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The Sushi Roll I’m Not Ordering

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Department Of Sophomoric Observations

A Japanese restaurant where I have become a weekly lunch regular recently installed a video screen which plays a continuous loop of some truly gorgeous pictures of their various sushi and rolls, combination platters, bento boxes and other menu items. Last week I was enjoying the show as I ate my bowl of edamame, until I almost choked when the picture of a long, brown, slightly curved, specialty roll flashed by on the screen – a roll that someone had unfortunately decided to dub, “The Johnson Roll.”

Slang terms and idioms don’t always travel graciously across cultures. My server gave me a curious look when she caught my mirthful reaction, and I wondered if I should say anything – just pose an innocent question, to see if she “got it.” [1]   I mean, I’d feel like a pervert ordering the thing.

 

If I order the Johnson roll will you be happy to see me?

If I order the Johnson roll will you be happy to see me?

*   *   *

The Electorate I’m Not Analyzing

Because simple ad hominem attacks, the usage of which I am usually (or at least philosophically) opposed to, will suffice:

Are people bloody bonkers?

I refer of course to the great mystery of our time.

 

 

mystery

 

 

No, not that one. The mystery is that the Trumpster is not in the dumpster at this point in the primaries. My theory: there are many short-sighted people who, the more they feel ineffective, unappreciated and threatened, the more they gravitate towards that which they perceive as powerful. And these people apparently equate bombasity with power, and there are enough of them to keep That Man at the top of the festering turd of a heap that is the Republican presidential primary contest.

And yes, bombasity (the condition or quality of being bombastic to the nth power) needed to be a word. [2] Now it is. So let it be written; so let it be done.

 

 

*   *   *

The Constraints I’m Not Protesting

Content warning: Yet another plug for Star Talk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s podcast.

This time I’m touting the Science Of Creativity episode, with host NGT interviewing his guest, musician, Talking Heads founder and AARP men’s hair fashion correspondent, David Byrne, about…see the show’s title.

Which (drum roll, please) got me to thinking .

I love it when Someone Smarter Than Moiself ® articulates a concept with which I am in total agreement. [3]  As per the referenced podcast, that concept is this:  constraints, both in art and science, can be liberating, and are in fact what lead to creativity.

Many wannabe (IMHO) artists chafe at the mere mention of restraints or controls or guidelines when it comes to that nebulous concepts creativity. On the other hand [4], mature/experienced artists realize that when there are no boundaries you can just do anything…which often seems like – and sometimes leads to – doing nothing in particular.

Witness the creativity called up by the NASA engineers – the astounding, seat-of-their-pants, imagination and resourcefulness that enabled them to create solutions for the Apollo 13 crew to bring their severely damaged spacecraft home safely. These solutions were arrived at not by using anything/everything at the engineers’ disposal; rather, they had to work within the constraints of what the astronauts actually had within their capsule.

Constraints, even those which might be called “censorship,” can be liberating, in that you can focus on what you can do with the materials/talents/themes/venues at hand, and not ramble within a world of seemingly no limits. The beauty of haiku is in its structure. The insipidness with much of so-called free form or free verse poetry…tennis without a net, anyone?

We’ve all had the experience of listening to/reading/watching/observing a less than magnificent (or not even marginally competent) book/painting/play/movie/recital/concert. Some of us have also been witness to (read: somehow forced to attend a showing of) the “art” of someone who evinces little or no actual artistic talent – someone who lacks the discipline to put in the years and hard work to develop the talent but who is so enamored of the concept of being an artist that they have to come up with another name for…for whatever it is they can do.  [5]

 

I'm artist, dammit, and who are you to limit or define what that is?

I’m artist, dammit, and who are you to limit or define what that is?

 

 

Nowadays it seems you can show/describe/sing about just about anything, including people performing personal hygiene rituals, people fucking, people being disemboweled and tortured….  The proponents of this show-it-all-ness call it realism, and fling the censorship! pejorative at those who suggest subtlety or moderation in presentation.

Excuse me, but your story might be more enjoyable if it had complex, three dimensional characters and a more intricate plot, or one which might encourage viewers to imagine and  anticipate and….

(Gasp!)  This is intentional – you would censor/constrain my art?!

The Realism Rah-Rahs seem clueless when it comes to understanding how their in-your-face approach loses the poetry of subterfuge, the beauty of obfuscation, the creativity of concealment.

Without constraints, there is no thrill of sneaking a song like The Kinks’ Lola past the censors. [6]  And the snappy, now-classic cinematic dialogue, the clever artistry of cinematography and staging necessary to impart certain concepts (e.g. a sexual rendezvous) was enabled, and made necessary, by the movie production codes of the day. [7]  The saucy double entendres of Mae West

When I’m good I’m very, very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Too much of a good thing can be taxing.

When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.

Why don’t you come up and… see me some time?

­– why write those lines today [8] when you can have your actors openly proposition one another (and then follow through) on camera?

 

maewest

*   *   *

The Certificate I’m Not Showing You [9]

Perhaps you remember (or are desperately trying to forget) my blog post from two weeks ago, wherein profanely ranted about I articulately lamented what I saw as the lack of respect MH received for his 25th anniversary with his company (all together now: Twenty-five years and they gave you a fucking $8.99 Safeway cake?!?!?”)

 

certificate_of_appreciation

 

That’s not all the recognition he received. Tuesday eve MH came home from work bearing a Certificate of Accomplishment, in the form of a white 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper that had his name, a Congratulations, 25 years, yay you! message and a couple of color graphics printed on it. The cheap piece of paper certificate had been laminated, and was slightly bent/curled in the middle, as if someone had tried to roll it up or had sat on it.

Perhaps the yeah-isn’t-this-great twinkle in MH’s eyes as he showed the paper to me should’ve reassured me that I didn’t need to suppress my reaction. Still, I waited until the next morning, to see if I felt the same about it. I asked to see the certificate again, and summoned all the enthusiasm such an honor merited:

Moiself: “I’m sorry for snickering at this. I mean, it’s obvious someone went to the trouble to go all the way to Kinko’s to have it laminated.”

MH: “I’m pretty sure it was in-house job. If they’d gone to Kinko’s it wouldn’t be bent.”

I could not let that stand. I made a rare (for me) trip to a local crafts store, got a shiny purple frame and what son K refers to as “bedazzlers,” and I pimped that certificate.

 

bling

*   *   *

May your accomplishments be bedazzled;
May your constraints be creative;
May The Martian win this year’s Best Picture Oscar;
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] I did: “So, what is a Johnson roll made of?” Her straightforward description of the ingredients indicated to me that she’d no idea of the…possible interpretations of the roll’s name.

[2] You’re welcome.

[3] Aka the Yeah, what she said, phenomenon.

[4] …you have other fingers.

[5] Performance Art, anyone?

[6] Certainly, it would have been a different song – or perhaps, not even written – had there been no radio content censorship back then.

[7] Hays Code and Breen code, e.g. 

[8] And, sadly, few screenwriters do.

[9] Because MH refused to let me photograph it.

 

 

The Grave I’m Not Dancing On

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Department Of The Calm Before The Storm
Aka, I’m Supposed To Post This Kind Of Mindless Minutiae On Facebook…

I’M SO HAPPY WITH MY DOLLAR TREE PURCHASE!

After years of using our nondescript, Bed Bath & Beyond everyday flatware precious family heirloom silverware for scooping out cat food, I recently said to moiself, “Self,” I said, “the next time you pass a Dollar Tree store, why not pop inside and pick up a couple of forks?”

Two forks now reside upstairs by the cat food cans. The utensils are seemingly satisfied with – dare I guess, even proud of ? –  their singular, humble-yet-vital raison d’etre 

My contentment knows no bounds.

 

 

fork

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Storm

Aka, I May Be A Terrible Person…

But damn, I wish I’d written this headline:

Justice Scalia Dead Following 30-Year Battle With Social Progress

 

dance-on-grave

 

Should I feel guilty for rejoicing upon hearing the news of someone’s death?  [1]  While I’m not exactly dancing on his grave, full disclosure: my first reaction upon hearing that SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia had died:

Pity it wasn’t a car crash and he didn’t take one or two of his buddies [2] with him.

Sound harsh? It’s “nothing personal,” as they say. Over the years I’ve said good riddance upon hearing the news of certain people’s deaths, for example, the architects of apartheid and Osama Bin Ladin, among other political and social tyrants. And yep, on a certain level I do equate them: Scalia was a judicial tyrant, hostile to those cherished American ideals of liberty, justice and equality for all.

Sure, I’ll miss Scalia’s batshit crazy rantings bizarre flights of phraseology and imagery (“jiggery-pokery” and “Platonic golf,” in particular) but I’ll not miss his retrograde, religion-soiled worldview and blatant hostility to the advancement of human rights.

As the Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor put it in her Freethought Now blog post, Why Scalia Was a Fugitive From Justice, Scalia was a “judicial version of a bible literalist…who dressed up the old ‘states’ rights’ arguments [3] in the bizarre new clothing he termed ‘originalist’ interpretations of the Constitution.”

 

scalia

 

The thing is, Scalia wasn’t just your blowhard bigot uncle pontificating at the neighborhood watering hole. He held a powerful position and thus had a loud and far-reaching megaphone, through which he advocated ideologies that do real harm to real people. [4] Unlike your drunk uncle, Scalia got to hide his prejudices, fear and loathing behind the skirts of a judge using an originalist interpretation of the US Constitution. [5]

A sampling of the many Scali-ism which reveal his bigoted, science-hostile, religiously-warped mindset, include him

* referring to voting rights as “racial entitlements;”

* equating homosexuality with “reprehensible” conduct including incest and murder;

* comparing the quest for LGBT human rights to flagpole sitting and saying it would be okay to jail gay people – i.e. criminalize gay “behavior” – because some (straight) people don’t like them;

* defending sentencing “retarded” people to death via the everybody’s doing it argument: i.e., if mentally-impaired people continue to receive death sentences from juries then that must be socially acceptable;

* dissing the establishment clause to an audience of schoolchildren and telling another group of children that that humanity was only in its 5,000th year of existence;

* arguing that African-Americans would be better off in slower schools;

* boasting that his refusal to recuse himself from a case about then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force — after he’d just returned on a duck-hunting trip with Cheney — was the “proudest thing” he’d done on the SCOTUS;

* saying the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause didn’t apply to females and thus there is no protection against discrimination for women in the US Constitution, and advising a female law student to skip taking “frill classes” like “law and women;”

* referring to a female SCOTUS justice (Sandra O’Connor), when she refused to join him in trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, as “irrational” and “not to be taken seriously;”

* dismissing the liberties and protections provided in the Bill of Rights (“The majority wins. If you don’t believe that, you don’t believe in democracy”) and equating the protection of minority interests with protecting pederasts and child abusers;

* cavalierly proclaiming [6] that torture wasn’t “punishment” and therefore couldn’t be considered “cruel and unusual;”

* rejecting the findings of science while believing that the existence of atheists is proof of a living, literal devil….

Okay; ding dong the witch is dead. And I feel a need to wash my hands after typing just a sample of the scary shit that man has done and said over the years.

Moving on: for something resembling demographic equality and representation, for the next SCOTUS nominee we need a justice who is female and who did not attend an Ivy League and/or East coast law school, who is originally or currently FROM THE WEST, and whose worldview background is secular/atheist…or, okay Jewish or Buddhist or Sikh or Baha’i or Hindu, anything but Christian and definitively not another Catholic.

Ah, if only The Onion’s dream came true:

 

"Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia."

“Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia.”

*   *   *

Department Of This Should Come As No Surprise

It turns out publication bias (that is, studies purporting to discover some phenomenon are more likely to be published than studies failing to find one), which is common throughout psychology, “is greatly exacerbated in sex/gender research,” found a 2014 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, citing studies going back 20 years.
(from the article, Pink Brains, Blue Brains? Mindful magazine, February 2016

 

brains

 

Translation: it’s more interesting to think you’ve found a difference than to confirm a non-difference. Ergo, a study which alleges to find a “sex difference”  in male and female __________ (cranial structures; interest in sports; capacity for empathy; penchant for eating one’s own naval lint) gets published and gets press, while the subsequent 19 studies which find no difference receive little-to-no attention.

BTW, the answer to the article’s title rhetorical question, which has been addressed in many other studies, is a resounding WTF? no – who made that claim? Brains do not have a gender. The idea that there’s anything fundamentally different about men’s and women’s brains is a myth, despite what $chlock-peddler$ like that Venus and Mars bull$hit arti$t would have you buy (literally), is codswallop.

Ain’t that right, Angry Tiki Man Man?

 

If everybody's brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

If everybody’s brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

*   *   *

Department of Ahhhh…….

This photo from daughter Belle illustrates her claim that “one of the perks of working in a natural history museum [7]  is that you and the specimens sometimes match.

 

Sadietatoo

*   *   *

May you find exceptional happiness in humble purchases;
May the perks of your workplace be artistically fulfilling;
May the color of your brain continue to be irrelevant;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Answer: it depends, both on the Someone and the death.

[2] Whose surnames rhyme with BombAss and A-flea-toe.

[3]States’ rights” is a code term, often used to shield the potentially offensive and controversial intentions of the person employing it. It is typically used by conservative politicians (remember George Wallace?) to bring racial images and attitudes to mind without actually having to say the words. Ronald Reagan infamously used that nudge nudge wink wink code to appeal to the racist ideology of the old white southerners whom he sought to bring into his coalition of voters (and without whom he would have lost the 1980 election).

[4] Including and especially, IMHO, re his attitudes toward gay people.

[5]  You know, the logic and justice of applying the mindset of 240 years ago – when women could not vote and blacks counted as 3/5 of a person – to contemporary society law and politics.

[6] In a 2004 Interview with CNN.

[7] In her case, that of her school’s (the University of Puget Sound) – Slater Museum .

The Definition I’m Not Making Up

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Department Of They Gave You A What?

Last week marked MH’s 25 years with The Company That Shall Not Be Named Right Now. Twenty-five years. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that, until I look in front of me and to my left. Hanging from the walls of our home office are just some of the framed awards for product design and launching, and plaques for the patents MH and fellow various team members hold.[1]  I read the dates…yep…it’s been that long.

When MH had been with TCTSNBNRN for five years, his then-manager took MH’s entire work group out to a Very nice restaurant © for lunch. For this auspicious occasion – a quarter of a century of creativity, loyalty, [2] diligent, sometimes family-life sacrificing or altering work – MH’s now-manager provided cupcakes for the work group, and a cake for MH.

From Safeway.

A single layer, 7 inch diameter, $8.99 cake. [3]

 

No, Martha, it's not.

No, Martha, it’s not.

 

Can you say, appreciation-fail, boys and girls?  I knew you could.

MH stayed up late last Sunday, baking a double batch of his family specialty: kringle, Norwegian pretzel-shaped buttermilk cookies. On Monday he emailed every person in the company (well, those who are still with TCTSNBNRN) with whom he’d worked over the years, thanked them for their help and camaraderie, and invited them to stop by his workstation so that he could thank them personally and share some cookies.

I’m thinking, How sweet that is! How classy is that?  – thoughts I hope will, eventually, push Twenty-five years and they gave you a !#?@% cake?!?! out of my mind.

 

kringle

*   *   *

Department of I Lie Because I Say I Care (But Still, I Lie)

Many centers across the country provide what mainstream medical experts say are misleading accounts of rare abortion complications, and of disproved longer-term effects….. at least one brochure in the facility flatly says that abortion causes “an increased risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.” …. But the National Cancer Institute states that “women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women,” and that abortion has not been linked to other cancers, either.
(from the front page article, Pregnancy Clinics Fight For Right to Deny Abortion Information, NY Times 2-11-16)

CPCs (“crisis pregnancy centers”) have been prevaricating their asses off for as long as they have been in existence. When I worked at Planned Parenthood I was both amused and astonished at the stories I heard from women who had visited a CPC, about what had been presented to them as factual information. [4]

My favorite such story: Rachel [5] was told by a CPC “counselor” that during a physical exam a doctor could tell just by looking at a woman’s cervix if a woman had ever had an abortion (lie #1), and thus, because most doctors are adamantly opposed to abortion (lie #2) if Rachel had an abortion, for the rest of her life doctors could refuse to treat her (lie #3) or, even if Rachel found a doctor who deigned to see her as a patient, that doctor would give Rachel substandard care (lie #4).

Four whoppers in one sentence – that’s gotta be the record for a non-politician.

I’ve long considered the Right to Life moniker to be a misnomer. The removal of just one consonant would reveal their justification of their zealotry: Right to Life = Right to Lie.

*   *   *

WTF Spock

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

*   *   *

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the death of “Chet-the-Jet,” my beloved father.  Back in September, when we were discussing the passing of MH’s father, my friend SCM remarked about how it was a milestone event for our family: the first time our son K and daughter Belle had to deal with the death of a grandparent.

Uh, actually, I reminded her….

SCM was horrified by her omission (I wasn’t). It was an honest and completely understandable mistake, as per this comment she made when she apologized. I found her observation quite touching:

You speak of him so often, it’s as if he’s still alive.

 

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion's 25th wedding anniversary.

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion’s 25th wedding anniversary.

 

*   *   *

angryman

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE. AT LEAST YOUR FATHER GOT A TROPHY.

 

 

*   *   *

Happy Year of the Monkey

monkey-year_3551486a

 

I find it suitable that I was born in a Year of the Monkey, as You little monkey! was one of several endearments my father bestowed upon moiself, his second-born child.

At my Qigong class this week, someone posed a question about the lunar zodiac calendar: What does it mean, to be born in the year of the monkey? I told her I could ask my SIL, who is Chinese, who’d likely say, “Nothing; it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a superstition.”

From what I know of my brother’s delightful wife, she holds no superstitions – not those from her country of birth, nor those of her adopted country. She does, however, honor and acknowledge celebrations of culture. Thus, when I emailed her Gung Hay Fat Choi wishes on Monday, she winkingly told me that wearing red would ensure good luck during the coming year.

On Monday I did indeed wear red. I also visited Uwajimaya, my favorite Asian supermarket, and returned home with the fixings for a Lunar New Year dinner: veggie spring rolls; cucumber peanut salad; hot and sour fish ball soup…and this Indonesian snack, from a company whose marketing department needs a translation lesson.

 

titi

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

sob

*   *   *

Happy Darwin Day!

Today, February 12, we honor one of the greatest scientists ever, Charles R. Darwin (Feb 12, 1809 – April 18, 1882).

 

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don't even get a cake?

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don’t even get a cake?

*   *   *

 

The story I’m currently working on involves a character who regularly thumbs through an actual (vs. online) dictionary. Thus, I am doing the same, an activity which brought back a fond memory.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, MH [6] lived in San Jose and I in Palo Alto. One weekend fairly early on in our dating relationship, MH hosted a game night at his apartment. MH and I and a group of about eight friends were playing a word game called Fictionary. [7]   When it was my turn be to Selector (the player who provides an obscure word for which the other players would have to make up a definition), I opened MH’s dictionary to a random page, and was immediately struck by the top of the page heading – you know, the one in a dictionary which lists the first/last words on the page:

blowjob/bluff

Now, I can’t honestly remember what the second word was, but I’ll never forget that the first word was blowjob. And, of course, I had to share my discovery with the other players – most of whom, as I seem to recall, were from our church’s young adults social group. [8]

 

dictionary

 

MH, who hitherto had no knowledge of that page’s heading, seemed mildly embarrassed that he was in possession of what I subsequently and for all eternity referred to as The Blowjob Dictionary. Or perhaps his embarrassment came from the fact that his girlfriend couldn’t stop pointing this out to anyone who would listen.

Blowjob?!  At the top of the page?! “Blowjob” is at the top of the page and no editor or publisher caught it? You have a BJ dictionary [9] This is amazing…a mild-mannered engineer with a Blowjob dictionary, who knew?!  No, I am so not making this up – look, it’s right here, it says, blowjob….

Reader, he married me.

 

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

Of course, it could have been worse (or better, depending on your POV). He could have received a package of

 

titi2

*   *   *

May your significant anniversaries and accomplishments receive worthy acknowledgements;
May the calendar and lunar year bring you health and happiness (and interestingly titled snack foods),
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1] The framed awards ones having to do with microprocessor design are like works of art.

[2] He has been head-hunted over the years, by other companies.

[3] Yes, the price tag is prominently displayed on the plastic cover

[4] Other equally horrific/entertaining stories came from my fellow PP clinic workers, several of whom had undertaken to do their own “undercover” sessions by going to a CPC and pretending to be pregnant, to experience firsthand what kind of (dis) information they would receive.

[5] Pseudonym.

[6] MH, as regular readers of this blog know, stands for My Husband, who of course was not in fact my husband at the time of this incident, but the privacy acronym stands.

[7]  Fictionary is a game in which players guess the definition of an obscure word. One player selects and announces a word from a dictionary. After the other players confirm that they indeed are not familiar with the word, they each make up a fake definition for it, while the Selector writes down the dictionary definition. The Selector collects the fake definitions, reads all definitions aloud, and players vote on which definition they believe to be correct. Points are awarded for correct guesses, for having a fake definition guessed by another player.

[8] Yes, happy heathens MH and I met at a Lutheran church. Now, there’s  a story for another time.

[9] Actually, I think it may have been American heritage?  I wish I could remember the name and the edition…I’d pay good money for that one…which for some reason never made it the the marital assets, when we combined households.

The Snake Handlers I’m Not Electing

Comments Off on The Snake Handlers I’m Not Electing

 

 

My daughter celebrates her twentieth birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday to you, Belle, from me…and this, from eight year old Emily, who does an amazing “drum cover” of the Beatles’ Birthday:

 

 

*   *   *

And Now We Pause For A Primal Scream Moment

KHAN

 

Words are not adequate to describe the living hell – for those of us who don’t even believe in a hell but who do believe in being an informed citizen and thus try to pay attention to things – that the next ten months of political rhetoric will bring. [1]

Listening to the Republican candidates pander speak to the religious right in the days preceding the Iowa caucus was truly retch-inspiring, and caused many an Iowa Atheist to check their GPS systems to confirm that, yes, they were in fact at a political meeting in Des Moines and had not been somehow transported to a convention of hillbilly snake handlers in Kentucky, THANK YOU JAAAAAAYSUS .

I eagerly await the videos of rally attendees foaming at the mouth and proclaiming Ted Cruz has cured their anal hyperhidrosis.

And BTW, Republi-Cons: are any of you seriously running for Preacher-in-Chief, or President of our secular democracy? [2]

Flying Spaghetti Monster, give me strength.

 

 

You'll get your turn Jeb, after Ted and Mario have a swing at it.

You’ll get your turn Jeb, after Ted and Mario have a swing at it.

*   *   *

 

On a related note: striking a blow for equality of absurdity, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been recognized as a religion in The Netherlands.

And the faithful Pastafarians cried out, “Ramen!”

 

FSM

*   *   *

Department Of Figuring It Out

Detractors…say the degree is responsible for so-called program fiction — homogenized, over-worskshopped writing void of literary tradition and overly influenced by the mostly upper-middle-class values and experiences of its students. Others describe an inherently unfair system….a self-generating track to the literary establishment, on which the most fortunate jump to fellowships, writing colonies, agents, publishing deals and professorships, where they are indoctrinated into the status quo.
(Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A., NY Times, April 9, 2016)

When I begin reading a book I get straight to the manuscript itself. I skip reading the cover quotes, as well as any that may appear on the inside pages. You know the ones – the remarks from other authors and/or Important People Whose Names The Publisher Hopes You Recognize, ®  people who have the same publisher/owe the book’s author money who provide alternately pithy and gushing, This is really worth whatever you paid for it recommendations. I bought the book; I’m going to read it. I’ve no interest in people I don’t know telling me why I should read it or what it’s going to mean to me. Pesky contrarian that I am, I like to figure these things out for myself.

I also don’t read the author’s bio notes (which, in the case of fiction, are typically found in the book’s final pages or back cover) before I read the book. It’s the work itself that interests me. I realize this makes me an outlier in this world of Celebrity Everything © , but I don’t give a flying fart about the author’s life story. [3]

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really.

I may peek at the bio notes after wards…but usually only if I’ve found the book somewhat disappointing and want to know, Who was responsible for this? As per that sentiment….

I recently finished reading two collections of short fiction. With each book, as I was turning to the About the Author page, I found myself mumbling, I’d bet good money this was the product of a M.F.A. program.

Can you make big $$ by winning a bet with yourself? [4]

 

SOAPBOX

 

I have come to think that the word Creative is a misnomer when applied to M.F.A. in Creative Writing. [5]  This is not to say I didn’t like any of the stories in the books. However, there was a certain…sameness…to the supposedly disparate stories, a so-what?-ness I have encountered so, so so soooooooooooooooo very many times in contemporary literature, I can practically smell it.

Bonus dis: I’ve figured out the alternate definition of the degree. A M.F.A., or Master of Fine Arts, in Literature/Creative Writing also translates as a degree in Mediocre Fucking Acts.  In my humble experience and opinion, if a work of fiction is connected to a M.F.A. program the book is guaranteed to include several/obligatory sex scenes – scenes which will be presented/narrated in a self-consciously self-important, trying-so-hard-to-be-blasé style, which proclaims, I-am-so-not-a-romance-writer-and-whatever-sex-means-to-you-it-is-not-love-making-in-these-pages. These cynical physical interludes are described with all the passion, affection, humor and significance one might use to portray a dental flossing session.

Also: the sex will be referred to, by the story’s narrator and/or protagonists, as fucking.

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Department Of: That Might Be… No

I can’t figure out if this joke that sprang to my mind the other day is funny ha-ha, or just funny…you know:

Did you hear that Caitlyn Jenner wants to try her luck in the theatre?
She’s peddling her idea to Broadway producers about remaking the classic musical about Wild West sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
The play’s working title: Trannie Get Your Gun.

trannie

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May all of your jokes be wildly, thigh-slappingly, milk-squirting-out-of-your-nose funny and yet manage to offend no one;
May you have a (pain-free) lobotomy if you think the former is possible or even desirable;
May the Flying Spaghetti monster touch you with his Noodly Appendage,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] I know, I know, stop reading/listening to the crap….

[2] And stop asking questions when you already know the answer.

[3] Unless, of course, there’s some really icky stuff worth giggling over.

[4] One M.F.A. student and two M.F.A. professors.

[5] There are, of course, exceptions to the M.F.A.-works-smell-read-similar. Somewhere.