but I was thinking, geeze dude you’re strutting around with your hairy blonde naked nipple chest and what if I tried to pull that off? and wine woman said, I remember you! to me and asked if I was the woman who during the last tasting gave her the tip about briefly chilling a red wine to bring out its complexity and I ‘fessed up and she said god bless you in that way people say it when you’re not sure if they actually mean to invoke their deity’s consecration upon you or it’s like they are using it as a stand in for thanks or good morning or gesundheit or have a nice day or holy fuck would you look at the pecs on that buff and shirtless young man, but then later she said it again and somehow I managed to stifle myself from responding, Yeah well I’m an atheist so that’s not gonna happen.

Oh, and the wine was very good. Especially the red blend.

agewine

*   *   *

Reflections on all things messy, as per recent events

This was going to be my musings about how  Bruce Jenner, born biologically/genetically/XY chromosomally male, can become Caitlyn Jenner because he “feels” female, vis-à-vis Rachel Dolezal, the leader of the Spokane NAACP who was outed by her parents as white woman, even though Dolezal claims to feel or “identify” as black.

Oh, never mind.

 

Number One, cancel red alert!

Yeeees! Number One, cancel red alert!

 

Instead, wouldn’t you rather look at a picture of a delicious crab, avocado and roasted sweet corn salad?

We’ve been enjoying the fruits of MH’s going crabbing in Manzanita last Sunday – in the form of having crab several nights in a row, including this salad, which tasted even better than it looked…

 

crabsalad

 

…and which seemed to have removed all thoughts of current events commentary from my mind…except for this vestige of the tabloid-worthy identity stories. I woke up yesterday with an interesting image in my mind: a somewhat nervous, male Dungeness crab  [3] being removed from a crab pot, pleading his case to the crabbers:

Yeah, I know I look male, but I’m transitioning to female.

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

*   *   *

Department of Just Because

I came across an article about a casting call in Arkansas for the sequel to a movie that was titled  God’s Not Dead. [4] The sequel will be titled…hold on to your purity rings, boys and girls…God’s Not Dead 2.

I can’t help but fantasize about the sequel’s preview voiceover:

 He’s back, He’s still not dead, and HE’S PISSED !!!!

angry fesuspng

*   *   *

Department of WTF, Oregon?

Jul 2 99°F; Jul 3 97°; Jul 4 96°; Jul 5 101°; Jul 6 97°

This is not the forecast of the Oregon-west-of-the-Cascades-Range I’ve known and loved for the past 24+ years. I’m thinking my antiperspirant needs a more realistic name, or at least an update, from

sure

to

yeahsure

*   *   *

May you always look (but never act) your age and be at ease about it,
May your transitions be crab-free and your marriages be gay,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] I loathe that term, and wish I could ride a time warp back to muzzle the misguided anthropologists who coined the classifications of “races.” Ain’t no such things. My brother didn’t marry out of his “race;” he married a member of the human race.

[2] Tex-ass. You’d guessed that, didn’t you?

[3] Oregon crabbing regulations stipulate that only males of a certain shell width may be kept.

[4] Nope, I’d never heard of it either.

The Floor I’m Not Mopping

3 Comments

Despairing Comment of the Month

Overheard at our dinner table: “Hillsboro is so not Paris.”  [1]

*   *   *

Regarding Pope Francis’ encyclical on global warming, I can’t say it better than FFRF founder and co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor’s essay, excerpted here, Why I Find It Hard to Laud the Pope’s ‘Laudato’ :

“…I do have a quarrel, a major quarrel, to pick with Pope Francis and his encyclical. Which is that since the dastardly “Humanae Vitae” was issued in 1968 — in which Pope Paul VI not only crushed the hopes of an entire generation of idealistic young Catholics, consigned women to be brood mares and cemented the church’s war on abortion and contraception — the world population went from 3.5 billion to today’s 7.3 billion and counting. Yes, it’s more than doubled. And that’s surely a crime by humanity against what the pope calls ‘sister Earth.’

“…Overpopulation may not be the direct cause of all our environmental ills, but it makes all of them worse, far worse. The more people, the more cars and carbon dioxide emissions, the more plane flights and fuel burned, the more deforestation, wildlife and habitats destroyed, the more trash in space, in the oceans, dumped in developing nations, the more biodiversity silenced or imperiled, the more fodder for plagues, famines, droughts, wars, natural (and “unnatural”) disasters. It’s not rocket science.

“My mother used to have a favorite analogy about overpopulation, what she called a ‘sanity test.’ You’re in a room with an overflowing sink and a mop and bucket. What do you do first? Do you turn off the spigot or mop the floor?

stay the course

*   *   *

Let ‘er Rip

Last week’s blog, devoted to a fondly remembered high school teacher and journalism advisor, was a bit milder than usual. But I did promise a return to my usual, highbrow, Masterpiece Theatre entertainment.  Read: fart jokes.

A family drops off their elderly mother at a nursing home. While sitting in her new room, she slowly begins to tilt sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately straighten her up. After a while, she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses rush back to put her upright. This goes on all morning.
Later, the family arrives and asks the old woman, “Are they treating you all right?” She replies, “It’s pretty nice here, except they won’t let you fart.”

Q. Why are farts smelly?
 A. So deaf people can enjoy them, too.

The Duke of Edinburg loudly passed gas during a dinner party at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth gasped, and Prince Philip said, “How dare you fart in front of my wife!” The Duke apologized, “So sorry, I didn’t realize it was her turn.”

Continuing with the royal theme : [2]

Q. What do the Queen of England’s farts have in common with helium and neon?
A. They are all noble gases.

 "Jolly good show, Your Highness, that one's a riser!"

“Jolly good show, Your Highness, that one’s a riser!”

*   *   *

We now return you to our regular programming.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Happy

I like to do a diva finger snap or flick my hands (ala Star Trek’s Lt. Riley in TOS’ Naked Time episode [3] ) when I approach a store’s automatic entry or exist doors, timing it such that my gesture appears to cause the doors to open.

When I do this (admittedly silly) thing, I do not attempt to mimic the sound effects [4]

So far.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Sad

Last week I saw an incidence of shame eating: a woman sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV in the parking lot of a local outdoor shopping mall, frantically and furtively scarfing down what appeared to be an entire tray of frosted cinnamon rolls.

 

Shame statue

*   *   *

Things That Frost My Butt

Rcamp

 

Read the sign carefully. There is no mention of who is sponsoring, leading or providing the food and activities.

Pedophiles, luring kids to the park with the promise of free goodies, games, maybe even puppies?

Close.

Using amazingly similar techniques, it’s religionophiles.

I saw the same sign last summer, in same place, which is in a local park where I walk in the mornings. I assume it’s the same group as last summer, when I took my walks later in the morning and, one day, saw the group setting up and asked them what be going down? [5].  It’s a church group, proselytizing to the kiddies while luring them (and their low income families) with the promise of free food and “fun” games.  [6]

The butt-frosting is due to the fact that they are not upfront about who they are and what they are doing.

 

Want some bible candy, kiddies?

Want some bible candy, kiddies?

*   *   *

Things That Curl My Payots  [7]

It’s a good thing – a blessing in disguise, if that phrase may slither from an apostate’s lips – that the door spring on our oven broke and there is no replacement part for it and there are also several other oven parts that are either broken or fraying.  Thus, MH had reason to search online for new oven options, and was able to alert me to this wonderful discovery: Even happy heathens like us have the option of purchasing appliances that have a Sabbath mode, yet another modern convenience which allows the faithful to ignore and/or circumvent comply with their  ridiculous primitive treasured religious proscriptions. [8]

s.oven

Lest you be permanently stuck in Huh/WTF? Mode, let the Chicago Rabbinical Council explain it to you:

The primary function of the Sabbath mode is to override the following features of modern ovens that conflict with the needs of a kosher home, including:

  • Auto shutoff which shuts off the oven after 12 or 24 hours to conserve energy and/or prevent fires.
  • Lights and signals that go on or off when one opens the door, food finishes cooking, the temperature is adjusted etc.

Instead of employing a gentile to turn your oven off or on, you can have your very own Shabbat Goy Oven, imagine that.

Be sure not to miss Schlomo's Appliances sale on Sabbath-compliant, fur-insulated microwave hats.

Be sure not to miss Schlomo’s Appliances sale on Sabbath-compliant, fur-insulated microwave hats.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Wake up at 3 am and say, Huh?

So, we are all familiar with the questions that have been raised as to how astronauts on a mission are able to eat, bathe, defecate and exercise (these and more space travel dilemmas are delightfully delineated in Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars), right?

But, what about dental hygiene in space? Specifically, I was wondering about the effects of zero gravity on gum tissue. [9]

Inquiring minds don’t give a rat’s ass want to know.

*   *   *

The Obvious Points I’m Not Belaboring…

Or, maybe I am.

“Nothing fails like prayer.”
(Anne Nicol Gaylor, author, feminist and Freethought activist, 1926 – 2015)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof, who police say opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer meeting at a historic African American church here…

There are few words that haven’t already been said or written about the despicable, racist massacre in Charleston. There is, however, a certain…question…that isn’t being asked aloud, for a variety of reasons, including the general consensus that we’re still “too close” to the tragedy [10] to bring up such issues…until a person such as moiself dares to voice the ahem, excuse me observation.

In light of such a tragedy, I know what I am supposed to say or feel, about the people who gather to pray for the victims and their families. I am supposed to express if not genuinely feel platitudes about faith and about resilience in the face of tragedy.

Uh uh. Nope.

After frustration and anger re the racist motivations of the shooter (and the denial of the same by head-in-the-sand-and-up-their-asses conservative politicians, talking heads and gum-flapping Southern Heritage supporters), my second and now recurrent thoughts revolve around the folly of superstitions and incantations.

I have to put down the paper/change the channel/close the website if I read or hear about yet another event wherein religious believers gather to “pray for the victims.”

prayerfutility

WT Holy F?!?!?!

Nine people are murdered at their “Lord’s House” during a prayer meeting, which, I can  logically assume via both definition and experience, included petitionary prayers for help, inspiration and intervention – prayers directed to a deity  [11] which, his followers believe, can move mountains [12] but which couldn’t be bothered to protect people in “his” church from being attacked…prayers directed to the same god they believe could have stopped the attacker (if not, why  pray for help and intervention?), but didn’t?

And so, y’all are going to pray. For what?  To what?  Why?

*   *   *

A Belated Happy Half Birthday to Me

We celebrate half-birthdays in our house. Mine was two weeks ago, and I love it that I always forget when mine is just around the bend. Thus, ’twas a cool surprise to come downstairs in the morning and find a card on the refrigerator door, hanging from a red ribbon that led to a gift bag in the freezer, a bag which contained the ingredients for, IMHO, nature’s perfect feast:

 

lima

 

The history of the half-birthday celebration is due to MH’s and my first date, which took place on the day after my birthday. When MH found out that he had just missed celebrating my birthday with me, he expressed mild distress…and I thought nothing of it until, six months later (and yearly after that), I received a half-birthday card.

*   *   *

May you pass the most basic sanity test and throw away that mop;
may you be surprised by gifts of lima beans and dark chocolate (or whatever ingredients compose your equivalent dream feast);
may you take enjoyment from the simple pleasures of a royal barking spider joke,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Re Belle and I trying to plan a celebratory, French-style dinner.

[2] Yes, there is an entire subcategory of The Queen fart jokes. Is this a great world, or what?

[3]  Watch this at 1:49 if you don’t get the reference. And TOS = The Original Series, for you non-nerd readers.

[4] Click on turbolift door, for a sample of what I’m talking about. 

[5] Not my exact phrasing.

[6] Not their verbatim answer.

[7] If I had payots, which—surprise! – I don’t.

[8] The proscription relating to ovens: observant Jews are forbidden from ” creative work” on the Shabbat, which has been interpreted to include food preparation, even flipping a switch or pressing an electronic button.

[9] No, I don’t know what causes such concerns to pop into my mind. I’m just grateful that this time, the brain-popping happened at 4 pm instead of 3 am.

[10] I wonder, will the passage of time make the reactions any more rational?

[11] For purposes of argument, not that I think such a supernatural being actually exists.

[12] Matthew 17:20: ” Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (also Mark 11:23)

The Teacher I’m Not Eulogizing

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No, this isn’t a eulogy – not in the classic definition of the word. More like a stroll down Memory Lane [2] while reading a love note about an adored teacher and mentor.

Welcome to the tribute blog edition.
Content warning: more family friendly than usual. [1]

Late last year I was delighted to be contacted by R__ Clucas, son of my former high school teacher, Ted Clucas. Mr. Clucas’ son had contacted me after coming across a blog post wherein I’d mentioned The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning student newspaper. R__  shared kind words re Mr. Clucas’ fondness for his students, in particular The Generator crew (Mr. Clucas had become the newspaper’s advisor during my senior year, and remained so for several years after that). R__ also let me know that his father was in frail health.

 

Ted Clucas, ca. 1975.

Ted Clucas, ca. 1975.

 

Last week I received a FB message from R__ , excerpted here:

I thought you would want to know that my dad, Ted Clucas, died yesterday. If you are in contact with any other former Santa Ana High students and Generator staff members, perhaps you can pass along that information to them….
It is sad, but I know he lived a long and good life. I also know that advising the Generator and working with students was one of the things he enjoyed most in life.

I did indeed pass along the news. Many SASH alum shared their memories of Mr. Clucas on the FB post, as well as their reflections on teachers and teaching in general. [3] The personal remarks – all loving and generous – I passed along to Mr. Clucas’ son and widow.

There was a pattern to the comments: Ted Clucas is remembered for his kindness, patience, and sage, good humored guidance. I can’t think of a better legacy for a teacher – he was one of “the good guys” whom we both liked and respected.

 

I had more sweaters, but Ted Clucas' students had a sassier mascot.

I had more sweaters, but Ted Clucas’ students had a sassier mascot.

 

A couple of the reflections got me thinking more about the act and art of teaching.

… he did always strike me as part of that wonderful old guard that ushered us through a certain moment in time. A few others I have less fond memories of, but in the greatness of time, they matter less.

I’ve often thought about the “management style” we learned from our teachers & coaches. Most was really poor, having to be unlearned later. Not with Mr. Clucas. We accomplished great things, worked hard & had fun. He was a gift.

A part of that wonderful old guard that ushered us through a certain moment in time. 

So well put (thanks, TF). As for some of that old guard…well…in that certain, Orwellian sense, some of our ushers were more equal than others.

As I watched my now college-age children navigate through their series of high school teachers – some of whom I wanted to nominate for a Nobel Peace Prize, some of whom were no better than trained circus monkeys – I would often marvel at the discrepancies in teachers’ attitudes and abilities, [4] and also at what are seemingly twists of fate, where one bad experience can deactivate a child’s interest in a subject or field they liked…and, of course, how one good teacher can ignite a spark that fosters a lifelong passion for a subject the student had once thought dull, difficult or inconsequential.

What combination of inborn and/or acquired personality traits, training and education, and simple force of will produce a good teacher? (If I had the answer, I’d nominate moiself to the Nobel Prize committee). How much of being an influential, memorable mentor involves a conscious decision,

I shall be like this, and not this.
I shall do and say this, but not this.

and how much is simply an unconscious reaction to circumstance and stimuli? And which came first?

chicken

 

From my FB post of June 11:

Attention SAHS alumni , and in particular *The Generator* staff members: please pass along this news to anyone who might be interested. Ted Clucas, longtime and beloved SAHS teacher and student journalism advisor, died yesterday.

Ted “Teddy” Clucas was both role model and cat wrangler when it came to mentoring 1975’s The Generator  staff. I’ve met few people in life with his combination of wisdom and patience (and yes, he let me get away with calling him “Teddy”). His name will always be on my list of favorite teachers, for so many reasons.

Oh, and about that mascot Mr. Rogers mentioned. I’ll get there. Eventually

Ted Clucas taught high school English, Composition and Literature classes for many years, and became the journalism class teacher and student newspaper advisor during my senior year. I had him for a literature class, and recall wonderfully instructive, generous and sometimes testy back-and-forth discussions about the significance and relevance of Great Expectations and other so-called classics. [5] My recollections also include his at once stern and bemused admonishment – Ms. Parnell! – when he thought I’d gone too far with my comments. That admonishment was to become my de facto nickname (shortened to, Parnell!) during my senior year, when he was my journalism advisor. The rebuke was always good natured (looking back, I sometimes cringe to think of how we tested his tolerance), usually produced in response to the pranks I and other Generator staff pulled.

One of the pranks, by select members of The Generator staff and other students, was an epic toilet-papering of Teddy’s house.  Mr. Clucas was wise enough to see that act as the compliment it was meant to be, where other teachers would have seen harassment or even vandalism.  He felt honored, and rightly so. We didn’t just tp any teacher’s house.

Another of the pranks was ongoing, and involved something more personal. Mr. Clucas spoke with a noticeable lisp.[6]  He of course was well aware of this, and also of the teasing he sometimes received about it. He never took the bait; if a student pointed out or even mocked his lisp, Mr. Clucas reacted as if the comment were along the lines of, “You are wearing a brown tie.”  Yes, I am.

Of the many, mildly unfair mysteries of life, two related ones stand out to me: that the word lisp has an s in it, as does the name Clucas. Because…there’s a story, about a telephone.

That would be the telephone in Mr. Clucas’ journalism classroom. The Generator‘s staffroom was one of the few classrooms with telephone access available to students. Even though we had use of the phone to make calls (groundbreaking reporters that we were), when the classroom phone rang it was supposed to be answered by the advisor. The phone didn’t ring very often, but every time – and I mean every single time – it did, if I were present and/or available, I moiself or one of the newspaper’s Merry Pranksters [7] would rush to the phone and answer it by saying:

“Mither Clucath thpeaking.”

"Please tell me you didn't make that so."

“Please tell me you didn’t make that so.”

Yeth, I did.

Okay, not every time. Sometimes the greeting was, Clucas’ Massage Parlor. Either way, Mr. C would cross his arms, shake his head, and try oh-so-unsuccessfully to prevent the corners of his mouth from twitching upward.

Parnell!

“Teddy” was both mentor and cheerleader when it came to my writing. I wrote various feature articles for the paper, from straight news to reviews to editorials, but my main focus was my regular editorial column, Parnal Knowledge.  As journalism advisor Mr. Clucas was seen, by his fellow teachers, the school administrators, and adult/parent readers of The Generator, as being ultimately responsible for the newspaper’s content. Thus, “the heat” was on him, on many occasions…often due to something I had written.  [8]

I received nothing but support from him when my columns were criticized, whether for content, fact or tone. He was even excited about the first piece of “hate mail” we received. The first time I received an angry letter from a teacher (and soon after that, a parent), he was almost beside himself with glee. I didn’t understand what the big whoop was about, until he told me it was the ultimate compliment and even litmus test for a writer.

“It means someone is reading – it means that you’ve made someone think about something that made them uncomfortable!”

1975 The Generator Staff photo, from my yearbook. Ted Clucas standing in the back row, far left. Yours truly front and center, to the left of Clucas Massage Parlor sign. Our mascot, Theodore, is seated in the second row, far right.

1975 The Generator Staff photo, from my yearbook. Ted Clucas standing in the back row, far left. Yours truly front and center, to the left of Clucas Massage Parlor sign. Our mascot, Theodore, is seated in the second row, far right.

 

The Generator staff was a rough crowd, not suitable for the esteem-challenged nor timorous of spirit. We constructed a class mascot, whom we christened Theodora, in honor of Teddy.  Theodora, a home-made dummy dressed in what I can only describe as pre-punk attire, which included part of a Girl Scout Uniform, had the middle digit of her right hand permanently affixed in what my WWII veteran father decorously referred to as the one finger salute. We installed Theodora in The Generator staffroom, with Teddy’s full knowledge and grudging acceptance if not permission, and her “offensive presence” was noted by several of the few teachers who dared darken the doorways of the journalism classroom. [9]

Each member of The Generator staff had his or her Generator nickname. A few of the more family-friendly ones I can mention included Kisser Carr, Quickie Lynn, Free Sample, and Frostie. [10] The Generator also had its own end-of-the-year awards banquet, during which we bestowed upon each other titles mocking those of the typical high school Senior Class Awards. [11]   For example, we voted our Sports/Fourth Page editor Best Nickname (“Bad Ass Cota”), and the student in charge of the newspaper’s distribution and circulation won the coveted title of Most Likely to Conceive.

And yes, when the latter title was bestowed, Mr. Clucas was sitting in the back of the classroom, shaking his head, not even bothering to stifle his chuckles. [12]

Theodora is ready for her close-up

Theodora is ready for her close-up

*   *   *

* He was one of my HS favorites. Very kind & patient. Looking back, he often seemed quietly amused with the stupidity of adolescence.

He was fully cognizant of our adolescent foolishness, yet was amused by it and never patronized us.

* Mr. C ignited my passion for journalism back in 7th grade…. The torch continues to burn to this day…Mr. C was not only a mentor, but a friend….

* He was a treasure. That rare combination of wisdom, humor, and elegance personified. One of my favorite experiences at SAHS, his English class and the Generator experience.

* Oh, yes, I remember him….bemused by our antics, gently guiding us away from the precipice when necessary. Don’t I remember a chuckle he had?

I, too, remember that chuckle, and so much more. Our little corner of the world was a better, kinder, wiser, and funnier place, because it had Ted Clucas in it.

*   *   *

May you have the good fortune to have your heart warmed by fond memories of an awesome teacher and mentor,
and may you have the good determination to be the kind of person who will be fondly remembered…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Not to worry, regular readers, the feminist-freethinking-political-cultural rants shall return next week. With an extra bonus – fart jokes!

[2] An actual street in Santa Ana, one that will be familiar to those who are referenced in this not-a-eulogy.

[3] It was a thoughtful bunch – many of whom after high school pursued careers in journalism and other forms of writing.

[4] as well as my own surprise that “this ( good teacher, bad teacher) is still going on?!”

[5] Frequently, for the sake of argument, I challenged the application of the label “classic” to whatever book we were reading. Imagine that.

[6] I was a fellow lisper, but in recovery:  I had gone to speech therapy sessions in grade school.

[7] Okay, it was mostly me, and at least two others Who Shall Not Be Named At This Time and in This Venue…but it was never, ever our Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Franklin, who went on to become a respected freelance science writer and NPR contributor. Deb was too kind and genteel for such base shenanigans (although I caught her laughing at them on more than one occasion).

[8] Including, from the very first issue, the name of my column.

[9] What the heck – Theodora kept the blue noses at bay.

[10] A nickname I’d bestowed on our newspaper photographer as per his tendency (in my eyes) to strut stiff-legged, as if his underwear had been frozen.

[11] Most Likely to Succeed, Most Studious, Most Athletic, Campus Clown… you know the drill.

[12] I think this is enough footnotes, don’t you?

The Self I’m Not Hating

2 Comments

It’s Later, and I Don’t Hate Myself

The spam message I dared to delete:

IF  YOU  DON’T  READ  THIS  NOW  YOU’LL  HATE  YOURSELF  LATER

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Every year, we forget they are there. And every year, usually in late June but earlier this year, two yellow roses pop up seemingly overnight, nestled amongst our patch of Hood strawberries.

roses

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Three Cheers for Neti

That’s Neti, as in Neti pot – not Nessie, as per the one strange person who claimed they once overheard me extolling the values of a “Nessie pot.”

 

"So what am, I chopped liver?"

“So what am, I chopped liver?”

 

Sorry, Nessie. No cheers for you…although in this, The Season of Blooming Things, ® it does often seem as though a  Loch Ness Monster of snot [1]  is sloshing through my sinuses. And indeed, ’tis the season.

Curse you, pollen.  Curses upon you, you son of a fish who does not even know his own father — if I could only get at you, I would do the same to you! I would drape your innards over your arms! [2]

Curse you, ubiquitous and meddlesome wind-blown plant sperm, which will not be content with fertilizing the fauna but which also delights in infesting my nasal cavities and giving me what I can only describe as razor blade throat.

Some seasons, some days, it’s hardly noticeable. Either way, on most days, half of an OTC allergy pill usually helps, as does the use of the Neti pot.

 

neti

 

Twice last week, after engaging in a breezy, early evening berry picking session, I thought I would achoo my brains out. As I was stuck in full tilt, machine gun-sneeze mode, I marveled at the unstoppability of the reaction and contemplated the sad fact that if I had one of those attacks during Inconvenient Times ©, the terrorists would win.

What if I had such an attack and I was on a bus with doctors and Korean refugees, all of us hiding from the nearby North Korean patrol that would surely kill us if they found us, and I couldn’t stop sneezing and Alan Alda would have to strangle me to keep me quiet so as not betray our position?

Am I the only person in the world who thinks of the MASH  series finale when I have an epic sneeze fit?

Don’t answer that.

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Good News That’s Nothing to Sneeze About

For once I have cause to be politically and socially proud of the actions of the country of (50% of) my ancestors’ birth. Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular national vote [3]. Sure and begorrah, ’twas a popular vote, indeed, as more than 62% of Irish voters said aye to changing Ireland’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people, regardless of gender.

The Roman Catholic church has had a stranglehold on Irish politics and culture, dating from when the RCs ruled every aspect of Irish life and the priests sodomized the courts and the laws before they discovered altar boys and Magdalene laundry girls.

The RC church is rapidly and consistently losing ground in Ireland, a briskly changing, modernizing society which now polls as one of the more secular European nations. However, the majority of the county’s laws were enacted when the RC church had a theocratic stranglehold on the land.

IRELAND-GAY-MARRIAGE-VOTE

Michael Nugent, Dublin writer and chair of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland, noted in an interview with Freethought Radio that Ireland is a “pluralistic society governed by Catholic laws.” Nugent said that Ireland’s openly a-religious, atheist and freethinking politicians [4] are taking this vote to heart and plan on working to amend and repeal a plethora of Church-inspired laws – from abortion prohibitions to statutes requiring public officials to swear religious oaths.

More than one political commentator has referred to the gay marriage vote as a “reality check” and a “slap in the face to the Roman Catholic church.” I heartily applaud the latter, and look forward to more church-face slapping – preferably with the biggest, coldest fish voters can wield – as the interests of humanity and rationality overturn the legal vestiges of dogma and superstition.

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I’d Like to Buy a Vowel, Pat

vowel

NO NO NO NO NO.

Not that vowel.

I’d like to buy an i.

i is my favorite vowel, in part because two of my favorite words begin with it [5].

There is the word I itself, the personal pronoun. Although I am not fond of the first person narrative in fiction and rarely employ it in my stories, I am fond of I for more personal reasons, having to do with action and momentum. I is an indicator of agency and responsibility (I will do ___; I think that ___).

My other favorite i-word is if. I love that word. For me, it is the key to answering the question non-writers of fiction often ask of writers of fiction; specifically, How do you get your story ideas? The closest I can come to answering that question truthfully [6]  is to say that the What if question is always involved.

Story ideas, from the mundane to the profound, center around possible answers to the question, What if…

*  a couple used their argument over whose turn it was to bring in the garbage can as a distraction from their crumbling relationship, mental health issues and employment insecurity…
* a husband betrayed  his wife by posting bail for her sister who was in jail for abetting a cult leader’s assault upon…
* a bereaved mother enlisted the help of a sympathetic stranger she met in a university library to avenge her daughter’s death…
* a teen-aged/elderly/mentally challenged skate boarder/retired cracker salter quality assurance manager/grocery bagger  stumbled upon the body of a former teacher/complete stranger/notorious serial flasher in the hall closet/supermarket parking lot/Grand Canyon gift shop restroom…

Also, if can be used to denote the hope of things to come and the rationalization of things that fail in the here and now (“If ___, then ___”).  It is a word of both promise and regret (“If only…”).  A mere two letters, a thousand possibilities. I like that.

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Disc Down, Antlers Up [7]

I saw my first professional Ultimate Frisbee game last Saturday. It might have also have been my last professional UF game.

On a sweltering afternoon in the Hillsboro Stadium (the home of Hillsboro’s minor league baseball team), my family and I watched the Portland Stags defeat the San Francisco Dogfish. [8]  That is, MH and Belle stuck around to watch the entire game. A bored and disappointed K and I left at halftime.

boredom

UF is an interesting, fast-paced game…or so I thought when I watched college and other teams play it. The teams self-referee, there are no time outs and no dallying between quarters and halves – the action is almost non-stop. The professional UF game I saw had been turned into a version of…frankly, of something I also used to love to watch: professional baseball.

It had the same bloated time frame, with time outs being called every other play and with the announcers and team owners or whomever not trusting the audience to be still with their thoughts and reflections – the cocaine/Ritalin/ADD generation has a short attention span and must be distracted/entertained every second! Thus, we were tortured provided with mind-numbingly, butt-scratchingly, tedious, juvenile and game-prolonging mascot dances and cheers and come-out-onto-the-field-kids-for-some-relay-games “entertainment” at every opportunity.

 

Oh, now this makes it interesting.

Oh, now this makes it interesting.

 

Over one and one half hours later, and it was only halftime? Thanks, but, nooooooo.

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Shave Every Day and You’ll Always Look Keen

I’ve posted before re my brain’s penchant for earworms.  Apropos of nothing (conscious), yesterday morning I awoke with the charming ditty Shaving Cream, a novelty song featured on the Dr. Demento show, oompah-ing through my cranium.

There are worse ways to start a day.

All together now, join with me on the last verse:

♫ And now folks my story is ended
I think it is time I should quit
If any of you feel offended
Stick your head in a barrel of…. ♫

*   *   *

May you always look keen (and I trust that you do),
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Apologies to BO’M and those of you who’ve told me you enjoy reading this blog during breakfast.

[2] From the Epic of Gilgamesh, arguably the first great work of literature, which tells the tale of a Mesopotamian king’s adventures which include angry deities causing a worldwide flood and other tales which later sources borrowed  (e.g. the biblical Flood story). Quite entertaining, the EOG also has some really epic curses.

[3] Other countries have legalized same sex unions, via acts of their legislatures and/or the courts.

[4] Imagine, a country where a religion-free politician can be elected! Don’t need to imagine – that’s most Western Europe and the “developed” world,  except for the USA, which is in the company of the Islamic theocracies when it comes to electing out-of-the-closet atheists.

[5] Uh, that is, they begin with the letter “i,” not “it.”

[6] Yep, I’ve lied or mislead on many occasions. “How do I get my ideas? Well, there’s this guy in a trench coat who hangs around NE Burnside, and if you slip him a twenty he’ll flash you a plot and character outline….”

[7] That is the Portland Stags’ fan cheer or unofficial anthem, from what I gathered.

[8] Or, Dgfsh, as the scoreboard read.

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