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The Bohemian Like You I’m Not Like

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And Now You Know

This is the song I’d write, and play rhythm guitar on, if I wrote alt-type songs and played guitar.

 

 

*   *   *

And Now You Know Even More

And this is the song, I told MH as we were listening to the radio in the car on the way to run some errand, that I would learn to play if I played bass guitar.

 

 

*   *   *

Although You Probably Didn’t Know This

I have written a song. It’s a C & W ditty, titled, If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead. It remains (mercifully so, in the eyes and ears of some) unpublished and unrecorded. Ah, but the year is young….

*   *   *

If You Read Only One Book This Year…

Well then, shame on you. Put down your screens and read one more.  And make sure it’s Between the World and Me, by journalist-author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I won’t write a review because y’all know I neither write nor read book reviews. Suffice to say I think you’d enjoy this book (I’d like to add, you need to read this book if you’d like to consider yourself a Good American Citizen ® , but that would be too dogmatic), especially if you’re one of us who “think they are white.” [1]

 

Enlightened minds are amused by the concept of race.

Enlightened minds are amused by the concept of race.

*   *   *

Department of The End

…of one of my favorite weeks of the year, that is. I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. [2]  New Year’s Eve, however, is another thing. I have a somewhat bipolar relationship to the day. Over my adult years it has seemed to be either been really fun or really dull. I’ve (almost) outgrown the We’re Supposed To Be Having Fun – Are We Having Fun Now?  mentality – the notion that somewhere out there, everyone is having a gay old time except for moiself, who is home polishing furniture or something. [3]

 

Please do tell me when I'm having a jolly old time.

Please do tell me when I’m having a jolly time.

 

Today we’ll have a few close friends over for dinner. We’ll be serving a variation of my father’s beloved New Year’s Day meal: you must have black-eyed peas and rice, aka Hoppin’ John, and cornbread and collard greens, in some form, on the first day of the year.

It’s a Southern Thing ©: eating black-eyed peas on January 1 supposedly brings good luck for the coming year (black-eyed peas were supposedly seen, by several cultures, as resembling pennies or coins). And as even the most cursory glance through the pages of an American history book demonstrates, if you’re looking for a culture synonymous with good luck, you can’t go wrong by picking a tradition from The South ®  and following it to the letter.

So. In defiance of the good luck that will not be coming my way in 2016, I’ll be tweaking the traditional menu. I’ll make black-eyed peas and rice cakes with roasted red pepper sour cream sauce, cider vinegar sautéed collard greens, and cornbread.

 

I see not the slightest resemblance to coins and would never attempt to use these objects in vending machines.

I see not the slightest resemblance to coins and would never attempt to use these objects in vending machines.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why Do They Do That?

“Our culture is not the only one that had slavery/Slavery has been practiced by all people around the globe/Native Americans took slaves from neighboring tribes/….”

Make that, Department Of Rhetorical Questions.

I know why “they” (people in general, moiself included) do “that,” which is to joke, distract or “play the devil’s advocate” when Certain Subjects ® are raised. It is an attempt to hide discomfort and/or distance yourself from unpleasant topics, particularly those that may make you feel defensive and powerless yet complicit.

The italicized comments above were evoked when I attempted to recommend the previously mentioned Book I Read But Did Not Review ® to a couple of light-skinned menfolk. Their immediate (and interruptive) comments –  the kind of Oh yeah? Well what about ___? defense-as-offense remarks which strike me as the intellectual equivalent of an eight year old sticking his fingers in his ears, nyah nyah I can’t hear you – should  have come as little surprise, given the subject (racism in America).  Still, it frosted my butt.

First of all: Hello, I was merely attempting to recommend a book I think you would enjoy reading. I was not attempting to discuss the book – which negates the kneejerk, devil’s advocate defense (“it’s no fun if everyone is agreeing…”). What would be the point of wanting, or even trying, to discuss a book with people who haven’t yet read it?

Second of all: Geesh.

If your daughter ran into the kitchen, blood gushing from her nose, and said she’d been punched in the face by the neighborhood bully, you should (1) tend to her injuries and (2) consider paying a visit to the bully’s house. I would hope your reaction would not be to tell your daughter that there have always been bullies all over the world, that Julius Caesar bullied Marc Antony, and that she isn’t the only kid who’s ever gotten punched in the nose – we know of kids in the next block and across town who also got bloody noses….

 

nyah

*   *   *

Department Of Am I Missing Something?

I refer of course to watching Home Alone on Christmas Eve.

One thing led to another during our family dinner table conversation on December 24, the Another being Movies That Take Place On Or Are About Christmas.  It turned out that none of us – not moiself, MH, son K or daughter Belle –  had ever seen the so-called classic, Home Alone.

 

HA

 

We’d each been privy to a few scenes or outtakes from the movie. I pride myself on being somewhat [4] culturally literate (if only to be better equipped to do crossword puzzles), and thus was familiar with the movie’s general plot. So. After dinner we downloaded HA (either Amazon or Netflix, can’t remember) and watched it.

Really, how lame is that movie? And why does everyone [5] say it’s a classic?

MH offered a week defense of HA, with which I, at first, weakly agreed: you need a suspension of reality; i.e., pretend you’re watching a Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoon, and you might be able to enjoy HA on that level. Nah. That ultimately and only made me wish for a Looney Tunes adventure, and did nothing to alleviate the loathing I felt for the excruciating “clever”, sitcom-ish, written-by-adults-trying-to-pretend-a-clever-8-year-old-kid-would-talk-like-this dialogue spewed by HA’s pint-sized protagonist.

 

scream

*   *   *

Department of Last Day Quotes of the Year

This is the disadvantage of being tall – people can look up your nose.
(MH, 12-31-15)

*   *   *

May you try to engage topics that make you uncomfortable;
may you feel free to avoid classic art that sucks;
may your height bring you nothing but advantages,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy New Year, and  Au Vendredi!

HNE

 

 

[1] This idea – of “race” as a construct and thus, e.g., people think they are white but in fact are not – is directly, obliquely and poetically addressed in Coates’ book.

[2] Well…I love it during those years when I’m not bogged down/distracted by the it’s a new year and what the hell have you done with your life and why did the last year leave skidmarks? kind of issues.

[3] An actual New Year’s Eve activity I did one year, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, as a one-woman protest of the hype and commercialism of the eve and to prove to myself that the event was overrated and that I could be satisfied with simple, contemplative activities, even an activity I would never otherwise undertake (wax the furniture?). And yes, it was also/partially because I hadn’t been invited to any of those overrated and hyped parties…and yes, it was also/partially lonely, and it sucked.

[4] Read: sometimes barely.

[5] Yes, everyone. When I meet people from overseas, it’s the first thing they say (well, after mumbling in their broken English some variation of “where’s the toilet?”): “So, does you are enjoying ze American classic, Home Alone?”

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

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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

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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 Blog I’m Not Following

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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 Work I’m Not Imitating

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As I’ve occasionally carped about mentioned in this space (here, and here and here, to list just a few spaces), I often find writers guidelines [1] to be obtuse, pretentious, long-winded bunk.

 

nymphpng

 

However, I sometimes have the good fortune to stumble across a gem like the following, discovered while checking a clearing-house type website for literary journals seeking material (my emphases):

The James Franco Review Call for Submission

The James Franco Review is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (snip snip)….
We aren’t looking for work that imitates James Franco’s work or satirizes—writers need not be so cruel.

I did not send them anything, but I did take the time to savor the metaphorical breath of fresh (and not hot) air.

*   *   *

Speaking of clearing the air….

Which I wasn’t. Not to get all technical, but I was writing, not speaking. I was also trying for a segue. Bear with me.

 

That's not me on the right, but if it was, then the picture would be Bear with me.

That’s not me on the right. If it were, then the picture would be Bear with me.

 

Last week BBC News Hour reported on a story about researchers in Germany and Saudi Arabia who found that “….pollution levels over several major cities in the Middle East are dropping and have concluded that it is due to economic and political unrest and war.” It seems that the chaos of war and instability leads to a lowering of economic standards in many cities, which means that less fuel is burned by cars or used in electricity production.

What a wonderful if totally unintended byproduct of madness, I thought, in that making-lemonade-from-lemons way of mine. People with respiratory diseases suffer and die due to air pollution. People with weakened immune systems and other health disorders, as well as all of us Average Citizens ® , experience diminished quality of life due to pollution. As per the EPA:

“Scientific evidence indicates that ground-level ozone not only affects people with impaired respiratory systems (such as asthmatics), but healthy adults and children as well. Exposure to ozone for 6 to 7 hours, even at relatively low concentrations, significantly reduces lung function and induces respiratory inflammation in normal, healthy people.”

And from the World Health Organization:

“Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma… Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012. Some 88% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.”

However.

After reading the story’s provocative premise and before continuing with his report, the BBC announcer made some toss-off remark about how he hated to highlight such a “trivial” point (as reduction in pollution), given the effects of war and instability.

A reduction in pollution – read: air poison – is trivial?

I wanted to reach through my car radio and slap him.

 

 

 

Sorry to bother you with something so trivial....

Sorry to bother you with something so trivial….

*   *   *

Department of More People I Want To Slap

yucky

 

Late last week much of Oregon west of the Cascades Range was blanketed by smoke from fires burning in Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades.

I’ve lived here for almost twenty-five years. My brain can’t remember ever seeing (or smelling or tasting) pollution that bad, in this area, but my lungs and bronchial tubes did provide me with a sensory memory: the tightness under my sternum was a flashback to being a child of So Cal in the 60s and 70s.

I remember well (and would like to forget) the days of Smog Alerts, when PE classes and athletic practices were cancelled and/or held indoors and some parents kept their kids home from school and all citizens were advised to restrict physical activity and refrain from driving if possible. [2]  Hospital ERS and doctors offices reported being clogged with the most vulnerable patients (the elderly, and young children) who experienced shortness of breath and headaches, and I felt a distinctive “catch” in my chest when I tried to take a deep breath.

I also remember that it got better. The air quality, that is.

 

Surf's up...down there, somewhere.

Surf’s up…down there, somewhere.

 

Many years ago, during a daytime flight to visit my So Cal family, K and Belle expressed alarm as our airplane made its descent toward the Orange County Airport. [3] “What’s that?” K asked, as he pressed his nose against the airplane’s window. “Yeah,” Belle chimed in. “What’s that brown stuff we’re flying through?”

“It’s the air,” I replied. “Or, at least, what passes for it, here.”

I proceeded to inform my offspring that, believe it or not, it had been worse when I was their age. [4] Although there are twice the amount of people and vehicles in So Cal now then when I was living there, the air, while not clean, is cleaner, thanks to the enactment of strict emission standards.

Here’s where the slapping part comes in: ere’s where the I remembered how furious I was when certain redneck relatives of mine bragged about how they’d removed the catalytic converters from their emissions-belching vehicles, because no gummint agency (cough, rasp, hack) was gonna tell them (wheeze, pant, snort) to sissify their muscle cars.

*   *   *

Yet Another Way To Clear the Air

Or at least, your sinuses.

I mean of course, by consuming roasted peppers. This is the season where you may be fortunate enough to acquire Padrón peppers from your farmer’s market, your CSA or even your local grocery store.

 

The pretty, "before" picture.

The pretty, “before” picture.

 

Padrón peppers are sometimes sold alongside shishito peppers.  How to tell the difference? The two varieties look almost identical. A Produce Dude ® told me that the two are often confused, even among farmers. The shishitos may seem to have a shinier surface and are a bit longer and twistier and “ridgier” than Padróns.

Both peppers are generally milder than jalapenos. No matter; they’re both tasty, with slight differences in flavor. [5] After discovering and then playing around with them, I don’t make ’em any other way than by using the following the skillet dry-roasting method.

Dry skillet roasting requires just three ingredients

(1) Padrón (or shishito) peppers, intact [6]
(2) your best/most flavorful sea salt

(3) your best olive oil
(optional – the oil’s not for cooking the peppers, but for seasoning them afterward)

and five pieces of equipment

(1) a large cast iron skillet (or comal)
(2) tongs
(3) an oven mitt (that pan is gonna get hot)
(4) a shallow (but not callow) serving bowl
(5) okay, it requires only four pieces of equipment

Get your skillet good and hot (a drop of water should wiggle and dance on its surface and evaporate almost immediately). Add the peppers, in batches if you have a lot – don’t crowd ’em, they should be in a single layer. Sear peppers ~ 1m on all sides. They may wiggle-dance just like the water droplets, which is just too cute.

 

Actually, this is just too cute. But not edible.

Actually, this is just too cute. But not edible.

 

Use the tongs to turn the peppers as they roast – you want the skin to blister. [7]  When they are roasted to your liking, tong-transfer them to the serving bowl, drizzle ’em with the oil (if using), [8] sprinkle with sea salt, and serve: hold by the stem and eat the rest of the pepper. You may want to take a test bite first. (Padróns vary in hotness; some folks say the larger peppers are hotter. [9] )

 

The yummers "after" picture.

The yummers “after” picture.

 

*   *   *

Department of That’s What He Said

MH and I usually do the NY Times Sunday crossword together during lunch. This past Sunday MH decided to get an early start. As I was cleaning up my breakfast dishes he read aloud one of the clues that, he said, was stumping him, even though the answer was only four letters long.

Clue:  “When repeated, an aerobics class cry.”

I did not spew an immediate solution, and so MH wrote in what was, to him, the only logical answer:

“Stop.”  [10]

Please, please make it stop.

Please, please make it stop.

*   *   *

May your personal and professional guidelines be down-to-earth,
May your air be breathable,
May your peppers be wiggly and tasty,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1]  a set of guidelines from a literary journal or publisher that specify their requirements for material from writers, including the length, categories, format and styles of articles they seek, rights purchased and compensation rates, appropriate editors or other contact persons, how to submit work (query first or send full ms.), etc.

[2] Which, for a Southern Californian of that day, would only be possible if they’d lost both arms in a pesky meat grinder accident.

[3] Aka The John Wayne Airport. The name change in 1979 still frosts my butt. Airports should be named for their location, not for a wealthy movie star whose only connection to the airport was grousing about the airplanes flying over his Newport Beach mansion.

[4] And we had to walk to school with barbed wired wrapped around our feet to get through the six foot snow drifts in winter…or was that my mother’s story?

[5] After roasting, Padróns have a light smoky taste, while shishitos may seem slightly sweet/herbal/floral.

[6] Intact as in whole peppers with their stems, not intact as in, with all their boy parts still in one piece.

[7] the padrón’s skin, hopefully not yours, because you’re using the mitts to handle the hot pan, right?

[8] This is optional. They are delicious just dry-fried and tossed w/salt.

[9] Some folks have been known to be wrong.

[10] The answer was, “step.”

The Vacation I’m Not Blogging

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Vacation.  I am having one. Right Now.

A well-deserved retreat for both MH and I, if I do say so moiself. And I just did.

‘Tis also a well-anticipated vacation (we’ve been trying to get where we’re at ever since we moved to the Pacific North West [1] ) that never quite came about due to the usual suspects ($$, time, schedules), and that almost got cancelled the last minute, what with Sandwich Generation concerns. [2]

So, yes, I’m on vacation. Not blogging about what’s right and wrong with the world. Not blogging about this week. Because…vacation.

I thought I’d fill this space with selections from my Greatest Hits. © Then I remembered: Oh, that’s right, I don’t have any.

 

sob

*   *   *

Okay, one vacation story.

The story comes from our first day on The Island (oooooh, big hint!). [3]

 

 

Islandoflostsouls

 

We  stopped on our way to our rental house to have lunch at a café which shares space with an art studio. It was a nice day; we opted to sit outside on the café’s cozy (yep, small) deck.  The other table on the deck was already occupied, by four Fashionably Dressed Young Men ® . All of the FDYM were talking loudly and animatedly, their stories tumbling over one another, until one FDYM took the lead with a meandering tale that included him mentioning in rapturous tones “Regis” and “Cathy Lee and Hoda” more times than I could shake a rainbow-colored stick at. [4]

I couldn’t help but think to myself (and then say to MH, with a grin that threatened to split my face):

This is too cute – this is the gayest conversation…do they have any idea?

The FDYM finished their lunch and trooped down the deck’s stairway, which was right by our table. As they were leaving I said, “Excuse me, but you’re far too young to be familiar with the name, ‘Regis.’ “

They all burst out laughing, and one of them (the oldest of the young, was my guess) assured me that, au contraire, “…knowledge of Regis is the key to eternal youth.”

*   *   *

Department of More Hints

The following sight was [5]  one of our island trip highlights. Can you guess where the picture was taken (hint: no):

 

shawtueday

*   *   *

May all of your vacation highlights be blog-worthy,
may your overheard conversations contain the key to eternal youth,

and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Which was…over twenty-four years ago? Yikes.

[2] Read: elderly parents’ health crises.

[3] What island – maybe The Big Island, as in Hawaii? Gilligan’s Island? The Island of Misfit Toys. Dr. Moreau, Lost Souls…?

[4] No, I’m not going to post pictures of Regis and/or the Cathy Lee-Hoda beast. You’re welcome.

[5] There is no need for a footnote after the word “was.”

The Classic I’m Not (totally) Commending

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

 

folding

 

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

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

 

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

 

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

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

 

oru

 

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

 

k3

 

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

The Salad I Keep Making

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

crabsalad

.

*   *   *

Department of Crab Segues

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

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

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

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

 

TPB cast

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

*   *   *

Department of More Stupid Things That Bother Me

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

 

HGN

 

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

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

And I just lost my shit.

 

tvyellpng

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

plutoplanepng

*   *   *

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

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

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

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

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

[4] Because, she’s my friend.

[5] Yep, I’m a snob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[12] Shall we make it an even dozen?

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