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The DMV I’m Not Suing

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My apologies to those of you wretched, lonely hearts devoted readers who have told me you look forward to sitting down with your coffee on Friday morning and reading my blog.[1]  Technical difficulties delayed its usual early morning posting.  Let’s just say I oppose the death penalty, except for those who create and distribute computer viruses.

 *   *   *

Dateline: Wednesday. Birthday coming up in less than a week.  Driver’s license renewal.  Fastest time ever at the DMV – in and out.  Worst. Picture. Ever.

Not this bad.

Not this bad.

“I need an override,” the woman at the camera station called out to her supervisor.

“What, my face broke the camera, ” I mumbled half-heartedly. The supervisor smiled, clickety-clacked on the computer keyboard and replied, “Only cracked it.”  After she left I asked Camera Woman, “No, really – what did you need to override?”

“When there’s a discrepancy with your past picture, the computer calls for a compare.”  It seems the DVS’s picture processing software is sophisticated enough to opine, “There’s no way this can be the same person…and even if it is, holy facial recognition software, do people have no pride?  She could have at least brushed her hair; oh yeah, lady, but it’s raining outside yada yada yada, nice try with that excuse….”

Really.  A bad picture.

Almost this bad.

Almost this bad.

*   *   *

That was no way to start a Wednesday, or any day, but especially the second Wednesday in December, which was my annual Ladies’ Lefse Party.  But, the day was soon redeemed

Returning home from the DMV, still pissed about the picture incident [2] I decide to play a word game to calm myself down before getting down to work.  It’s the little things that matter, you know?  Like the oh-so-special feeling I get when playing Jumble Jong and I get an AWESOME! message plus bonus points for using the available tiles to spell the word, smuttily.

Also, there was the lefse party.

Lady Marmalade, just some of the Lucky Ladies invited to the Ladies Lefse Party.

Lady Marmalade, just some of the Lucky Ladies invited to the Ladies Lefse Party.

*   *   *

Department of Pretend There Was An Artful Segue

Friend fellow writer and self-described reluctant homeschooler [3] SCM has had trouble “finding her tribe” as she put it… as so sharply evidenced by a local homeschooling list serve posting she sent me (to which she has since unsubscribed), which she titled, From the “I can’t make up this shit” files…

(my emphases)

Messages: Classic Literature I don’t let my kids read.
Posted by: (redacted)[4]
I had a frank discussion with my kids literature teacher after one of my own picked up Grapes of Wrath, which I’ve never read, and read it during our reading time, not outloud. Apparently there are some rather gratuitous love scenes in there or at least one. Never having read it, I’m kicking myself for having trusted the many “classic literature” lists that I’ve printed and clung to while shopping for books to build our home library with.

 I emailed their teacher my list and she went through it and marked the ones that were safe, the ones that weren’t, and the ones she either couldn’t remember or hadn’t personally read. What an eye opener! For starters, here are the ones we removed from our shelves because of such love scenes.

 1984
Candide
Grapes of Wrath 

I’m sure there will be others, but this is just a startling starting point. I don’t mind an occasional bad word or even a string of bad words.

It’s the erotic love scenes that disgust me when I think of my teenage son picking up and reading from material I HAVE PROVIDED! It’s sad to think about the books they’ll be missing out on because of unnecessary inappropriate scenes.

If you know of other not-so-classy “classics”; I would steer away from that are usually found on classics lists, please let me know.

advisorypng

Holy fucking inappropriate love scenes.

I mean, objecting to “love scenes”? In “classic” literature, that you yourself admit you’ve NEVER READ?

And, “Grapes of Wrath,”  really?

REALLY

For the love of butt-fucking pornography, I’m trying to remember what might be determined “inappropriate” about The Grapes of Wrath, a book which  was one of many triggers responsible for the awakening of my political consciousness….. Ah, maybe that’s it. That and, you know, all the scenes featuring poor people striving for a better life amidst political forces determined to keep them in their place.

“It’s sad to think about the books they’ll be missing out on because of unnecessary inappropriate scenes.”

No, ladyass, it’s sad to think about the books your kids will be missing out on because their mother has a frigid, rigid, prude-drooling fear bucket where her brain should be.

I’m trying to imagine her and others of her ilk, going through her books [5] and marking which ones are “safe.”

NOVELS AREN”T SUPPOSED TO BE “SAFE” – THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT.

And that message of hers sparked replies – a back and forth from fellow home- obscurants schoolers who seemed to be almost bragging about the fact that they have lists of “Classic Literature I Don’t Let my Kids Read.”

I just feel like kicking something.

ignorance

*   *   *

Department of, awwwww…..

A week ago this afternoon, at the invitation of a staff member, I did a reading of The Mighty Quinn followed by a Q & A session [6] at the Hillsboro Boys and Girls Club.  The group of kids attending would be in the 4th – 8th grade age range…or so I was told.  The kids seemed younger; the coordinator explained that, just before she made the announcement to gather in a meeting room for the reading, someone else announced that a movie was going to be shown in another room, and most of the older kids went to the movie.

Well, yeah.

After the reading (and a Q & A session seriously in need of some mediating [7] ) the event coordinator took a picture of me and the kids, and then dismissed the kids to their other activities.  One girl, who had been one of the most enthusiastic Q & A participants, approached me with a shy gleam in her eye.

“Here,” she said, holding out a coin.  “This is for you.”

I must have had a confused look on my face.  “It’s a nickel,” she explained.

Actually, it was a quarter.

Of course I had to take it.  For two reasons

  1. You cannot refuse such an act of generosity from a child.
  2. Have you seen my last royalty statement? I think she may have.
  3. I said, for two reasons.

*   *   *

The Return of the Santa Hats

As a part of our household’s seasonal décor, anything that can be classified as art, that has a face, must wear a miniature Santa Hat. Don’t ask for an explanation because I don’t understand it myself (and I’m the one who insists on the practice). This has made for a whole lotta Santa hat-making as the years go by and we keep collecting specimens for our Wall of Faces:

This image represents less than 10% of the faces. Be afraid; be very afraid.

This image represents less than 10% of the faces. Be afraid; be very afraid.

 *   *   *

May your days be merry and bright, may you read the classic books and fight the good fights, may your Santa hats fit you just right, and may the holiday hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Yep, I’m talkin’ you, BOM.

[2] And then more pissed for being so petty as to care about a driver’s license picture.

[3] With a near genius child, no money for non-public school options, living where the public school choice is in the lowest 15% of everything (and sends out how-to-keep-your-grade-schooler gang-free info)

[4] Or should I say, retarded. Which I would, if I thought I could get away with the (now) non-PC epithet.

[5] Or, worse, yet, taking some other patsy prig’s  word for it, as she doesn’t seem to be familiar with the books she criticizes.

[6] “Meet a REAL author, who lives in Hillsboro…and you can ask her why the heck she hasn’t moved to Portland!”

[7] At least these kids didn’t ask me how much money I made, but they did ask why I wasn’t giving them free copies of the book.

The Accordion I’m Not Throwing

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As we dive into the holiday season, that time of year when some members of the human race strive to hold charitable thoughts for all members of the human race, I can’t help but reflect upon the fact that my nutmeg grater resembles a Star Trek shuttlecraft. [1]

 

shuttlecraftnutmegshuttlecraft

*   *   *

Chappy Chanukah [2]

Truly, the FSM has touched me with his noodly appendage. I felt his presence – what other possible, earthly explanation could there be for my good fortune? – while searching for Hanukah-themed bling décor for a friend’s upcoming party.  What unbridled joy, to stumble upon a holiday-themed kitchen gadget that incorporated one of my favorite words: [3]

Gentlemen and Ladies, start your latkes.

Gentlemen and Ladies, start your latkes.

*   *   *

While We’re on the Holiday Theme:
Department of Not Passing the Holiday Breathalyzer Test

Fruitcake for the Holidays:  A Special Recipe  [4]

 

Ingredients:
– one cup each of water and white table sugar
– four large eggs
– two cups of dried fruit
– one teaspoon baking soda
– one teaspoon salt
– one cup brown sugar
– lemon juice
– nuts
– one bottle of whisky

Instructions:
Get out a large mixing bowl.   To ensure whiskey is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.   Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer; beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.  Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whisky is still okay.  Cry another tup.  Turn off the mixer. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried furit.  Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets tuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity.  Next, sift two cups of salt.  Or something. Who cares?  Check the whisky.  Now sift the lemon juice and strain the nuts.  Add one table.  Spoon.  Of sugar or something.  Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven.  Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees.  Don’t forget to beat off the turner.  Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed.

Yet another victim of Aunt Erva's Holiday Fruitcake.

Yet another victim of Aunt Erva’s Holiday Fruitcake.

*   *   *

By the end of this day, publicity-shy moiself will have survived enjoyed another public appearance re The Mighty Quinn, this one involving a reading and Q & A session with thirty-to-forty 4th – 8th graders at the Hillsboro Boys & Girls Club.  If only I had some fruitcake to see me through the ordeal.

myfruitcake

*   *   *

The Department of Not Holding My Breath…

In this case I’m not holding it for an apology [5] from anyone else in the paranoid conservative talk show radio foghorns  media, now that the House Intelligence Report on Benghazi has been released.

Brian Joyce, one member of the talk show radio host contingent, wrote a persuasive and seemingly heartfelt apology. I wonder what we’ll hear from the rest of his colleagues?

We told you the President was covering up what happened in Benghazi. We told you the President didn’t have a “shred of integrity” on Benghazi. We told you the President was providing “cover” for the terrorists who killed four Americans in Benghazi. We told you that the President could have helped the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi, but instead ordered the military to “stand down.” Heck, we even told you the President’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, faked a concussion just to avoid testifying on Benghazi!

And after two years of trying our best to convince you that all these things were true, it turns out that we, the media, were the ones who were lying.

To those members of the media – specifically, the unmedicated, verbal crap-wiping legion of Fox News-parroting twitclowns – who created the nonexistent “cover-up” of the Benghazi attack, this Asshat of the Week award is for you.

AHat640

*   *   *

Dateline: Last week.  Scenario: offspring (Belle and K) are home for Thanksgiving break. Belle wanted me to run some errands with her after I was done exercising.  After completing my workout I showered and dressed, and as I exited my room, Belle eyed my shirt and gasped.

“Is that velvet?  Velvet and plaid?”

I nodded, and let her caress my sleeve.

“Oh, wow,” she said.  “It’s like the 90s all rolled into one.”

velvetplaid

*   *   *

Department of What If

What if the paper towel dispensers in public restrooms were not motion-activated, but rather emotion-activated?  It wouldn’t be enough to need to dry your hands – you’d have to really, really, demonstrably, want to dry your hands.

dispenser

*   *   *

As my birthday approaches, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone [6] and reveal something personal.  Not only have I never (successfully) played a musical instrument, [7] it has been said (by moiself) that you could inscribe my innate musical ability on the tip of my pinkie finger and still have room for the Declaration of Independence.

However….

Another little-known personal fact:  despite my lack of musical talent, I have demonstrated perfect pitch. I once threw an accordion in a dumpster, where it landed on a vuvuzela.

vuvu

*   *   *

 

May all your pitches strive for such perfection, and may the holiday hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] If you fail to see the resemblance, a little more eggnog might do the trick.

[2] Y’all know the rules, about the ch- pronunciation, right?

[3] That would be spatula.

[4] Too many people, most of them fruitcake recipe testers (hic), I imagine, claim credit for this recipe, so I’ll leave attribution to the Collective Consciousness of Christmas Culture.

[5] Or even explanation for their fear-mongering slathering passing as “investigative concern.”

[6] I hate that phrase – “comfort zone.” Just typing it makes me feel like a slimy mattress salesman with an ill-fitting toupee.

[7] Being the leader of my high school’s AWMKB (All Women’s Marching Kazoo Band) doesn’t count.

The Nothing I’m Not Buying

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҉   Welcome to the post Thanksgiving-post, food-induced coma edition of my blog.   ҉
It’s lighter, less filling, gluten and dairy free
(unless you count the following cheesy jokes):

What happened after an explosion at a French cheese factory?
All that was left was de brie. 

What is the name of the country near Iraq that is made entirely of cheese?
Curd-istan 

What cheese surrounds a medieval castle?
Moatzeralla 

What do you call a hunk of cheddar that isn’t yours?
Nacho Cheese! 

stinkly cheese

*   *   *

Department of Name Your Poison

It’s the day after.  Is it Black Friday for you?  Or National Buy Nothing Day?  It’s your choice.  I sentimentally and intellectually dread the former [1] and support the latter, particularly the organizers’ [2]  suggestions for playful activities to challenge the “entrenched values of capitalism” and shine a spotlight on consumers’ addictions to immediate gratification.

You could camp out in front of the Apple Store with a bajillion greedy, self-centered selfish over-consuming zombies other gadget fans who would trample their own arthritis-stricken grandmother if it meant they could be one of the first to have the hottest techno toy eagerly await the release of the latest I-yi-yi gadget, but it might be more fun to annoy them by participating in a Buy Nothing Day Zombie Walk:

“The cheerful dead wander around malls, marveling at the blank, comatose expressions on the faces of shoppers. The zombies are happy to be among their own kind, but slightly contemptuous of those who have not yet begun to rot.”

adbusters_everything-is-fine-keep-shopping

*   *   *

Making Ursula Proud of Me

Last week Ursula K. LeGuin gave a kickass speech at the National Book Awards ceremony. She was there to receive an award for distinguished contribution to American letters, and in her acceptance speech the not-so-soft-spoken 85 year old LeGuin rebuked literary profiteers and the “corporate fatwa” [3] which IHHO threaten writers.

“Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art….Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art.”

One look at my royalty statements for The Mighty Quinn (or any of my works) would affirm that my motivation must be art, not profit. [4]

Yeah – that’s the ticket.

*   *   *

Just Wondering

Speaking of pathetic royalty statements (an honest-to-goodness segue!), as I ponder my mid life crisis dwindling career options – specifically, should I jump the fiction writers’ ship and if so, is there a less soul-sucking way to remain a part of the Creative Arts ® ? – I find myself considering a foray into movie making.

Yep, like every other writer (established or wannabe) moiself is [5] writing a screenplay.  Do you think Hollywood (or Bollywood?) [6] is ready for the tale of a gigolo with a heart of gold, who services his lonely clients without asking for payment?

I’m thinking of calling it, Free Willy.

Just say the safe word, ma'am, and I'll put on the orca suit.

Just say the safe word, ma’am, and I’ll put on the orca suit.

*   *   *

May your Friday be every color of the rainbow, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Shopping, for me, is a chore, not a recreational pursuit. The idea of voluntarily shopping on one of the busiest shopping days of the year…. I just don’t get it, whomever you are, People Who Do Such Things.

[2] Adbusters

[3] (read: the Amazon- Hatchett dispute)

[4] Either that, or I’m just an incompetent business boob.

[5] I need at least one more footnote, or my footnote-counting friend SCM will complain.

[6] I’m not picky, and I think my idea lends itself well to a lavish musical treatment.

The Friend I’m Not Praying For

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“If you talked into your hair dryer and said you were communicating with someone in outer space, they’d put you away.  But take away the hair dryer, and you’re praying.”
-Sam Harris

prayer

I seeing miss my sweet, witty, intelligent, compassionate, bawdy, hugs & sloppy kisses friend, HUL.  She gets back here (she used to live in Oregon) to visit when she can, and although it seems like there’s no distance between us when we phone or email or text, she lives 1300 miles away.  And she is having surgery today.  I will be thinking of her, and talking to her after the surgery as I’ve talked to her before and after her cancer diagnosis, commiserating about the shitty situation and brainstorming treatment options, colorfully cursing the brusque and clueless medical personnel she’s encountered and lavishly praising the smart, kind and competent ones.

I will not be praying for HUL. Nor will I be

* burning special incense for her
* anointing her head with oil
* finding a faith healer to perform a laying on of hands
* doing a Wiccan or Tibetan healing chant
* performing a Haipule [1]or smudging ceremony [2]
* sacrificing a child
* using crystals to balance her energy
* casting a voodoo healing spell
* sending her to a Hakim (traditional Muslim healer) for Unani medicine [3]

Or singing her favorite soccer team’s fight song….or performing any of the rituals many human beings once somehow (and, sadly, still) thought might cause the gods/spirits/cosmic energies to look upon them with favor and cure their maladies.

What the heck. I could pick one of those things, or cover the bases and do ‘em all, as they have an equal likelihood of affecting the outcome of HUL’s surgery and subsequent prognosis.

HUL, righteously religion-free babe that she is, is not asking me, or anyone, to pray for her.

Not even moi?

Not even moi?

Her first surgery will be done in a Catholic-run hospital. HUL told me the only activity resembling praying that she might do is to beseech the friend who’s picking her up after surgery to refrain from vandalizing crucifixes and the like, should said friend spot any Catholibilia [4] in HUL’s room.

HUL will not be posting the news of her illness and surgery on any social media sites.  She wants to control access to this information and maintain a modicum of privacy.  She also wants to avoid the jaw-clenching, energy-sucking vibes produced by People Who Mean Well ® and who express their sentiments, even to those of us whom they know are religion-free, via the hackneyed expression [5] ,  I’ll be praying for you.

praying

She and I – and just about every atheist-agnostic-Bright-humanist-skeptic-freethinker on the planet – have commiserated over this phenomenon.  We realize the expression is a kneejerk, cultural/social, nicety response, and that not everyone who says “I’ll pray for you” literally intends to do so.  It’s similar to the way “How are you?” is used as a greeting – as a substitute or equivalent for Hi or Good morning.   If you take that “How are you?” query/greeting at face value and actually talk about how you are,  [6] you may be surprised by the WTF expression from the one who has greeted you and who now acts like they want to leave skidmarks as they flee from your discourse.

When it comes to being on the receiving end of I will be/I am praying for you, Those Of  Us Who Think About Such Things mostly grin and bear it, with various degrees of enthusiasm and anemia.  Here’s what we’re likely to say (even as this is what we’re likely thinking):

Well-Meaning But Ignorant Person:  “I am so sorry to hear about your upcoming hammertoe surgery! I’ll pray for you.”

Us: “Oh, okay. Thanks for thinking of me.” (You’re going to pray…uh…yeah, knock yourself out…but…really…WHY? Am I supposed to thank you for doing…well, nothing…when what I could use is a casserole, or for someone to mow my lawn while my foot is in a cast?)

I know, I know, IKNOWIKNOWIKNOWIKNOW.  People “mean well” (I’m trying to remember that great Lily Tomlin quote, something about thank goodness for kids, they never mean well).  But those of us who are fond of reality don’t just shelve it in times of crisis.  We we know about the efficacy [7] and therefore futility of prayer, to any one’s deities, for anything, and our bafflement at the announcement of the practice is often hard to disguise.

answered prayer

Skeptics more articulate than moiself have pointed out that while many religious people claim to truly believe that prayer can cure a variety of illnesses and injuries, they only pray for maladies that are generally self-limiting (and thus, they can attribute the cure to miraculous intervention).

I’ve never heard of religious believers petitioning their god to cause the boy with 3rd degree burns to grow new skin overnight (or even over the course of a few months), although I have heard them pray that the boy’s skin grafts will take.

An illness that gets better over time (and most do), a mood that improves, believers can and often do attribute these events to a “miracle” or divine intervention.  But hard physical evidence – the burnt, necrotizing flesh, the amputee’s stump– is a slap in the face to the “power” of prayer.

My theory is that deep down inside, even the most fundy believers have reality check neurons (besieged, but not extinct), which occasionally whisper to them, “Now, let’s not get carried away, you know this stuff is just mumbo jumbo.”

How else to explain the fact that, while believers fervently and publicly ask their god to heal the spirit and speed the recovery of the Iraqi war veteran whose leg was blown off by an IED, or of the diabetic who lost a foot to gangrene, they do not pray for their god to regenerate these sufferers’ limbs. In the case of Christian believers, their scriptures are filled with stories of “miraculous” events and healings performed by their god, including restoration of sight to the blind and movement to a paralytic, instantaneous curing of leprosy and healing of a soldier’s amputated ear and so on. Why should the production of new skin or a new leg be so difficult for an omniscient, omnipotent, responsive-to-the-heartfelt-petitions-of-his-flock deity?   Especially considering the fact that several species of our fellow animal inhabitants of our planet, including skinks, sea stars, conchs, and crayfish, can regenerate amputated appendages, and (presumably) do this without prayer.

"Oh great and merciful Poseidon, We beseech thee on behalf of our orange sister, that she be made whole again!"

“Oh great and merciful Poseidon, We beseech thee on behalf of our orange sister, that she be made whole again!”

Check out this site, for a more entertaining (and thought-provoking) examination of…well…of why this question is – or should be, to any sentient being – so important:  Why Won’t God Heal Amputees.

I get it; all of us who smite even the idea of prayer get it:  in times of adversity it’s often hard to know what to do or say.  Bad news makes everyone uncomfortable. You hear about someone’s misfortune, you care, you want to do something…but, think about it.  That “something” you do, if it’s praying (or just saying that you will pray), is more about making you feel better than about what prayer might actually accomplish.  Praying may provide you with the comforting illusion of having done something, but in fact you’ve done Absolutely. Nothing. Of. Substance.

If you really care, do something. Praying, or the secular version –  “holding a good thought for you” – doesn’t count.  Talk (and thought) is cheap; actions speak louder than – oh, don’t make me type it.

getwell

When HUL told me about her disease we cried and laughed and raged and cried and laughed some more. Here is what I will do for you, I told her, if you will let me, and if you need me to.[8] The list is a work in progress, based in part upon what other kind friends, neighbors and co-workers have done for me in times of need.  Like all such lists, it will and should be modified to fit the situation.

* Be there before, during and after surgery [9]
* Bring you healthful meals

"Get well soon, or more spam casseroles will be delivered to your  refrigerator."

“Get well soon, or more spam casseroles will be delivered to your  refrigerator.”

* Clean your house, hold your hand, feed your cats (and scoop their litterboxes)
* Donate to reputable, efficacious [10] cancer research funds
* Send you links to really bad jokes and visual puns and baby sloth videos
* Rent you some DVDs for a Daniel Day Lewis film festival [11]
* Encourage you to document what you are going through…

About that last one.  Although not a professional author, HUL is a pithy, articulate and entertaining writer, and I’ve urged her to record not only the logistics of her disease but her attitudes and reactions to it as well.  However, I have promised to refrain from referring to her dealing with cancer as if she’s on some kind of spiritual excursion.

I just can’t help it: when I heard phrases like, “Tell us what you’ve learned from your journey with pancreatic cancer,” it makes me want to kick Oprah in the ovaries.

 *   *   *

And Now For Something Completely Different

 Department of Making It All Better

When I serve a dish containing Brussels sprouts – to anyone, but mostly to MH and moiself – I also serve champagne.

sprouts

*   *   *

About Last Week’s Shirt

Receiving slightly less attention than the Rosetta mission’s landing of a probe on a comet was the PR meteor storm created by one of the project scientists.  This scientist dude chose “the most important day in spaceflight since Curiosity landed on Mars” – a day when he was slated to be speaking about the project on a worldwide live-stream – to wear a tacky bowling shirt covered in comic book-style images of half-naked women.

REALLY

Same dude also went on to describe the difficulty of the Rosetta mission: “She’s sexy, but I never said she was easy.”

facepalm

Read this, for one of the more coherent takes on this brouhaha, including the dude’s [12] apology, and the (surprise!) internet-troll backlash aimed at those people [13] who called out the dude on his astounding inappropriateness.

“If you think this is just a bunch of prudes, you’re wrong. It’s not about the prurience. It’s about the atmosphere of denigration….. If you think this isn’t a big deal, well, by itself, it’s not a huge one. But it’s not by itself, is it? This event didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes when there is still a tremendously leaky pipeline for women from undergraduate science classes to professional scientist. It comes when having a female name on a paper makes it less likely to get published, and cited less. It comes when there is still not even close to parity in hiring and retaining women in the sciences.”
 (Phil Plait, Astronomer and “science evangelist,” from his Bad Astronomy blog)

Is that your comet probe or are you just excited to see me?

Is that your comet probe or are you just excited to see me?

*   *   *

May your choice of bowling shirts be workplace-appropriate and face-palm-worthy-free, may well-meaning folks have no reason to pray for your recovery, may your cruciferous vegetables always be champagne-escorted, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A Hawaiian healing ritual.

[2] A Native American practice involving cleansing a person with the smoke of sacred plants.

[3] The use of food and herbs to reestablish balance, based on a theory of wet/dry, hot/cold humors in the body.

[4] Yeah, I made that word up, but you know what I mean: crucifixes, rosaries, framed pictures of Jesus and saints and John F. Kennedy….

[5] and seemingly obligatory Facebook response to bad news.

[6] Like many a bewildered newcomer to American culture has done, and discovered that the Howareyou supplicant  did not really want to hear about your latest triumphs and travails. Or, as one European traveler put it, “Why do Americans ask how you are when they don’t want to know? Why don’t they just say, ‘Hello’?”

[7] That would be: zero.

[8] Make sure your help is practical and actually wanted, and not yet another task for the afflicted to manage.

[9] HUL has friends lined up to help, and graciously deflected that offer…although she’s made me promise to fly out for her “Yay, I’m all better!” or “I need more treatment, so kiss my hair goodbye!” party – whichever one she throws.

[10] Check out any and all charities to make sure they are legitimate and use funds wisely (Charity Navigator and Givewell are just two of the organizations that provide such evaluations), and fuck the Susan Komen industry ’cause festooning your body with plastic pink crap made in China does not cure breast cancer.

[11] Do not underestimate the power of watching your favorite movies featuring your favorite, fine-looking actors – ’twas repeated showings of Last of the Mohicans, not the antibiotics, that cured my pneumonia, I truly believe, brothers and sisters (somebody say, Amen!).

[12] Nah, I won’t use his name. I don’t think he was evil or even (consciously) misogynistic, just incredibly puerile.

[13] Every sentient being with an IQ larger than their hat size and their heads out of the sand (and not up their asses) – which I assume is an accurate description for y’all.

The Knockers I’m Not Upping

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They’re baaaaaaaaak….

Halloween was the harbinger. Now, the rest of the Holidays approach.  Or, as some jolly folks like to say, The Season’s Upon Us. Readers of this blog, you know what that means.

Don’t you feel better prepared now, for all the seasonal wretched inanity merriment that is to come?  I know I do.

*   *   *

Speaking of the holidays….

♫  Let Me Hang My Balls On Your Christmas Tree  ♫

Moo-oom!

“I am NOT making this up,” I would protest in vain, when Belle and K insisted I stop singing that Christmas ball song.  “Really, it was a holiday favorite from the Dr. Demento show…”

Still and of course, my offspring thought I was making it up.  Thanks to that nifty invention of Al Gore, I can prove it to them.  The song (actual title, “Christmas Balls” by Ben Light & his Surf Club Boys) made it to Dr. D’s Nifty Fifty for 1972 list, and I have Internet evidence.

Dead Puppies; Pencil Neck Geek, It’s a Gas, the Vatican Rag, Pico and Sepulveda, Shaving Cream.  If you are old/lucky enough, you may remember those songs from the Dr. Demento radio show, which my friends and I were fortunate enough to have discovered in high school.  Diligent scholars that we were, no trigonometry study party would be complete without the study break reward – listening to a tape of Dr. D’s latest show.

Dr. D

Dr. D’s show was not merely mindless entertainment.  His show helped us equal opportunity humor feminists to discover mentors like Rusty Warren, [1] the musician-comedian with a New England Conservatory of Music B.A. degree [2] who showed that the women could hold the stage with men when it came to the risqué humor and witty wordplay found in what were called “novelty songs.”

Warren’s Knockers Up was one of our favorites.  Another of Warren’s odes to empowerment began with a variation on a patriotic call to arms:

You know girls, it’s great to live in a democracy today, where freedom is everywhere. But girls, we often take this freedom for granted: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of action…. So come on, fellow females of the 20th century! Be glad that you’re an American! Proclaim your freedom! Stand at attention! Pledge Allegiance! And…
Bounce your Boobies

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department of Also Somewhat Holiday Related

Every week since I gave MH the book for his birthday, MH and I have been doing a hike or two from Portland Hill Walks [3] . PHW is a guidebook that gives tours of Portland’s many parks, nature preserves and neighborhoods.  Each walk takes you through a variety of venues, from wooded canyons to its exclusive neighborhoods built atop ancient lava domes peaks, and the book provides historical, cultural and architectural background and idiosyncratic observations (guess who died in this old house?) for each route.

PHillwalks

On Tuesday we hiked a loop from the Leach Botanical Gardens to the Willamette National Cemetary. It was somewhat of a coincidence that we did that particular route on Veterans Day, and  I found myself reflecting upon – surprise! not favorably – the knee-jerk Soldier Worshiping currently infesting our public and political rhetoric.

Excuse me; we technically don’t have Soldier worshiping because we don’t have soldiers, marines, sailors or even GIs anymore.  Like Muslims who cannot mention their religion’s prophet without the appendage His Name Be Praised, we have created this all-encompassing entity:

OBI MAWU.

OBI MAWU is not the moniker of a minor Jedi apprentice from one of the interminable Star Wars sequels prequels. Rather, it is my scrambled acronym for a term we are all too familiar with:

Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform.

Y’all know the drill:  whenever addressing an OBI MAWU personally or referring to them in any context, we must also then add, “Thank you for your sacrifice.”

If you don't give us a better Jedi nickname we're going back to the sandbox.

If you don’t give us a better Jedi nickname we’re going back to the sandbox.

I did (and do) think about my father, grandfather, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, co-workers and others I’ve known who’ve served in the Armed Forces. [4]  My beef is not with (most of) those who choose military life.  Here’s the thing that frosts my butt: this blind uniform worship is…so….cheap, not to mention a tad self-aggrandizing (Look at me; I’m like, so considerate!  I expressed appreciation your service!).

Thanking someone for their service or their “sacrifice” is expedient, jingoistic lip flapping; it is a feel-good-do-nothing substitute for actually addressing the real concerns – alarming PTSD, suicide and unemployment rates – facing veterans.  Also, it has the side effect of elevating military service to that-which-must-be-praised-and-not-questioned, and thus becomes one more factor contributing to our reluctance to have difficult, intricate conversations about the consequences of the USA being willing to act as the world’s night watchmen.

Such a conversation might include considering the question, should there be a return to a military draft and/or other compulsory national service? [5] Do you think the Afghan-Iraq follies of the past 10 + – yep, that’s  TEN PLUS – years would still be sputtering on if everyone’s Young Men and Women had the potential (and involuntary) chance of becoming the OBI MAWU fighting these wars?

Also, this OBI MAWU veneration feeds the dangerous notion that everyone in the military is theoretically prepared to give “the ultimate sacrifice.” And thus it is unpatriotic to question military service.  When we hesitate to truly and vigorously debate the wisdom and morality of the causes for which our armed forces fight, we make another, perhaps not ultimate but no less crucial sacrifice – that of our own individual and national integrity.

WAR

*   *   *

My Proudest Moment
# 1666 in a (hopefully) infinite series

The trigger credit for this particular digression goes to my son K, who sent me a link to an article about Internet reaction to Disney’s releasing the name of the upcoming Star Wars VII movie.

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, [6] I saw The Empire Strikes Back on the first day it was released. I used vacation time and was able to wrangle a day off from work (I think it was a Wednesday), and found a theatre where I could purchase a ticket in advance for one of the first showings of the day.  Most of my friends and co-workers were also Star Wars fans, also were eager to see the movie, but were unable to take time off. They planned to see TESB on the weekend,  congratulated me on being able to see the movie on its release day, and sternly warned me to NOT drop any spoilers on them.

The theatre was a five screen venue, four screens of which were devoted to back-to-back showings of TESB, beginning in the early afternoon. I stood in line with other eager and elated Star Trek nerds fans, and was able to get into the second showing of TESB.

TESB

After the movie was over, I exited the theatre with my fellow moviegoers. We were filled with an amalgam of elation, shock, and anticipation (That was amazing…now we have to wait for the 3rd movie to find out what happens?!), and apparently, from the reactions of the people waiting in line for the next showing, we all sported similar, WTF?! expressions.  One boy standing in line with his parents gestured to the people leaving the theatre, tugged at his mother’s sleeve and asked, “What do you think they saw in there?

The line for the next TESB showing stretched from the theatre entrance around the block to where I’d parked. On my way to my car I walked past a group of four to five college-age guys standing in the line. One of them fixed his troglodyte sights on me, and began to spew the inexcusable/unwarranted [7], “Hey baby hubba hubba oooga chaka” come-on.

Like any female biped I was familiar with that dynamic, which I typically handled by ignoring the cretins’ catcalls.  But that time, on that day?  Nah.  Couldn’t let it go.

The realities of the situation and my options for response zipped through my mind in a nanosecond:  Dude, really?  You are of an age where you had to make special arrangements to be here, at this time, and on this day, to see this movie. You are in line for the movie you have long anticipated – the movie I have just seen. I have the knowledge, the power, and you dare to taunt me?

I actually, almost, felt sorry for the guy.

I did an about face and strode back to the line. Smiling seductively, I grabbed Mr. Oo0gaChaka by the collar and pulled him away from his comrades. Standing on tip toe so that my hot hubba hubba baby breath was close to his ear, I whispered the five words I deeply and sincerely hoped would break his heart and shrivel his scrotum:

Darth Vadar is Luke’s father.

Another 180, and I triumphantly marched away, to the soundtrack of…nothing, save for the sweet silence of a justice-filled universe.

The Force is strong in this one.

The Force is strong in this one.

*   *   *

May the forces prevailing against oogachaka be strong in you, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Special kudos to those who remember her immortal line, “Ladies you’re not marching!”

[2] A degree Warren referred to as the “Bawdy Arts.”

[3] If you live in or near Portland, you need this book.

[4] Most (seemed to have) served with pride, honor and integrity.  Others…well, twenty years of peacetime desk job service for a lifetime PX discount and free health care  – hell yeah!

[5] Something I would like to see, for the reason/question that follows.

[6] Okay, May 1980.

[7] Although not inexplicable, as it is seemingly related to the dynamic of a group of males spotting a lone female.

The Riposte I’m Not Stifling

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Department of I Just Didn’t Want To Go There

Dateline: Tuesday, on my morning walk.  Three blocks from home, I turned a corner and detected the stench of tobacco.  Fifty feet ahead of me, holding a lit cigarette in his hand, a boy who looked to be about 14 years old was checking a curbside mailbox.  As I crossed to the other side of the street to avoid walking through his smoke, the boy turned around to look at me. He gestured at my Nordic Trekking poles and called out:

“Why are you ski-walking?” 

“Because it’s more fun than regular walking,” I replied.

I’d stifled the riposte that sprang to my petty little mind – Why are you smoking? – but as I continued toward home, I found myself wondering, what if I hadn’t?  What would have been his reply?

“Because it’s more fun than regular breathing.”

smoke

*   *   *

Diamonds Are Forever [1]
But Porcelain Crowns Last Twenty Years, If You’re Lucky

 Aka, Department of Causing Your Dental Hygienist to Declare
“In All My Years, I’ve Never Heard That Answer Before.”

For some reason, Sean Connery had entered the rinse-and-spit conversation [2] between the dental hygienist and moiself.  A brief discussion of James Bond movies ensued as we waited for the dentist to finish up with a patient in the adjoining room.  The hygienist said she liked the Connery-era films but was not a fan of Roger Moore in the role. I told her I’d never been a much of a Bond movie fan, until the easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig was cast in the role.

When the dentist entered the room we exchanged our usual jest-filled chit-chat before he lowered the exam chair and began his inspection of my cheap whiskey and fine Cuban cigar-stained chompers pearly whites. [3]

“So, how are things going?” he asked. “Any complaints about your teeth?”

I raised myself up on one elbow, grinned at the hygienist and said, “Only that Daniel Craig hasn’t licked them.”

"About those fluoride applications...."

“About those fluoride applications….”

*   *   *

Department of, If You Have to Ask…

Prologue:
So, what do you do?

I’ve never liked that question, when used as part of an introduction or conversation starter, and try not to ask it myself when speaking with a new acquaintance.  One of the many things I’ve noticed and enjoyed in my [4] travels abroad is that Other Peoples of the World ®  (i.e., not Americans) don’t care so much what you “do” – they’d rather hear about who you are in terms of where you choose to live, where you’ve been and where you’d like to be (travel-wise), and what you think about _____ (insert favorite political or cultural interest).

Also, there’s the published author thing.  If I answer the what-you-do question truthfully, I often receive some chunk of cringe-worthy (and totally unjustified) adulation –   “OMG, you’re an AUTHOR!” [5] – accompanied by obsequious expressions of admiration…or, worse, the “Really!? That’s fantastic; you know, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe you’d like to look at some of my story ideas?”

Friend/fellow writer SCM has suggested I answer the WDYD question with, “I’m an editor.”  Which would be a deflection but not technically a lie (I do edit my own work).

And now, the anecdote:

Last Saturday MH and I participated in an educational and tree-planting volunteer event at Jackson Bottom Wetlands.  Volunteers were divided into six units and given name tags stamped with a picture of our unit’s “mascot” – one of the many animals that can be found at the JB wetlands.  MH and I were sorted to unit #2, the Canada Goose group, which I accepted after some mild grumbling about the irony of having the mascot of the #2 group be the planet’s most prolific producer of…well… #2.

"You got a problem with that?"

“You got a problem with that?”

As we trudged over the muddy wetland trails on our way to the tree-planting area, a woman in our group made small talk with MH and I. She volunteered the fact that she is an OR nurse at a local hospital, then asked, “So, what do you do?”

Using my oft-times-literalist interpretation, I replied, “When?”

She looked at me blankly.

“Well, at this moment I’m volunteering at the….”

“No, I mean, as in work.  For money.”

I momentarily considered using my friend’s suggestion, but our fellow volunteer seemed nice and level-headed, and I bailed. “I’m a writer.”

Her eyes lit up like a venti-chugging lemur.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

“A writer!? she gasped.  “What kind of writer?”

“Mostly fiction.”

“Are you famous?”

(Ay yi yi). “Are you?” I replied.

Her blank look resurfaced.

“You know – when you walk into the OR, do the other people there say, ‘I know her!’ “

"If that woman is famous, the terrorists have won."

“If that woman is famous, then truly, the terrorists have won.”

*   *   *

Department of Bright Ideas

The Brights are an international internet constituency composed of individuals who have a naturalistic worldview.  This is the organization’s logo:

brights_icon_100x100

Their motto: “Illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview.”

I was stuck for pumpkin-carving inspiration this Halloween, until I got a Bright Idea.  I emailed a picture of my creation to the directors of The Brights, along with my best wishes for a “Happy Halloween from a Bright (if not so talented) jack-o-lantern carver.”

"Illuminating the natural world...and the porch, for trick-or-treaters."

“Illuminating the natural world…and the porch, for trick-or-treaters.”

*   *   *

My Work Here is Done

On Wednesday I received the following email from daughter Belle:

“Happy post-election day!
Don’t forget to set your clocks back 40 years in honor of the new senate!”

While we’re on the subject, the following is suitable for a few laughs, even if not quite SFW:

*   *   *

 

May your teeth be white and your celebrations Bright, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] The last of the original James Bond films to star Sean Connery.

[2] As in, is he still alive, or what?

[3] Which, while neither whiskey nor cigar-stained, are not even close to being pearly white. In case you were wondering.

[4] Comparatively or relatively few (at least, compared to some people I know).

[5] Sometimes accompanied by squeals of excitement. Really. The squealing…it’s just…embarrassing.

The Pirate I’m Not Talking Like

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If you’re looking for an excuse to bellow, Avast, ye scurvy scum! [1] without having to suffer through a Comcast service call, this be your lucky day, matey.

You do know that September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day, aye?  Silly moiself to even ask – you probably plan your year around this event.

Are you sure it's talk like a pirate day?

You sure it’s talk like a pirate day?

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, I suggest visiting the TLAP site, for a thrilling historical overview of how two Oregonian buccaneer-wannabees came up with the idea, and how humorist Dave Barry had a hook hand in creating what, I see, now that I have checked the site, is now referred to as International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It used to be just TLAP day.  I’m not sure what makes it International,[2] but that is neither here nor there tharrrrrrr. I have enjoyed the spirit behind this whimsical, happenstance-of-a-celebration for many years. I even have a pirate costume that has made more than one embarrass-your-offspring ®  appearance over the years.  (Hint: show up for the orthodontist appointment festively attired in your pirate gear – your child’s mouthful of pointy objects will quell their objections).

Even a brief search online will get you all kinds of TLAP silliness.  There are talk like a pirate apps, pirate name generators, suggestions for costumes, parties and other events, and talk-like-a-pirate translators. You can even change your Facebook language to Pirate. [3] You can find bad pirate jokes [4] and worse pirate jokes [5] and even existential pirate jokes, [6] and possibly the best pirate joke ever, if only because it doesn’t end with an Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr:

A pirate walks into bar and sits down. The bartender notices that he has a peg leg, a hook for a hand, and a patch over one eye. The pirate orders a beer, and while he’s pouring it the bartender asks “So what’s the story with the leg?”

“It were many a year ago,” says the pirate, “when I were on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard, and a shark swum up and bit me leg clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a peg leg that very night.”

“That’s terrible,” says the bartender. “What about the hand?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard again, and a whale came up and bit me hand clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a hook that very night.”

“Wow,” says the bartender. “So what about the eye?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship, and I were lookin out fer rogue waves, and a seagull flew over and shit right in me eye!”

“Oh man,” says the bartender. “And that blinded you?”

“Well no,” says the pirate. “But it were me first day with the hook.”

Arrr

Or celebrate your ultimate geekiness with a shirt that acknowledges both and Pi day and Talk Like a Pirate Day.

pirate

 *   *   *

Department of Apropos of Nothing

If you ever happen to catch a glimpse of me when I’m doing my Nordic walking, [7] and you notice [8] that my stride suddenly changes – gets a bit more resolute and strutty, even badass, dare I say –you’ve caught me at that wonderful moment when whatever podcast I was listening to ended and I clicked to my music and The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army began to play.

Of course, sometimes the next song in the queue is The Archies‘ one and only hit.  Livin’ on the edge, what can I say.

*   *   *

Thomas Wolfe was wrong:
You Can Go Home again
(as long as you bring your friends)

Belle telephoned on the 8th, to share some good news. She was quite proud that her Oregon Zoo connections still allowed her to get breaking animal news before the general public, and she knew a “secret” that wasn’t to be announced until the following day: one of the female lions, Kya, had given birth to four cubs.

"Mum's the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it."

“Mum’s the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it.”

Her call was also to share the news that next weekend she is coming home for a visit…long with seven college/dorm friends that apparently and collectively refer to themselves as The Family. Once I got over my kneejerk, Mafia-Charles Manson associations, [9] I was delighted to hear about the plans.

Belle and her college family are taking the train from Tacoma to Portland, then the light rail to our neck of the woods. They plan on staying at our house (“if it’s okay with you”) and returning to Tacoma Sunday morning.  Her “family” consists of roommate JS and six (yikes) other shiny happy young women and men, who, as I informed her, must

(1) not be allergic to cats, or afraid of snakes, and
(2) be comfortable sleeping on the floor
(3) there is no #3
(4) and cool about sharing 3 toilets and one functioning shower with 10 people

As per conditions (2) & (4), Belle snorted with duh-ness and said, “Mom, I live in a dorm.”

dormbath

*   *   *

Department of TMI

This week’s Golden Turd award goes to…well…me.

Thursday morning, while scooping the downstairs litter box,[10]  I noticed a deficiency of, shall I say, the usual volume of deposit. This made me fear that one of our cats, a certain one which is prone to do such things, had produced what MH and I – okay; mostly I – call “a runner; ” i.e., she had finished her job somewhere outside the box.  I made haste to the family room and began scanning the carpet (the usual runner place of asylum), with a look of determination that made MH to ask me what was up.

“Keep your eyes peeled for escapees,” I advised him.  “I just scooped the litter, and there was a disturbing lack of turd volume…. Oh, no.  No no no no.  Did you hear what I just said? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to use terms like turd volume.”

turd trophy

*   *   *

Public Service Announcement, also Apropos of Nothing

But, still….

I am not a National Anthem kind of person, and can’t remember the last time I sang along to the USA’s whoop of praise.  There is no maniacal loathing involved; I’m just not keen on it.  I do loathe its mystifying and annoying (to me) use as an opener to sporting events, where it is mangled warbled by celebrities great and small. [11]

Unsolicited anthem singing advice: Yo, all of you Star Spangled vocalists who apparently feel the need to show off your chops by essentially ululating every other syllable – knock it off.  Or, to take a more charitable tack, I’ll grant that perhaps you’re fiddling with the arrangement as a way to compensate (I’ve heard many a Music Person say that it’s a difficult song to sing) for your inability to stay in tune and on key.

Whatever the reason, y’all know what I’m talking about:

Oh-wo-wo-wo say can you-U-uUUou SeEeEeE
Byyyyyyy the dawn’s early li-I-I-iii-i-iIte
What so prowwwwwwww-dly we hay-HAY-hay-Hay-elllll-d…

Please, I beg of you, just find the right note – one per syllable, it’s there in the sheet music – and hit it, okay?

Kids, don’t try this at home:

 *   *   *

Happy Talk Like A You-Know-What Day!  Have fun no matter if/how you celebrate, and if you’ve received any pirate party invitations, be sure to ARRRRRR. S. V. P.

…and the hijinks will ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] And who isn’t?

[2] Some dude in Canada says “Arrr” instead of “Eh?”

[3] In the account settings, go to language and select English (Pirate).

[4] What be a pirate’s favorite vegetable?  Arrrrtichokes.

[5] What is a pirate’s favorite fast food franchise?  Arrrrrrrrrrrby’s.

[6] How do pirates know they exist?  They think, therefore, they Arrrrrre.

[7] And if so, what are you, some kind of Nordic walking stalker?

[8] What else did you notice – that I tried to adjust my underwear without breaking step?  Keep it to yourself, ok?

[9] I’m from a different era; Belle had no idea what I was talking about, when I teased her about the references.

[10] Yes, there is also an upstairs litter box.  Two, in fact. Upstairs, Downstairs – we’re not talkin’ a Masterpiece Theatre arrangement: we have three indoor cats.

[11] I will stand when the announcement Please rise for the singing of our national anthem is made, as the request for standing means everyone is seated, and I take every opportunity to stand up when I’ve been sitting for more than five minutes.

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