The Water I’m Not Standing In

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I want to start a meme. Can I can I can I please please please?






Thank you. It’s this:

Stand in the water!

It means, show me you care…even if it’s somewhat, or mostly, an act.

This meme inspiration – mimspiration? – comes from watching the various television news crews covering Hurricane Matthew. At some point in the broadcasts a reporter, perhaps even the network’s anchor, would be on the scene at a hurricane affected-area, speaking into a hand-held microphone, and the camera would slowly pan back to reveal the reporter standing in the floodwaters/waves/ocean. Every single newscast I watched did that; I felt as if they were trying to say to me, See, we are here, we are legit reporters and not just armchair journalists, and this is water, and a lot of it wiggling around our ankles and knees means a serious storm, so pay attention to our authenticity.

And then it was “Back to you, Scott,” even as the local authorities were telling people other than the reporter to get the fuck out of there, you dumb schmucks please evacuate to higher ground.

MH did not realize the reporters were doing that water-standing thing until I pointed it out to him. Even then, he failed to grasp my (perhaps just a teensy bit over-the-top) fascination with the phenomena. I began yelling at newscasters [1] who were lurking by a flooded highway – I wanted them to show me that they cared: Stand in the water!





Not good enough, dude – STAND IN THE WATER!




*   *   *

The Abuser I’m Not Castrating…

…only because I lack the materials and expertise to construct a time machine.

Dateline: Sunday morning. I needed an entertainment breather after cleaning up a thinking-outside-the-litter-box accident and then some cat barf, [2]   and opened Facebook on my phone. I read the four sentences from RKK which comprised the first post in my feed. A mere four sentences, which carried a novel’s worth of import. And I had to lie down on the couch.

I was playing 45s in my bff’s bedroom. Her stepfather sat behind me, wrapped his legs around my hips, pressed against me, whispered into my ear what he wanted to do to me, and grabbed my breast. I froze. I was 14.

The post was written under a hashtag started by author Kelly Oxford: # notokay, who’d tweeted: “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats.” And then Oxford shared her story, using the same vulgar term a certain presidential candidate used in a recently released recording.

Oxford wasn’t sure she’s get more than a few responses, considering the highly personal nature of her request. She received over a million.

I sought and received RKK’s permission to share RKK’s story in this space. I wanted to post it verbatim, as part of the ongoing discussion of sexual assault, a discussion that seems to be the one positive fallout from the recording of the vile musings of He Who Shall Not Be Named.  [3]

I have been trying not to comment about HWSNBN in this space, for a plethora of reasons, including (what is, to me) the DUH-ness of it all: Trump said something/did something outrageous WHAT a surprise! And also because I just feel plain dirty, having the image of his lying, blustering, bullying façade come to my mind for even more than a second.

And then, there is what happened to RKK…and to so many women and girls like her. I wonder, when they read or hear about the loutish HWSNBN bragging about his groping and his aggressive sexual pursuits, if they once again, even if just for an dreadful moment, transported  back to a childhood friend’s room, to a school concert, to a city bus, to a classroom, to a church hallway, to a street, a backyard, where it happened….

Read a roundup of some of the women’s stories here, if you think you can stand do. If you think you can’t, perhaps that’s the more reason you should.

This release of the HWSNBN recording and the responses to it – folks, this is what people are talking about when they talk about rape culture. If you’re put off by that term because you think it’s related to group think and/or political correctness, or for whatever reason, please unclench your jaw, do some breathing exercises, and read on.

It is, simply and profoundly, this: Rape culture is the cultural conditioning of men and boys to feel entitled to treat women as objects. It is a culture that leads all of us – men and boys but also women and girls – to question and second guess and blame females for male sexual harassment and assault. (I would never do such a thing to anyone/ It would never happen to me; she must have done something to provoke him)

Trump’s retort, and his defenders reactions to the tape , are the exemplars of rape culture. The dismissive “it’s just locker room talk” normalizes and justifies the behavior.

Like most women – holy fucking festering pigslop, why is this the case ?!?!? – I’ve my own experience with sexual harassment. I’ll save one such story for later.

*   *   *

Department Of Last Straws

And one more thing, on this subject.

I keep hearing/reading about how more Republican leaders have withdrawn their support [4]  for their party’s candidate. It seems the lewd sex tape was “the last straw.”

Senator McCain, Rep. Ryan, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senators Murkowski and Collins and Crapo and Portman and Governors Herbert and Bentley and all you other rats scurrying off the GOP sinking ship – really? Finally?  The last straw is…now? There’s been enough straw spewed from Trump’s various orifices to construct a hay bale large enough to feed all the goats in Dumbfuckistan. [5]






Your nominee labeled Mexicans as rapists and murderers and “joked” about his followers shooting Clinton (pass the straw). He incited violence at his primary rallies and mocked a disabled reporter; he insulted a Muslim-American family whose soldier son was killed in service of our country and said that soldiers with PTSD were weak and called for preventing all Muslims from entering the country; he continued to add to his long history of sexist and derogatory comments about women (duck! There’s a straw storm coming in), he trivialized the consequences of workplace sexual harassment and lied repeatedly about issues large and small and committed business fraud after business fraud while passing himself off as a successful business man…

Oh, but now he’s on tape using the p-word. THIS IS THE LAST STRAW.




“No one grabs my pussy and gets away with it!”



The number of prominent Republicans disavowing/withdrawing their support for Trump increased after the release of the tape. Among other issues, these pols are concerned with how this will affect them in their own upcoming bids for (re)election.

While it warms the cockles of my heart to hear about anyone changing their mind/seeing the light at the end of their sphincter of the tunnel and withdrawing their support from Trump…how can I put this?

When I invite guests to a potluck dinner – a dinner that has distinct start and end times (as opposed to an open house/drop by any time event), I will gladly open the door for any late arrivers. Whether or not they’ve called ahead to alert me of their tardy ETA, I’m glad they were able to make it.

But if you show up just as the guests are finishing their dessert, don’t be surprised if

(1)  someone asks you What the fuck took you so long?, and
(2)  nobody is interested in sampling the hors d’oeuvre platter you brought.




Hey you – Stand in the water!




*   *   *

Department of Wednesdays Suck

Hopefully next week’s hump day will be better, but for moiself, this week’s was one to be gotten over. There was too much not-good news, including but not limited to discovering that someone I love has engaged in yet another form of self-expression. [6] And then, I had to go and read the latest Authors Guild Bulletin




Will she never learn?



…which contained yet another well-written, well-documented article on the financial outlook for writers, ominously but aptly titled, “Where Does All The Money Go?”  The article’s summary: There are an increasing number ways for customers to gain access to a book without a penny going to the writer.

Meanwhile, the Authors Guild and other professional writers organizations continue to fight (and lose) legal battles with Amazon and Google over issues including copyright, royalty and fair usage. And, while the AG and other organizations document and report on how writers incomes are declining the, membership dues for these various professional organizations keep rising.  [7]




Next time, I’ll toss the journal and contemplate a bucket o’ sloths instead. ‘Tis better for the spirit.

*   *   *

Department Of How To Frost Your Butt

It’s fairly easy: follow MH’s recommendation like I did, and listen to podcast #728 of Planet Money, “The Wells Fargo Hustle.” Then try to restrain yourself from taking a flamethrower to the nearest WFB ATM.

You can read about the logistics of the WFB scandal in many news sites. The podcast cited deals with the human cost of lower level employees being told by their managers that they must meet astoundingly unrealistic goals by any means necessary or we’ll make your life hell, and then when you lose your job with us we’ll make sure you will not be able to get a job anywhere else.

There are only four reasons I’m not insisting that MH and I close all of our WFB accounts (including, perhaps, some we don’t even know we have  [8]) :

  1. The chance that by doing so my cherished friend LMW, employed at WFB for many years, many in some way be negatively affected;
  2. I’ve little trust in banks in general – are others just as bad, and we don’t know about it?
  3. There is no reason #3.
  4. See reason #1.





*   *   *

Department Of Ending On A Positive Note

National Coming Out Day was 10-11-16, and my nephew did just that. KMV’s articulate, passionate, well-considered post on his FB page ended with a line that made my day:

“Not to confirm stereotypes,
but I guess the obsession with Beyoncé now makes a lot of sense, huh?”




*   *   *

May you come out of whatever space needs leaving;
May you be a first responder to the last straw;
May you stand for the good guys when you stand in the water;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *


[1] Ok, yelling at the TV. Don’t think the reporters heard me.

[2] Thank you, Nova and Crow, for those respective early morning eye-openers.

[3] Whom my daughter Belle refers to as te “spray-tanned version of Lord Voldemort.”

[4] As grudging as it may have been in the first place, it was still support.

[5] The lay term for the country formed by the US states which “re-elected” George W. Bush to the Presidency.

[6] In a format I consider self-harm and/or mutilation.

[7] In part so that they can hire lawyers to fight the losing fights.

[8] Wells Fargo was opening bank accounts (perhaps as many as two million fraudulent accounts) without customers’ permission.

The Coffee I’m Not Fetching



Department Of Oh That Explains It

I opened turned to page 2 of The Oregonian and saw the reassuring headline for the Editor’s Notebook column:

We’ve redesigned with our readers in mind.

I guess I’m not one of the readers Those Who Redesigned had in mind, because I couldn’t get beyond the column’s next sentence, [1] which contained this gem of an explanation:

We’ve redesigned The Oregonian to be easier to read.

All these years, I’ve wondered about the decline of print media. Newspapers have seemingly lost their appeal; circulation and subscriber bases have dropped precipitously. Could it be related to competition from internet and other electronic media/online sources, including revenue loss from online advertising sources which made newspaper classified ads dated and/or irrelevant?

Noooooo. It’s just because newspapers have become SO  DIFFICULT  TO  READ.



“Article continued on A13?” This. Is. So. Hard. For. Me.

*   *   *

Department of Eat, Prey, Write, Gloat With Cynicism

Did I ever tell y’all about the time in 2006 when I was subject to special screening by TSA agents because I was the only woman in the PDX airport  [2] who was not toting a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in her carry-on bag?

That’s right – I didn’t tell you. Because that never happened. But it felt like it did.




Now, turn your head and cough, Ma’am, because if we don’t find a copy of that book you will not be allowed to board your flight.


The more EPL was recommended to me [3] the more I resisted jumping on the EPL bandwagon. Besides, after reading interviews with Gilbert, I got the feeling the no-detail-of-my-life-i$-too-private-be-$hared author wasn’t done with exploiting her personal life seeing as how it sold so much better than her fiction sharing her searching-the-world-for-wisdom-so-you-don’t-have-to exploits. I thought I’d bide my time and wait for the box set.

A sequel soon followed, which picked up with the author’s falling in love with/marriage to the Brazilian businessman she met at the end of EPL. The sequel was inaptly titled, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. “Inaptly,” I daresay write, because the peace the author supposedly made with marriage turned out not to be with her own.

In June, Gilbert announced she’d ended her 12 year old marriage (emphases mine):

“Our split is very amicable. Our reasons are very personal. At this time of transition, I hope you will respect our privacy. In my heart, I know that you will do so, because I trust that you understand how this is a story that I am living—not a story that I am telling.”

Privacy?  Oh yeah – that thing defined as the right to keep one’s personal matters and relationships secret. It’s that thing practiced by other people, not Gilbert, who despite her protestations has been telling the story she has been living for the past 12 years.

Sure, I snorted when I read her press release, She wants privacy, I can (continue to) give her privacy. I can also, from experience,  [4]  give her or any privacy-requester a smidgen of advice: if you want your request for privacy to be taken seriously you can start by not giving interviews/press statements/making a living from writing about your private life.

With a publicist’s masterful timing (never reveal everything at once if there’s a chance people will pay for a sequel!), three months after her divorce announcement Gilbert made another spotlight-grabbing broadcast: she’d ended her marriage because she’d fallen in love with a (terminally ill) female friend.

Do I smell another self-serving revelation soon-to-become another LET-ME-TELL-YOU-ABOUT-MY-AMAZING-LIFE-JOURNEY memoir?  [5]  It needs a catchy title:

Eat, Pray, Love, Regurgitate Triumphs And Heartaches, Write, Marry, Regurgitate Some More, Write, Divorce, Ask For Privacy – Holy Misguided Solitude, There’s No Money Or Attention In Discretion! – Write, Discover Gender Fluid Sexuality – Now I’ve Really Got Something To Write About….




Didn’t see the movie, either.

*   *   *

Department Of Wednesday Digressions

The Worst Types Of Workplace Sexists—And How To Fight Them

I cannot recall where I came across the article referenced above, but I am grateful for the memories it brought back.




I’ll try to explain.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked in the women’s reproductive health care field. Stints with Planned Parenthood clinics bookended six years at a dual practitioner (an M.D. and a N.P. [Nurse Practitioner]) [6] OB-GYN practice near Stanford hospital.

Before y’all get the wrong idea, there were no sexists working at that practice. Both of my bosses were wonderful people, as were (most of) the office staff. But as for some of our dealings with other “professionals”…. Let the story hijinks ensue.

Although Dr. B’s office was open Monday-Friday, with rare exceptions neither he nor the NP saw patients on Wednesdays. The day was plenty busy: the practice hosted a new parent support group which met in the waiting room every Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, “backstage” there was catching up on charting and non-emergency callbacks, exam room cleaning/stocking/organizing and preparation for the upcoming week’s patients…and on many Wednesday mornings and/or afternoons, Dr. B would consult, on the phone or in person, with attorneys.

Dr. B had a lucrative “side job” serving as a consultant/reviewer and expert witness  [7] for medical malpractice cases. He loved the work, and not just because of the money. He had a keen, forensically detailed intellect; he found reviewing and analyzing the case files fascinating, and had a knack for explaining complex medical issues to laypersons. The only thing he didn’t like about such consulting was having to deal with lawyers.

Q: What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a lawyer on a motorcycle?
A: The vacuum cleaner has the dirt bag on the inside.





The attorneys I met during those six years were poster children for every lawyer gag you’ve ever heard. They were, with one exception I can recall, all male, and without exception the boy lawyers were sexist, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, windbag asshats. I tried to have as little to do with them as possible, and was mostly successful in that endeavor. Our office manager’s duties included lawyer-wrangling; patient care/education/advocacy was my gig. But there were certain Wednesdays when there was no avoiding the bastard barristers. Like a pair of cheap underpants, they crept up on you.

Dr. B would meet with lawyers in his private office. More often than not, he’d leave his office door open during these meetings. [8]   It’s not that the doc was indiscreet; I figured he just couldn’t stand to be alone with a conniving weasel lawyer (and, much to my surprise, Dr. B confirmed this when I told him my theory about the open door).  [9]

I picked up on Dr. B’s lawyer loathing. On those (mercifully few) occasions when there was no avoiding them, I took petty pleasure in tormenting the malpractice attorneys [10]  in the most passive-aggressive ways possible.

Anecdote the First
Sitting at the front desk with a pile of patient charts and pap smear lab reports, I reluctantly answered the phone (the office manager was taking a potty break). The caller cut short my standard work greeting, “Dr. B’s office, this is Rob…”

Car Phone Lawyer: “Yes, I’m calling from my car phone….”

It was the attorney who was scheduled to meet with Dr. B that morning for a malpractice case consult. The attorney informed me that he was calling from his car phone, and that the purpose of his call was to let us know that he was going to be late for his appointment. He was quite determined that I know he was calling from his car phone – he stated this twice in his opening remarks, mentioned it two more times in what should have been a brief, sorry-I’ve-been-detained-I’ll-get-there-as-soon-as-I-can apology, and ended the call with this fascinating bit of information.

As I mentioned, I’m calling from my car phone….

This was way back in pre cell phone days when, apparently, for Certain Kind$ of People ® there wa$ a certain amount of pre$tige a$$ociated with anyone who had a car phone. Moiself didn’t give a flying fuck if he was calling from a Maxwell Smart shoe phone. Had I asked from where or with what he was calling, and what did it have to do with…anything?






“So, you’re going to be late…” I wrote a note for Dr. B, who was standing right behind me, his eyes almost audibly rolling toward the ceiling as he drew his index finger across his throat – his sign for I do not want to talk to this asshole until he gets here. Stifling my laughter, I waited for the Car Phone Lawyer to add something relevant, such as his ETA, or perhaps even a brief apology/explanation for his tardiness.

 “Yes,” CPL repeated. “As you know, I’m calling from my car phone…”

“Oh,” I pitched my voice to approximate the oral equivalent of a Sweet Young Thing’s ® smile. “That must be why it sounds like you’re talking into a tin can tied to a string.”

Anecdote #2
Dr. B was in his office, consulting with a malpractice attorney. I walked down the hallway, on my way to inventory amniocentesis kits in the supply closet and prep the ultrasound exam room for the procedure scheduled for the following morning. The office’s ever-brewing coffee pot was on the counter in the lab area, directly opposite Dr. B’s office and clearly visible to anyone sitting in the chair beside Dr. B’s desk…like, say, that attorney.

As I passed by Dr. B’s open door the attorney called out to me. He snapped his fingers – yes, he snapped his fingers – as he did so. “Hey,” (snap snap),”how about a cup of coffee?”

“Oh, no thank you,” I cheerfully replied, without breaking my stride.  [11]

We didn’t know about mic drops back then, so I’ll ask the Notorious RBG to give a belated Bam! on my behalf.




*   *   *

Department of Life’s Simple Pleasures

Dateline: 7:50 am-ish, [12] near the tail end of my morning walk, I exit a neighborhood park via a pathway that leads through a cul-de-sac. I am at a nexus in the neighborhood space-time continuum: parents are walking their children to the elementary school one block south, preteens are schlumping toward the junior high two blocks northwest, and high school students are either heading for their bus stop or getting into cars with their parents.

I walk down the middle of the street and approach a house on the left just as a boy and his (presumed) mother exit the house and head for a car parked at the curb. The boy is tall, refreshingly skinny, with skateboard-sized feet which indicate much gangliness in his future. His childlike face belies his height – he looks all of 12 or 13 to me, yet he’s dangling car keys from his right hand. He heads to the passenger’s door, hesitates for a moment, then circles around to the driver’s door, his expression equal parts fear and anticipation.

I smile as I stride past the car, and chuckle to myself: Ah, driver’s permit. First week.




*   *   *

May you have patience with student drivers;
May you appreciate how truly easy it is to read a newspaper;
May you savor life’s mic drop moments;
…and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Read: I was overcome by a snort/laugh attack.

[2] Consistently rated one of American’s best airports. Not that we want you to come here all that much….

[3] including by More Than One Well-Read And Intelligent Friend Who Said The Author’s Writing Style Reminded Them Of Me ©

[4] Admittedly, not the kind that get$ paid a$ well a$ writing about Gilbert’s private life.

[5] To be followed by seminars and workshops advising mere mortal women on how they can do the same.

[6] who were also husband and wife (although not all of their patients knew this).

[7] The vast majority of malpractice cases settled out of court.

[8] something that would never happen these days, what with HIPAA and other privacy concerns and regulations.

[9] Was the good doctor joking or not? I may never know.

[10] Which had the bonus of thoroughly entertaining my bosses, both the doc and the NP.

[11] By doing so, I had won Dr. B’s eternal respect. I swear, after that Wednesday morning, the good doctor looked for ways to finagle attorneys into asking me that question. And it happened more than once. The attorneys would never ask directly/politely for anything, as in, “May I kindly trouble you for a cup of coffee?”

[12] As in morning-ish, not as in Amish..ish.

The Sweet Nothings I’m Not Whispering

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Another legend has retired. I’m not the only person who’ll be reminiscing about this one.

It’s a dry/hot So Cal summer evening, and my childhood home has no AC, not even a floor fan. My parents open the windows in their bedroom, hoping for a light cross-breeze; hoping for air circulation. They let me curl up on their bed until I fall asleep, and the next morning, due to that wonder of nature which is Transporting A Sleeping Child ®,  I wake up in my own bed with no memory of how I’d gotten there.  [1]

My parents almost always had their bedroom radio on in the evening. More often than not, in the summer it would be tuned to the broadcast of a LA Dodgers game, whether it was a home game (in the stadium known as Chavez Ravine) or an away game. Night after night, I fell asleep listening to That Voice ® which belonged to the play-by-play announcer deemed the “greatest baseball broadcaster of all time.






“It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.”


There was a gap – of how many years, I’m unsure – between my early childhood,  falling-asleep-listening-to-the-Dodgers-game years, and when I began developing my own interest in baseball.  [2] Those years paralleled my thinking I was too old/cool to spend time in my parent’s room listening to the radio (especially when there was Star Trek on the TV, which was in the living room).

And then there was another blistering hot summer night – this time, after my parents had purchased a floor fan, which they kept in their bedroom. [3] I plopped down on their bed, savoring the fan’s breeze, and was both mesmerized and unnerved by That Voice coming from the radio.  

“That sound – what’s… it’s that voice! WHO is that voice?!”

The voice was at once so familiar and soothing and yet for a moment I couldn’t place it, and it unnerved me. The lyrical, almost literary phrasing; the distinctive tone, melodious and comforting – was it from a recurring childhood dream?

The voice, of course, belonged to the reassuring narrator of so many of my primal, happy childhood memories. Thank you, Vin Scully.



*   *   *

Department of Nifty Segues


Speaking of sports legends, I am neither a fan of golf nor of bastardized ice tea-lemonade beverages, but I know who Arnold Palmer is was. Thus, when I heard Palmer had died, I dutifully began to read a New York Times articles paying tribute to him. No disrespect to the man and his status, but I didn’t get very far before I was overtaken by a case of hyperbole-induced giggles:

“Palmer captivated fans with his ferocious swing and fearless attitude…”




142nd Open Championship - Round Three

And all us duffers captivate the ladies with our ferocious fashion sense.



Um, okay.

Now then: I recognize that, being a nonparticipant and non-fan, there are nuances to the game of golf of which I am unaware and therefore do not appreciate. But still…

Words like ferocious and fearless are non sequitur descriptors when used in a story related to the attributes of a golfer. Golf is a sport game that can be played by otherwise out-of-shape and sedentary beings; it is the pastime of white middle-aged men wearing pants made of materials and patterns they’d be embarrassed – and rightfully so – to wear in any other circumstance. [4]

Ferocious and fearless? A golf course’s hazards are ponds and sand, not wolverines or samurai.



Play through and die, Gai-jin

*   *   *

Department Of Disgusting Yet Unfortunately Not Surprising Revelations

Two mentions of people who made positive contributors to their sport; I close this blog with an example of some really, really, really – and did I mention really ? – poor sports.

Reports have surfaced about how, beginning in the 1960s and for the past five decades, the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the role added dietary sugar plays in heart disease –  a role we now know is substantial – and to tried to shift the blame to consumption of fats.

There’s no evidence that the SRF (Sugar Research Foundation) directly edited the manuscript published…but there is “circumstantial” evidence that the interests of the sugar lobby shaped the conclusions of the review, the researchers say.

For one thing, there’s motivation and intent. In 1954, the researchers note, the president of the SRF gave a speech describing a great business opportunity.

If Americans could be persuaded to eat a lower-fat diet — for the sake of their health — they would need to replace that fat with something else. America’s per capita sugar consumption could go up by a third.

(From the NPR story on the newly published article,
“Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research:
A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents,” JAMA, 9-12-16 )


The sugar industry’s strategy was effective: American’s sugar consumption over the past three decades rose by more than 31%, and we’ve got the obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease rates to prove it.

Whisper sweet nothings in my ear, but keep your fucking saccharine propaganda out of my science, okay?




The amount of sugar consumed (by the average American), when piled in a wheelbarrow, is a rather phallic-looking heap, and it can’t be good for your health to be eating the equivalent of a Godzilla-sized sugar dick.




*   *   *

May you read sugar studies with a grain of salt;
May you be wary of games which actually require true ferocity;
May a voice from your past induce memories of warm summer nights;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] How I long to be able to sleep that deeply, now!

[2] Grades 5-6, perhaps.

[3] The radio; the fan…my parents got all the good stuff in their room.

[4] Is that where the “fearless” comes in?


The Award I’m Not Accepting

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Oh, please, shut up already!

Son K smirked in solidarity when I yelled at the woman who was speechifying on television. “This is the kind of person,” he said, gesturing at the TV, “who gives social justice warriors a bad name.”

Let me set the stage: you are watching a stage, a stage from which, you sense, there is going to be a Pontificating Moment. You are, for whatever reasons, *** watching an awards show on TV. Not one of those candy-ass People’s Choice imitations, but one of the “biggies” – The Oscars; The Tonys; The Emmys (it usually doesn’t happen at The Golden Globe Awards, because the participants are too tipsy to be serious).  The winner’s name is called; they feign surprise, make their way to the stage, clutch their trophy…and you can see the warning light flash in their eyes. Instead of a heartfelt thanking of family and friends, or a recitation of an interminable laundry list of industry asses to kiss, [1]  they’ve decided to take advantage of the situation and torture a captive audience make the stage their platform and educate (read: lecture) a global broadcast audience.



Please…make it not so.


I refer of course to last Sunday’s 2016 Emmy Awards, and the full-of-herself windbag excited winner in the My Show Is More Smugly Diverse Than Yours Best Director of A Comedy Series category, Jill Soloway, creator of the Amazon series, Transparent.

*** Before I continue with my rant thoughtfully considered illumination of a cultural phenomenon, let me explain the afore-mentioned You are, for whatever reasons, watching an awards show on TV.  The whatever reasons in my house = what has turned into a family tradition: watching an entertainment awards show on TV whilst dining [2] on “movie food.” Movie food is defined as hot dogs, popcorn, nachos,  Skittles and Junior Mints and Red Vines licorice and/or your favorite movie theatre candies and snacks, washed down with liberal amounts of a sparkling beverage.

Our family friend LAH has been part of our tradition for years, and she joined MH and I on Sunday, along with our son, K. Responsible College Graduate And Gainfully Employed Young Man ®  that he is, K no longer lives at home but could not pass up the opportunity for an Awards Night Movie Food Dinner ©  [3] …even though a few of us ANMFD participants (read: everyone but K) now try to lower the life-shortening effects of authentic movie food by substituting tofu/veggie dogs and/or burgers for the Scary Mystery Meat Sodium Bombs traditional hot dogs.  








Yet again, I digress. Back to the awards show.

I’d only seen one episode of Transparent, and was meh-impressed (trans – no pun intended – lation: Meh as in mehbe I’ll watch another episode, some day, when I’m folding laundry and nothing else is on.). [4] Soloway’s bloated, self-important acceptance speech made me never want to watch another episode of her series, on principle.

Is this person on stage giving an oration about winning an award for a Very Very Very Important…TV comedy? I wondered aloud.  Because her oh-so-serious-and-earnest emoting seems more fitting for a filmmaker documenting a Doctors Without Borders group of volunteers battling an Ebola epidemic.

“…this thing that these people call television, but I call a revolution.”

Yep, the director compared what she does to a revolution – you know, the thing defined as “a (usually) violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one.” I was reminded of advertising hacks who use hyperbole to shill mundane products that are, in fact, anything but world-shattering (“Oral-B-Clean’s Vibra-rama strip is the revolutionary [5]  way to floss!”).

BTW, I hope any Syrian refugees watching the show, or anyone with the misfortune to be involved in an actual revolution, took comfort from realizing that their struggles are comparable to – if less entertaining and worthy of prime time TV coverage than – the subject matter of a TV comedy series.

Soloway ended her sermon speech by raising her trophy aloft and chanting, “Topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!”







After Soloway’s harangue the Emmy Awards show’s emcee, comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, [6]  had the tricky task of segueing to the next award presentation. Kimmel provided a mood-lightening transition when said he wasn’t sure how to respond: “I’m trying to figure out if ‘topple the patriarchy’ is a good thing for me or not,” he quipped.

Certain Actors, Directors and Show Biz People ©  :  I love you, love your work, even (usually) agree with your politics [7] – I mean, topple the patriarchy, I am so there – but  wise up, please. An entertainment awards show is neither the time nor the place to promote your political or social (or even human rights) agenda.

So. Attention, Self-Important/Self-Anointed Spokespeople For Righteous Causes: yeah, we get it. Just thank the audience and awards presenters, say something nice about your family, then shut up, go backstage, and fondle your trophy.


*   *   *


Department Of When You Don’t Know Which Noun To Use

Last week’s Science Friday program provided a brief but golden moment for us neologism lovers. It featured an interview with Ann Druyan and Frank Drake, two of the creators of Voyager’s Golden Record – the phonograph record collection placed aboard both Voyager probes launched in 1977.

The records were chosen to provide a combination ship-in-a-bottle/time capsule selection of sounds and images to illustrate the variety of Terran life and culture. Drake spoke about having to be careful re what to include: scientists wanted the collection be culturally and scientifically representative…but then there are those prickly human sensibilities to consider: [8]

NASA got nervous, because they knew (including anatomically correct drawings of naked people) could create a big public  _____.”

My mind was a split second ahead, and expected Drake to finish the sentence with either outcry, or uproar, but instead he neologized [9]  outroar.





“Greetings. We made first contact to find out what happened to the naked pictures we so enjoyed on your earlier space probes.”



*   *   *

Department Of Things That Just Strike Me Every Now And Then


One evening last week, as MH and I were doing après-dinner kitchen cleanup, I began singing a song. Seemingly apropos of nothing and without really being aware of what I was doing what it was, I chuckled when I realized I was warbling the Hank Williams classic, ”Your Cheatin’ Heart.

When I was a young child my father would sing to me after reading a bedtime story. Chet Parnell had a nice, mellow singing voice; he loved Hank Williams’ music, and YCH was one of his favorites. I learned to sing along with whatever the song was, although as a three year old I didn’t pay much attention to the words.

Looking back, YCH – a mournful song about cuckolded husband predicting heartache for his straying wife – was an odd choice for a bedtime lullaby. But it wouldn’t have mattered if it were an ode to the sinking of the Titanic – it wasn’t the lyrics that meant so much to me then…or now. It was that my daddy sang me to sleep.




*   *   *

May your acceptance speeches be short and sweet;
May your hopes and dreams be Golden Record-worthy;
May you not shuffle off this mortal coil without having sung someone to sleep;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] “I’d like to thank my long-suffering agent, my genius publicist, my courageous accountant…”

[2] In the loosest definition of the term.

[3] Plus, I bribed him with homemade guacamole.

[4] Okay, when MH – or someone else, anyone else in this house – is folding laundry. Homey don’t play that.

[5] Is there no one in advertising – surely, at least one English major populates the profession – who actually cares about the definition of words? Can a dental hygiene product – or laundry detergent or weed whacker or shoelace organizer or any consumer product – rightfully be described as revolutionary? I sincerely doubt that governments will be overthrown if people find a new way to pick their teeth.

[6] IMHO all award shows should be hosted by quick-thinking comics who can provide on-the-spot retorts to prick the overinflated ego balloons of award recipients.

[7] It’s that liberal Hollywood elite crowd, after all.

[8] Prudish early ’70’s media criticized NASA over the nudity (line drawings of the figures of a man and woman which, along with other  symbols, were designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft) included on the Pioneer plaque.

[9] Itself a neologism, courtesy of moiself. I’m open to changes in spelling.

The Culture I’m Not Appropriating

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Write what you know is, hands down/butts up, the Worst Writing Advice Ever. ®  Although I despise the aggravating axiom’s existence, I took some solace in thinking that its influence has been waning….

Golly gosh gee willikers, how I love learning new things: it seems that, like intestinal gas after a vegan-chili-eating contest, that misbegotten maxim keeps resurfacing. It has morphed, and rises anew in the form of the term, cultural appropriation. [1]




I grow weary of you appropriating Vulcan culture, Lt. Kirk.




American journalist/novelist Lionel Shriver, who was invited to be the keynote speaker at the recent  Brisbane Writers Festival, knotted the knickers of the festival organizers when, as reported in this NY Times article, she [2] disparaged the movement against cultural appropriation.

Write what you know; do not appropriate the culture/experience of another. This becomes translated as, Write what you are. And what you are becomes defined by someone outside of you – someone who decries cultural, ethnic, class and gender stereotypes even as they want to circumscribe your right to tell stories/craft characters based on their interpretation of your cultural what you know.

Seven years ago I wrote a letter to the editor of Poets & Writers magazine, in response to a Very Long Screed letter from a woman who passionately pronounced that writers must write about only those characters and backgrounds from whence they came; that is, you must write about what you know, and what you know is what you are. Screed Woman [3] commented at length about what a “true artist” may create, and at one point actually declared the following:

I will not permit folks like _____ [4] to write of my folk, or Mexican folk, or Asian folk, or Native American folk, of folk of color as though they have a right to.”






Yes, really.

Screed Writer, without having been asked by other writers, “By the way, what do you think I should write about?” and without having been elected to the Board of Literary Permissions, [5] not only felt entitled to speak for all of her “folk,” but also for the folk of which she is not-folk – an incredibly diverse and numerous collection of humanity, whose varying and wide-ranging opinions on the issue at hand she discounted, IMHO, by presuming to speak for all folk-of-color.

As I wrote in my reply letter, [6]

Was I out of the country when _____( Screed Writer) was appointed to the coveted, “True Artist Discerner” position?
….I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but behold: for centuries, a legion of writers, from Shakespeare to Le Guin, have composed tales and created characters without your (or anyone else’s) permission. A pox upon the cheeky bastards!
….All those wasted years, merely loathing Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the story itself when I could have really censured it for being inauthentic: “How dare its author write outside his species!?”




We were NOT consulted about that book and we’re still pissed off.



Write what you know. Just think of the awful, intrusive, disrespectful novels penned by those who have ignored that advice.

John Steinbeck, born into middle-class comfort in California and educated at Stanford – what could he know of the struggles and dreams of the destitute Oklahoma migrant farmers he depicted in The Grapes of Wrath? And that Cathy Ames character, the initially charming but ultimately evil and pitiful wife/mother in East of Eden – how could a 1950s, upright male citizen like Steinbeck take the liberty to deduce the machinations of a turn of the century whorehouse madam?  [7]

How dare Rita Mae Brown, a never-married, child-free lesbian with no siblings, presume to know the combination of brass and loneliness of the widowed elderly sisters and mothers whom she featured in her novel Bingo?  Not only that, Brown has penned a series of detective novels featuring a cat as a sleuth-like protagonist! The nerve of her, a bipedal homo sapiens, to appropriate the thoughts and actions of a quadrapedal felis catus.

Stephen King had his first great hit with the novel Carrie. He audaciously crafted his shy high school misfit character despite the fact that he, an adult man with no demonstrable psychokinetic abilities who came from a middle-of-the road Protestant background, could not possibly know what it would be like to be a much-bullied adolescent female with telekinetic powers who lived with a batshit-crazy fundamentalist mother.

Alice Walker – well, she can write about her own folk, as long as they are The Color Purple.  But as an African American from a rural, Southern, impoverished, Baptist background there’s no way she could know the mind-set and motivations of an idealistic civil rights worker from a Northern, white, Jewish, privileged circumstances…and yet she dared to create just such a character in Meridian.

And what could Brian Doyle, a non-Urdu-speaking, white American writer and editor, truly know about the inner musings of a Muslim Pakistani barber, as he had the gall to do in Bin Laden’s Bald Spot ?

And don’t even get me started on that uppity Jean Auel, who created the Clan of the Cave Bear books. Auel presumed to tell tales about people who lived and died thousands of years ago – she appropriated cultures that don’t even exist anymore! And what could she, a contemporary middle-aged white woman, possibly know about Cro-magnons and Neanderthals of any age, gender or ethnicity?

Have I belabored this point enough?  Because, I could go on, ya know.




No, please, provide even more examples, we still don’t get it….



Now then. I do not mean to dismiss legitimate concerns with the historical exploitation of the experiences of women and minorities via the platform of fiction. As one Brisbane Writers Festival attendee put it, “The reality is that those from marginalized groups, even today, do not get the luxury of defining their own place in a norm that is profoundly white, straight and, often, patriarchal.”

I moiself have, in this space and others, ranted commented on the pervasive sexism in the publishing and literary reviewing worlds, wherein, for example, “books about women written by men receive critical acclaim, while books written by women on similar themes and in a similar style are tawdry domestic dramas.” [8]  And a slew of minds more incisive than mine have long noted the disparate praise heaped upon (usually white) men vis-à-vis women and minorities writing on the same subject.

I do mean to dismiss three whole ‘nother kettles of wormy literary fish:

  1. the idea that there are any “scared” subjects – including but not limited to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, politics, socio-economic class, dis/ability – about which writers cannot or should not write;
  2. the idea that writers may justifiably feel entitled to try to limit the variety of voices other writers employ to comment on any subject;
  3. two wormy fish kettles of literary nonsense are enough to be dismissed, for now.

Look: you may like a story’s plot and/or characters, or loathe the same – it’s up to each reader. What is not up to any reader, nor the self-blinder-donning, self-appointed Guardians Of Cultural Appropriation, [9]  is to attempt to limit, intimidate or censor the imagination and empathy that writers use to create their stories and characters.






“I often quote myself. It lends spice to my conversation.”
(Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw)


Since I am no one to ignore the example of GB Shaw, I shall end this communique with the end of my afore-mentioned response to the afore-mentioned Screed Writer:

_____ (Screed Writer) writes, with all sincerity and good intentions, I assume, that she would not write a character with certain gender/religious/ethnic attributes because she does “not wish to offend with less than authenticity.” Some might think her intentions polite and perhaps even considerate, but what I look for in a compelling story is not that its author has good manners. Go ahead, dare to “offend” me with “in-authenticity,” Better yet, let me – the reader – decide whether or not I am offended, and whether or not I find your characters authentic. Trust me; I’ve been doing this for years. I’ll be okay.

To the Write What You Know gang: can we end this dreary dialog? Go back to your corners; reflect; meditate; supplicate; read the self-help books and take the mood or perspective-altering medications that will enable you to ignore the evil voices in your head that tell you it is your obligation to shepherd, chaperone, and censor. WWYK-ers and others who deny themselves the “right” to write authentic if “different” characters are welcome to deny themselves – and themselves alone – that right. If, whether out of fear, misguided notions of respect, or any other reason, you do not consider yourself capable of creating authentic characters, then by all means, stifle yourself. Do not write beyond your self-imposed limits, perceptions and capacities, If it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to write about it if you don’t want to (is this a wonderful world, or what?!), but please consider the following. Throughout the ages, many great writers, painters, and composers have suggested that it is the stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, one’s permitted zone, which is the mark of a “true” artist.

I, for one, am grateful for authors past and present who’ve written out “of the box.” Do not, ever, presume to limit another writer’s capabilities, or be so audacious as to assume you are the granter of people’s right to tell the stories they choose to tell. Gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, class, health status, religion, occupation, political affiliation – all of these authentic, influential and essential qualities ultimately pale in comparison to that most defining human (apologies to science fiction authors) quality: imagination.  Write, if you must, only what you think you know, but stop proscribing the imagination of anyone but yourself. My stories will be filled with agnostic, youthful, weak-hearted Southwestern men and with elderly, vigorous, devoutly Pentecostal Asian women; with boldly blasphemous crones, timorous dyslexic adolescents, and someday maybe even a gracious if paranoid Venusian. I’ll continue to write characters who line up with the truth of the story, not those that toe a line drawn in the literary sand by some self-deputized Authenticity Posse.


*   *   *

Department Of Taking A Break


There; that’s better.






Now, if only I could slap somebody upside the head with a leather-bound copy of the list of challenged, censored and banned book titles as collected by the National Coalition Against Censorship.




*   *   *

May you refrain from brutally smiting those who would constrain the creativity of others;
May you, upon further reflection, treat such constraints with the scorn they deserve;
May you authentically appropriate the power of imagination;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


*   *   *



[1] the term in this context refers to “minority” writers and artists protesting the use or depiction of their  culture by other/non-minority writers or artists – even to the point of objecting to “dominant culture” artists creating or including in their work characters belonging to minority cultures.

[2] Yes, Lionel Shriver is a she. She appropriated a male first name at age 15.

[3] Self-identified as “black in America.”

[4] An ethnically/culturally Jewish writer, who had previously written about how she claimed the right to write non-Jewish characters and to not write about the Holocaust.

[5] Even if she claimed to be, it would be election fraud, as there is no such board.

[6] Which was published in P & W. the letter was edited for space and not run in its glorious (read: snarky) entirety.

[7] Excuse me, did I write ? I mean of course, Sex Worker Supervisor.

[8] as per writer s.e. smith in her article, Sorry White Male Novelists, But Sexism in Publishing Is Still A Thing

[9] Unfortunately, not the long-awaited sequel to Guardians Of The Galaxy (LINK)

The Tomatillos Salsa I’m Not Making




Department Of A Star Is Born

The prevalence of female vanity is legendary and, like most legends, largely fictional. Counterpoint stories of men going to extremes to make their boy-selves attractive – or caring about such at all – are viewed as anomalies, despite data and anecdotes to the contrary. As per the latter, of the four Parnell offspring (three girls and one boy) constituting my Nuclear Family ®, the only one of us who ever stayed home from school because of a perceived bad hair day was my brother. [1]

Yep, there’s a point I’m getting to.  Or rather, yet another anecdote.

Dateline: yesterday morning. Returning from my am walk, I passed a group of four Hispanic boys who were walking down the middle of the street, headed toward the nearby junior high. They were talking loudly amongst themselves in spanglish – loudly because one of the boys was about forty feet ahead of the other three. The lone/lead boy turned around, crooked his arm and called back to the group, urging them to catch up with him. One of the three replied in English, “I don’t want to run because it’ll mess up my hair.”

It was all I could do to stop myself from turning around to get a look at the no-mess-worthy hair, and say, Kid, you don’t know it but you’re gonna be the star of my blog.




Yet another no-fuss, man-style hairdo.

*   *   *

Department Of Belated Good Riddance….

To Phyllis Schafly, anti-feminist, anti LGBTQ rights, religious conservative activist. Schafly, who earned the title One of History’s Worst Homophobes in this article by The Advocate, “…spent a lifetime trying to prevent LGBT people from gaining equality, while spreading an onslaught of falsehoods — and she did all of it despite having a gay son.”

Most famous for her strident anti-ERA/anti women’s rights agenda, Schafly was the creepiest kind of conservative: one whose blinkered, religion-tainted world view made her guilty of what is, IMHO, one of the worst of human errors: ingratitude. Schafly profited and benefited from the work of feminists – women and men who fought the fights so that a woman could, as Schafly did, attend college and law school and be taken seriously (and earn money) as a political activist, commentator and author – and then devoted her professional life to dissing feminism and feminists.

On the bright side, ’tis possible that the self-loathing misogynist jibberish rhetoric of Ms. Schafly created more women’s rights advocates than the writings of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and bell hooks combined.




*   *   *

Department Of What’s Your Favorite Not My

A couple of friend and I were recently sharing stories of what had been, for each of us, one of the surprise benefits  [2] of becoming a parent. Mine was this: once I had children I found myself rarely irritated or offended by being in proximity to other people’s children misbehaving in public. The kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store or restaurant; the toddlers going ballistic on a flight as the place begins its landing descent – it just didn’t bother me the way it had in my pre-parenthood days.

I was flummoxed the first few times it happened – the first time I realized that, instead of being annoyed by the boy who’d just howled bloody murder and made a Frisbee of his personal size pizza, I felt something like…could it be…liberation?.  By the fourth or fifth time, the aha moment sunk in. I realized that my lack of irritation was in small part due to my empathy for the child’s parents (IF I felt they were handling the situation correctly [3]) and in large, gigantanormous part  because it wasn’t my kid acting up and thus I was relieved of the responsibility of dealing with the situation. As I put it to my friends, “Not my monkey; not my circus.”




“Paging Ringling Brothers, aisle three, come get your monkey.”


The morning after that conversation, I awoke with this thought on my mind: Why have other Not my… scenarios not attained a recognized shorthand for the you-don’t-have-to-fix-everything meme?

* Not my cowboy; not my rodeo.

* Not my buffalo; not my stampede.

* Not my ice block; not my igloo.

* Not my cat turd; not my litter box.

* Not my lunatic; not my asylum.

* Not my urine sample, not my steroid scandal.

* Not my Focke-Wulf; not my Luftwaffe.

* Not my parish priest; not my sexual abuse settlement.

* Not my RMS Titanic; not my Trump-for-President campaign.

Just wondering.




Someone else handle this, please.

*   *   *

The Tomatillos Are Calling

Now there’s a sentence I’ve heretofore not written. Nor even imagined, I imagine (no, wait….). But there it was, on a continuous loop or so it seemed, from late Saturday night through Sunday morning.

I tried to blame my insomnia on the mundanities [4]  of life…but it wasn’t the concern for the surfeit of produce from the week’s CSA bag (aka, what-am-I-gonna-do-with-all-of-these-tomatillos?) that had me waking up every two hours with those wretched, what did we miss/what could we have done? thoughts.




Don’t blame us, lady. Not your tomatillos; not your salsa.



Instead, it turns out that pesky subconscious mind o’ mine was ruminating on the approaching one year anniversary of A Very Dark Time Of Fear And Sadness ®  for our nuclear and extended family, which included but was not limited to the death of MH’s beloved father.

Just get past that day has been my mantra for this past week; thus, the relative brevity of this week’s post. For which there may be much rejoicing in the blog-reading world.


*   *   *

May you rejoice in the true mundanities of life;
May you be entitled to use (but never abuse) the occasional bad hair day defense;
May you remember to act when it is your monkey/your circus;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] My mother confirmed this, a long time ago when she confided in/complained to me about why my brother was staying home from high school that day – he was faking illness (she’d gotten him to admit this), because he didn’t like the way his hair looked. And this was not the first time he had done so.

[2] That is, a plus or perk which you totally did not anticipate.

[3] And if they were not, well then, I could self-righteously participate in that most American of pastimes: judging other people’s parenting skills.  So, win-win.

[4] Yep, that word has been added to my dictionary.

The Trigger Warning I’m Not Posting

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Trigger Warning: Anthony Please-somebody-look-at-my Wiener content.

I think Stephen King should consider writing a sequel to Creepshow – this one about the batshit crazy ways of former politician/perpetual political embarrassment of a historical footnote, Anthony Weiner.

After being caught at least twice in sexting scandals, even a self-absorbed tallywhacker tweeter like Señor Schlongbottom Mr. Weiner has got to know that he’s being watched. Is he so passive-aggressive that he cannot openly ask for a divorce but must do something he knows will (finally) force his wife into this-is-the-last-straw mode?

Whatever the reason he does what he does, I can’t help but do the armchair shrink speculation about the pathologies behind such WTF? behavior. If the guy weren’t a politician with a once-promising career he’d be just another third-rate creep slinking around his neighborhood at night, looking for an open ground floor bedroom window in front of which he could flash his not-so-private parts.

“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life.”
(Huma Abedin, in a press conference announcing her separation from her husband)

Correction, Ms. Abedin, If I may.

Although I’ve no basis for questioning your parental devotion, your spineless weasel of a pecker-brained husband is not “devoted to,” nor apparently even mildly concerned with, doing what is best for your son. Instead, AW set up your son for a life of embarrassment-by-association by texting a lewd crotch shot selfie which included his son in the picture.






Not to get all science-y on ya, but there is a term used by mental health professionals to describe those people who engage in compulsive paraphilia, such as exposing their genitals to strangers:


*   *   *

Department Of Public Service

Trigger warning: warnings about trigger warnings.

Scientists studying mental health have shown that evidence-based practices, such Cognitive Based Therapy and Desensitization or  exposure therapies, have proved to be the most effective treatments for phobias. As one CBT therapist writes (my emphases), “… The natural response to fear is avoidance and escape. Yet the more you attempt to avoid and escape fear (the fight-flight response), the stronger it becomes and the more ground you lose. This is because avoidance blocks your brain’s ability to learn….”

Similar evidence is now emerging to discredit the well-intentioned but often ill-considered practice of trigger warnings.







The use of trigger warnings originated in Internet chat rooms and web communities [1] and has spread to blogs [2] and other public writings and forums, and even to newspapers. The TW practice has become especially problematic and controversial in college and university settings, where some self-appointed social justice warriors (which have included both professors and students) have demanded written warnings to alert students that a class may deal with materials covering an increasingly wide range of potentially sensitive subjects, from ethnicity/race, war, torture and genocide to religion, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation,ageism, artistic interpretation, imperialism, aesthetic preferences, colonialism – you know, like, everything the collection of humanity has ever had to deal with.

“Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder.”
(Richard J. McNally, Harvard professor of psychology, in a roundup of the research on trigger warnings)

I’ve long been suspicious about TWs, even as I understand the intent behind them. And both of my offspring have relayed situations in college wherein a few of their perfectly functional (if immature and brazenly uninformed), non-PTSD-suffering peers used the “trigger warning” and “creating a safe space” concepts to curtail and even censor the kind of discussions and data analyses college students should be engaging in. [3]

More and more have my suspicions been confirmed by…well…evidence.

“…I have to question whether trigger warnings are in students’ best interests. One of the cardinal symptoms of PTSD is avoidance, which can become the most impairing symptom of all. If someone has been so affected by an event in her life that reading a description of a rape in Ovid’s Metamorphoses can trigger nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks, she is likely to be functionally impaired in areas of her life well beyond the classroom. The solution is not to help these students dig themselves further into a life of fear and avoidance by allowing them to keep away from upsetting material.”
(psychologist Sarah Roff, who specializes in the treatment of trauma, in her article Treatment, Not Trigger Warnings, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Writer and social activist Dan Savage does a nice/pithy job of summarizing the research (and providing the links to the same) on trigger warnings in his recent article for The Stranger. The article, titled Shut Up About Trigger Warnings…let’s read about them instead, is the source of the above two quotes, and is well worth your read, be you trigger-sensitive, trigger-free or trigger-happy.




Trigger happy – that’s us!

*   *   *

Department Of This Is The Kind Of Thing…

…that makes me want to march in the streets with hipsters wearing ill-fitting, faux fedoras, hurl bricks through bank windows and spout slogans like death to the fascist insect that preys upon the people.

The Epipen price hike scandal.

Capitalism, schmapitalism. It’s fucking medical extortion.

And it was no surprise to read that the (previous?) holder of the title of most hated person in American title – Martin Shkreli, the sneering rapacious, price-gouging grave robber pharmaceutical entrepreneur who upped the cost of life-saving AIDS medication by 5000+ percent – was a-okay with the move. Cause, it’s just business.






*   *   *

Department Of Shake Your Groove Thang…Or Just Flaunt Your Groove Ring

In an earlier post I mentioned MH’s and my search for alternatives to – or in our case, replacements for – our metal wedding bands  [4] :

Apparently, it – the market for more functional, versatile alternatives to traditional metal wedding bands  – is a thing, now.
And if it’s a thing that ends up on my and MH’s fingers, you’ll hear about it, here.

Well, the hear is here. Our Groove rings arrived in the mail earlier this week.

MH and I have both admitted to each other that, in the past 18+ months, we’ve grown accustomed to (and in my case, even prefer) not wearing a ring…and that now, it feels [5]strange now to do so. Neither of us had ever worn rings prior to donning our wedding bands, and for me, it was quite an adjustment, always twisting it and blowing under it after washing my hands or while doing feed preparation – even after 25+ years I never fully got used to the feeling that something was “stuck” underneath it.

Still, we both, tentatively, have decided we like our new rings. Also, as MH pointed out, an important consideration/factor in choice, if you have the option, is for your new ring to match one of your cats.





*   *   *

May you live a Wiener-text-free life;
May you not be the subject of anyone’s trigger warning;
May you flaunt your rings as you choose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] Mainly/allegedly for the benefit of people suffering from PTSD.

[2] Regular readers of this blog will note that I use both trigger and content warnings. Readers with IQs greater than their shoe size will note that I use such warnings as an illustration of my general distaste for such “alerts.”

[3] If you’re upset with someone presenting evidence and opinions that counter your party line in a discussion in your class on “Gender and Society,” FFS, why are you in such a class in the first place? Stay home, recite your doctrine in front of a mirror while you administer reassuring back pats to yourself, and take Poetry for Non-Poets or Graphic Novel Symbolism and the Post-Madonna Zeitgeist to satisfy your humanities core requirement units.

[4] which MH and I had stopped wearing due to MH’s finger joint irritation.

[5] Time for another footnote. Noooooooooo.

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