The host will be happy to seat you now… In our special chair reserved for fanatical spew-mongers
Duff-mouth demagogue (“some refer to him as Virginian State Senator”)Stephen H. Martin, who apparently thinks oratorical douchbaggery is tax deductible, recently referred to a pregnant woman as just a “host“ for a fetus. Martin’s misogynist disgorgement thoughtful reflection came in response to his receiving a card from a reproductive rights group asking him to protect reproductive health options in his state.
“… once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”
Thanks to the data obtained by the Kepler space telescope, NASA announced the discovery of 715 new planets outside of our solar system. This discovery almost doubles the number of known planets! Such a finding is worthy of doing the Happy Dance, for oh-so many reasons, including the fact that these planets are going to need identification. In other words, they are going to be named.
The planets’ ids will be assigned by the International Astronomical Union, aka The Organization That Does Such Things When It Comes To Objects d’ Cosmos. Most of the planets will probably be assigned numbers, noting distance from or proximity to stars and other objects. But I want them to have names. The magnanimous part of me hopes that NASA and the IAU realize the PR potential of holding 715 planet-naming contests, which could be a boon for sparking the-universe-is-cool-let’s-study-it interest among schoolchildren. Another part of me wants to name them. By myself.
oh oh oh – pick me!
Really, NASA, I want to name those planets. I want to give them names of heavenly bodies (sorry) popular during the 1950s, for some reason. I want to name them all Jayne, Marilyn, and Betty Lou. If you still want to assign numbers, we can work that out. Betty Lou M31, Betty Lou M51…. 
* * *
My dear Swenadian  friend SS called to let me know she lost her mother last night. With true Canadian affection and style, SS always referred to her mother as her “Mum.” Mum was 90 years old and had been battling round three of pneumonia, which is no picnic at any age but especially vexing to someone also afflicted with ALS . SS’s mum died in her sleep – the kind of passing we all wish for, eh?
The mums are for SS, and memories of her Mum.
* * *
Coming attractions: March 5 is World Read Aloud Day . WRAD is the brainchild of LitWorld, a nonprofit organization promoting…wait for it…worldwide literacy. 
The purpose of WRAD is to “call worldwide attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.” I and other writers will be celebrating WRAD by making a video/audio “visit” to classrooms. Thanks to a certain software applications (rhymes with “hype” – this is not a commercial endorsement), I’ll be reading excerpts from The Mighty Quinn to two classrooms: one in Seattle and one in Pakistan.
I have fond memories of being read to, and hope that you do as well. Mrs. Solomon, my 3rd grade teacher, read the Winnie the Pooh books to her class every day, for fifteen minutes, following lunch recess (and ever since then, I cannot hear any version of Eeyore with substituting her voice).
I remember derisive snorts from a few classmates when our 7th grade social studies teacher announced she would open the class by reading to us.  Every day, she read aloud one chapter of Johnny Tremain. The skeptics soon changed their tune, from, “I’m sure, reading aloud to us, like we’re third graders,” to, “Don’t leave us hanging – please go on to the next chapter!”
Next Wednesday, March 5, find your favorite read-aloud-book and a willing audience. If no such audience is to be found, you have my permission to annoy delight and entertain strangers at a bus stop or coffee house or other public venues by reading aloud – to yourself, if not to them. Simply remove a book from your coat pocket, backpack or purse, and softly but enthusiastically, go for it.
Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin…. .
And, of course, let the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Five paragraphs without a footnote? This is wrong, just wrong.
Several times a week I check online writers’ resources, which post calls for submissions from publishers and editors. Many of the submission guidelines are so genre/topic and/or region specific as to be of no use or interest to me (“we seek speculative fiction reflecting the transgendered, pink-collar experience of immigrants to the Appalachian/Ohio Valley/Northeast/Midwest region”). And then, there are those venues whose particulars are downright entertaining, in that head-scratching, there’s an app for that? way.
Mermaids in the Basement: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (______________) is seeking original poems of mermaid poetry…..
Poems need not mention mermaids directly but must suggest a mermaid theme.
I love the request for “original” mermaid poetry. It’s not as if there are anthologies full of classic (or even contemporary) mermaid odes to plagiarize.
“Here I sit so broken-hearted…”
And, not knowing what would constitute a mermaid “theme,” I can’t even hint at one, much less suggest it. Although I dare to venture that such a specialized genre calls for haiku.
Neptune’s stench ascends; More mermaids in the basement? Call the plumber, dear.
* * *
There are friends, and there are friends. What kind are you?
My perennially upbeat, kind-hearted, mild-mannered friend TK expressed her concerns about her upcoming oral surgery. Due to what transpired after her colonoscopy several years ago, TK is worried about what she might say or do while under the influence of modern happy blabbermouth brain filter reducing pills medicine.
TK had asked her son to be her designated post-colo transportation, and he drove her home from the hospital. As Son pulled the car into their driveway, TK asked him a question, the answer to which she should have already known.
“Is Grandma still at our house?”
“Yes Mom, Grandma is still at our house,” Son replied. (TK’s mother had been staying with them for several weeks).
“Oh!” TK sputtered. “Then you get in there and tell her to go the fuck home!”
TK’s son was – surprise! – greatly amused by his mother’s outburst, which he would have missed had he not been her driver. He asked her why she’d chosen him for the honor, and not her friend, Wendy? TK told Son she’d been warned about certain after-effects experienced by those who’ve undergone a colonoscopy. Although Wendy was indeed her friend, when it came to comfort levels, TK wasn’t sure if Wendy was the kind of friend…well, she didn’t know if Wendy was a “farting friend.”
Truly, MH and I have been Touched By His Noodly Appendage ® , when I consider the fact that our daughter Belle is neither the kind of person who
(a) like one of her classmates, shares (during class time) the news that she got a letter from her incarcerated boyfriend,  , nor
(b) like several other girls in the class, responds to such news with icky-sincere squeals of, “Aw, isn’t that sweeeeet?!”
Belle assures me she has (so far) managed to refrain from barfing in her book bag when the hormonally-challenged, love-struckloser besotted youngster tells tales of her jailbird Romeo. Such self-control is amazing for mere mortals, but perhaps not surprising when coming from – proud parent announcement alert – one of the LHS Class of 2014 Valedictorians. 
It’s time for a new acronym for an official, or at least widely recognized, office of the federal government. We have SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) and POTUS (President of the United States). Surely there is room in This Great Country of Ours ® for DOTUS (Do-Nothings/Dickheads  of the United States).
This thought came to me the other day while listening to an interview with yet another do-nothing Republican congressman. True to the acronym, this elected official was doing nothing…save for the usual GOP chunk-blowing. Really, and truly, I wish I knew what the current crop of Republicans are for.  From my perspective, they do nothing, they say nothing, they are for nothing — except for being rabid bat-bit, foaming at the mouth crazy, anti-Affordable Care Act (excuse me, “Obamacare”).
Although I am not currently a member of any political party, I am a devoted and consistent voter. I have many complaints about the Democrats, but it’s the Republicans who have me flummoxed with their crazy ass legislative and rhetorical inertia.
“I’m not coming up until Obama care is gone…Bwaaah!“
There are a myriad of problems, challenges and downright ***f***s facing this nation. Reflecting on only a few of these will get my head spinning:
– our ham-fisted immigration system;
– the higher and higher cost of higher education crippling, and the resultant saddling of graduates with crippling student loan debt;
– the widening economic gap between rich & poor;
– global warming and the need for non-toxic, renewable energy sources;
– our aging transportation system/crumbling infrastructure;
– the need to assess our role as the world’s police, including our continuing military presence overseas;
– the rise of religious fundamentalism abroad and at home, and the security and educational ramifications of dealing with
those who embrace pre-scientific, pre-Enlightenment worldviews;
-our growing scientific and technological illiteracy, and how our science education compares to that of other developed nations
And Republicans are really pissed about…something they already helped pass into law.
* * *
The Ones That Got Away
One of our family’s most treasured seasonal traditions involves voluntary elf infestation. As part of our Solstice/Christmas décor, a motley crew of Santa’s elves are placed in various nooks and crannies in the downstairs rooms of our house. One crouches atop the kitchen clock, another peers out from behind the leaves of the potted ivy by the sink, one hangs from the chandelier, others hide between the shelves of books and DVDs or atop curtains or precariously hang on picture frames or objects d’art…. The idea being that, whether standing at the kitchen sink, walking through the hallway, sitting in front of the TV or on the loo, you are being watched.
We plant dozens of these elves in various shapes and sizes each Solstice season, and try to come up with novel hiding places for them. Come early January when the seasonal décor is taken down put away until next year, there is always one sprite that escapes detection. This lucky elf is rewarded by having a free downstairs pass until the following season.
This year, for the first time, two freedom-loving elves managed to remain hidden until after the others had been returned to the attic. Both were cases of hiding in plain sight; much to my surprise, neither one was that which had been oh-so-cleverly hidden by MH. 
* * *
May no DOTUS darken your day, may the elves watch over you and yours, and may all of your friends be farting friends.
And, of course, may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 This is far from the first time said student has mentioned her incarcerated lover.
 She found this out yesterday, from her school guidance counselor. Much happy feet dancing ensued.
 Lady dickheads are included in this acronym, lest Michelle Bachman have yet another reason to feel left out.
 Other than lower taxes for baziillionaires and full funding for NSA security devices placed in every vagina lest women even consider managing their own reproductive systems.
 I have been registered with nearly every political party at some point in my electoral life, to either vote for (or against) someone in a primary, or so see, as I did in college, who sends the most whackadoodle flyers to their registrants: the John Birchers, the Libertarians, the Peace and Freedomers….
Valentine’s Day. I always thought that Hallmarkification of that day was a sexually transmitted malady, and thus enjoyed its abbreviation, VD. But nowadays we have STDs, not VDs. The new-fangled acronym spoils all the fun.
I know it’s a corporate conspiracy to make single people feel lonely and miserable, and make those who are coupled, happily or otherwise, feel pressured to spend big bucks and Do Something Special. Still, if you can stand it, Happy VD, y’all.
* * *
Oh no, the family moans, the Winter Olympics are here.
Summer or Winter games, I like ’em both. For two weeks, when the Olympic Games are televised, I have to fight the urge to nest on the family room floor and watch every event.
Some urges are easier to fight than others. For instance, I don’t care to watch the luge, for several reasons.
1. The name of the event, Luge, sounds to my eternally-amused-by-a-nine-year-old’s-sense-of-humor portion of my brain has something to do with boogers.
2. It’s probably a blast to do, but it’s a rather passive sport to watch. The riders hop on, and you watch them either hold on or fall off.
3. The inward turned leg position a successful luge (there it is again!) rider must hold atop the booger-sledluge reminds me of salmon steaks. And while I adore salmon in most any form, for some reason, I do not like the cut of salmon steaks.  4. Did I mention boogers?
Salmon steak, or luge? Can you spot the difference?
* * *
Tuesday morning I emailed friend LAH, another member of the <!–aAWWAF (Adult Women Who Adored Their Fathers) club. L’s father, Jesse, died a little less than two years ago.–>
I wondered why I woke up thinking of you and Jesse. Then I looked at my calendar: Chet died 5 years ago today. Hmmm.
I also subsequently had this email exchange with friend SCM (and daughter P):
My calendar says my dad died five years ago today, which seems at once bizarre and yet, “Oh, yes, it’s been five years.”
One of the things-I-never-got-around-to-doing with him was to take him out for sushi. Being both a seafood and soy sauce loving man, and willing to try anything (if his daughter recommended it), I think he would have liked it. If you & P are available I’d like to take you to sushi lunch, in Chet’s honor.
Has it been five years? Damn. I am so sorry you never got to take him for sushi. Maybe it is a Kentucky thing, but ______ (SCM’s husband) will eat anything at least once. Or maybe it is a military food thing.
I think it may be a southern/poverty thing – they’ll eat anything at least once, because growing up dirt poor like my father did, I got the feeling he had to eat anything…and often more than once.
We met for lunch, at a sushi spot in Portland. I took one of my most cherished pictures to show P: of my father astride his Palomino stallion, “Stardust.” P was suitably impressed, and SCM said Chet was quite the handsome dude in his cowboy days, and also, that she saw a resemblance between my son K and his grandfather, something I’d never thought of before.
* * *
Happy Belated Darwin Day (February 12 ). If you don’t already have this on your calendar, mark it for next year.
Primordial Soup (serves 3-4; soup is vegan friendly if you lose the dairy garnish)
– one medium white or yellow onion, chopped
-1/2 green and ½ red bell peppers, seeded and diced
-4-5 garlic cloves, minced
-1 small celery stalk and 1 peeled carrot, sliced
-1 generous t ground cumin
-1/2 chili powder (chipotle, if you have it)
-pinch of cayenne pepper
-2 c no or low-salt vegetable stock
-1/2 c frozen organic white corn
– ~ 2c cooked black beans or black soy beans
-chopped fresh cilantro and/or Italian parsley for garnish
– (optional) sour cream, Greek yogurt to garnish
1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions in EVOO ~ 8 m, until just starting to brown. Add celery, carrots, green peppers, sauté for 2 m.
2. Add garlic to pot, stir until fragrant (30 sec – 1 m).
3. Add remaining ingredients (sans garnish), bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot & simmer for 25 m.
3.5 Ain’t no step 3.5 You could do the prep dishes while the soup simmers. Better yet, floss your teeth (they probably need it) Since that won’t take 25 m, floss someone else’s teeth, too.
4. Let soup cool a bit, transfer to blender or processor and puree it, then transfer soup back to the pot. Better yet, use a hand blender if you have one – and you really should have one if you frequently make soup – to puree the soup right there in the pot. More fun than watching a luge race!
5.Taste for seasoning: add salt, pepper, more cumin, whatever you’d like to taste.
6. Serve garnished with fresh herbs, and a spoonful  of cream or yogurt.
7. Wait for the complex organic polymers to arise. Or, just enjoy the soup.
ended up watching more of the bill nye debate.
man I want a sample of whatever ken ham is smoking.
There were those who thought Nye lost the debate just by showing up; that is, by legitimizing creationists’ whackadoodle alternate reality  as being capable of rational debate. Then there was the post-debate, informal poll on the website Christian Today, in which a whopping 92% of respondents — presumably, people who even know there is a website called Christian Today — said that Bill Nye won the debate.
I suppose it comes down to how you define win. Bill Nye got to do his geeky, sincere, Science Guy presentation, which perhaps sparked the teensiest seed of hmmmmm? in a few true believers who may have dropped their blinders just long enough to notice that Ham’s version of refuting scientific claims was the intellectual equivalent of a third grader’s Nyah yah nyah nyah nyah (“Well, you weren’t there so how do you know?). Ken Ham got a wider-than-usual audience for his blind faith fables.
* * *
There was the potential for a nasty, man-slap brawl at the Nye-ham debate, as there is when any testosterone-laden beings disagree. But the participants for the most part kept their cool. Could it be that they suffer from….low T?
Pre-peri-post-persistent-paleolithic-menopause – when it come$ to redefining a human being’$ natural life a$ a di$ea$e proce$$ that mu$t be managed and treated (read: medicated), Big Pharma ha$ pretty much exploited women a$ much a$ they can.
Menfolk, don’t say you weren’t warned. It’s your turn. And the trouser-snake oil purveyors know what’ll get your attention: a T & A show! 
You may have noticed the increasing amount of commercials, articles and emails – even youtube videos, FFS – with such ominously titillating titles as How to Tell if Your T is Low and How to Increase Your Testosterone Level. The underlying assumption the T-teams are trying to hammer into that Male Pattern Balding head of yours is that your natural aging process is faulty, and can and should be “fixed,” Specifically, the ebbing of men’s testosterone levels be bad, and increasing men’s “T level” be much more better.
Don’t forget to follow those links in the ads, which will take you up the creek down the yellow brick road to the products those fear-mongering, money-grubbing whitecoat quackery selfless angels who are concerned only with your well-being have concocted to raise your guy-juice levels.
Although many if not most of these hormone peddlers will be wearing the Hallmark of Sciency Authenticity (a white lab coat ), their spiels won’t contain anything resembling the real science behind the issue of testosterone supplementation. It’s a safe bet that they won’t be touting the results of the Boston medical researchers’ trial which found that that men taking testosterone supplements had fivetimes the number of “cardiovascular problems”  vs. those taking a placebo (a finding which caused safety monitors to end the trial earlier than planned). They’re trusting you’ll fall for claptrap about vim and vigor and the other/usual limp dick scare tactics and won’t want or care to read, say, articles like the one in this week’s New York Times Science section, A High Price For Vigor.
Testosterone declines naturally with age. The lifestyles of many American men can exacerbate this decline; however, as Internist John LaPuma points out in his New York Times op-ed, Don’t Ask your Doctor About “Low T”, clinical testosterone deficiency “isn’t nearly as common as the drug ads would have you believe.” And the “tried and true way to naturally boost testosterone levels” – losing weight,  limiting alcohol consumption, “eating more of the right foods and fewer junk foods”…well, that’s just not as sexy a sell as popping “a prescription for a risky drug to treat a trumped up disease.”
I pity the fool who thinks Mr. T needs more T
* * *
Why is “trousers” such a great word? You can wear pants or slacks, britches or breeches or knickers.
But if given my druthers  (another great word!), I’d choose trousers.
But not these, even if they were the last trousers on earth, and wearing them would bring world peace and cure cancer. Nope. Sorry.
* * *
Sometimes It’s Better to Stay Awake and Organize The Sock Drawer
I had a dream. Not your noble speech-inspiring, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. I Have A Dream kind of dream. Rather, it was the kind of dream where you are trying to wake yourself up because the dream really sucks, and finally you do wake up, but damned if you don’t fall right back into it when you close your eyes.
I had been conscripted into the army. They had given me a backpack and a list of supplies with which to fill the pack. I was concerned that I didn’t have enough wool socks, and should I bring a toothbrush and vitamins and…? It was getting late; I didn’t want to report for duty, but I hadto. At the check in station, which was in a large, airplane hangar-like building, I was directed to the “Welcome Area For New Recruits.” I sat down at a large table with other conscripts, and we spoke of our mutual fears re what was in store for us. I told them I wanted to talk to my dad before I left (ouch), because he knew something about war. The other draftees, male and female, looked SO YOUNG to me, as if they were in junior high school. I was my real/present age in the dream, and wondered why They (whomever They were) would want me at my age? And yet, in that out-of-character reality peculiar to dreams, it never occurred to me to protest.
I woke up wondering about this pesky aging think. If I had no mirror to remind me otherwise, on many other levels I can fool myself into thinking I’m still in my late twenties/early thirties. So, how did I get to be the age I am?
In a moment of (what passes for me as) mathematical genius, I came up with
 Chuck Darwin shares a birthday with Honest Abe. Good to know.
 Or a dollop, if you prefer that term (and who doesn’t?).
 including such pseudoscience gems as humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction a few thousand years ago after peacefully using them for transport companionship (“Buford, Jethro, y’all seen Rex’s saddle?”)
The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of my two strongest watching-TV-with-my-parents memories. The other happened a couple months earlier, on a night in late November, 1963. My older sister NLP and I sat stone-faced on the carpet in front of the TV, watching the coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination. N and I, respectively in grades three and one, did not fully comprehend the significance of what was on the screen before us. We only knew that our parents seemed really, really sad.
A mere eleven weeks later our family, along with a record number of the TV-viewing public, was once again mesmerized by what was transpiring on our black and white RCA.
We watched the Ed Sullivan show every Sunday, as did most television owning families in the U.S. And we watched the show in full. There were no recording devices; there was no taping the show and forwarding through the aftershave commercials or plate-spinning acts.
If you wanted to see the good stuff (for kids, the rare rock ‘n roll act; for their parents, Steve and Eydie ) you had to sit through Frank Gorshin’s political impressions, opera selections, puppet shows – a hodgepodge of vaudevillian-type acts, all introduced by the eponymous host.
Ed Sullivan, with his bloodhound baggy-eyes, peculiar enunciations  and leaden body language, looked like a cross between the Adam’s family’s Lurch and Richard Nixon,
Y’all seen my evil twin?
Here I am!
and was rumored to be the first survivor of a charisma-ectomy.
“We have a really, really big shoe for you tonight”
The Beatles’ first two songs  were mid-tempo numbers featuring somewhat “pretty” vocals, including their cover of a song from The Music Man . Then they lit into “She Loves You,” and the audience – in Sullivan’s theatre and in our living room– went berserk.
I remember our parents trading remarks of astonishment (“Look at their hair!”) while N and I…. Well, my older sister and I rocked out, without even knowing we were rocking out and that our musical tastes were about to dramatically expand. The Beatles returned later in the show for a second set: “I Saw Her Standing There”  and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
If you have the slightest bit of interest in history and/or popular culture, I urge you to beg, borrow or steal somehow latch onto any tapes or DVDs of the Beatle’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Here’s the important part: watch at least one of the entire shows, not just the Beatles’ performances. From the other entertainment acts to the commercials, TESS will give you a unique time capsule experience, and an appreciation of how much has changed and how mind-bogglingly, effervescently and energetically different the Beatles were at that time.
Oh, and can you imagine being Fred Kaps, the magician who had to follow the Beatles’ first set?
* * *
I had several other items in mind for this blog, but, like Fred Kaps, I’m finding it hard to follow the Beatles with…anything but more Beatles. So I suggest you push the furniture to the side of the room, do a few stretching exercises if you need to, turn up the volume and let the hijinks ensue.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.