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The Hand I’m Not Sniffing

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Nothing Says Here Comes Christmas…

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Now I Get It

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

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

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

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

 

whatif

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

we are not amused

*   *   *

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

 

obiwine

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh

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

 

bondmartini

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh….shit.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Some memory lapses have fringe benefits.

*   *   *

Department of Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah

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

 

 

force

*   *   *

Department Of It’s A Wonderful Life

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

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

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

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

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

 

happy family

*   *   *

Department Of If You Have To Ask…

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

 

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

MH: Uh oh.

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

MH: You don’t want me to answer that.

clap

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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

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

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

[4] But of course, was not.

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

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

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

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

The Fun I’m Not Missing

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Department Of What’s The Point

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

*   *   *

Department Of Pleasant Surprises

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

 

 

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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 Relevance I’m Not Maintaining

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Department of Thanksgiving Hangover

Yet another thing for which to be thankful – a spate of recent crisp, [1] clear mornings late last/early this week, when I could see the moon as I walked at dawn.

dawnmoon

 

Department of My Irrelevance

Medical doctors are trained in the importance of pain assessment , including how to differentiate between the many and problematically subjective human experiences of pain. Current thought on the matter is that storytelling, via descriptive prompts from doctor to patient, is a valuable lead-in to pain assessment.

Tell me about your pain. Would you describe it as:

burning, shooting, tingling, radiating, lancinating, or numbness
or achy, throbbing, or dull;
or squeezing, pressure, cramping, distention, dull, deep, and stretching

The pain I felt on Tuesday morning began as a burning in my ears. The sensation quickly radiated up the auditory nerve to my auditory cortex, where it translated into a deep, throbbing ache. It was all I could do not to jerk out my earbuds and fling my iphone to the ground.

Lay translation: the podcast I was listening to made my brain hurt.

This American Life , the mahvelous weekly journalistic radio show, follows a distinctive format.  Each show has a theme, and uses a combination of essays, first person narratives and interviews, archival sound recordings and sometimes even short fiction to explore and illustrate their show’s themes, in segments of up to three or four “acts.” TAL’s themes range from current events and popular culture to particular aspects of human nature. The one that made my brain hurt was This American Life #573: Status Update.

“Most of the time, the updates we share about our lives are small and inconsequential. This week, status updates that interrupt daily life.”

I had to force myself to finish listening to the first act – the ominously [2] titled, Finding the Self in Selfie. TAL host Ira Glass interviewed three teenage girls on the complex and constantly changing social media map that is primarily distributed and maintained via their cellphones. The interview consisted of the girls (Julia, Ella, Jane) explaining why they feel they must constantly tell their friends they are beautiful on Instagram and other social media sites, as well as post pictures of themselves on the same sites, which are in turn subject to commentary.

 

socialm

 

There are complicated and unwritten – yet widely known and seemingly accepted [3] –  “rules” for such social media interaction. And listening to the girls explain it made me want to puke.

Navigating the social strictures of high school was hard enough in The Olden Days, ® when your social status rose and fell via lunch table and locker room gossip. Now, kids have to obsess about their “relevance”  – they use that term, I kid you not – as per their peers’ reactions to their social media presence, a relevance (read: social ranking) both ephemeral and life-altering, which can change in minutes, even seconds.

And even as the girls complained about or acknowledged the shallowness behind the obligation of social media, they admitted to voluntarily and rabidly participating in the same.

(excerpt from a transcript of the episode)

Ira Glass: I have to say…oh my god, this is such a job.

Girls: Yeah.

Julia: It’s like I’m– I’m a brand, and I am like–

Ella: You’re trying to promote yourself.

Julia: The brand. I’m the director of the–

Ira Glass: And you’re the product.

Jane: You’re definitely trying to promote yourself.

Julia: To stay relevant, you have to–

Jane: You have to work hard.

Ella: Relevance is a big term right now.

Ira Glass: Are you guys relevant?

Ella: Um, I’m so relevant.

Jane: In middle school. In middle school, we were definitely really relevant.

Ella: (SARCASTICALLY) We were so relevant.

Jane: Because everything was established. But now, in the beginning of high school, you can’t really tell who’s relevant.

Ira Glass: Yeah. And what does relevant mean?

Jane: Relevant means that people care about what you’re posting on Instagram. People–

Julia: Care about you.

Listening to the story, I felt…I’m not sure how to describe it. I felt like some kind of Amish anti-tech/media advocate. 

 

There be no more Snapchat for thee, young ladies!

There be no more Snapchat for thee, young lady!

 

Of course, those seemingly benign Amish can get downright nasty when it comes to their community’s insular social status, and shun their own who fail to toe the line. But the threat of ostracizing, bullying or relevance banishment seems so much more pervasive in today’s all-knowing, all-reporting world of social media.

I wanted to slap some sense into those girls and envelop them in a mama bear hug, all at once.

It’s like I’m– I’m a brand…
…and you’re the product.

I wish feminism came in a can, like Red Bull, that girls and young women could chug. I wish there was a “product” to rev up their perception metabolism, a formula that would make them want to stop shoring up the system that perpetuates looksism and a bajillion-hundred other insecurities and forms of disempowerment.

 

wecandoit

*   *   *

Department of Holiday Hell

A recurrent seasonal nightmare of mine involves having a friend who participates in That Most Fiendish Holiday Of Events © . This friend invites me to attend said event, and in a moment of weakness truth-telling I blurt out that I would rather dive face first into a vat of eggnog-laced hyena feces than attend a Singing Christmas Tree show.

 

Santa, shoot me now.

Santa, shoot me now.

*   *   *

Department of Holiday What The Hell

Every time the traveling company for the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon has come to Portland I’ve tried to get tickets, and every time I have failed.  I did succeed in convincing MH and our son, K, in accompanying me to the next best thing: a matinee performance of The Book of Merman, which we saw last Sunday.

The Book of Merman is the story of what happens when two novice Mormon missionaries unexpectedly encounter “the undisputed first lady of the musical comedy stage.” (Well, of course it is).

I tried to make our outing as multicultural as possible. When one thinks of Mormons and/or Ethel Merman, the cuisine that naturally comes to mind is something Ricky Ricardo would appreciate. Thus, we dined before the show at Portland’s best Cuban café, [4] Pambiche,

BTW, you should know that Ethel Merman did one of the all-time great movie cameo appearances, in Airplane!

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Don’t Make Me Say It 

Is it December, already?

I thought I advised you not to make me say it.

And while I religiously dodge Singing Christmas Tree invitations I do enjoy a seasonal song or two.  There is no shortage of good Christmas carols for atheists, [5] including, White Christmas, Sleigh Bells, Deck the Halls, Rudolph…and I’d say almost any tune by Tim Minchin qualifies, especially the lovely, cheeky and yet sentimental, White Wine in the Sun. A new-old favorite of mine is I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas. [6]  And please, get you and yo mama some seasonal spirit by singling along with the greatest rap Yule tune of all time, Christmas In Hollis.

 

 

*   *   *

May your unexpected encounters be Merman-esque;
may you be emotionally healthy enough to not give a flying flounder’s flatulence about your social media relevance;
and may the holiday hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Not exactly thrilled about the 20˚ temps…but the moon is worth it.

[2] For someone my age who loathes selfies.

[3] At least, by the teenagers involved.

[4] Well, it’s the best Cuban restaurant – Perdóneme, el mejor café CubanoI’ve been to in Portland (okay, so there are, like, maybe three).

[5] “Good” is defined as songs that do not mention deities. And it’s funny, when you do the research, to find out how many Christmas songs were written by atheists and agnostics…and Jews.

[6] Of course, some godless nitpicker will point out that hippo gods were worshiped in ancient Egypt.

The Alien Beam I’m Not Succumbing To

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They’re Here

 

 

 

I fear for MH. And also for my son, K. Something happens to men on this day.  And yes, despite my lifelong battle against gender stereotypes, I must declare that it seems to be a Guy Thing © .

I have it on good authority [1] that on the day after Thanksgiving men become subject to an alien spacecraft which hovers over North America, determined to wreak holiday havoc. Any adult male biped homeowner residing in the suburbs who steps outside of his home is subject to the thought control beam emanating from that invisible, insidious spaceship.

Truly, it is a wretched sight to behold: the oblivious male homeowner’s arms slowly elevate until they are parallel to the earth and he begins to move in a Frankenstein-ian lurch toward his stash in the attic and/or garage, all the while robotically murmuring,

Must. Put. Up. Lights. On. House.

 

xmaslights

Klaatu barada nikto…I hear and I obey.

*   *   *

Department Of You Know I’m Right

 

If you can’t fix it with this

 

duct

 

or this

 

WD

 

Or this

 

screwdriverpng

 

Which is not to be confused with this

 

On second thought....

On second thought….

 

then it’s probably not worth fixing.

 

*   *   *

Department of But Wait – There’s More!

Remember last week’s rant well-reasoned if bemused commentary about the TMI [2] – ness of the LGBT acronym?  On Monday I discovered this Special Specification ® , posted online in a call for submissions from a literary journal:

Adipose Crustacean Quarterly [3] will celebrate QPOC (queer people of color) voices
in a special issue outside of our regular publication schedule!

Now get back to putting up those lights around the garage door.

Now get back to putting up those lights around the garage door.

*   *   *

‘Tis the Fucking Season

 

war

 

Americans who wail about the imaginary “persecution of Christians” – I want to shine my flashlight in their right ears to see how long it takes for the beam to come out of the left.  The holiday season really brings it out, and their ignorant mewling becomes even more strident and annoying from now through New Year’s.

Attention, crybabies Christians: not getting everything your way every day, on every issue does not constitute a war against you. People acknowledging the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere there are about bazillion cultural observances that regularly and/or periodically occur between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and New Year, [4] and thus using Happy Holidays! as a respectful, inclusive and appropriate greeting – no war there.

All together now:  not being able to discriminate against other people does not equal a war on your beliefs.

 

 

warxmas

*   *   *

May you discover your very own special acronym;
may you escape the clutches of invisible alien beams;
may you be free from imaginary wars and filled with authentic peace…
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] That would  be my devious imagination.

[2] Too many initials

[3] Not the magazine’s real name. Dang, eh?

[4] Including Saturnalia, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Diwali, El Dia de los Muertos, and Kwanza, Solstice, Ramadan, Yule, Watch Night, Eid al-Fitr, Saint Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, Chinese/Lunar New Year,Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucia Day, Pancha Ganapati, All Saints Day, Sadeh, Guy Fawkes Day….

The Time I’m Not Traveling

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Department Of Can We Stop Using This Phrase, Please?

Re the ongoing blah blah blah political rhetoric of What We Would Or Shouldn’t Do To Help The Syrian People/Fight ISIS ® : there is a certain phrase I want to consign to the idiom trash bin.  Because

1) it glosses over the gritty reality of soldiers – flesh and blood human beings who are more than the parts of their uniforms – being deployed, and

(2) it doesn’t make me feel any more or less safe, or any more or less certain that we (the USA) are doing the right thing.

I mean, Boots on the ground – c’mon. That’s a given in my home.

 

boots

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering
Aka, Further Idiotic Idiom Inquiries

While we [1] are on the subject of idioms, you know the one some people use when they wish to emphasize their certainty about a subject?

“I ____  beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

This expression assumes that a doubt has a corporeal heft to it – a mass that could cast a shadow. Now, what would a doubt’s shadows look like? How would you know that what you saw was the shadow of a doubt? [2] And, like most physical objects, would doubt only cast a shadow on a sunny day, and thus on a cloudy day you could have no such certainty?

For the sake of further blithering discussion, suppose you indeed found doubt’s shadow: how would you know you were beyond it? Would it have clearly demarcated borders? And would beyond a shadow of a doubt mean that you were before, after or to the side of…which of the borders?

 

Whichever one of you is Doubt, please raise your hand...damn....

Whichever one of you is Doubt, please raise your hand…damn….

*   *   *

Department Of Put Down Your Green Tea And Reach For An Antiemetic

Katherine Stewart, author of “The Good News Club: the Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children” wrote an op-ed piece for Monday’s New York Times, which was one of the more disturbing articles I’ve ever read over breakfast. Stewart wrote about the Republican presidential candidates [3] who attended the National Religious Liberties Conference, wherein conference organizer, pastor Kevin Swanson, “…again called for the punishment [4] of homosexuality by death. To be clear, he added that the time for eliminating America’s gay population was “not yet” at hand. We must wait for the nation to embrace the one true religion, he suggested, and gay people must be allowed to repent and convert.”

Stewart writes that we non-conservatives might picture religious conservatives via stereotypes of  Midwestern farmers and small business owners, but warns that the leaders of the conservative religious movements to whom the seemingly benign Farmer Jethros of the nation deliver their votes have a more powerful, radical, and far-reaching agenda.

[ From Ted Cruz and the Anti-Gay Pastor, by NY Times op ed 11-16-15 (my emphases)]

When they hail religious liberty, they do not mean the right to pray and worship with other believers. Instead, the phrase has become a catchall for tactical goals of seeking exemptions from the law on religious grounds.  To claim exception from the law as a right of “religious refusal” is, of course, the same as claiming the power to take the law into one’s own hands.

The leaders of this movement are breathtakingly radical. Like Mr. Swanson, they feel persecuted and encircled in a hostile world. Like him, they believe that America will find peace only when all submit to the one true religion. … they do share the ultimate goal of capturing the power of the state and remaking society in ways most Americans would find extreme: a world in which men rule in families, women’s reproductive freedom is curtailed and “Bible believers” run the government.

I know that such people exist; I’ve heard their frightening rhetoric. Still, sometimes I wonder how much I really know about what they would like to do, if given the chance. Change the name Swanson to Imam Shafi’I and Bible-believers to Quran or Sharia disciples….in case you haven’t already noted the identical mindset.

 

clogic

*   *   *

Department Of Time To Pick On The Other Side
Subdivision Of Stop This While You Still Can

It’s not LGBT anymore- it’s LGBTQ!
(overheard from a probably well-intentioned but nonetheless shrill acronym cop)

 

facepalm

 

Not long ago, I overheard a portion of a conversation between two people, in which Person 1 corrected Person 2 for using LGBT, an erstwhile standard acronym which, according to some burr up their butts concerned citizens, is no longer acceptable due to its inadequacy of inclusion.

I’ve been reminded of that unintentional eavesdropping incident several times in the past few months, when I’ve encountered variations on the term LGBT. I’ve also encountered  More People insisting that Other People must employ a longer variant of the term (of the More People’s choosing). Most of these variations involve LGBT ‘s acquisition of Q, which, I’ve both told, stands for queer or questioning…or queer and/or questioning.

And then, earlier this week, I came across a new literary journal’s submission guidelines, which included this specification:

We are especially excited to hear from LGBTQIA + writers.

This was just a few days after I’d read some political observations online, wherein a commenter was questioned/corrected when he used LGBT instead of whatever acronym the Corrector deemed proper, which was something like LGBTQIA+ …only there was another symbol after the A, which wasn’t a + .

The Corrector didn’t say what his replacement acronym stood for, which of course led me to a so-what-does-it-mean? Web search. I found several sites which define LGBTQIA as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexuala “more inclusive term than LGBT for people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity.”

But wait,  that’s what the Q is for – inclusivity, right? One Corrector explained it to me many moons ago: Queer was for other identifications that were not specifically or mainly LGBT.

Okay; fine. LGBTQIA.  Now, what’s with the addition of the addition sign? What does + signify? There is more inclusivity to be included?

Look, I’m sorry…. Strike that.

 

sorry

 

I’m not sorry at all for holding the opinion that the acronym is becoming unwieldy. This opinion o’mine is based on matters of convenience and accuracy of usage, and is not indicative of any political or social stance. [5]

Calling all Acronym Correctors: Don’t potentially alienate supporters – don’t shut down dialog or push people away by being a usage cop. Strive to gain and maintain allies by listening to what people say over how they are saying it; i.e., go for substance over style. And BTW, since when are all LGBTQ/minority sexual identifying people part of one, monolithic community, with the same political, economic, social and cultural concerns that can be encapsulated in one acronym?

IMHO:

LGBTQIA+  =  TMI.

TMI in this case  =  Too. Many. Initials.

SOAPBOX

We now return you to our regular ranting…er, programming.

*   *   *

Department of Public Service

truth

The Tooth? You Can’t Handle The Tooth
(A Few Good Men, the Dental Hygiene prequel)

Glide dental floss is sold by the crapfull caseload at Costco; thus, a crapload whole lotta people use it. According to my dentist [6] it is one step up from useless, as are all flosses coated with PTFE (a synthetic polymer, the most familiar brand name of which is Teflon).

Teflon-coated floss slides between your teeth nicely, but that’s about all it does. Plaque doesn’t stick to it, and the point of flossing is to have the floss latch on to and remove plaque. Remember what kind of surfaces Teflon is used for? All together now: non-stick.

 

angrytoothpng

*   *   *

One Ticket For The Time Travel Shuttle,
And May I Have The First Class, Low Sodium Seating Option?

Somebody talking something [7] about the possibility of time travel got me to thinking about the temporal reality I inhabit. I’ve long considered that I live in the (near) future, in that my today is what was the tomorrow of my yesterday.

That may sound like cheating, but think about it: we are living in the future of our past. Those months and years ago, when we thought about the times to come? Every day is just that. Oh, and that proverbial rainy day that we are supposed to save for? It’s here (well, at least in the Pacific Northwest). So do it/spend it now, if/while you can.

Something else I heard from the Somebody Talking: apparently, when people are asked to imagine the option of time travel (Pretend you could travel in time; where would you go and what would you do?), they commonly elect to go backward in time to try to right some historical wrongs or atrocities (hint: fanatical German dude with unbecoming mustache).

For moiself, I’m not so sure I’d take up the offer. I’ve seen too many Star Trek episodes to think that I’d be wise enough so that my tinkering with history would produce only positive changes. Were I to travel back in time, I wouldn’t choose to do anything grandiose or ostensibly noble (I would not assassinate Hitler, nor his mother). I’d revisit more personal scenarios. There are some people I’d like to kiss that I didn’t…and there are some I’d like to punch that I didn’t. But, wouldn’t changing anything be mucking up history, even if on a smaller scale?

My brain hurts.

mybrainhurts

*   *   *

You Know It’s Almost Here

 

 

*   *   *

May the seasons you celebrate be upon you and yours,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Yes, technically it’s me who’s on the subject, but y’all are along for the ride.

[2] What if you confused it with, say, the shadow of a debit? Or a donut?

[3] Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

[4] Ha ha, made you look.

[5] And I FHTF (fucking hate the fact) that I feel obligated to make that disclaimer.

[6] Who is now asking his patients what kind of floss they use, instead of just the yes/no do you floss question, as he’s seeing more and more avowed regularly flossing patients whose teeth have the plaque buildups of non-flossers…and guess what kind of floss they use?

[7] It might have been on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s recent StarTalk podcast.

The Military I’m Not Saluting

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And They Said The Honeymoon Wouldn’t Last

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

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

 

squash7

*   *   *

The Verisimilitudinous Vermin of Autumn

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

 

rat

*   *   *

Belated Veterans Day Thoughts and Wishes

 

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

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

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

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

 

REALLY

 

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

Once again, I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Some Phone Calls Are Harder Than Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

elderly bird

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Need I Say More?

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

*   *   *

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

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Another clichéd phrase I loathe.

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

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

[4] That would be moiself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Memoir I’m Not Reading

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Department of Writers Sniping Other Writers:
The Reading I Did Not Attend And The Memoir I Will Not Read

Okay. As regular readers of this blog know or may assume, I never attend any author’s book readings (including my own) unless there is the proverbial knife to my throat. Thus, it’s not like it would be a crushing blow for A Certain Author to realize her recent gig was unattended my moiself.

But, I refer to was an appearance I really did not attend, with a vengeance.

“Author Speaks of Friendship With Harper Lee” bleated the headline of an article in our [1] local newspaper. The article covered the appearance last week at a local art center by a journalist turn memoirist, who was promoting her book, “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee.”

The Author Who Shall Not Be Named Herein is a journalist who claims to have befriended Harper Lee several years ago. AWSNBNH moved next door to the much celebrated but little seen Lee, author of the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird.  AWSNBNH moved next door, was the elderly Lee’s neighbor for 18 months, and got enough material out of it to warrant, at lea$t in her and her public$herS’ e$timation$, a memoir about the experience.

Unfortunately and of course, the book is selling. [2]

The notoriously private, publicity-shunning Lee refused requests to pen her own memoirs – or any kind of book, after Mockingbird was published. Nevertheless, as her mental and physical health has declined she has been exploited by editors and others, and is now featured in someone else’s memoir – a Someone who has found a way to sell a book about herself no one would be interested in save for AWSNBNH’s literary name-dropping.

Was AWSNBNH’s alleged friendship with Lee premeditated/predicated with such a book in mind? There’s no way to prove that. [3]  Still, the stench of mercenary manipulation turns my stomach.

 

badsmell

*   *   *

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

MH works for Intel, which occasionally treats its employees to Some Big Event. ®   Several months ago, MH told me about a Big Event to come: I remember how he tried to act nonchalant when he said that, as they had done in the past, Intel was planning on renting out an entire movie theater for one day, so  employees could attend exclusive/preview showings of a premiere movie.

The last such Big Event premiere we attended was the latest (at the time, 2009) Star Trek movie. Intel employees who were interested in the event received tickets for themselves and up to three guests. Thus, our family – MH, K, Belle and I – got to see the ST movie a day ahead of its official release, which was great fun for us lifelong Trek fans. [4]

This Big Event is going to be…a little different, MH said. The demand would be great, to say the least – the event organizers hadn’t yet decided how many tickets would be available per employee, or even if anyone other than the employees could attend. Employees were lobbying to at least let them take one friend or family member….

MH was hesitant, but could no longer contain himself:  the movie is Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens – the new Star Wars installment. The movie’s official premiere date is December 18. Intel’s special showing would be December 16th. Which is my birthday.

 

FB scene

 

Think of the happiest you’ve ever been. Multiply times four to get an idea of my excitement.

“It’s a sign from the universe!” non-universe-sign-believing moiself said to MH. “They MUST allow you to take your spouse!”

A day later, it was confirmed: Attendees may each invite one guest.

And several months later, the word is given:  never mind.

 

KHAN

 

The event, if it will take place at all, will be on the day of the movie’s official release. Someone with Evil Emperor status in the Star Wars hierarchy has decreed that no one will get a special sneak previewing showing of the movie.

This has the fingerprints of George Lucas all over it. He may have handed over the Star Trek directorial reins to someone else, but it appears he’s joined you-know-what side of The Force to exhibit his influence.

 

Lucas

 

Mr. Lucas, why do you hate America? More specifically, why do you want to ruin my birthday?

(Fuck yeah, I’m taking this personally.)

On the other hand…you have other fingers.

What I mean of course is that, on the other hand, perhaps it’s best for the universe that my Special Star Wars Viewing Privilege has been revoked. Truly, my gloating would have known no bounds.

*   *   *

The Memoir I Did Read
Aka, So, What’s It Like To Be A Girl Blogger?

I recently finished reading Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. CB writes eloquently (if often, IMHO, over analytically), about her early life and formative years as a musician, when she was a co-founder of that seminal  [5]  riot grrrl trio, Sleater-Kinney. Extra bonus: she makes only one reference, late in the book, to the media venture for which she is (unfortunately) most widely known: Portlandia. And that’s it – just a brief reference, alluding to the existence of the show, but nothing more.

 

hallelujahpng

 

Yet again, I digress.

One of the subjects on which CB is most eloquent is the WTF Do We Still Have To Deal With…oh, can you just guess? I refer to the infinitesimal variations on the oh-so logical questions Ms. Brownstein and her bandmates would be asked if their 23rd pair of chromosomes were XY instead of XX:

How is it for you, being a man in an all male rock band?

yeahright

Journalists, interviewers, music critics — from newbies to music industry veterans who should have known better, from those who’d already written the story before they interviewed the band to those who truly appreciated Sleater-Kinney’s unique attitude and attributes and were prone to reviewing them favorably…all of ’em seemingly couldn’t help but slip on that particular banana peel: 

“…(while attempting to talk about) our music and the process of writing an album in an interview, then (we’d later) read the article and see that the writer focused on what we were wearing or how we looked, discussed our gender, or made a sexist comment in the story.

This was the same time as the Spice Girls and “Girl Power.” We knew there was a version of feminism that was being dumbed down and marketed, sloganized, and diminished…. We were considered a female band before we became merely a band; I was a female guitarist and Janet was a female drummer for years before we were simply considered a guitarist and a drummer.”

CB goes on to compile a “representative sample” of comments from articles about Sleater-Kinney, articles CB recognizes were often meant to be complimentary but which “…fell into common traps and assumptions.”

Okay, I’m not going to list them (they’re in chapter 15, if you’re interested. Just one excerpts from one of the most nauseating, from a 1998 article in the Washington Post:

“Fortunately, their frequent lyrical challenges to gender roles didn’t devolve into rote male-bashing….It helped that the three were quick with smiles….”

 

stopsmilejpg

 

*   *   *

Serena Williams…understandably exhausted after defeating her sister and best friend Venus Williams in the U.S. Open earlier this week…wasn’t having it when, during a post-match press conference on Tuesday, a reporter had the gall to ask why she wasn’t smiling.
… no matter how insanely accomplished or famous you become, you will still be subjected to the innocuous-sounding but ever-so-pernicious “why don’t you smile?” interjection from those who feel entitled to make demands of women. … For those who say the reporter’s question was a harmless jest, they should ask themselves if Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would ever be expected to defend their stern or tired expressions.”
(Ms. magazine, “Women Aren’t Here to Smile For You,” 9-11-15)

*   *   *

Kids Text The Darndest Things

An exchange between daughter Belle and moiself, with Belle telling me about her upcoming Organic Chemistry Lab:

B: Lab is gonna be really cool today. We’re extracting essential oils from spices n stuff.

 Moiself: That sounds great! I bet the lab is going to smell really good…or really funky. I love the smell of cumin seed…any chance you’d be extracting that ?

 B: Conceived?

Moiself: Whoa! Not that smell….

Yet another lesson I’ve not fully learned: check text before sending, especially when using the microphone. My phone’s voice recognition decided cumin seed = conceived.

 

phonewhat

*   *   *

May you smile when and if you choose,
may you truly enjoy the aroma of cumin seed and…the other stuff…
may George Lucas have mercy on your birthday plans,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Hillsboro, OR.

[2] Many times I’ve considered how much more financially successful my writing could be if it weren’t for these pesky scruples of mine. Fortunately, those times pass quickly, when I also consider my complete lack of desire to trade integrity for profiteering.

[3] And Harper Lee, who has confined to a nursing home for many years now and suffers from dementia, cannot attest either way.

[4] No, we are Trek nerds but don’t officially qualify as Trekkies.

[5] If I can use that tern to refer to an all-female band. And since I just did, I can.

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