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The Hand I’m Not Sniffing

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Nothing Says Here Comes Christmas…

…quite like decorating the tree while watching an American International Pictures movie, starring Annette FunicelloFrankie Avalon .  Muscle Beach Party , y’all. Fa la la la la, la la la la!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Now I Get It

Content warning: Ted “too-busy-tithing-to-pay-his-brain-bill” Cruz quote.

During the National Religious Liberties Conference last month, Rethuglican Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, when asked by conference sponsor Batshit Frothing Fanatic Foghorn Pastor Kevin Swanson [1]  how important it is for the President of the USA to “fear god,” replied (my emphases)  [2] :

“Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees
isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this nation.”

Gotcha, Massa Cruz. Christian cocksuckers are presidential material, but Atheists, Agnostics, Brights, Freethinkers and Humanists need not apply.

 

whatif

*   *   *

Department Of Laugh So Hard You Crap You Pants, Just Don’t Inhale

Dateline: last Sunday evening, 6 pm. Tears of joy welled in my eyes as, standing in front of my computer in my office, I overheard yet another, they-don’t-realize-how-loud-they-are-talking-and-that-we-can-hear-them discussion among The Stinky Boys ® [3] in the dining room. Topic: a story about a friend who left a gathering after he’d emitted what might be described genteelly [4] as a moist flatulent emission…but, before excusing himself, he put his hand down the back of his pants, removed his hand, and sniffed it.

TSB were taking sides on whether the sniff was necessary (“If you crapped your pants, you know what you did – you don’t need to smell it to confirm…”).  Believe it or not, there was quite a bit of back and forth about this. I had not imagined there could be pros and cons – or any opinions other than EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW – on the subject.

 

we are not amused

*   *   *

MH is feeling crafty this Christmas.  Funny how much more stately a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck cabernet seems when you dress it up as Obi Wine Kenobi.

 

obiwine

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh

I needed a pitcher of martinis last Saturday afternoon. Or, as I explained to friend SCM, perhaps just a picture of James Bond and a martini would suffice.

 

bondmartini

 

The martini mood was induced by an odder-than-usual conversation with my mother, who had phoned me, or rather, had her “lady” [5] dial me up. My mother initiating a phone call is highly unusual (I’m the one who calls her); she wanted my reassurances on some pressing/disturbing issues for her. After speaking with Mom I called my older sister for a tête-à-tête re the situation, then lumbered downstairs.

MH met me at the bottom of the stairway and gestured toward the family room, where our son K and The Stinky Boys ®  [6] were gathered around our TV.   “You might not want to go in there,” he said. “They’re watching ‘Reservoir Dogs’.”   [7]

“That’s nothing,” I said. “I just had to kill my father.  Again.”

My mother had called to ask me why I had taken the family car. She’d been obsessing about the so-called missing car for days, according to her lady/caretaker, who is usually able to handle such matters. But Mom was convinced I’d taken the car and had been gone – and when was I coming back, and would I also bring back my younger sister? – and her caretaker, CCC, thought that I might be able to calm her down.

I was able to (eventually) get my mother off the missing car path, but her erratic thought train jumped another, more problematic track:

Where is your dad? Why won’t he come home – do you know what happened?

Oh….shit.

 

Apropos of nothing, except that I need a cute picture right about now.

Apropos of nothing, except that I need a cute picture right about now.

 

She’ll be fine for days, even weeks, then forgets that Chet Parnell died six years ago. The pain, fear and confusion in her voice is evident, and it is heartbreaking to realize she’s thinking her beloved husband abandoned her or is missing and no one knows what has happened – or, worse yet, we all know what’s going on but are keeping it from her….

This forgetting of her husband’s death, this most painful of her many memory lapses, has happened before, and will almost certainly happen again. I know this. Still, it catches me off guard. Such conversations are painful for me, to understate the situation to the nth degree. But imagine how distressing it is for her, a confused, frail, frightened, elderly woman, who essentially has to relive the death of her husband, over and over again….

At least I was able to reassure her that I had not run off with the car (nor kidnapped my younger sister). Evidently stuck in yesteryear, my mother thought I was a teenager; also, she didn’t trust that it was me, at first, on the phone. (“That’s not Robyn,” I heard her say to her caretaker). I was able to prove that I was her second born daughter by reciting my birth date, after which I heard CCC say in the background, “See, that’s Robyn. She knows her birth date…yeah, and that would make her about fifty, which is correct.”

I later told CCC that I like the way she does math. Now, my own mother thinks I’m only 50!

Some memory lapses have fringe benefits.

*   *   *

Department of Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah

I’m seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens this afternoon, and you’re (probably) not.

 

 

force

*   *   *

Department Of It’s A Wonderful Life

Dateline: Wednesday, December 16. The birthday of moiself. The official family B-day dinner will be on Saturday, when Belle is home from college. On the actual day of The Blessed event © MH and son K took me out to a favorite eatery – a brew pub up in the hills. I enjoyed a relaxing evening: dinner and listening to live music with my boys at the Rock Creek Tavern.

Most of all, I enjoyed our conversation, the free range topics of which were inspired by K’s new job as a lab research at a local biomedical startup.  We started with what defines terms commonly used by both scientist and laypersons that are also commonly misunderstood or under-understood: basic and acidic and the ph scale  . We all use the terms, but what do they actually measure?…which led to the more general concept of scientific classifications, which, as many scientists point out, are necessary for research but are also, sometimes, somewhat arbitrary…which segued to the political psychological and sociological ramifications of that most errant of classifications, “race” as per human beings…which led MH to point out that “breed” might be a better term to classify distinctive physiological differences among a group of animals that are still able to reproduce within the same group…which led to moiself approving the logic in MH’s suggestion, because after all, humans are animals…which prompted MH to share the fact that the German language has different terms – essen and fressen – to distinguish the same function – eating—between humans and other animals…and [8]  then K for some reason found it necessary to impart what he thought was a distinguishing feature that proved he was no mere animal – I  do not lick my balls!…a proclamation which, of course, had to be countered by moiself:

That’s only because you can’t.  If you could, you would.

K wisely decided not to contradict his mother on her birthday.

As my father, the late great “Chet the Jet,” was fond of saying, These are the good times.

 

happy family

*   *   *

Department Of If You Have To Ask…

I bought two of those clapper things – you know, the As Seen on TV devices. I’ve been having soooooooooooooo much fun using it to turn on the Christmas tree lights (clap clap clap), and also the lights I have in the fireplace (clap clap). Not only does the clapper do what it does, the festive device has provided me with opportunities for blissful marital repartee – all this for only $19.95, such a deal.

 

Moiself: Look at this!  (clap clap; clap clap clap).

MH: Uh oh.

Moiself: Isn’t this fun!  (clap clap clap). I actually bought two of them. Where shall we put the other one?

MH: You don’t want me to answer that.

clap

*   *   *

May the Ted Cruz-es of our world deem you unfit for their world;
may you be a credit to your race breed;
may you clap your way to happiness;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Who, BTW, thinks gay people should be killed.

[2] watch the tape of Cruz’s remarks here

[3] As mentioned in previous posts, The Stinky Boys is MH’s and my affectionate nickname for the group of friends who gather with K every Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) night to play D & D and other games and watch movies and raise their risk of developing adult onset diabetes and heart disease eat pizza and junk food.

[4] But of course, was not.

[5] Her live-in caretaker. My mother is elderly, in poor mental and physical health and suffers from memory problems.

[6] A group of roughly 4-7 of K’s friends (membership varies), who are not in fact stinky (and sometimes not all boys), who gather here regularly to play D & D and other games and watch movies.

[7] A violent Quentin Tarentino movie…which I think is a redundancy.

[8] Pretend there is yet another smooth as silk segue here.

The Fun I’m Not Missing

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Department Of What’s The Point

The problem with speaking the truth to power is that power can’t be bothered to listen.

*   *   *

Department Of Pleasant Surprises

Last Saturday morning when I finished exercising I popped out the workout DVD and did my cool down/stretches to the background noise of a college football game on TV. During one brief timeout in the game over a disputed call or something I swear I heard one team’s marching band play the distinctive opening riff to the White Stripe‘s Seven Nation Army.  It was at once bizarre and totally appropriate…and almost as emotionally satisfying as hearing the Roto Rooter Goodtime Christmas Band ‘s rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic rock anthem, Purple Haze.

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Yet Another Podcast Adventure

The podcast, an interview with a historian specializing in ancient Rome (Mary Beard/Fresh Air show), began with the show’s host reciting an intriguing description of the guest’s professional accomplishments: “…a professor of classics, does TV and radio documentaries, writes a well-read blog…and has become somewhat famous for taking on internet trolls.”

 

trolls

 

I couldn’t help but wonder: Why, oh why, would someone do that, or become “famous” for doing that?  Especially someone who is an academic, or at least educated. I thought that, by definition, if you “take on” an internet troll, or engage them in any way, the troll wins.[1]

I am not fully convinced that individual internet trolls exist.  I think there is a troll generator somewhere, created and controlled by a man-boy who resembles a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a meerkat. This Jabbakat occupies a bunker designed to resemble his parent’s basement, where, hunkered down amid cases of Red Bull, Hot Pockets and survivalist grade toilet paper, he froths and seethes over the Unfairness of Life ® , including what happened eight years ago when, after hearing that girls go for guys in uniform, he dropped out of community college to take a job as a pizza delivery boy.

My favorite comment/observation about trolls of any kind is from Tina Fey, in her book, Bossypants . [2]

Bring on the babes.

Bring on the babes.

*   *   *

Department  Of Just Think About All The Fun You Missed

Wednesday was my annual Ladies Lefse dinner party. It is not too late for you to plan your own.  You don’t even have to make it an all-lady affair – you can define the term “lady” loosely (as most of us do these days, yuckity yuckaroo). In the spirit of open-minded heteronormativity, [3] you could make it a party for Lefse Ladies and Those Who Identify as Lefse Ladies.

 

Who wouldn't want to identify with these festive, frisky females?

Who wouldn’t want to identify with these festive, frisky females?

 

*   *   *

I kept hearing erstwhile respected actor Danny Glover’s voice on a TV ad, publicizing a medication to treat “pseudo bulbous effect.”  And I kept thinking, Wow, there’s a drug for everyone, including people who obsessively don large fake noses.

I stand corrected. It’s Pseudobulbar affect, and it’s apparently a thing. Pseudobulbar affect is a neurological disorder, that just happens to have one of the best disorder nicknames ever:

“also known as emotional incontinence.”

 

 I can quit any time I want to, okay?

I can quit any time I want to, okay?

 

*   *   *

A Special Holiday Message For A Special Guy

To the dude I was driving behind on Monday – the guy in the Ford pickup heading west on Cornell Road in the early afternoon. After watching you weave in and out of traffic lanes and tailgate other drivers, I humbly suggest that your holiday thankfulness this year be directed toward the following government agencies and employees:

* the DMV, for not having a basic reading comprehension and IQ test as part of its licensing procedures

* those current and former U.S. Marines, [4] who might be embarrassed/appalled by your proudly displayed ignorance as evinced by your various anti-Obama, anti-government, bumperstickers and window decals sharing bumper and window space with your pro-U.S. Marines stickers.

BTW, duuuuuuuuude: Obama is an American, not a Kenyan, for crying’ out loud in the fucking Halls of Montezuma‘s sake.

I can only assume your truck’s OR license plate was crafted personally, for you, and that YRT 987 stands for, Your Retard Tendencies 987 (on a scale of 990). [5] [6]

 

 

He forgot the sticker that says, Honk If You're Following a Bigoted Asshat

He forgot the sticker that says, Honk If You’re Following a Bigoted Asshat

*   *   *

Holiday haiku

At this time of year
no joy is as pure as that
which arises from

seeing Christian
right wing nutjobs twisting their
tinsel-lined panties

when they hear the phrase
Happy Holidays! and/or
another greeting

which acknowledges
the wealth of celebrations
at this time of year.

solsticegreetings

It’s Merry Christmas
or nothing for those pinch-nosed

paranoid Scrooges.

Their faces turn red
and green – which, fittingly, are
the Christmas colors.

I am delighted
to wish them, “Happy Solstice,”
and hope that one day

they’ll understand this:
“Axial tilt – The Reason
For (all the) Seasons!”

axial tilt

*   *   *

May you avoid troll engagement;
May you embrace the season’s greetings;
May you remain emotionally continent;
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Or at least, you lose.

[2] Look it up. You won’t regret it. While you’re at it, just read the whole damn book.

[3] Belle is going to be taking a Gender Studies class next semester. I’m practicing.

[4] Government employees, yep – although not often thought as such. Who pays the military salaries?

[5] I know, I know, retard is no longer an acceptable pejorative. I’m making a New Year’s Resolution to stop using it.

[6] If you believe the previous footnote, you’re a ‘tard.

The Military I’m Not Saluting

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And They Said The Honeymoon Wouldn’t Last

I sliced the steaming, freshly roasted squash down the middle, and sighed. “I love the aroma of roasted Delicata squash.” I waved a piece of squash under MH’s nose, and bid him to inhale.  “I just want you to know that.”

This is good to know, MH replied. He assured me that, upon my death, a Delicata squash would be cremated alongside my body.

 

squash7

*   *   *

The Verisimilitudinous Vermin of Autumn

I kick through the foliage detritus at least once a day, during my morning walk. Still, I never tire of the splendor of the Fall colors, which have a way of elevating and beautifying everything they surround…including, as I discovered ~ seven in the morning last Monday, the parking lot of a nearby athletic field. A brief portion of the otherwise mundane asphalt surface was transformed, however ephemerally, into Nature’s abstract palate, when I espied the desiccated, flattened carcass of a rat adorned by nature’s seasonal garland.

 

rat

*   *   *

Belated Veterans Day Thoughts and Wishes

 

Thank you for your service.
(A phrase employed far too often, IMHO, by civilians, directed to military personnel)

I have come to despise that trope of alleged appreciation, even though I’ve no doubt it is used sincerely by many who wish to thank our brave men and women in uniform [1] for doing…well…what the rest of us would rather not spend much time thinking about.

It’s just too easy…it is too sanitized and safe. Thank you for your service – it’s as effective as, I’ll pray for you. It gives the spouter of the phrase the feel-good illusion of action, when in fact you’ve done nothing concrete.

You want to thank soldiers for their service? Lobby or work to insure veteran’s benefit reforms and to get our soldiers out of these never-ending, police-the-world wars…and, oh yeah, end the all-volunteer military and reinstate the draft and/or some form of compulsory national service.

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really. Do you think we’d still be ass-deep in the AfghaniRaquPakistania quagmire if every American family had to face the possibility of their age-appropriate sons and daughters serving in the military?

Once again, I digress.

My intention for this segment was to honor a certain generation [2] for What They Did When They Did What They Had To Do. [3]

Six years ago my father, Chester Bryan (“Chet the Jet”) Parnell, had military honors at the graveside service following his funeral. The honors consisted of a brief observance involving a color guard, a gun salute, and presentation of an American flag to my mother, along with the “thanks of a grateful nation.” It was a ceremony Chet’s usually-not-impressed-with-such-things second born daughter [4] found very moving.

Although he never left the US of A during his military service, Chet was credited with serving in a combat zone. He and his fellow Army paratroopers stationed in Alaska were training for the inevitable invasion of Japan, and were also tasked with guarding the Aleutians, which the Japanese, as part of their Aleutian Islands campaign, were determined to invade and occupy. [5] Thus, Chet was eligible for “full” military honors at his funeral. Although Chet was proud of his WWII service he’d let us know in advance he didn’t want the full treatment (whatever that would involve – military flyover? Invasion of a small island in the Pacific?), out of respect for those soldiers who had engaged in active combat.

One day many years before Chet’s death, when my family was down in SoCal for a visit, Chet asked if MH could copy, enlarge and clarify a photo Chet had discovered while cleaning out his desk. The picture – actually, a small, wrinkled, time-worn copy of a picture sent from a paratrooper buddy – was one the few pictures Chet had from his Army days.  MH put his computer wizard /Photoshop skills to use, and was able to earn Son-In-Law Of The Year ® honors by providing Chet with a cleaned-up enlargement.  MH also had the enviable [6] task of informing Chet about a certain aspect of the picture, what I think of as a Photo With Benefits.  By enlarging the photo, a gesture made by one of Chet’s fellow soldiers – a “military salute” common among paratroopers but heretofore obscured by the photo’s size and lack of clarity – was clearly revealed.

At the time the picture was taken Chet of course was facing the camera, and had no idea how the other guys in the photo had posed. He got such a hoot out of it – which came as no surprise to me.  What was a wonderful surprise was how much my mother enjoyed the photographic revelation: she giggled like a schoolgirl who’d just understood her first A nun walks into a bar… joke  [7].

 

Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).

Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).

 

*   *   *

Department Of Some Phone Calls Are Harder Than Others

And getting through some 12 minute phone calls can seem more exhausting than running a three hour marathon, when I’m constantly “on guard” during said calls, with a pins and needles/jaw clenching concentration, giving myself a headache that lasts the rest of the day, reminding myself of what to say as well as what not to say when the only truthful/logical response to what my elderly mother just asked would be to give the correct information….

However. I have learned from Compassionate Communication With The Memory-Impaired and other resources that when dealing with those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions which beget memory-disabilities, compassion must trump rationality and logic. And even truth.

My mother’s truth, her reality, can change from day to day. I am well aware of this; still, the ups and down sometimes catch me seemingly unaware. This week I was pleasantly surprised by her lucidity and higher-than-usual energy mode – I’m always the one who calls, but she called me on my cellphone (she’d remembered– with a caretaker’s reminder – that she’d been napping when I’d called the previous day)! We were having a nice if boring conversation, and in a normal (for her) voice she asked how long it had been since MH’s father had died (Hey, she remembered he died! I silently rejoiced). When I answered her question about the relative suddenness of my FIL’s passing (Well, he’d been living with Parkinson’s for many years…), and she reacted with shock and horror to a fact she’s known for over a decade.

“No!” she gasped. “No!  How awful! I had no idea!’

I gently tried to steer the conversation to another subject, which led to the inadvertent revelation that she’d forgotten MH’s sister is married and has a 14 year old son. Her overt change of atone accompanied the implied, painful, fearful accusation: Why have you/has everyone been keeping this information from me?

And during our phone conversation next week she may well remember what she’d forgotten…and then forget something else. Like the existence of my children.

Her sudden plummet into the memory abyss hit me harder than usual this week. I found myself sitting in my car in a parking lot, fighting off a crying jag, holding my cellphone to my ear and nodding reassurances to someone who wasn’t there.

“Old age is no place for sissies.”
Bette Davis

elderly bird

*   *   *

Department of Can You Run A Tab At An Urgent Care Center?

Speaking of children I do remember, Belle is back to practicing with the UPS Women’s Rugby team, although she will not be playing in any league games until next semester, due to her broken finger and resultant surgery. Last week she took a hard blow to the chest during a practice. A visit to the Student Health Center and subsequent x-ray confirmed her coach’s fear: Belle had suffered a separated rib.

Belle’s (severely) broken finger occurred during a practice in early September. Last year’s injuries included a cracked rib and…I forget what else. Going through the mail last weekend, I told MH that it just isn’t a normal week unless we receive yet another Explanation of Benefits form from our insurance company, along with a bill from a doctor or a physical therapist or an urgent care center….

 

Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!

Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Need I Say More?

Happy Belated Exploding Whale Day! Forty-five years ago, yesterday, a day that put Oregon on the map…and gushy whale parts on anyone standing within a quarter mile range of the event:

*   *   *

May you remember and appreciate the service (and “salutes”) of others;
may your fondest memories be as fuzzy or clear as time permits;
may you find beauty in unexpected places and sights (and rodents);
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Another clichéd phrase I loathe.

[2] No, not “the Greatest” generation, and damn you, Tom Brokaw, for that well-meaning but inaccurate description…which Andy Rooney, bless his atheist heart, tried to counter at every opportunity.

[3] Which was actually Steven Spielberg’s first choice for the title of his epic WWII movie (okay…actually…not). Can you believe Saving Private Ryan won out?

[4] That would be moiself.

[5] They succeeded in occupying two: Kiska and Attu.

[6] In my opinion. MH was a little hesitant to reveal what he’d found, thinking it might be embarrassing (“Uh…will they – meaning my parents – be okay with this?”).

[7] A nun, badly needing to use a restroom, walked into a bar. The place was hopping with music and conversation, and every once in a while the lights would briefly flicker off and then go back on, whereupon the patrons would erupt into cheers. However, when the crowd saw the nun, the room went dead silent. The nun approached the bartender,and asked, ‘May I please use the restroom?”

“Sure,” the bartender replied, “but I gotta warn you: there’s a statue of a naked man in there wearing only a fig leaf.”

“Thank you; I’ll just look the other way,’ said the nun.

The bartender showed the nun to the back of the restaurant. After a few minutes she came back out, and other patrons stopped what they were doing and gave the nun a loud round of applause.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said to the bartender. “Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?”

“Well, now they know you’re one of us,’ said the bartender. “‘Would you like a drink?”

“No thank you,” said the puzzled nun, “but, I still don’t understand.”

“You see,” laughed the bartender, “every time someone lifts the fig leaf on that statue, the lights go out.”

The Second Act I’m Not Staying For

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Department of Duh

The opening, thumping drums and guitar riff to The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army is mesmerizing, to say the least. It is also an unfortunate earworm to wake up with at three a.m., if your intention is to return to sleep. And mine was.

 

As soothing as a Brahms lullaby, trust us.

As soothing as a Brahms lullaby, trust us.

*   *   *

 

MH and I saw the second play of the Portland Center Stage season last Sunday. A part of me was hoping I would find the play boring or just unappealing; thus, when asked for my review, I could justifiably opine, Sex With Strangers is so overrated.” 

 

CAMEL

 

I had no idea.

No idea, that is, as to the reasons I indeed find the play unappealing. It wasn’t a “bad” play. But it wasn’t the play for me, at least at this point in my life.

In general, if I intend to see a movie or play I don’t read reviews about it – or even brief plot summaries – in advance.  A major theme of the SWS play was the intersection/conflict between art and commerce, as played out between the cast, which consisted of two writers. Had I known Sex With Strangers was going to be about writers arguing about writing I would have gone bowling instead.

Not to say it wasn’t done well, and I’m sure most of the audience enjoyed the battle of wits, sexes, and literary mores and intentions between the older, female, more-literary-(read: talented) and-commercially-unknown-but-with-integrity writer, vs. the younger, male, more-financially-successful-and-famous-or-infamous-and-cool-but-once-you-look-past-the-braddadocio-obviously-not-proud-of-what-he-does writer. Older writer was rightly aghast at the mountain of muck that exists due to the advent of self publishing…and how relatively quickly younger writer was able to get her to shelve her integrity and let him construct a false, more hip author’s profile for re-releasing her earlier, neglected novel on his new self-publishing application…

Ick, and ick again. It just sooooooooooo wasn’t for me.

By the play’s intermission I had a nasty headache from clenching my jaw. MH stayed to watch the second half of the play while I took a de-clenching walk around the neighborhood and was temporarily (but rewardingly) sucked into a retail vortex. Thank the FSM for Sur La Table – I found that soy sauce dispenser I’d been so desperately needing.

 

soy

*   *   *

The Return I’m Not Applauding

 

That would be the return of Bloom County.

 

whatswrongpng

 

I know, I know. I seem to be one of the few FB denizen who isn’t performing the social media version of the Happy Dance, now that the much-beloved comic strip has returned.

 

"Bloom County is baaaaaack!"

“Bloom County is baaaaaack!”

 

I did read the comic strip on a semi-regular basis, during its initial publication period, but was never one of its most devoted fans. I couldn’t put my finger on my lack of enthusiasm, until the day I made a list, to confirm my suspicions.

BC major characters:

* Bill the Cat
* Cutter John
* Hodge-Podge (rabbit)
* Michael Binkley
* Milo Bloom
* Oliver Wendell Jones
* Opus (penguin)
* Portnoy (groundhog)
* Steve Dallas

Minor characters include [1]

* Bobbi Harlow
* Frank Jones (Oliver’s father)
* Lola Granola
* Milquetoast the Cockroach
* Mrs. Jones (Oliver’s mother) [2]
* Quiche Lorraine

* Tom Binkley

 

The major characters (including the talking animals) are all male.

 

mansworld

 

I’m not saying Bloom County was a misogynistic, backasswater Islamic burg; however, to my curious mind at least, there is a connection. Bear with me.

When you see pictures, from still shots to newsreels, of life-out-side-the-home in a conservative Muslim nation, you might wonder how, in a land seemingly devoid of women, all those men were produced. Whether at a political demonstration or just going about the tasks everyday life – walking to and from work, at the marketplace or having coffee with a friend – the lack of females, shrouded or otherwise, is notable…if you pay attention.

Pay attention to contemporary American art and entertainment forms – from plays to movies to TV shows to comic strip. Now, imagine being an alien (or an anthropologist) looking to such forms to try and understand the culture that produced them:  you’d have no idea that females comprise more than half of the US population. [3]

I am woman, hear me roar/in numbers too big to ignore…
I am Woman, written and performed by Helen Reddy)

I love that song, and wish its opening sentiments were correct. But it seems the numbers aren’t too big to ignore when it comes to…sadly…just about any field.

I get that art and entertainment have no responsibility, inherent or otherwise, to be socially or demographically representative. But damnity damn, how it frosts my butt, and makes me feel old and tired, to have to “get that” excuse rationale, over and over and over….

Unlike Islamic state artists, [4]  American screenwriters and playwrights and directors and comic strip authors have the freedom to draw, create, and cast female characters in all kinds of roles. They can also depict them as scantily or as fully clad as they choose…and yet they still – unintentionally perhaps, but effectively – shroud women and girls with the burka of scarcity.

Not being seen is a form of being covered up.

 

Are these women, men, mannequins, corpses, lampposts, bundles of rebar? Who can tell?

Are these women, men, mannequins, corpses, lampposts, bundles of rebar? Who can tell?

 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad BC existed. I derived pleasure from many of its story lines, and sincerely believe the comic strip gave us an incalculable, lasting contribution to contemporary culture: an opportunity to appreciate the uncanny resemblance between Bill the Cat and actor Nick Nolte.

 

Noltemug

 

Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed was – and is – widely lauded [5] for creating Bloom County’s whimsical/imaginary world in Middle America, with storylines that lampooned big and small town culture and politics. I did enjoy (most of) BC’s take on the political ambiance of the 1980s, [6]  and hope that Breathed will do as well or better with the strip’s present day incarnation. [7]

Still, what I didn’t need then and do not desire now is for yet another artist to create yet another world, real or imaginary, wherein females are peripheral.

Yeah. Hear me fuckin’ roar.

 

roar

*   *   *

Department of While I’m On The Subject

Listening to a recent Fresh Air podcast of the October 9 show, Steve Jobs: The Man, the Book, The Film produced two aha moments – one of which I’ve had before, both of which explain my almost visceral aversion to those who worship at the altar of Apple.

At one point in the interview, Walter Isaacson, author and Steve jobs’ biographer, addresses the issue of Jobs’ legendary volatility.

It’s one of the dichotomies about Jobs is he could be demanding and tough – at times, you know, really berating people and being irate. On the other hand, he got all A-players, and they became fanatically loyal to him…an artist who was a perfectionist and frankly wasn’t always the kindest person when they failed “

That is the near-perfect description of a cult leader.

 

jobs

 

Isaacson also compares the styles of Steve Jobs vs. Jobs’ rival and collaborator, Bill Gates:

Steve Jobs was more intuitive, operated in a much more volatile manner…. the biggest difference is that Jobs was very much a genius when it came to aesthetics, design, consumer desire. And Bill Gates…was much more of a focused businessperson than Jobs was.

Jobs’ intuition and artistic sensibilities are described several times in the interview, and those qualities are presented as strengths which enabled Jobs to envision and produce Apple’s “revolutionary” products and marketing. If Jobs had been a woman trying to make it in that field, those same qualities – intuition, volatility, focus on aesthetics – would have been seen as weaknesses. No one would have listened to her.

 

*   *   *

Department of Family In-Jokes

"You're out of croutons!"

“You’re out of croutons!”

*   *   *

Department Of The Customer Is Always Right…
And Sometimes Rightly Pissed Off

Dear Surly Checkout Clerk at a Major Pet Supplies [8] chain store,

I’m so sorry for interrupting your important slouching time last week, when I annoyed you by causing you to have to do your job. How persnickety of me to notice that you rang up my purchases without asking me for your store’s frequent buyer number – the number that gives me discounts on future purchases; the number your store’s clerks are supposed to ask for at the beginning of the transaction. I regret the pain I caused you when I meekly pointed out your oversight; the number of muscles employed to roll your eyes appeared to have been agony-inducing, as was the effort you put in to pointing your finger toward the payment screen and verbalizing your thinly-disguised disgust with what you mistakenly thought was my concern: “It doesn’t change the price.”

When I smiled at you with the patience your attitude did not merit and replied, “That’s not the point,” I selfishly caused you to grimace with the five seconds’ worth of effort it took to void and then reenter my purchase – a grimace which implied a colossal waste of your valuable slacker time (I’m sure you had better things to do with those seconds, despite the fact that there was no one else in line behind me, nor at any other register in the store) and which used facial muscles that clearly caused you discomfort, being as they were in such close proximity to your festering, so-hip-so-five-years-ago ear gauges.

Forgive me for entertaining, even for a nanosecond, my totally ungracious impulse to jam a feline hairball chew supplement down your throat when you once again took the effort to point out a factor which was not my concern – “It didn’t change the price” – but which, in your infinite, churlish wisdom, should have been my top priority.

I offer one more mea culpa for the small-minded thoughts I had while leaving the store – thoughts having to do about the importance of a brick-and-mortar store’s customer service [9]– especially these days, when we can often find the products we seek online, at a lower cost. Consumers rarely have the incentive to think about courteous customer service– how kind of you to go out of your way to inspire me to consider the concept.

Sincerely and contritely yours,
Another enlightened customer

assist

*   *   *

May your customer service exceed all expectations,
may your second acts be tolerable if not inspirational,
may your earworms be lullaby-worthy,
may you never run out of croutons,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] “Minor” = having appeared in the strip in “sideline” stories that were not central to the strip’s development and overall story arc (e.g., Bobbie, Quiche and Lola were love interests of the major characters).

[2] That’s her identification –Oliver’s mother and Frank’s wife. Oliver’s father at least gets a first name.

[3] Forbes magazine, hardly a bastion journal of feminist thought, even addressed the discrepancy by publishing  Women Still Ridiculously Underrepresented in Movies.

[4] If such exist, they are, sadly, well-hidden.

[5] Much to the chagrin of actual editorial cartoonists, Breathed’s Bloom County won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1987.

[6] Can you believe that Donald Trump has provided fodder for cartoonists for 30+ years? Of course you can.

[7] I also hope he will continue to be patient with those of us who continue to mispronounce his surname.

[8] Hint: not Petco.

[9] In all fairness to the chain itself, their customer service dept.  was promptly responsive to the complaint I filed on line.

The Funeral I’m Not Attending

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We are still in somewhat of a psyche-scrambling whirlwind after the events of the past has-it-not-even-been-two-weeks. One of the many side effects of such turmoil is this lite, 20 % less filling blog post. [1]

My FIL’s death was just one of the Sad Events ®  either mentioned or alluded to in last week’s post – events that have left us feeling pulled in various directions and emotionally and physically drained, to be tastefully understate the situation. None of us– us being my immediate family – will be attending tomorrow’s funeral for MH’s father. The funeral service will be held where his late father and mother  [2] lived/live, which is some 3000 miles southeast of us as the crow flies.  [3]   

We have the understanding, love and support of MH’s mother and are at peace with our decision to tend to our family’s needs and not make the grueling, cross-country trip twice in as many weeks. As wrenching as it was for MH to see his erstwhile vibrant and accomplished father so debilitated, MH was able to have ten days of “what counts,” we’re-all-in-this-together time with his mother and sister, who worked together as a family, loving and caring for their respective husband and father, setting up in-home hospice and nursing care, and staying with him until the end.

 

Bob at CrabTree Falls

*   *   *

The scrimmage is “touch,”
not tackle. What, you ask, could
possibly go wrong?

The zen/sport koan
asks this: What is the sound of
one bone shattering?

*   *   *

What a way to start the season, am I right?
(Belles’s text informing me that she’d broken her finger during a rugby scrimmage)

More like, what a way to end the season before it’s started, I thought, when I saw Belle’s artistic rendering of the x-ray taken of her finger, the x-ray that made the Urgent Care clinician immediately refer Belle to an orthopedic hand surgeon:

 

Sadiefinger

 

Another one of the Events Previously Alluded To was our needing to tend to the fallout from the BFF (Belle’s Broken Finger) Caper.

Department of Long Story Short: once MH and I understood the extent of Belle’s injury, we brought her home from college to consult with an orthopedic hand specialist surgeon. Her fracture turned out to be a very complicated one, the kind of case which both challenges and tantalizes a good surgeon (and we found an excellent doc for her. It seems all those certificates on his exam room wall were legit, and not just purchased from those ads you used to find in the 1970s issues of Mother Jones magazine).

After Belle’s post-op appointment her surgeon set her up with an initial PT session with a finger therapy specialist. Dr. FingerWhiz gave Belle his permission to return to college, with the proviso that she will need frequent and regular PT sessions for the next eight weeks, and also be seen by a local (Tacoma) hand surgeon for post-op followup and eventual removal of the surgical pin.  If she is diligent in her PT she can hope to obtain what, we were told, is be the best case scenario for return of function – a 80-90º bend in the finger’s joint. She will have some permanent  loss of movement and function in the finger, which will never be able to join its other finger buddies in forming a fully clenched fist.

As my patron saint Doris Day would have said, Que sera sera. Or as one wise family friend put it, there are enough clenched fists in this world.

 

Doris bravely keeps on keeping on, despite her debilitating neck-craning injury.

Doris bravely kept on keeping on, despite her debilitating neck-clenching injury.

 

Speaking of fingers, “Where were you when I was a toddler?” I asked the hand surgeon, when we chatted after Belle’s surgery and I held up my very own  “special needs” pinkie finger. You should have seen the gleam in his eyes.

 

My funny finger has its own FB page.

My funny finger used to have its own FB page.

 

Content warning: really cool pictures, including a view of the wire left in Belle’s finger to realign and hold in place the smashed bits of her finger joint. For some reason, my darling daughter resists my suggestion to hang a tree ornament from the wire’s hook. Kids are so conservative these days.

 

 

 

 

The surgery in progress.

The surgery in progress.

 

 

Before the post-surgical unveiling.

Before the post-surgical unveiling.

 

 

Sadie pinkie pinJPG

Frankenfinger.

*   *   *

Department of Cheap Thrills

And I do mean cheap: driving around the parking lot of a Fred Meyer store, verrrrrrrrrrrrry slooooooooooooowly, looking for a parking spot, while the Low Rider song is playing on my car’s radio.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeee haw.

What can I say; I’m over fifty.

 

*   *   *

May your thrills be cheap but satisfying,
may your bone fractures and heartaches mend,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1]  Our tragedy is your gain, or some equally insipid slogan, might be inserted here.

[2] Mh’s mother is very much alive. Does that make her his early mother?

[3]  Except that the crow big enough to hold our family plus flight crew never flies directly from Portland to Orlando, but always wants to take you to up to Seattle and then to Los Angeles or Dallas or Chicago first.

The Blog I’m Not Following

1 Comment

What I fondly refer to as The Icky P stuff – Publicity and Promotion – is a tricky thing for writers. If you are an author who has an agent who also handles publicity and/or your publisher has promotional staff, depending on your contract stipulations you may not be in total control (or even in the loop) when it comes to the various (real time and social media) marketing decisions re your book.

I get that.

So, why did it stick in my craw to open my email, see “A Personal Message from ___ (Author’s Name Redacted),” and discover that – of course – it was nothing of the kind?  [1]  Instead, it was a mass marketing shill hype for ANR’s new book.

 

badpub

 

I’d read ANR’s first book, and was waffling on whether or not to check out the second. The “personal message” email tipped my probably not now to a definite no.

Most of ANR’s work had a decidedly humorous bent to it; thus, there’s the distinct possibility ANR’s email was meant to spoof that style of faux personal mass announcement…by doing a faux personal mass announcement. Which I also get, and also still don’t like.

I don’t recall signing up on an email list for such announcements. I follow ANR’s blog; that’s not the same thing. Perhaps I’m being picky here, but the “personal message” is a spam-worthy tactic – I don’t do stoop to this kind of publicity myself and don’t want to support it from others.

I’ve enjoyed (some of) ANR’s writing and blog posts…although I’ve increasingly been skimming/skipping the latter, as IMHO they seem to be singing-the same-tune-over-and-over. And I struggled with whether or not to post this beef of mine, because so many of ANR’s posts are related to the author’s lifelong struggle with mental illnesses, including depression. Dang those pesky, petty principles of mine, which once again got in the way of my self-censorship. [2]  And, really, how self-important of me, to think that the possibility of losing moiself as a reader/blog follower might cause any writer to spiral down into a depressive episode.

 

getover

*   *   *

The Sad Situation I’m Not Writing About

I may mention it in a later post. For now, although I am well aware of The Circle Of Life ©  and all, there is a massive sucking sound coming from my chest. It’s my heart, sinking in the muck of anxiety arising from the fact that someone near and dear to me is helping someone near and dear to him navigate the end of life.

*   *   *

Department of Things I Love
That May Make You Say, Meh

I love the feel of cooked lima beans (that have cooled off but are still slightly warm) in my hands as I transfer them to a freezer bag. [3]

 

 This exists! I'm not the only one!

This exists! I’m not the only one!

 

*   *   *

Department of I Think It’s Better The Way I Heard It

Dateline: a week ago, driving up to Tacoma, taking daughter Belle to her sophomore year @ UPS. Belle hooked up her phone to the car’s sound system and was playing “her” music.  When I attempted to sing along with the chorus to the song, Everybody Talks, my daughter patiently suggested to me that,”It started with a whisper /and then it was my keister was probably not the correct line.  [4]

 

 

Sadiesroom

 

*   *   *

Department of Foo Foo

Balsamic fig glaze.

I know what it sounds like: a teaspoon-sized drizzle of something you’d find on a $49 starter plate at a pretentious Portland restaurant. Still, if you see it on a menu, order whatever it comes with. As son K said about seventeen years ago (even as a child, he was a quipster): Taste bud rodeo!

 

foodie4

*   *   *

Department of Things Not To Joke About With (What Passes For) The Security Staff

“Do you mind if I look in your purse?” The adorably nebbish, adolescent male theatre employee cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple trembling only slightly less than his fingers as he fumbled with my movie ticket.

Just for a moment I considered three possible responses:

*Sure, I’ve nothing to hide…in my purse. Just stay away from my coat pockets, okay?

* No problem. When I’m packing heat I use my shoulder holster.

* Suit yourself – I switched my IED [5] to Airplane mode.

And just for another moment, I reconsidered those responses.

I smiled, murmured, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s a thing now,” and unzipped the main compartment of my purse….which could have been hiding Nancy Reagan’s tiny little gun for all Nebbish Movie Theatre Boy would have known.  I mean, it was the most ineffective, what’s-the-point? glance/search ever.

As I made my way to theatre #6 I had a moment of wistful regret. If only I’d remembered that some theatres have instituted this new bag-checking policy, I could’ve stuffed my purse with tampons and other Lady Business Stuff ® and likely caused that whitest of white boys to do the pink cheek flambé.

Next time.

 

keep calm

*   *   *

 

So, it’s September, aka Where Did The Summer Go? ®.  Belle is back in college. K has graduated from college and is living at home, tolerating a job in food service while applying for “real” jobs (i.e., related to his major), and researching grad school options. [6] If you know anyone who’s hiring worker bees who have a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, give us a holler.

 

job

*   *   *

 

 

May you enjoy the lyrics whatever way you hear them,
may your theatre bag searches be unremarkable,
may your worker bees find buzz-worthy employment,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] How could it be personal? We’ve never met.

[2] Although I did decide not to use ANR’s name.

[3] If you love lima beans you must always have a bag of cooked lima beans handy in your freezer, for those must-have-lima moments.

[4] I looked it up when I got home: the lyric is “whisper…and that was when I kissed her.”

[5] An IED as in Improvised Explosive Device. Not to be confused with an IUD…which would be a most unfortunate mix-up.

[6] And hosting D & D and Settlers of Catan parties every Sunday afternoon around our dining room table.

The Teacher I’m Not Eulogizing

3 Comments

 

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?

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