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The Character Reference I’m Not Providing

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Department Of A Blast From The Past

Enjoying the free time of the newly retired, I’ve been sorting through some old (VERY old) files. I found this letter your mom wrote for me to include in a scholarship application. However challenging her last few years were, I will always remember the sweet lady who took the time to do this for me.

A friend from high school sent me the above email earlier this week, along with a photo of said letter – my mother’s “character reference” for my friend.

That was so delightful of her to do that.  The letter made me laugh for several reasons, including the fact that it was for a “character recommendation.” I have no memory of needing a character reference for *my* college and scholarship applications. I do recall the jaw-clenching process of asking teachers for academic recommendations (and appreciating their patience, as it seems they were each juggling other such requests from at least twenty students), but “character” recommendations? I’m drawing a complete blank.    [1]   

Perhaps only certain kinds of scholarships required it (my friend was applying to a private college with a religious affiliation)?  In any case, I can’t imagine which adult I would have requested it (a character reference letter) from – and I know I would have dreaded the process.  However, variations on their possible responses do come to mind:

“Oh yes, I can attest, she’s a character…”

A sad – to me – historical/patriarchal footnote…that, unfortunately, remains more than a footnote some forty years later:  my mother’s signoff on the letter. My father could sign letters, recommendations and other documents of importance, legal and otherwise, with his name, which was also his “title.” They were one and the same.  Like so many women of that era, my mother’s own name wasn’t enough to confer weight to her declarations.  Just in case you weren’t impressed by her being herself, she had to parenthetically include her ownership status:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Heart-Blast From The Past

This week, eleven years ago, 2-11-09: he left this life, but not this heart.

My father, Chester Bryan (aka, “Chet the Jet”) Parnell, died on 2-11-09. The years have changed my grief, as I think (and hope) they do for most people.  I’ve gone from anguish to appreciation, in that I realize “the luck of the draw.”  How fortunate my siblings and I were to have had him as our dad.

The following photo: I have just turned 19, and it is my first Christmas home from college.  Chet was 51, and was eager to prove to his wife (my mother, nervous, behind the camera:  “Don’t throw your back out!”) that he could still pick up his adult daughter.

Moiself can’t be the only person to look at a photograph of a parent and feel a combination of awe and weirded-out-ness to realize that you are older now than they were back then, in that photo.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yes, I Really Did Do This

Dateline: recently. Listening to the Curiosity Daily podcast, the February 7 episode, alluringly titled, “Measuring the Deadliness of Viruses (Like Coronavirus), Why We Do the Potty Dance, and Depression’s Cousin ‘Acedia.’ ”

Moiself was compelled to send feedback to podcast host Cody Gough, who was bantering with co-host Ashley Hamer during the recap/closing moments of the podcast.  Gough made a statement that…well…I could not let it go unchallenged.

Dear Cody Gough,

I’m a fan of the podcast, and as such, I need to offer a suggestion re a possible correction, after listening to your most recent (February 7) episode.  In the closing moments/recap of the episode, when you and Ms. Hamer were discussing practical tips about how to avoid having to do “the pee pee dance,” in response to a strategy recapped by Ms. Hamer, you said:

“…as a gamer growing up, I can tell you that’s not an option.”

I believe you need to apologize to listeners for the oxymoron
(i.e., linking the concepts of “gamer” and “growing up”).

Keep up the good work,
Nit-pickingly yours,
Robyn Parnell

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Mere Words Cannot Express How Sorry I Am
That “The Irishman” Won No Academy Awards

 

 

There were two films I avoided seeing in 2019, even though they were each nominated for multiple Academy Awards.  Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I see a lot of (theatrical release) movies, and try to see all of the nominees for Best Picture and most of the nominees for the writing and acting awards.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to spend good money and lengthy ass-sitting time on Joker and The Irishman[2]

Joker, when I heard about its plot points from a friend, seemed too bleak and too venturing-into-incel-territory for my tastes.   The combination of a loner/misfit male blaming female rejection for his problems, and yet-another-comic-book-character movie…I’d rather stay home and organize the cat feeding bowls, no matter how much the (mostly male) critics seemed to be coming in their pants re the lead actor’s performance.  Then, I ran across this interview with Time magazine movie critic Stephanie Zacharek:

“(Joker director) Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture — but really, he’s offering a prime example of it”…(he) presents (The Joker) as a man beset by misfortunes, from unrequited love to Gotham City budget cuts…. In “Joker,” Zacharek says Phillips wants viewers to pity (The Joker) because “he just hasn’t had enough love,” but what he’s done is create a protagonist who could become the “patron saint of incels.”

Because she…wrote one of the earliest negative reviews, Zacharek “became a target of angry, derogatory, sometimes aggressively misogynistic missives from people who haven’t yet seen the movie.”…. Zacharek shared more specifics about the trolls who came at her with “sick burns” both on Twitter and Instagram. One called her a “lonely old hag.”

“It was just so stupid,” (Zacharek )said. “How many of these people are out there? These are people who don’t think things through, and if this is the audience that this movie is courting, that proves my point.”

(Excerpts from “Several male film critics praised ‘Joker.’
Here’s why female critics aren’t sold.”   The Lily, 10-13-19.)

 

 

Yep.

Moving right along… Martin Scorsese.  Oh, Marty Marty Marty – may I call him Marty?   [3] I’ve enjoyed a couple of his films over the years but never understood what all the fuss was about.  The overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male movie critics and members of the Academy love to refer to Scorsese as one of “the greatest living film directors.”  He is part of that (unofficial) Young Upstarts/Now Respected Veterans club – three males of a similar generation who came to films around the same time and who have earned venerated, call-them-by-their-last-name status: Lucas, Speilberg, and Scorsese.

I know it’s not a competition, but for movie directors, I prefer Spielberg over Scorsese any day, hands down. Spielberg has chosen such a variety of stories to present over the years, from Jurassic Park to The Color Purple, from Saving Private Ryan to Amistad, From E.T. to Schindler’s List, from The Sugarland Express to Lincoln…you can’t pigeonhole what a Spielberg film is.

 

Yes, the director of that also directed this.

 

Now, here comes Marty with The Irishman.  A criminal syndicate/gangster film – imagine that! What a bold, new path for him! 

I have become convinced that there are some male directors who, subconsciously or otherwise, choose subjects and/or time periods (e.g. they set their films “historically”) so that they have an excuse for the way they portray (the few) women in their films.  They are relieved of the burden of doing something they’re not interested in doing the first place – creating three-D, complex, female characters who have a role other than to decorate or prop up the male characters – because, you know, Authenticity. ®  (“Oh well, that’s what it was like back in the 1940s/ with Italian-Americans/in the gang subculture….”)

A gangster/crime movie – you can get away with having a few females in the background for window dressing. Female roles *can* be significant in these movies, but only in ways which relate to the protagonist, as per these Scorsese film examples (both via Taxi Driver ): you got Iris, the teenage waif/prostitute who needs rescuing, and you got Betsy, The Unattainable Icy Blonde Who Rebuffs The Protagonist’s Romantic Overtures  And Thus Serves As A Catalyst For His Violent Self-Destructive Spree ® .

I saw the trailers and read a few descriptions of The Irishman, and said to moiself, “Oh, please, again?  If this film were an Olympic athlete it would fail the male hormone doping drug test.”

With few exceptions   [4]  Scorsese’s films present repeating themes:   Italian-Americans and their American assimilation (or lack of); hypermasculinity (as expressed via crime and violence); the search for a father figure; ethnic (especially Italian and Irish) tribalism, religious (read: Roman Catholic) notions of sin and guilt and salvation; crime, organized and otherwise; male power male pride male bonding….

Several months back, before I knew a thing about The Irishman, I read a snippet of an article which used a retrospective of Scorsese‘s career as a lead-in to a review praising The Irishman.  When I came across the phrase, “Scorsese does it again,” my reaction was, “Oh please, say it ain’t so…and get that man into cinematic rehab.”

 

“Is this what it’ll take to get you to see his movie?”

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [5]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Holiday Cooking (from Candle Café; multiple authors)
Recipe:  Truffled Tofu Medallions With Wild Mushroom and Pinot Gris Sauce

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6]    

*   *   *

May you delight a longtime old friend with a copy of an old letter;
May you enjoy the petty pleasure of insulting gamers (or gangster movies);
May you remember your good fortune in loving even those you’ve lost;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which could be indicative of my lack of character.

[2] And they made it easy for The Irishman, by releasing it on Netflix after it played in theaters for 5.6 seconds (or whatever was long enough to qualify it for awards nominations).

[3] That seems to be the moniker the Hollywood in-crowd uses to signal that they know Scorsese, or at least know enough about him to be so personal….

[4] Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; The Age of Innocence.

[5] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[6]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Images I’m Not Unseeing

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Department Of Just Wondering

Moiself recently heard an ad for a health supplement product which, according to the enthusiastic supplement hawker, contains “…both prebiotics and probiotics.” This made me wonder (but not enough that I Googled it, found out the answer, and destroyed the mystery) what that means; as in, I don’t exactly understand the terms.   Are prebiotics biotics before they turn pro?

 

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Department Of I Can’t Unsee This,
And Now, Neither Can You

Dateline: Wednesday am. As usual at the breakfast table, the second section of the NY Times  [1]  I read is the Food section.  Imagine moiself’s surprise when my eyes are seared greeted, not by the customary page 1 depiction of a delectable dish, but by a photograph of hirsute, floppy torsos gathered around a kitchen island. The sickening spectacle picture accompanies an article titled, The Joy of Cooking Naked.

“Despite the occasional splatter burn, nudists say their relationship to eating, at home or in restaurants, is better and healthier without all the clothing.”

Well, of course they do.

I don’t know about y’all, but nothing takes moiself further from the concept of a “better” and “healthier” relationship to food that seeing man-boob hairs dangling precariously above the salad bowl.

 

 

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Department Of You May Notice An Ongoing Theme

Yet another rumination of mine related to my previous blog posts sparked by the story of Chanel Miller, the writer   [2]  who was raped by the Stanford student/athlete.  Miller’s profound query/accusation about social mores and attitudes about men and woman and rape and “consent” keeps coming back to mind…because the world we (as in, we women) live in keeps reminding me:

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given.
But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?

Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?

Yet another such reminder surfaced when I was in Tacoma, helping daughter Belle move to a new apartment.   Belle and I discussed the “reminder” (ah, the intimacies that can be traded while riding in a U-Haul cargo van) as well as how she, moiself, and other womenfolk we know have pledged, not to hector, but to remind menfolk at every opportunity how time- and resource-consuming it is to navigate as a female in this world. We’d like y’all to know that such reminders, when we share with you our stories of the latest “incident,” are not occasional occurrences. Rather, they happen All. The. Time.

The reminder of which I speak:

Dateline: two weeks ago Friday, in the early afternoon.  My car is parked around the corner from the entrance to the apartment building Belle is moving into.  We are each attired in clothing that could best be described as “moving friendly” (casual/exercise clothes).  Belle is on one side of the open rear door to my car; I am at the other side; both of us are about to pick up boxes packed with books, kitchen items, linens, etc.  

 

Is this enticing behavior, or what?

 

A man in his late 20s-early 30s swaggers by us on the sidewalk, reeking of attitude.  He is dressed inappropriately for the weather – no jacket, sweatshirt, or upper layers despite the temperature being in the low 40s, only a thin, tight tank top covers his muscled torso. When he is about fifteen feet past my car he turns around and calls out to Belle:

“I don’t mean to bother you, but you are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.”

Belle flashes a WTF look at me and mutters, “Uh…yeah…right.” I doubt he heard her.

I-don’t-mean-to-bother-you Man keeps walking, backward, as if (despite his claim that he didn’t want to bother her) waiting for Belle’s reaction.  And – I found this interesting – he makes direct eye contact with *moiself* while doing so, in a way that reminds me of a schoolyard bully issuing a challenge.  After three to four slow beats, he turns back around and struts down the street, on his original course to…wherever.

Belle and I heft boxes from my car to the apartment building’s entryway.  We return for more boxes; Belle gets there first.  As I approach the car I see Man #2 walk by, behind Belle, who has her back to him as she reaches for another box. This man remains silent, but cranes his neck, his eyes brazenly fixed in the proverbial glued-to-her-ass mode, as he slowly saunters past her.

As soon as Lech #2 passes out of earshot I tell Belle what I’ve seen.  In (only partially) mock outrage, I declare, “What is it with Tacoma men?!”

But before the comment fully escapes my mouth, I’ve already answered it, silently, to myself, with the exact rebuttal Belle says aloud:

“It’s not *Tacoma* men; it’s just…men.”

 

“If you hadn’t been dressed so provocatively….”

 

We talked “about it” later that afternoon, in the afore-mentioned U-Haul.   [3]   “About it” includes how a part of me wanted to say to I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, when he made the comment to Belle and then looked at me, “Hey, I’m her MOTHER.” “About it” also includes how another part of me wanted to ask him, “Why do you do that? (something about his manner assured me that was not the first time he’d commented upon the looks of an unknown – to him – female, in public). “Dude, does that *work* for you? Is she supposed to say, ‘Oh gee, thanks so much, come back in 30 minutes for your blow job?’ ”

We talked about how often these things happen to Belle and her female friends.  Moiself recalled how it was the *exception* to the rule when I was her age and, say, out for a run, to *not* receive any commentary from a man or men (passing by, in cars or on foot), about my appearance.  [4]  We talked about reactions Belle has received from people when she shares such stories – how a few folks, mostly men but sometimes also women, get…not angry, but slightly irritated or confused, and say something ala, “Well, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe he (I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man) was just one of those people who’s made a vow to say something nice to someone every day.”

I haven’t that vow, but as my children and husband can vouch, I do something similar: I make “nice” comments to strangers (both men and women), at every opportunity.  But, I know the difference between what I do – offer innocuous, always positive remarks –  and what I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man did; I know why I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man’s remark bothers most women, even if we cannot always fully articulate *why* it bothers us (hint: because we know we’ll get slammed for doing so).

I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man made a very personal remark to a person
with whom he had no personal relationship.

For a variety of reasons (mostly having to do with an, oh-this-is-serious/life-is-short realization I had many years back), I tell people, acquaintances and strangers alike, something complimentary about them when it comes to my mind. I’m no fucking Pollyanna, it’s just when I see something that makes me smile, I want to share it.

“Excuse me, that’s a cool coat you’re wearing.”

“Dude, that is one serious backpack – what a color!”    [5]

“Those shoes are fantastic, and they look really comfortable.”

“Oh, that looks like the happiest puppy in the world.”

“That handbag is great – I love all the pockets….”

All of these commendations have something to do with what the person *did* (they chose the backpack or shoes), with choices they made. They actively chose to buy that coat or adopt that dog or use that purse today; they didn’t choose their gender, bone structure, or physique.  Those type of observations (“Chartreuse is a happy color for a grocery bag, isn’t it?!”) aren’t personal, not in the intrusive and suggestive way comments about your body or appearance – especially from a stranger – are.

 

All this intensity deserves a Baby Sloth In PJs break.

 

Department Of Getting To The Point

A simple yet intense reality:  the risks faced or taken by I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, vis-à-vis those of any woman whom I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man  is supposedly not bothering, are quite different, particularly when it comes to possible outcomes of their encounter.  He gambles with rejection; she chances assault and murder.

What does he risk, at most, in making “compliments” to a (female) stranger?  She might ignore him; she might do the embarrassed smile thing; she might take offense and tell him to shut up or FUCK OFF,”….    He risks having his feelings hurt.

She, however: if she responds or acknowledges him *in any way,* risks encouraging a man she does not know into thinking he can approach her.  Have you ever talked to a police officer or counselor or other professionals who specialize in dealing with sexual assault cases? They’ll tell you that an MO for some sexual predators is to “test” women and girls, by making comments to them and seeing if they can get a response.  Ask almost any woman who’s been in this situation and has had some man, seemingly just passing by, say something to her, and then turn around and approach (or even follow her) when they get a response (even a negative one).

It’s lose-lose for women when they encounter I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Men. If you turn a cold shoulder/give no response at all, or or respond negatively to the stranger(s) who make comments to you, you are a cold/unfriendly/unkind/humorless bitch who’s making the world a mean and suspicious place.  If you do respond positively in any way, and then the man (or some man after that) approaches, pursues, and harasses (or assaults, or….) you, “Well, what were you expecting?”  “Why were you talking to or accepting compliments from a stranger?” “Why did you “lead him on?”….

 

 

My daughter’s new apartment is similar to her previous one, in terms of the relative sketchiness of its downtown Tacoma neighborhood.  Although Belle will be mostly walking to and from work, she opted to pay an extra fee each month for access to a parking space in a secured garage in her apartment’s basement.   I’m glad she did, even as I rue that extra expense for her, as well as the other costs that she and her female peers weigh and take on, in matters of security and safety that don’t occur to their male friends.  We live in the kind of world where it is more expensive to just navigate your way as a female – you pay extra in a variety of ways, from financial to psychological, to have one more degree of safety. One more thing that a guy her age walking to and from work, or to and from his car parked on the street, might not even consider.

 

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid that men will kill them.
(Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist)

 

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan For Everybody, by America’s Test Kitchen

Recipe:  Potato Vindaloo

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]    

*   *   *

May you keep your torso (etcetera) covered in *my* kitchen;
May you enjoy satisfying revenge dreams about causing strangers
who leer at your daughter
to have their genitals acquire Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections;
May you refrain from commenting on the bodies of strangers;   [8]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The first section is Arts, so I can do their KenKen puzzles.[2] Know My Name, a memoir of Miller’s assault and her life before and after her assailant’s trial and conviction.

[3] Which I’d rented for the heavy-duty, big ass items such, as bed, dresser, futon, etc., which would not fit into my Subaru Outback nor Belle’s Honda Fit.

[4] The intelligible comments were always related to that; sometimes where were just whistles, grunts, groans, and words that might be closely translated to, ”Hey baby….”

[5]  Actually, I rarely address guys as “dude” in real life. That’s what blogs are for.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[8] Or acquaintances, for that matter.  Unless either seems at risk of shedding man-boob hairs in your Caesar salad.

The Habits I’m Not Building

Comments Off on The Habits I’m Not Building

Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[9]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Menfolk I’m Not Controlling

Comments Off on The Menfolk I’m Not Controlling

Department FYI In Case you Didn’t Already Know/Suspect,
I Am A Naughty Person

Dateline: last week, out to lunch at a favorite restaurant of mine.  After two large glasses of liquid (water and iced tea)…well, when nature calls, who am I not to answer?  When I enter the women’s restroom I have the place to moiself; a mere thirty seconds later there is a small line – just three women – waiting for the accommodations.  I hold the stall door open for the lucky gal at the front of the line, a woman with friendly, brightly shining eyes peeking above a medical mask she is wearing.  She thanks me, and as I head for the sink she calls out, “Have a good one.”

It was all I could do to stop myself from blurting out, “Thanks – I just did!”   [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of Would Everybody Please Stop Saying This?

Dateline: Tuesday, circa 6:50 am. Listening to the most recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, actor and science communication advocate Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid. This episode features guest Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger, an Austrian Astronomer, professor, and head of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute.

In Clear and Vivid: Lisa Kaltenegger: Looking for Life on Other Earths, host Alda interviews Dr. Kaltenegger about her professional and personal interests, how she got to be doing what she is doing, and her passion for communicating science to others.  Here are some snippets from Kaltenegger’s Cornell website bio:

Lisa Kaltenegger is the Director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell and Associate Professor in Astronomy. Her research focuses on exploring new worlds orbiting other stars…. She is a world-leading expert in modeling potential habitable worlds and their detectable spectral fingerprint….  Kaltenegger serves among others on the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC)….

(snip snip) It goes on to list many more committees, awards and prizes, even an asteroid named after Kaltenegger.  Then, this, which caught my attention. Her book title echoed what seems to be the common question or even meme when it comes to searching for life, whether sentient or merely existent, beyond our planet:

Her book Are we alone in the universe?” has been published in…..

Moiself  loved the interview. However, I hate (the phrasing of) that damn question, and was disappointed that Kaltenegger chose it for her book title…and also that she used the phrase at least once more – as did Alda, if I remember correctly – during her interview.

Are We Alone In The Universe? ® is used by people, from professional astronomers to sci fi geeks aficionados, as some kind of guidepost disguised as a question – as if answering that question is a prime directive or reason for why we (humans) might be interested in searching for life beyond our planet. 

Are we alone in the universe?

 

 

No no no no no no.

The question might be relevant – or accurate – if it were posed by a single person, stranded on the proverbial desert island or mountain top after a full-scale nuclear war, multiple asteroid strike, or other catastrophe which could justifiably cause a person to think that they might be the sole survivor on the planet.

But, other than that, the *we* question answers  (well, it refutes) itself.

No: by definition, *we* are not alone.  There are seven billion plus Earthlings – I hardly consider that *alone* on any scale.  But, forget for a moment Earth’s astronomically boggling number of human infestation residents.  All y’all need is one other person to make a me into a *we* (or a y’all).

I know, I know; the question is meant to summon the idea of whether or not we Terrans are the only sentient species in the galaxy/nearby planetary systems), along with the proposition that if we know there is another *we* (“them”?), we will…no, there it goes again – *we* will not feel so lonely?

Just who, I’d like to know, is feeling lonely in the cosmos?  There is plenty of loneliness to go around on Earth – some mental health professionals talk about a loneliness epidemic despite (or because of) our social media/”connected” age.  However, I truly doubt that anyone’s personal or existential loneliness crisis is caused by thinking that they are not, in their lifetime, going to know if the galaxy is populated with not just earthlings but also Martians or Enceladusians  [2]  or Proxima Centaurians….

There are Are. So. Many. Reasons. to be interested in whether or not there are biological life forms outside of our planet – the same reasons for wondering about any natural phenomenon. These reasons – our primal, driving curiosity to learn more about the natural world – are why we have science.  What is this?  How does it “work” and how did it come to be the way it is, and is there more, and…?

Yo, all, you Persons Doing Science ®, whom I admire more than I can say – keep up the good work!  And maybe please kinda wouldya consider dropping the Are We Alone? claptrap?  The search for knowledge needs no hyperbolic, quasi-query justification.

Speaking of important and/or existential questions about the universe, maybe I should take a poll.  Am I the only person bothered by this?

If so, maybe I’ll shut up about it.

 

*   *   *

Department Of And One More Thing…

At the end of his Clear and Vivid podcasts, Alda asks his guests seven questions that are directly or tangentially related to the topic of communication.  The content of the questions has varied over the years of the podcast, and has included queries such as

* What do you wish you really understood?

* What do you wish other people understood about you?

* How do you stop a compulsive talker?

* How do you tell someone they have their facts wrong?

* What, if anything, would make you end a friendship?

* How do you start a conversation with a stranger sitting next to you at a dinner party?

 There is a new batch of questions this year, but one “old” question made the cut:

* What is the strangest question anyone has ever asked you?

Dr. Kaltenegger said that one of the strangest questions she ever got was,

“So, *really,* YOU are a scientist?
I always expected them to look very differently.”

Kaltenegger and Alda both laughed when she shared that anecdote, then Alda told Kaltenegger “…I hear that too often from women scientists – the stereotype precedes them.”  Kaltenegger she found the incident funny; she had been giving a lunchtime talk in a church in Germany, and the question came from a priest who approached her afterward,:

  “…he meant it completely non-offensive; he was just like super-excited to see somebody who didn’t look like the textbook version,
but he was like, “Are you *suuuure*?’
And I was like, ‘Yup, I’m pretty sure I’m a scientist….’ ”   

What a truly odd question: “Are you sure you REALLY are ___ (whomever/ whatever you are)? “

I keep thinking of someone going to work one day, then suddenly looking around and thinking, “Hey, what am I doing here, in this laboratory, wearing this lab coat?”  Or, “Why am I looking through this telescope – where am I?  Oh, I must be A Scientist ®.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 2.789 in a series

This rumination is related to last week’s blog post on Chanel Miller, the writer who was raped by the Stanford student/athlete.  [3]    Specifically, moiself finds my brain coming back to Miller’s profound query/accusation about social mores and attitudes about men and woman and rape and “consent” –

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given.

But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?
Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?”

Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?” –  the poster child phrase for the view that women have to be in charge of the “gatekeeping” of both (heterosexual) male and female sexuality.

The “bomb” Miller speaks of is the mere existence of women’s sexuality. Until recently, both boys and girls have grown up with centuries of implications or downright declarations that boys and men are easily swept away by desire when in the presence of attractive females, and are ultimately “unable to control themselves” when it comes to sex. Thus, the burden of guarding and maintaining safe, respectable sexual relationships and conduct falls upon girls and women.

 

 

I remember hearing that festering-turd-of-a-social-norm from a boy, during one of the sex education classes my family’s Lutheran Church held for junior high students.   [4] During a class discussion he championed the when-it-comes-to-sex-guys-just-can’t-control-themselves line.

This immediately frosted my bony 7th grade ass,  [5]  especially when I considered a similar statement made by another boy, which I’d heard earlier in the week, in my social studies class.  The class had somehow got into a discussion re the dearth of women in politics, and Stupid Too-Much-Yardage-Between-His-Goal-Posts  Boy #2 began to blather on about how, well yeah, maybe a Third World country like India can allow Indira Ghandi to be prime minister, but that will never happen in the USA, due to the “fact” that “everybody knows” women cannot or should not be in positions of political control, because “…they aren’t as emotionally strong as men –  women can’t control themselves.

 

 

Ah – patriarchal rationality to the rescue!  Menfolk are in control of themselves…except when they are not.

And self-control, as “everybody knows,” is or should be one of the hallmarks of leadership. If you can’t trust a person not to play grab-ass with the nearest person he finds attractive, you obviously shouldn’t trust him with his finger on the nation’s nuclear button.  Clearly, the logical position should be that men are unfit for any positions of power and should be closely monitored for the sake of civilized society.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
V Street: 100 Globe-Hopping on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking,

by Rich Landau & Katy Jacoby

Recipes:

* Scallion Pancakes with Citrus Ponzu
* Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Vinegar

My ratings:

For  Scallion Pancakes with Citrus Ponzu

For Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Vinegar

 

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you hold the door open (and keep your smartasss mouth shut) for kind strangers
in public restrooms;
May you be in charge of controlling yourself, and no one else;
May you be sure that you REALLY ARE…whatever it is you are;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Even though I actually didn’t. Poop, that is, which is what was being implied…is this TMI?

[2] A moon of Saturn, which is included by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak on his 6 Most Likely Places for Alien Life in the Solar System due to the presence of frozen water geyers on Enceladus’s  surface

[3] Y’all remember him – the Stanford student who raped an unconscious – practically comatose – woman by a dumpster… but he swims really fast, so, give him a break, folks!

[4] As part of their confirmation curricula, one entire quarter devoted to the subject!  Pretty progressive for 1972 or whenever it was.

[5] And, how shall I say it, an “interesting conversational exchange” ensued.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The (Video) Feed I’m Not Turning Off

1 Comment

Department Of And How Did You Spend *Your* Weekend?

Dateline: last Friday evening, riding MAX (the Portland area’s light rail system) with MH, on our way to attend the first night of the Portland Folk Festival. My phone beeped; ‘twas a message from friend JWW, who had been caring for our house while we were out of town for several days. I dictated my reply as the rail car jostled along the tracks.

JWW:
I still have your keys. May I bring them by?

Moiself:
We are not at home.
We are on Max, on the way to the Portland Fuck Festival
at the McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom.

Fortunately, I proofed the message before I sent it (and rarity for moiself, I must confess). I first had to show MH the unedited translation. He said that, the acoustics on the light rail being what they are, my cellphone’s translation app was just making logical fill-in assumptions as per my usual vocabulary. 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering

If there were a Portland F*** Festival, what venue would host it? How would the publicity be handled, and who would be invited and who would print the tickets….

Never mind.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thoughts That Seemed Profound In The Early Morning Hours

Life is like a toilet. Sometimes, every flush is smooth, and other times there will be minor snags – your tank’s lever chain gets hung up on something and you have to jiggle the handle….

Frontal lobe:
Shhhh, go back to sleep.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Defusing The Bombs
( aka, “Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?” )

 

♫  I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Men are scared that women will laugh at them
I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Women are scared that men will kill them
I hold my keys…between my fingers….  ♫

(chorus of Nameless Faceless,
by Courtney Barnes )

 

 

I am reading Know My Name: a Memoir.  Until the author wrote the book she had no public name; she was referred to as “Brock Turner’s/that Stanford swimmer’s victim,” or “Emily Doe,” after her victim’s impact statement was posted on Buzzfeed.

Chanel Miller is the young woman y’all and moiself had heard about but whose name we didn’t know, until she revealed it four years after she became Emily Doe. Few people knew her personally, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from commenting on social media and new outlets about what they saw as her flaws.  This is because the American pastime is not in fact baseball; rather, it is two related bloodsports:

* criticizing other people’s parenting skills, and

* blaming sexual assault victims for their own attacks

 

Trigger warning

 

This book has been a difficult read. Not quite as difficult as Ayann Hirsi Ali’s Infidel[1]   still, one chapter at a time is all I can bear.

Miller writes beautifully, with vivid imagery precision, grace, and even a survivor’s humor. What happened to her was, in a prosecutorial view, “the perfect case, in many ways – there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured…” Still, Miller experienced profound isolation and shame in the aftermath of her assault, and “…her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators (and) indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable.”  [2]

It saddens me that, to be realistic, I am not exaggerating to consider that so many women (99%, I’d bet) who’ll read the book will identify with at least one of the experiences Miller has had, both before and after her sexual assault: via just walking to class, running for exercise, meeting friends for coffee… in just Stepping. Outside. And. Being. In. The. World…. Both the realism and sadness continue, as I must also consider how many men will not be able to understand at all, or even try to empathize, with such experiences.

Which is why I want menfolk to read it.  Yes, all of y’all.  Send this book to the top of the GQ and Men’s Health reading lists.  [3]    Even you who consider yourselves to be feminist, supportive, “woke,” etc. – I  know many such men and appreciate you more than I can say – y’all need frequent reminders about the frightening, nasty, time-consuming, ambition-choking, overwhelmingly unjust and yet unspoken assumptions of the patriarchy, which fall upon women: that of men feeling entitled to have access to women.

“Wooo there honey!” (accompanied by various whistles, grunts, tongue-clucking and other sound effects)
“Where are you going?”
“Do you need a ride?”
“You look nice; Can I walk with you –
I’m just trying to start your day right…”

“Hey pretty girl you sure are pretty…”
“Come talk to me (after making a u-turn in his van to follow her),” I’m lonely.”
(not even scratching the proverbial surface of comments, from a man/men to a women walking by herself
[read: “alone,” as in, without a man to claim her as his] ).

Read it, and please read it again, paying particular attention to chapter 4, where Miller unloads on her (genuinely) supportive boyfriend, Lucas. After her assault by Turner and before the trial, Miller moved across the country to attend college. She recounted to Lucas her *daily* experiences with (always male) strangers, on foot and in cars, who felt entitled to honk, click their tongue, smack their lips, and make comments to her as she walked to and from class or the park or a grocery store or for exercise….

 

 

Miller used her cellphone to tape many of those encounters. She sent them to Lucas  (who, I would add, likely did not get that these encounters are daily reality for women across the nation, they were not particular to his girlfriend *after* her assault). He offered to pay for Miller to rent a car, so she would not have to walk to and from classes, to the store, etc. He also asked her to stop sending him the videos (“I can’t watch them, these guys make me too angry.”). Miller agreed, then regretted doing so ( my emphases):

“I felt like I’d done something wrong…It also seemed like he’s said, ‘If they’re bothering you, why are you still walking?’ It didn’t seem like a solution at all; they’d forced me to seal myself off in a car. I didn’t want to give up my sidewalks.

I called Lucas back. ‘That’s not fair,’ I said. ‘I just want to walk home from school, I’m not doing anything wrong. I should be able to. You can walk anywhere you want.
It’s not fair you get to unsubscribe from the videos. You get to turn off the feed, you get to see it selectively. I don’t have that option, to decide not to live it. I’m trying to show you what it’s like for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, doesn’t matter what I wear, how I act, it’s constant, the harassment is constant.’”

“Walking down the street was like being tossed bombs. I fiddled with the wires, frantically defusing each one. Each time I was not sure which wire would cause it to detonate, tinkering while sweat ran down my forehead. Women are raised to work with dexterity, to keep their nimble fingers ready, their minds alert. It is her job to know how to handle the stream of bombs, how to kindly decline giving her number, how to move a hand from the button of her jeans, to turn down a drink.
When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given. 

But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?
Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Ultimate Vegan cookbook for your Instapot, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Indo-Chinese Corn Soup

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

May you be cognizant of when other people cannot “turn off the feed;”
May future generations not need the
hold-your-car-keys-between-your-fingers advice;
May mundane household conveniences supply you with life metaphors;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which, after all these years,  I have *still* not been able to get through, as I cannot go far past her description of her undergoing genital mutilation.

[2] Quoted excerpts from book jacket.

[3] No, I don’t know if those magazines even have such a list. Maybe you could suggest they start one?

[4] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Comments Off on The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Department Of Is This The First Bad Pun Of The New Year
Or The Worst Bad Pun Of The New Year?

 

 

So, if you identify as pansexual, would the above be an acceptable threesome?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Just Walk On By
While Looking Down At Your Cellphone
(You Know, Like Everyone Else Does These Days)

Dateline: earlier this week. Moiself had time to kill before an appointment, so I went to a nearby, large indoor mall.  It used to be *the* mall in our county, and I hadn’t been there in a couple of years… Wow. I can actually say that.

Anyway.  I am walking as I usually do in a mall: expeditiously, as if I have an Important Destination ® in mind.  I am passing a series of – what are they called, those mini-merchants, those booths in the walkways between the main stores on either side?  Kiosks? You know the ones, they hawk sunglasses and calling cards and everything in-between and upside down….

Anyway #2:  As I pass one of those kiosks an overdressed, hipster-ishy young man steps from behind the kiosk’s counter, holds out some kind of…sample, and says, [1]

“Something for your face, ma’am?”

 

 

Now then. If you are a young (-er than me) male, unless your name is Tex and/or you are wearing a cowboy hat and spurs, please don’t call me Ma’am.  Yep, that preference of mine makes it difficult for a stranger to address me (and if you are a stranger, why are you trying to address me?), but there you have it.

Anyway #3: “Something for your face, ma’am?”  My first instinct is to blurt out, “Are you implying that my face needs ‘something’?

I somehow manage to quash that instinct. I learned years ago that most people should think twice about asking a question if they don’t want to hear the answer.  Keeping in mind the time-tested wisdom about which Dionne Warwick sang, I just walk on by.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sports Team Names That Have Got To Go

Dateline: Later that same day, 1:45 pm, having a late lunch at a McMenamins Pub. I am seated in a corner booth almost directly under a wide screen TV mounted on the wall; the TV is at an awkward angle for viewing if you are seated where I am seated, and the server apologizes for this.  I don’t mind – I came to eat, not to watch a hockey game or whatever.

Near the end of my meal I glance up at the TV and see a headline on the bottom of the screen –a sentence moiself’s brain doesn’t register as being related to sports news:

Predators Hire John Hynes As Head Coach

PREDATORS have their own team ?!?!?!

I don’t follow hockey and have never heard of a sports team with that most unfortunate (IMHO) moniker, so for one gloriously short and moronic moment, I’m thinking that a group of priest pedophiles has hired a high profile lawyer…and what’s with those guys wearing ice skates in the background, and…oh…never mind…

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of “Best ____” End-Of-The-Year Lists

You can’t avoid reading about them, or even listening to them, if you are a radio or podcast listener. What with the changing-of-the-decade aspect to the year 2020, list-makers – from news pundits to music critics to podcasts hosts – have the chance to not only compile their best/favorite episodes of the year, but also of the decade. 

I recently listened to a Best Of TED Radio Hour podcast.  The Source of Creativity, which originally aired in 2014, poses a – if not *the* – prime question about creativity:

Is creativity something we are born with or can we learn it?

Questions like that make my brain hurt.

 

 

The episode featured excerpts from three different TED talks by three different speakers, on the subject of creativity.  “How do you get over writer’s block?” by musician Sting, gave way to Charles Limb, a doctor studying the way the brain creates and perceives music, who spoke on “What does a creative brain look like?”  By the time the third speaker, British education specialist Sir Kenneth Robinson, ruminated re “How do schools kill creativity?”   [2]  I found my mind wandering (this happens to us Creative Folks ® , you know) in the direction of contemplating my current/ongoing creative excursion: culinary pursuits.

I once heard cooking described as performance art. Those of you who know moiself, either personally or through this humble high tech scribble fest,  [3]   may recall that performance art is something I have totally trashed for which I have a little respect (“Oh, I see…you can’t actually do anything or make art, and aren’t willing to put in the discipline to acquire artistic talent and skills, but you can ‘perform’ a facsimile of it.”)  

Cooking as art?  Certainly, it can be.

 

 

Apart from the glut of television/streaming cooking shows, which can range from entertaining and motivating illuminations of craft/technique to dreadful, self-aggrandizing platforms for the host chef’s expansive and a blustering ego, I’ve never considered cooking, and the creation of meals and edible   [4]  delights, as a *performance* art. However, with my self-imposed sabbatical from fiction-for-publication-writing, I’ve come to see cooking and meal planning as a major creative outlet.

What I like about this particular art form is that it is recyclable and consumable.  When I experiment with a new curry combination I am not crafting an object  –  e.g., a painting or sculpture – to be a representation or an abstraction of a separate object or concept.   I am making the curry itself.  The dish will either be consumed and hopefully enjoyed, or ignored/disliked /discarded into the compost pile or garbage disposal…unlike the painting which may hang on someone’s wall until it migrates to the landfill (or the curry-themed short story collection which ends up on the remainders table at the bookstore).

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [5]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook, by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Nada.

Really. Flipping through the book’s pages, which I hadn’t done in years, I realized there was nothing I wanted to make.  Butter butter butter butter, and did I mention butter?

I keep this cookbook because a dear friend gave it to me and MH, along with the other Silver Palate cookbook, as a wedding present. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I would have – and did – make some of the recipes from the SP books.  But I don’t cook with those ingredients anymore. And didn’t feel like going through all the modifications to make the recipes palatable to my taste and health and sense of ethics….

About the latter: the SP cookbook recipes are dairy-and-meat-heavy, and this homey don’t play that game. It’s hard to address this issue without getting up on the you-know-what,

 

See?

 

…But please, watch the National Pork Producers Council’s chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom squirm, during her interview on the latest 60 Minutes segment, “Is overuse of antibiotics on farms worsening the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?”

The episode focuses on how and why public health officials investigating a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak were thwarted from visiting farms that provided pigs to contaminated slaughterhouses. Watch the veterinarian squirm on camera; try to imagine the idealistic young person interested in science and animals that she likely once was, now reduced to alternately shilling like a snake-oil salesman (she’s a veterinarian working for a pork lobbying group, for fuck’s sake) – and deflecting like a politician, for the unethical and barbaric factory meat industry.  Watch, and for the 659th time (if you’ve been paying attention) ask yourself, Do I really want to support the cruel and corrupt system that is industrial farm meat production?

Once again, I digress.

I keep these SP cookbooks in my collection, and always will.  They still make me happy, just to see them up on the shelf, and think of the good times with the person who gave them to us.  So, I appreciate the books and the people they remind me of…and I move on to the next cookbook in the list:

Tahini & Turmeric, by Vicky Cohen & Ruth Fox

Recipe: Saffron-infused Cauliflower Soup with Sumac Oil

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6] 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [7]   Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

Of course you can.

We’ve come full circle: say goodbye to the Partridges in my pear tree until later this year.

*   *   *

May your new year be filled with good puns (that is not an oxymoron)
and bad puns (that is not a redundancy);
May your musings on the source of creativity not stifle your imagination;
May you hold gentle thoughts for young men whose job it is to approach older women with
something for your face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Presumable to moiself as there is no one else in the vicinity.

[2] This talk had a rather provocative title, as it starts with an assumption, not a fact, as a given – that schools *do* kill creativity, and thus the issue is *how* schools do that, not if they do or don’t.

[3] Aka, blog.

[4] ‘Tis unfortunate, IMHO, that because the term edible has come to be associated with cannabis use (at least in this weed-legal state), I feel compelled to add a disclaimer: my edibles are not “edibles.”

[5] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[6]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[7] In our pear tree.

The Lemon I’m Not Squeezing

Comments Off on The Lemon I’m Not Squeezing

Department Of The Song I Want Sung At My Wake

Dateline: December 26, circa 7 am:  Thinking of the impending New Year while walking on a 27˚ morning, listening to author John Green’s latest Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, in which he discusses and “rates” the history of the song-we’re-still-singing-after-200+-years: Auld Lang Syne.

From the proverbial Out Of Nowhere ®, I realize I have tears in my eyes.  Feeling the chill as the moisture emerges from my tear ducts, moiself thinks silly thoughts, ala, Are they (the tears) going to freeze my eyeballs?

♫  We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here…  

Sing it to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

 

 

Those alternate lyrics come from what Green describes as “that recursive lament of British soldiers” from World War I, who were embittered by “devastating losses of the war, and the growing use of poison gas,” and also by the fact that they “…had no idea why they were fighting and dying for tiny patches of ground so far from home,” and thus did not feel much like hoisting a pint during a temporary holiday truce and singing the treacly old songs.

Although the soldiers’ transformative lyrics can be seen as “…a profoundly nihilistic song written about the modernist hell of repetition,” a writer friend of Green’s who was to die of cancer would sometimes, during public appearances, ask her audience to sing those very lyrics with her, because she saw it as a statement of hope:

“It became a statement that we are here–meaning that we are together, and not alone. And it’s also a statement that we are, that we exist, and it’s a statement that we are here, that a series of astonishing unlikelihoods has made us possible and here possible.
We might never know why we are here, but we can still proclaim in hope that we are here. I don’t think such hope is foolish or idealistic or misguided. I believe that hope is, for lack of a better word, true.
We live in hope–that life will get better, and more importantly that it will go on, that love will survive even though we will not.”

 

 

I had heard the We’re Here Because We’re Here version of Auld Lang Syne before the podcast; I knew of its origins and had always appreciated (what *I* saw as) the lyrics’ amalgam of cynically detached optimism…but this time, Green’s simple yet eloquently narrative helped me to realize how fittingly and succinctly those lines illuminate moiself’s philosophy of life (if moiself can be said to have one, and I guess moiself just did).

The past year in particular, with its legacy of devastating losses for beloved friends,  [1]  has further increased my desire to be more mindful of the present – to celebrate and appreciate what we have in the simple and random fact of our existence in this phase of life. And what is remembered and what goes on, even after we are gone, is the love we have for others, and theirs for us. 

The various fictions the priests and philosophers have cobbled together over the centuries can hold no candle to the only “for sure” we know: the reality that, for whatever reason, we’re here because…we’re here, and that Life Itself ® is the meaning of life.   [2]

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Spam Of The Week

Sometimes it pays to actually read the subject matter in the spam box before I select delete all, because every now and then there is a gem like this:

“Your Prostate Is The Size Of A Lemon.”

 

Uh…make that, a lady lemon?

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Recipe:  Black Pepper Tofu

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

Dateline: early afternoon, December 31 (aka New Year’s Eve,); a small grocery store on the Oregon Coast. The clerk recognizes me and smiles.

Clerk: Did you find everything you needed?

Moiself (pointing to the one pound sack of dried beans, among the other items in my cart): Yes.  I’m *so* happy you have black-eyed peas!

Unbeknownst to the clerk, I had searched at the town’s other (bigger) grocery store, and they had no black-eyed peas of any kind – dried, canned, or frozen.

Clerk (looking at me quizzically): “You’re the second person today who was looking for black-eyed peas.  Something about the new year, right?”

Moiself“Yep. It’s a tradition in parts of the South: eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.”

Clerk: “You’re from the south?”

Moiself“Not me. My father was from Tennessee; it was his family tradition, so I do it to honor him. His family was poor, we’re talking dirt poor…I always thought it was kinda funny, that, after all those years, neither he nor any of his siblings ever looked at the pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and said, ‘Another year went  by; we’re still poor and unlucky. Do we have to eat this?’

Clerk: “Exactly!”  (her laughter chimes with mine as she finishes bagging my items): “A friend of mine – she thinks I’m Asian, but I’m not  [5] – tells me stories about all the luck rituals her Asian grandmother followed.  Her grandmother would sprinkle coconut milk around the outside of her home’s entry door, every Monday, so that she would have good luck.”

Moiself“And did her grandmother have good luck?”

Clerk (snorting with laughter): “No!  Of course not!  She had ants!”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [6]  Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

This little one doesn’t get much attention – neither on the show when it aired, nor later, as per the fans’ ratings.  It’s as if the show’s producers cast the youngest two Partridge family members and then didn’t know what to do with them. At least this little tambourine-wielding waif  [7]   gets a spot on our tree (which is more than moiself can say for the two different boys who played the family’s youngest son/drummer – we just didn’t think it qualified for a spot, what with two different boys playing the same do-nothing character).

 

*   *   *

 

May you appreciate that you’re here because you’re here;
May the size of your girl or boy parts never be described in terms of citrus fruit;
May you have fun (and not ants) with food superstitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And, Happy New Year, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Losses I have previously written about in this space, losses which are in the “children are supposed to bury their parents, and not the other way around,” category.

[2] A nod to Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, and, of course, Monty Python.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[5] I’ve heard the clerk’s name before, but could not recall it…her surname is Filipino, I think.

[6] In our pear tree.

[7] That was her job, in the band – tambourine; that’s it. And she obviously couldn’t even shake it on beat, or off beat….

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