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The Nose Hairs I’m Not Weed Whacking

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Tuesday May 14 was the Official Release Date ® for The Mighty Quinn. May I have some trumpets, please?

Ah, shucks.  Thank you.

The book’s ORD coincided with a Children’s Book Week excerpt reading/book signing event at Powell’s Books on Tuesday evening.

The event went well, despite the fact that I would rather trim my nose hairs with a weed whacker than do anything resembling public speaking.  Seeing all the beautiful, friendly faces in attendance, including RB, LAH, SCM, JG & TG, CC & SC, helped calm my cotton mouth jitters.[1]

I was totally surprised by an intended: the presence of two cherished, Bay Arean [2] friends.  MH and Belle managed to keep a secret, that the lovely and talented  LH & DA were flying up from the Bay Area for the evening.  They honored me not only with their fabulous presence but also by bearing the favorite victuals of acclaimed authors everywhere a token of their appreciation, [3] a four pack of orange Jell-O. jello

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We shall return to Great Moments in Self-Promotion Literary History  after this word from our Feminist Free-Thinking sponsors.

Sometimes, someone else says it better.  And sometimes they said it better some time ago.  (in this case, over 140 years ago).

Reason & Science lead to atheism. Reason & Science lead to feminism. The National Women Suffrage Association was formed this date in 1869 in New York city. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded woman… I have been traveling over the old world during the last few years and have found new food for thought. What power is it that makes the Hindoo woman burn herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband? Her religion. What holds the Turkish woman in the harem? Her religion. By what power do the Mormons perpetuate their system of polygamy? By their religion/ Man, of himself, could not do this; but when he declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ of course he can do it. So long as ministers stand up and tell us Christ is the head of the church, so is man the head of woman, how are we to break the chains which have held women down through the ages? You Christian women look at the Hindoo, the Turkish, the Mormon women, and wonder how they can be held in such bondage.”
FEM
·         The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official)

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Consider yourself a recipient of the Pretty Purple Toe award if you can guess which two of the following five are legitimate reviews of The Mighty Quinn.

An easy-to-use guide for bird owners looking to train their pets to perform simple tricks such as flapping wings, to more advanced tricks such as playing dead in the owner’s hands or ringing a bell, The Mighty Quinn walks the reader through a step-by-step process with explicit instructions and full-color photographs.
(Midwest Book Review)

 A new classmate helps fifth-grader Quinn Andrews-Lee re-evaluate longtime friendships and stand up to a bully….Parnell creates interesting child and adult characters and confronts them with serious issues, including child abuse, care for the environment, ethics and even skin color… humorously interrupted by the realities of family and school life.
(Kirkus Reviews)

Every surgeon who carries out rhinoplasty procedures will benefit from The Mighty Quinn. The beginner is guided through the performance of a standard rhinoplasty…with the latest breakthroughs in the management of difficult cases, such as saddle nose, skin sleeve problems, and dorsal grafting.
(Aesthetic Surgery Journal)

 “An absolutely delightful read and such memorable characters! Tweens will identify with both Quinn and Neally and will still be thinking about them long after they close the book.”
(Sandra McLeod Humphrey, Clinical Psychologist and children’s author).

It is curious how incest, impotence, nymphomania, religious mania and real estate speculation can be so dull.
(Richard Findlater, Time and Tide) [4]

This toe's for you!

This toe’s for you!

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Thursdays are our pickup days for our weekly CSA share.  We’ve been CSA patrons for five years; this is our first year with La Finquita del Bujo (“The little farm of the owl”).  We get an email on Sundays which lists the likely contents of the coming week’s harvest. This week’s share will include (lots of) lettuce, plus beets and greens, carrots, kohlrabi, Chinese broccoli, dill or cilantro and chard or kale.

Daughter Belle’s AP Environmental Science class had a class project/party at the farm on Thursday.  They made and baked pizzas, topped with veggies from the farm, in an outdoor brick oven. I told Belle I’d try to time my share-picking-arrival so as not to require any M4 [5]awkwardness for her.

In anticipation of the wine and broth braised root veggies I planned on making for dinner, I started a batch of mushroom stock on Thursday after breakfast.  It made for a sensory-sensational morning.  The savory, umami (or as I like to think of it, yo-mommy) aroma of  mushroom broth wafted into the office as I performed what would otherwise have been the mundane tasks of checking manuscript submission status and fiction market listings.

No-Fuss (or a little, if you’re prone to botheration) Mushroom Stock

Hint: Keep a bag in the freezer for stockpiling the mushroom stems that are often not used in recipes.  Shitake, porcini, button, crimini – no need for varietal separatism.  A United Nations of Shrooms is best. Throw ‘em all in there. [6]

1.  take a pound (~ 4-5 cups) of stems, along with a handful of dried mushrooms and perhaps some frozen whole ones, too.  Heat a medium-sized stockpot over medium-low heat, add a small amount of EVOO and brown the stems a bit (no need to thaw first), along with a small peeled & roughly diced carrot.  That’s all you need: shrooms and a carrot.  If you’re a Stock Fundamentalist who believes that the only true path to Broth must involve the trinity of carrot/onion/celery, you can add small diced portions of the latter two veggies.

From the Book of Aromatics:  in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

From the Book of Aromatics: in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

2. Add ~ 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the shroom bits by at least two inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer until stock is reduced by one half (or more, if you want a really rich flavor).  This will take at least 30-40 m.

3. Strain the stock through a very fine sieve (or colander lined with cheesecloth), pressing on the veggie solids to extract every last bit of shroomy liquid.  You now have ~ 3 – 4 cups of stock.  Use immediately, or frig and use within a few days, or let cool and freeze.

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Several years ago our all-white cat, Nova, discovered the cache of Lego pieces in the upstairs bonus room.  We in turn discovered Nova’s proclivity for a certain kind of Lego piece, when MH put on his shoes and yelped as his instep pressed down on a hard piece of plastic.  Somehow, a Lego helmet had gotten into his shoe.

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We are a barefoot-in-the-house family, and so there is always a motley assortment of shoes and sandals on our front door rug.  I was the next to step on a helmet while putting on my shoes.  A subsequent stakeout revealed that Nova, when she thought the coast was clear, would come downstairs, little white helmet in her mouth, and most definitely and deliberately drop it into a shoe.  We began to remind each other to shake out our shoes before putting them on.  We were not always consistent in passing on this reminder to guests.  I’d like to think we just forgot about it, but must admit to the possibility that our omission was intentional, as we enjoyed the delightful (well, to us) expression on a visitor’s face – the mild eyebrow elevation of surprise morphing into confusion – when they went to put on their shoes and discovered they had been honored with Nova’s footwear  enhancement.

Nova eventually tired of the shoe-game, and discovered the joys of Human-aided Helmet retrieval.  We’d be sitting at the breakfast table and she’d bring a Lego helmet [7] and drop it by one of our chairs.  A Lego helmet makes a distinctive clicking noise when dropped onto tile or wood flooring.  She’d drop the helmet, we’d pick it up and lob it into the kitchen or down the hall.  Its distinctive shape caused the helmet to skitter and bounce in an erratic manner Nova found irresistible, and she’d chase it, bat it around, and eventually pick it up and return it to us for another round.

She has done this, off and on and with variations in the game, for years.  And with no other Lego pieces; only helmets. [8]  We’ve found stashes of helmets under various pieces of furniture, and have rescued many from the central vacuum dirt canister in the garage.

Her latest variation is to find a helmet and bring it to the office.  The office carpet muffles the helmet-dropping announcement, so she has devised another routine to get my attention.  Helmet in mouth, she enters the downstairs covered litterbox, which is under the “kid’s” computer desk.  She pees in the litterbox, or sometimes just pretends to – either way, the sound of her pawing about in it alerts me to her presence.  She emerges from the box, drops the helmet in front of it, then dashes into the hallway, looking back at me with an I’m-helping-you-keep-your-promise-to-yourself-to-be-ergonomically-smart-and-take-frequent-breaks-from-the-computer expression. [9] I, of course, dutifully pick up the helmet and throw it for her.  It will be at least six rounds of fetching until she decides I need to get back to work.

Or sometimes, I come into the office and see a helmet outside the litterbox, with no kitty in sight.  Her calling card, I assume.

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Remember to check your shoes before you put them on, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Along with the zen-like calm that can only come from knowing that I carry a whoopee cushion in my props bag.

[2] Not Aryan, but Arean, as in, “of the Bay Area.”  They flew in from San Francisco, not Berchtesgaden.

[3] A “souvenir” of sorts, from the shenanigans at MH’s & my wedding reception…which is a story best told in person, over something stronger than orange Jell-O shots.

[4] This was critic Findlater’s actual review for Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic.

[5] Meet My Mother Moments

[6] Except morels.  Oregon foodies are supposed to adore morels, but moiself thinks they taste like what muddy socks smell like.

[7] It seems we had an endless supply, from years of buying Lego Classic Space sets.

[8] She will play fetch with wads of paper, but only on the staircase.

[9] Really, that’s exactly what her kitty facial expression means.  We’ve had it translated.

The Fish I’m Not Licensing

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Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, driving to lunch/errands. I change the radio (I cannot abide a certain Taylor Swift song unless it is the goat version) and land smack dab in the middle of an advertisement for Northwest Surrogacy Center.  A suspiciously animated-yet-serious female is talking about how fulfilling it was for her to serve as a surrogate for a gay couple.  Her story ends with a brief/odd comment on how handing over the baby was “…the easiest part.”  An official (male, ahem) announcer takes over, and talks about how the center is looking for women between the ages of 21 – 40 who have already had one “easy” pregnancy, and how surrogates can make “up to $27, 000.”

“HA!” I hear myself say, [1] as I pound the steering wheel.  “Like that’s a reasonable reimbursement.”  I must pull over to the side of the road and do the math.

Gestation is no 9-5 show.  It’s not even back-to-back swing shifts. When you are pregnant you are pregnant 24 hours a day (and during the last month it can seem like 48 hours a day).  Forty weeks of pregnancy = 5,720 hours; thus, being paid $27k for the gig works out to less than $5/hour, less than minimum wage.  Even less than that, when you factor in what the post-preggo Pilates [2] are going to cost. The never ending story, of how anything considered “woman’s work” is undervalued.

angrypreggo

 My short story “Maddie is Dead” has been reprinted in a new book: Joy, Interrupted – An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss.   The anthology is released…uh…just in time for Mother’s Day?  Rather peculiar timing, considering the subject matter.  From the book’s press release:

 Joy can be interrupted – but not lost. Most people think of motherhood as a joyous experience, but for some it can be an experience of interrupted joy. This anthology delves into the subject of motherhood and loss from different perspectives of authors and artists from all over the world. This anthology includes Short Stories, Poetry, Art Work, Essays, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and more. Contributors explore such topics as Adoption, Death, Infertility, Disabilities, Illness, and Estrangement. Various themes addressed include Coming of Age, Identity, Recovery, Connections, and Forgiveness.

 But wait, there’s more:

The internationally acclaimed contributors are: (snip snip of a whole lotta names that are not mine), Robyn Parnell, (more snip snip)…

Internationally acclaimed?  This is news to moiself.  But if it’s in writing, it must be true, right?

Still, I await the multilingual kudos.  Having heard none, I’ll furnish my own:

Συγχαρητήρια [3] Ole!   Felicitations! Chúc mừng! Pongezi! Gratulerer! Cestitke! Kung hei lei! Donadaliheligv! Comhgháirdeachas!

joy i_

May 13 – 19 is Children’s Book Week.

Get ready to Get Mighty! 

The Mighty Quinn, that is.

The Mighty Quinn is available now at Amazon , Barnes & Noble  and other online booksellers, in both paper and eBook formats.  Starting May 14 it will be available at your regular brick and mortar bookstores.

Of possible interest to you locals (local as in Portland metro area): As part of the celebration for National Children’s Book Week I’ll be doing a reading-book signing event with another local author at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) on Tuesday, May 14, beginning at 7 pm.  Another Local Author is Heather Vogel Frederick, who’ll be reading from her newly released book, Once Upon a Toad. [4]

After the reading and signing my family and I will be de-stressing celebrating at Peachwave Frozen Yogurt afterwards (Cedar Hills Crossing Mall, enter by the Starbucks) – stop and say howdy if you can!

"Caveman Matt" Chapter 5, The Mighty Quinn

“Caveman Matt” Chapter 5, The Mighty Quinn

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From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses….
(from The Go-Gos website, re their upcoming concert tour)

That is what I want to write, and get paid for doing so:  hyperbolized press releases.

I’m trying to imagine phrases like “halcyon days” and “amazing three-decade reign” – not to mention “high pop priestess” – being used in conjunction with my name.  Not to get all philosophical or nothin.’

I couldn't find a High Pop Priestess Picture.  But the green telephone is worthy of royalty, don’t ya think?

I couldn’t find a High Pop Priestess Picture. But the green telephone is worthy of royalty, don’t ya think?

 You may remember [5] the Halibut That Ate My Daughter’s Brain (April 19 post).  I have been experimenting with halibut chowder/soup/stew variations every Sunday since, with the apparent approval or at least toleration of our regular Sunday dinner guest, the lovely and talented (and patient) LAH.  I have been tormenting son K, a lover of all things seafood chowder-y, with information re my culinary concoctions.  Next week is finals week for K, and he’ll be home from college for the subsequent Sunday dinner, the 19th.  There is enough halibut and fish stock left in the freezer to make him his very own tastefully-sized tureen trough-full of whatever version I shall deem as the best-est. [6]

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Remember to get your pet halibut his fish license, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Actually, I hear myself say a stronger version of HA: the version that rhymes with, HORSESHIT!

[2] Or whatever exercise regimen you’ll undertake in a futile attempt to undo the damage done to your body in order to give someone else “the gift of life.”

[3] Acclamations are in Greek, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Swahili, Norwegian, Croatian, Cantonese, Cherokee, Irish Gaelic.

[4] I have read this book and recommend it, especially for fans of Fractured Fairy Tales.

[5] Or, like my family, you may be trying to forget.

[6] Not many footnotes in this post, eh?

The Writing I’m Not Typing

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 “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
(Truman Capote’s dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s work)

You, too can be an author! At least, you can share in the experience shared by authors well-known and obscure, established and wannabe: the rejection letter.

In the tradition of the preemptive strike, the literary journal Stoneslide Corrective provides a vital public service, the generosity of which cannot be overestimated.  The Rejection Generator Project eliminates the need for you to take the time and energy (and whiskey) to actually pen an emotionally searing short story, witty roman à clef or evocative poem.[1]  Simply type in your email address and a terse and snarky rejection, composed by Certified Rejected Authorial Persons, [2] will be winging your way.

drunkcapote

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Mark those calendars:

Middle Readers Night
May 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR

As part of the local marking of Children’s Book Week celebration, Oregon authors Heather Vogel Frederick and moiself will be reading excerpts from and signing copies of our books (The Mighty Quinn, in my case, and Frederick’s Once Upon a Toad).  I am told that attendees will may be able to receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags [3], not to mention the one-of-a-kind opportunity to be misted by the spittle [4] of a Real Life Author ®, should you be in the first row during the reading.

Mickey's pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

Mickey’s pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

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This Stupid Week In History…which happens to be this week

 A science project gone awry.

 From the Miami New Times :  16-year-old Kiera Wilmot, known at Bartow High School for being a “model student,” has not only been expelled from school, she faces felony charges for an “experiment” that went wrong. 

Wilmot reportedly mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil, causing the top of a plastic bottle to rupture and smoke to emit.  Wilmot says she did it because a friend told her to, believing it would only cause smoke. 

Bartow High School’s assistant principal called police when Wilmot’s science teacher said he wasn’t aware of any experiment. 

Leah Lauderdale, spokeswoman for the school district, calls Wilmot’s actions “grounds for immediate expulsion” because they violate the school’s conduct code.  Section 7.05 of the school’s conduct code, Lauderdale says, mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb (or) explosive device… while at a school (or) a school-sponsored activity… unless the material or device is being used as part of a legitimate school-related activity or science project conducted under the supervision of an instructor.”

A sixteen year old girl did something most kids do at some point:  mixed up common household products in a plastic bottle because they heard that something amusing might result (how many baking soda and vinegar “volcanoes” did you try to make?). She did this outdoors.  The resulting “explosion” was not even adequate to burst the bottle, but merely popped off the top and generating some smoke.

No one was injured (save for the plastic bottle, which, as of this reporting, is refusing to comment), the principal was quoted stated that Wilmot simply made a “bad choice” and wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but Wilmot was still expelled because school administrators are spineless fear mongers who have abdicated their responsibility to judge actions in light of context rules are rules.  Wilmot, described by the school principle as “a good kid,” who has “never been in trouble before. Ever,” will now reportedly have to complete her education in an “expulsion program” and may face a criminal conviction.

Mandatory expulsion for being “in possession of a bomb or explosive device?”  There goes every high school biology, chemistry and physics classroom, or certain students’ digestive tracts after burrito day at the cafeteria.

The student in question didn’t seem to be knowingly in possession of or trying to fabricate a WMD.  Rather, she did a dumb thing.  The punishment should fit the “crime” – perhaps a suspension, or a week of after school detention at a plastic bottle recycling facility.

The overreaction of administrators in this story reminds me of something that befell daughter Belle during her sophomore year in high school.  Ah, but when this happens to the child of a writer….  I’ve taken notes for a follow-up book to The Mighty Quinn, which just may include subplot involving false accusations brought against Neally [5] by school staff.  Let me just say that the adults involved in the debacle will not come out smelling like roses – more like a science project gone awry.

Oh yeah, and no plastic bottles will be injured during the making of the book.

"Stand back…" from  webcomic xkcd [6]

“Stand back…” from webcomic xkcd [6]

Have a great weekend, and let the (non-explosive) hijinks ensue.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] works which will probably be rejected anyway, I mean, whom are we kidding, are you that good, huh?

[2] Including yours truly.

[3] Assuming you arrive early enough and snatch them from the hands of children.  It’s a “While supplies last” deal.

[4] Why did I put so many S words in my novel?

[5] The title character’s friend and (unintentional) mentor.

[6]Randall Munroe’s  xkcd is a webcomic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” You’d be way cooler than you already are if you’d it on a regular basis.

The Fritatta (for my father) I’m Not Cooking

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Monday, February 11.  I headed upstairs (where the backup TV/DVD player resides), a glass of champagne in my hand.

“You’re going to watch something – what?” K asked me.

“Band of Brothers.”

“Oh,” she replied.  “Of course.”

Monday was the four year anniversary of my father’s death.  He’d called the night before, and we talked for a long time, longer than usual (we talked on the phone at least once a week).  He was in a reflective mood.  [1] One of the many things we talked about was the HBO series, Band of Brothers.  The year after the series came out on DVD I purchased the set for my parents – a Christmas gift, I think.  Besides being one of the greatest mini-series in the history of the genre, B-B was the impetus for many detailed conversations between my father and me, about his experiences as a paratrooper in WWII [2]  and also those of another paratrooper, his brother-in-law, my Uncle Bill. [3]

My family hears the elegiac, haunting main theme wafting down the stairway, and they know where I am.  And what I’m thinking about.

I don’t know how to describe the greatness that is Band of Brothers.  So I won’t.  Just watch it, if you haven’t already.  Were I ever to meet Steven Spielberg and/or Tom Hanks, I would thank them, profusely, for producing that series.  Not a word about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or The Money Pit would cross my lips.

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Tuesday morning I had leftover frittata for breakfast. Earlier in the week I’m made a kale,[4] potato, onion, Spanish (smoked) paprika, parmesan cheese frittata for dinner.  I don’t know if my father ever had a frittata, for any meal.  I do know he would have liked it.

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A great scene in a greatly underrated movie, Morning Glory:[5]  Grouchy, veteran, respected but currently unemployed television journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, in a credible Mike Wallace mode) has been essentially blackmailed into becoming the co-host of DayBreak, a ratings-poor, national morning show of the “infotainment” style Pomeroy despises.  Pomeroy tries to sabotage the show by getting drunk, refusing to banter with co-host Colleen Peck (a cheerfully acid Diane Keaton), and by making use of a clause in his contract that allows him to refuse assignments, like cooking segments, that he considers beneath him. Pomeroy eventually forms a mutual if grudging admiration with Becky Fuller, (Rachael McAdams), DayBreak’s new, “Energizer Bunny” producer.  When DayBreak begins to rise in popularity and ratings, Becky receives a job interview from a rival show.  Colleen tells Mike that his refusal to adapt has driven Becky away. He goes to the TV set kitchen where food segments are done, and Becky watches in shock as Pomeroy shows the viewers how to make a frittata.

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Always nice to have something to look forward to, and I – we – have May 13 – 19, which is Children’s Book Week.

CBW is the yearly celebration of “books for young people and the joy of reading.”  Every year during CBW author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events are held at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums across the country.

Mark your calendars, if you are a local.  Tuesday, Tuesday, May 14, starting at 7 pm, moiself and two other authors will be doing a reading and book signing at Powell’s City of Books, at their Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) location.  This event has just been scheduled; I don’t yet know all the logistical details it will involve (walking up and down the book stack aisles, wearing a sandwich board advertising The Mighty Quinn?), but you can be certain I’ll post further harassments reminders as the date approaches.

Powell’s is the largest independent new and used bookstore in our solar system, and if you don’t know this, well….  Even if you’re from waaaaay out of town (any New Hampshire readers out there?), you need to make a pilgrimage to Powell’s if you are any kind of a book lover.  If not for my event, then soon.  So, you can’t fly to Portland in May?  Not to worry, there is a Children’s BW event somewhere near you.

Whatever your favorite childhood book is, was, or will be, may the remembrance of it be worthy of the Pretty Purple Toe award.

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No political commentary, nor rehashes of the latest misogynist pinhead proclamations in this week’s post.  I am too focused on fathers and frittatas and positive memories to celebrate, say, the resignation of the leader of one of the most wealthy, opulent, hypocritical, corrupt cults on the planet one mere pope. Now, if we could get all priests, imams, preachers, lamas, gurus, popes — and the ovine followers who give them “authority” – to resign….  Yeah, you can wake me for that breaking news.

*   *   *

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a reminder of that most romantic of date movies, When Harry Met Sally Snakes On a Plane Snakes In a Dish.

snake

Because I can only imagine that when Samuel L. Jackson gets serious about love – about anything – hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] The temptation, of course, is to think he had some kind of premonition.  No evidence or proof of that, on my part. Just gratitude.

[2] In his case, training for the invasion of Japan that never came, due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[3] Bill somehow survived actions from North Africa to Italy to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge.  Not surprisingly, he was hospitalized after the war for what was then called “Shell Shock”, now understood as PTSD.

[4] Observant readers will note that it is bok choy, and not kale, in the picture.  What can I say – all the kale went in the frittata.

[5] I love Roger Ebert’s review of what makes the comedy so enjoyable: “It grows from human nature and is about how people do their jobs and live their lives.”

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