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The Classic I’m Not (totally) Commending

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

 

folding

 

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

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

 

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

 

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

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

 

oru

 

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

 

k3

 

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

The Salad I Keep Making

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

crabsalad

.

*   *   *

Department of Crab Segues

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

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

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

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

 

TPB cast

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

*   *   *

Department of More Stupid Things That Bother Me

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

 

HGN

 

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

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

And I just lost my shit.

 

tvyellpng

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

plutoplanepng

*   *   *

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

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

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

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

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

[4] Because, she’s my friend.

[5] Yep, I’m a snob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[12] Shall we make it an even dozen?

The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

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Happy Birthday, JWW.

jbday

*   *   *

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

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

 Dude left skidmarks departing my porch.

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

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

 

lesboring

 

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

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

 

gay cake

*   *   *

Department of Stream of Consciousness
Slice of Life Division

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

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

agewine

*   *   *

Reflections on all things messy, as per recent events

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

Oh, never mind.

 

Number One, cancel red alert!

Yeeees! Number One, cancel red alert!

 

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

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

 

crabsalad

 

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

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

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

*   *   *

Department of Just Because

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

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

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

angry fesuspng

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Department of WTF, Oregon?

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

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

sure

to

yeahsure

*   *   *

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

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

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

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

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

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

The Ground I’m Not Breaking

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Department of The Informed Consumer

This is what the back/insides of your clothes dryer may look like, after someone has taken it apart in an effort to discover why it has stopped drying clothes.

dryer

Now you know.

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The D word

As in, Duh – do ya think?

Earlier this week I found The L Word TV entire series collection as I scrolled through the Netflix offerings. I was looking for an intellectually-effortless diversion to pass the time until MH returned from a game of Ultimate Frisbee and we could watch The Serious Movie © we’d rented.

I recalled that the term “groundbreaking[1] had accompanied every other mention of the show during its finale year, and thought it a shame that no such ground had been broken on my TV screen (the show had heretofore not been seen by moiself). Thus, I proceeded to watch the first two episodes of The L Word, that seminal, [2] groundbreaking cable TV drama about the lives of a group of Los Angeles area gay women.

Correction: I tried to watch the first two/pilot episodes of The L Word

Hey world, we got your bold, sassy, livin’ and lovin’ LILAs (Lesbians in Los Angeles), hanging out at chic coffee shops (read: having sex), going to parties (read: having sex) and art gallery openings (read: having sex) and exercise class (read: having sex) and skinny-dipping in their chic condo pools (read: having sex) and flirting with straight women, all of whom have repressed or unaddressed desires to be with women (read: having sex)….

And all of the women – every fucking one of them (pun mostly unintended) – had the faces, physiques and wardrobes of models who’d just stepped off a Calvin Klein catwalk. Which is, of course, how the majority of lesbians in this country look (ahem  [3]) .  And the gym locker room scene between two topless ladies, featuring the spinning instructor who was so-skinny-you-could-see-every-clavicle-curve yet somehow had amazingly ample breasts (the outline of her implants could be plainly seen, what with her skinny-ass skin stretched so tight to accommodate them)? Classy.

I couldn’t make it all the way through the second episode, FAVOR. [4]  I found the show too silly and too booby and too fake blow-jobby and…

Okay. My age or something may be showing here, [5]  but I just don’t find the overwrought, overplayed scenes of what I call movie sex to be sexy, or the least bit erotic. Not. At. All.

You want erotic? I’m bringing sexy back with this:

 

While I take a breather and dab my forehead with a cool compress, I must apologize for the previous pop song reference.

By the way and apropos of almost nothing, did you know that when I first heard SexyBack I thought Mr. J. Timberlake was warbling about his allegedly alluring upper torso?

You know, like this:

back

And not this.

back2jpg

Excuse-moi. Once again, I digress.

The morning after watching The L Word I googled the show to confirm what (to me) was a duh suspicion: that The L Word was produced by men, who could sell to other men (who are the majority of television producers) the idea of nubile lesbians – not a lumberjack shirt or sensible pair of shoes in sight – getting all rubby-dubby with their hot lady selves.

I was close, if not entirely correct. Credits claimed The L Word was “created by” three women; however, two of the three executive producers – the ones who greenlight shows and are the real power behind what shows get made/aired and what doesn’t – were men.

*   *   *

Department of What’s the Point

While we’re circling the subject….

Yet another night sitting in The Stressless Comfy Chairs ®, awaiting the queuing up of yet another movie.

Ahhh. Welcome to the no stress zone.

Ahhh. Welcome to the no stress zone.

I reached for the remote to mute yet another commercial about ED, only this time I paused to briefly consider the paradox of the ad. An attractive, older (silver tresses elegantly coiffed; no male pattern baldness in sight) couple was walking on the beach, holding hands and exchanging sly looks, while the voice-over promised you’ll be ready for whatever comes up, so to speak. The couple continued their stroll while another voice-over cautioned that, in return for the illusion promise of an appearance by the swashbuckling Captain Standish, [6] you may also be visited by his deck crew, Ensigns headache, backache, sore throat, sneezing, “indigestion” (upset stomach and diarrhea), sore throat, nausea…

So. You’ll be ready for sex, but who will want to be around you?

*   *   *

More Guy Things I Have Recently Learned About

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
Albert Einstein

Albert was right – education really is a life-long experience.

Last week a friend called to reschedule our meet-for-lunch date because she had to leave her work to pick up her husband at his work. She took him home to get a change of clothes and tidy up, after he’d had a self-described “wardrobe malfunction.” Details: he’d been in need of a bathroom break, and while using the facilities he had “lost his grip.”

Never again will I be able to hear one person tell another person to get a grip without wondering just how metaphorical or literal the advice may be.

grip

The story, entertaining on its own merits, elicited additional amusement when I relayed it over dinner to MH. I previously had no idea as to the real and present dangers every man faces when he uses public or workplace restrooms, until MH enlightened me. A wardrobe malfunction is a common result of urinal splashback, which, MH gravely informed me, is why smart men “never wear khaki.” Denim and other dark colored pants are best for hiding and/or absorbing splashback. [7]

Good to know.

Or, if you're going for the full splashback effect, make it epic.

Or, if splashback is unavoidable, make it epic.

*   *   *

We now take a (perhaps welcome) break in our unintentional Naughty Bits Theme to end with a moment of Self Promotion.

The Book fair is here! The Book Fair is here!

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, Saturday, April 25 (yikes, that’s tomorrow – I’d better start looking for my hairbrush), the Beaverton City Library is holding the ingeniously titled Author! Author!  – a book fair featuring local (Washington & Multnomah county) authors.

2015 Author Fair

The event is free, open to the unwashed lit-loving public who, from 10a – 1p may browse and (hopefully) purchase selected titles of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature penned by local authors.

Yours truly will be there, with copies of The Mighty Quinn, and also my short fiction collection, This Here and Now . [8]

TMQcover4x6THAN Cover OWC

*   *   *

 

 May your backs be sexy, may your wardrobe never experience a malfunction, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Whether a show breaks ground or fills in previously dug holes – makes no diff to us, as we are among the few remaining cretins/sensible people who refuse to pay $$$ per month to get 249 channels we have no intention of watching.

[2] That just doesn’t seem right, does it?

[3] PC apology/disclaimer forthcoming. One of these days.

[4] The return of my favorite acronym: For A Variety Of Reasons.

[5] But at least not my titties, unlike every character in that show, who must have signed multiple breast exhibition clauses in their contracts.

[6] One of my slang terms re such matters, along with, “Having the Irish toothache.”

[7] A phenomenon which is never, ever, to be confused with sexyback.

[8] Which is out of print – RIP, Scrivenery Press – and may only be obtained from the author herself, ahem.

The Green Armband I’m Not Wearing

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I am no longer wearing it. I wore it for three days, starting last Friday, when Leonard Nimoy died. Green is the color of Vulcan blood. You knew that.

symbol

Leonard Nimoy was, of course, best known for his portrayal of the iconic Star Trek character, Mr. Spock. [1] Nimoy was also a talented writer and screenwriter, director and photographer and singer. [2]

Oh yeah, and he also appeared in the “The Challenge,” which is arguably the Best. Automobile Commercial. Ever.

In late 1979 or early 1980, my parents drove up from So Cal to visit me and check out my first post-college apartment in the Bay Area. A week before the trip they asked me if I wanted them to bring along their old black and white TV set, which, they said, was mine if I wanted it (they’d recently purchased a new color TV, and they knew I had no TV set of any color.). I said thanks, but no. I didn’t watch much television at the time, except for the occasional special event (e.g. The Olympic Games). [3]  I called them back in a couple of days and asked them to bring the set along – I ‘d just found out that Star Trek reruns were going to be broadcast on some local channel.

Upon hearing the news of Nimoy’s death, my siblings and I exchanged a series of emails, in which we reminisced and recommended our respective favorite Star Trek “Spock-centric” episodes, which got me to thinking about the impact a piece of art and an artist [4] can have on one’s life.

I have never attended a Star Trek (nor any fan) convention nor have I ever had the slightest interest in doing so (other than having a fleeting curiosity about attending a ST convention with a cultural anthropologist’s mindset to observe the behavior of obsessive social misfits devoted fans). Still, the Star Trek series and its television and movie sequels and prequels and spinoffs have been an important part of my “entertainment life” for over forty years. That’s worth at least three days of official if casual, armband-wearing mourning. And a lifetime of memories.

My friend MM, when he heard the news, posted the most succinctly appropriate sendoff or tribute I’ve seen:

One to beam up.

Nimoy

*   *   *

Department of My Brain Hurts

Sometimes once something gets in print or gets in a textbook or gets on people’s public radar, it just sticks around, even if there’s reason to suspect that the idea’s just wrong.
(Laurie Santos, professor of psychology at Yale University,

Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory)

brain

The latest episode of Freakonomics, the radio show that explores “the hidden side of everything,” is inspired by the book This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress. Freakonomics’ 3-5-2015 podcast, “This Idea Must Die” is both a treat and torture for idea junkies, and features interviews with a variety of Notable People ® from a variety of professions, all of whom were asked to propose answers to the same question:  “What (scientific) idea is ready for retirement?”

My head felt ready to explode as I began to consider the various propositions, which included

* A professor of cognitive science at University College London would like to kill off the idea that people are either right-brained or left-brained (“an idea that makes no physiological sense”);

* A professor at Harvard Business School wants to retire the idea that that markets are good…and the idea that markets are bad;

* A professor of quantum mechanical engineering at M.I.T. professor of quantum mechanical engineering at M.I.T. would like to retire the idea of “the universe;”

* An oncologist, professor of medicine and director of the MDS Center at Columbia University wants to retire “mouse models” from use in drug development for cancer therapy…

And how about the following for an apoplectic, [5] contemplation-o-rama:

“I think an idea that is bad, that’s really detrimental to society, is the idea that life is sacred.”
(Steve Levitt, Freakonomics co-author, economist at the University of Chicago.)

You owe your brain a listen.

*   *   *

It’s Flicker Time

hammer

No no no no no no no. That’s Flicker Time, not Hammer Time.

But while I’m on the subject, I’m standing here, in my office, staring at this parcel that was delivered  to our house by mistake. I just don’t know what to do. I know I should return it, but it’s addressed to MC Hammer, soooooo, I can’t touch this.

Thank you, Ladies and Germs, you’re too kind.

Back to Flicker Time.

flicker

One of the harbingers of the spring-that-shall-soon-be-here is the sound produced by a Northern Flicker, when s/he [6] is declaring territory with the help of technology.

Northern Flickers (along with most woodpecker species) “drum” on objects to declare territory, warn off rivals and attract and communicate with their mates. Before humans came along to muck up alter the environment, Flickers had to be satisfied with mere tree trunks to drum. They want to make the loudest noise possible from the highest spot possible, which is why, for suburban-dwelling Flickers, paradise is a neighborhood filled with houses that have metallic vents, chimney guards and flashings on their roofs.

I love to hear the sounds of Flicker housetop-drumming when I’m out for my morning walk. The part of me that enjoys petty irritations inflicted upon other people loves to imagine the reactions of the occupants whose houses are selected for Flicker drumming. I speak from experience: the first time you hear that noise, reverberating down your chimney and bouncing off the walls, it can be quite disconcerting until you figure out what the heck it is, where the heck it is coming from and who the heck is doing it.

"Everybody look at meeee! I've got my own drumming spaceship!"

“Everybody look at meeee! I’ve got my own drumming spaceship!”

*   *   *

Happy (early) 22nd Birthday to my son, K.

Hard to believe that my adorable “leaf boy” is twenty-two.

October 1995, near the Mackenzie River.

October 1995, near the Mackenzie River.

*   *   *

My Daughter the DJ

Keep it locked on the sound, 90.1 KUPS.

Excuse me for yet another a parental pride freak-out, but that’s my daughter on the air, announcing her college radio station’s motto.  All together now:

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Cat’s Got Your Tongue is what Belle is calling her show on KUPS, at the prime slot of Wednesday mornings, 6 am.. Her focus is “Indie folk,” which means that lucky listeners such as moiself get to hear songs about how “the robots are going to help us find our crystal” (after the pirates have stolen it). [7]

KUPS is a college radio station and sounds like one – interesting if sporadic programming, there are gaps in their schedule, and their website needs updating (Belle’s shift is not listed, ahem). Oh, and apparently no one at the radio station can agree about why their mascot is…what it is.

KUPS

*   *   *

When I’ve completed a new project and am researching publishers, one of the first things I do is check out the manuscript submission guidelines that are found on the publishing houses’ websites.  I am not a writer of genre fiction; thus, I rule out publishers that specialize in genres (unless they also publish literary fiction).  Sometimes, even when it is obvious from first glance that a publisher is genre-specific, I linger at the site, just to get an idea of how many ridiculous sub-categories there are and imagine the minds of people who read that shit genres are out there.

Such lingering occurred early this week, when I ran across a relatively new publishing house that specialized in the Romance genre. I was struck by the extensive sub-categories of Romance, some (okay; most) of which I had no idea existed:  Adventure Romance; Dark Fantasy; Futuristic; Gothic; Interracial; LGBT; Medical; Military; Paranormal; Regency; Rock ‘n Roll; Science Fiction; Time-Travel;Urban Fantasy…

Oh, and the publishers noted they were particularly interested in Amish Romance.

REALLY

Amish Romance?

I’d heard of the Christian – aka Inspirational – Romance genre, the guidelines of which are fairly strict: protagonists must behave according to “Christian tenets” and shun alcohol, tobacco, profanity and drugs; sexual desire and content is only hinted at or avoided entirely and must be heterosexual in nature; no nookie before marriage, and romantic encounters must lead to marriage or the promise of it somewhere in a golden horizon that is planned by their god; relationships with non-believers are either forbidden or presented in a negative light unless the plot involves the heathen love interest being “led to Christ.” A typical blurb for a mainstream Christian romance novel:

Bethany La Chasteté and  Rick Granarbor are not ready for the feelings that may blow apart their plans for their lives. Can they learn to trust that God has his own?

Once again, I digress.

An Amish romance novel? Who would read it – certainly not an actual Amish person. So then, who is the target audience? The comparatively frisky Mennonites?

Are those bees in the girls' bonnets or are they just happy to see us?

Are those bees in the girls’ bonnets or are they just happy to see us?

I’m trying to picture what, exactly, might constitute conflict and tension in an Amish Romance novel. An exchange of longing gazes over buttonhooks; the gentle stroking of a beard while sneaking surreptitious glances at an apron string fluttering in the sultry summer breeze; the coveting of the neighbor farm boy’s well-endowed buggy….

Joseph, Samuel and Jacob – is it hot in here or is it just me? Excuse me while I lie down and loosen my bonnet.

Although Rebecca's fiery temper has driven away every suitor, Reuben was ready to p lough the fallow fields of her heart.

Although Rebecca’s temper had driven away every suitor, Reuben was ready to plow the fallow fields of her heart.

 

*   *   *

May you live long and prosper, may you be the target audience of the genre of your choice, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Nimoy was also instrumental in developing the character’s history, distinctive body language and personality, according to Star Trek writers, producers and fellow actors.

[2] No…he was not a talented singer, as evidenced here.

[3] During my college and Young Adult Working Years © I missed many television shows now considered iconic (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, ad nauseum) and had to learn about them in other ways, to fill the gaps in my popular culture knowledge, which is important for doing crossword puzzles.

[4] Yes, I’m counting a television show as art.

[5] Well, perhaps, if you’re religious, just that idea might send you into fits. I fully agree with retiring the idea that life – that anything – is “sacred,” but not for the (economic) reasons Levitt cites.

[6] Both sexes will drum and call to declare and protect their territory.

[7] Dillon’s Hey Beau.

The Culture I’m Not Promoting

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Today’s theme – broadly interpreted (by this broad) – is Arts and Literature

That's funny! No, that's pathetic!

She’s funny! No, she’s pathetic!

*   *   *

Department of Things I Am Not Afraid to Confess

“Carefully orchestrated pandiculations follow a routine: Lips part, the tongue hunkers down, and muscles in the face, mouth and diaphragm engage as the head tilts back.”
(Laura Sanders, Science News, May 7, 2011)

I am a pandiculator; that is, I am one who pandiculates. And it has nothing to do with fantasizing after watching a certain Daniel Day-Lewis movie. [1]

You want to pandiculate. Admit it. And you already (probably) do, and don’t realize it.

Your cat pandiculates (just as you’ve always suspected), and so does your dog and your hamster.  Your snake?  Well, that might be stretching it (rim shot!).

Why do quadrupeds have all the fun?

Why do quadrupeds have all the fun?

*   *   *

Blast From the Past: The Domes Live On

“The trill of panpipes from a yurt wafted across the mulch hillocks of the Domes, a 1970s experiment in communal housing in which students live in igloo-like fiberglass domes….”

Thus begins Wednesday’s New York Times article about The Domes at UC Davis. I was surprised and pleased to see the article; I had no idea the domes still existed.

I was not a Dom-ie during my UC Davis years. My on-campus housing situation consisted of spending four quarters on the legendary 3rd Floor of Bixby, [2] one of the campus’ high rise dorms.  I had an acquaintance who lived in the Domes, and visited her there, once.  Although I admired the concept of the Domes I loathed the name students gave the complex (“Baggins End”). [3]

Still, they were – they are – kinda cute.

UCDDomes

*   *   *

Department of Theatrical Plays You Must See

We licked postage stamps…
we didn’t have answering machines, you had to call people back!

No one was more surprised than moiself to find moiself tearing up at a Christopher Durang comedy. Specifically, during Act 2 of Portland Center Stage’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Vanya’s poignant, digressive tirade – prefaced by the apology/declaration Boomers feel is necessary when expressing a longing for something from our past – contained two comments/observations that made me catch my breath in recognition and sadness.  I found myself mourning the validity of Vanya’s comments, then, an hour or so later I wondered,  does even recognizing the validity of those comments mean that I’ve gotten old?

I’m NOT a conservative!… But there are things I miss about the past.
We have no shared memories anymore!

Regarding the latter, I realize that you can’t miss what you’ve never had.  Nevertheless, I’ve tried to explain to my (now young adult) children the collective consciousness of popular culture that arose from the post WWII era, that began to fade with the advent of cable TV, and that no longer seems possible in these days of 24 hour broadcasts of 758 channels (not to mention the plethora of internet media outlets). Sure, many of the shows were lousy or just plain dull.  But we all watched them, and thus had the same references.  We all watched the same lousy shows.

...and we could all sing along to the lousy theme songs!

We could all sing along to the lousy theme songs!

 

During the play I was seated next to two lovely [4] gentlemen, and struck up a conversation with them after the final curtain.  One of them has extensive experience in the performing arts and writes reviews of regional theatrical productions.  If you like live theatre, [5] check out his blog, DennisSparksReviews.

*   *   *

Department of, But, Really

Content warning: seriously petty snark ahead.

A known photo-phobic such as moiself has no right to criticize the unattractiveness of another person’s publicity shot.  That said, guess what I’m about to do?

It’s like this. I assume that when a musical group is taking or posing for a promo shot, they want to look “good,” whatever that entails for …well, for their individual egos, for the image the band is trying to project, for the fan base to which they are trying to appeal, their musical genre, etc. The elements that make for an “attractive” picture for The Dead Kennedys [6]

I feel pretty, oh so pretty....

I feel pretty, oh so pretty….

 

…likely are significantly different than those of the promo shots commissioned by The Portland Cello Project.

Do these ginormous violins make our butts look big?

Do these ginormous violins make our butts look big?

Different strokes – yep. I get that.

Still… I could search the universe of inhabitable planets, other worlds, other species, both virtual and speculative, and it is hard to imagine that I would find a sentient being with a more homely, less attractive hairstyle and overall “look” than that borne by the sole female member of The Decemberists, [7] who is featured front and center in the band’s just shoot me now I can’t believe someone approved this shot photo on the cover of The Oregonian’s arts & entertainment section last Friday.

Decemberists

 

The male members of the band fare a smidge better, if you go for the Awkward and Slightly Bored Bohemian Accounts Payable Clerk ®  mode. As for the lady boho, nothing says Hipper-than-Thou-Indie-folk-rock-Darlings like musicians who project all the free spirit vibe of a runner-up to the Miss 1919 Frumpy Librarian contest crossed with your dowdy Aunt Erva’s it’s-five-o’clock-where’s-my-Jim-Beam-tumbler sneer.

I’m trying to think of an excuse.  Was there no one there to look through the photographer’s lens and say, whoa, Betty!?  Friends don’t let friends photograph drunk.

*   *   *

Department of But What Matters in the End Has Nothing To Do With Your Hair
Aka, Books You Must Read

Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

 After reading this amazing, absorbing, provocative, compassionate, thought-provoking book, a certain thought kept coming to my mind:

When it comes to end of life medical care, safety – rather, the concern over/illusion of safety – is the enemy of happiness and purpose.

Anyone who has older friends and family members – or friends and family of any age who are facing mortal illness – should read this book. You who will, one day sooner or later, be older and in more frail health than you are today – you should read this book.

I think that covers it.

Well, what are you waiting for?!

What are you waiting for?!

*   *   *

☼   K Explains It All   ☼

“Do you know what this is?” I asked my son.

K had entered my office, attracted and bemused by the danger!-explosion!-chase!pow!-kablooey! coming from my computer screen. I’d clicked on a video posted on a friend’s FB page – a trailer for an upcoming movie I’d never heard of, based on a book I’d never read.

“It’s like the Hunger Games, only shitty,” K sneered. “Another YA book about another dystopian future, where everyone is evil or in peril until they are saved by the one special snowflake character.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

BOOM

*   *   *

May your special snowflake be there when it matters (packing serious heat, of course, and a fetching hipster hairdo), and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] I will find you!

[2] Third floor Bixby had groupies – students living on other floors of Bixby, or even from other dorms, who came to our floor to hang out because we were way too much fun.

[3] There seemed to be no escaping Tolkien references in the late ’70s, which was torture for those of us who found the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books and their cultish fans to be an interminable, that’s-so-junior-high snooze fest.

[4] I adore being able to accurately describe someone in that way. I’m using my Masterpiece Theatre typing accent, in case you didn’t notice.

[5] And if you don’t, you should. No pandiculating required.

[6] Whatever happened to Jello Biafra, one of the great band member names of all time?

[7] Some of their songs I live very much, as much as I loathe the Portland Special Darling status they have acquired with some local critics (a status certain members of the band seem to take seriously) .

The Knockers I’m Not Upping

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They’re baaaaaaaaak….

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

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

*   *   *

Speaking of the holidays….

♫  Let Me Hang My Balls On Your Christmas Tree  ♫

Moo-oom!

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

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

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

Dr. D

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

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

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

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department of Also Somewhat Holiday Related

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

PHillwalks

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

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

OBI MAWU.

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

Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAR

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

TESB

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

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

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

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

I actually, almost, felt sorry for the guy.

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

Darth Vadar is Luke’s father.

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

The Force is strong in this one.

The Force is strong in this one.

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Okay, May 1980.

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

The Riposte I’m Not Stifling

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Department of I Just Didn’t Want To Go There

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

“Why are you ski-walking?” 

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

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

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

smoke

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

"About those fluoride applications...."

“About those fluoride applications….”

*   *   *

Department of, If You Have to Ask…

Prologue:
So, what do you do?

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

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

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

And now, the anecdote:

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

"You got a problem with that?"

“You got a problem with that?”

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

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

She looked at me blankly.

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

“No, I mean, as in work.  For money.”

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

Her eyes lit up like a venti-chugging lemur.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

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

“Mostly fiction.”

“Are you famous?”

(Ay yi yi). “Are you?” I replied.

Her blank look resurfaced.

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

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

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

*   *   *

Department of Bright Ideas

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

brights_icon_100x100

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

My Work Here is Done

On Wednesday I received the following email from daughter Belle:

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

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

*   *   *

 

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

 

 Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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