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The Name I’m Not Misspelling

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Department of It’s About…This

 

stellashirtjpg

 

The above shirt was worn by Stella McCartney, upon the occasion of her father Paul’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s also the sentiment of Some Of Us Who Are Embarrassed For Our Country Being This Late To The Game. ®

No matter whom you supported in the presidential primaries or will support in this upcoming election, let us pause for a moment to think of history being made. We congratulate ourselves for, for the first time, nominating a woman as a major party candidate for president.

After we’re done patting ourselves on our collective backs, let us also consider the fact that we who often refer to ourselves as leaders of the free world are trailing behind Australia, Bolivia, China, Great Britain, Haiti, Iceland, Malta, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Germany, India, Ireland, The Philippines, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Liberia, Guyana, Ecuador, Finland, Chile, Israel, Austria, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Serbia, Malawi, Croatia, Central Africa Republic, Nepal, and a dozen other countries who currently have or had have elected or appointed female heads of state.

 

 

...that it took you Yanks so bloody long.

…that it took you Yanks so bloody long.

 

 

*   *   *

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Discombobulate

Which is why I am re-reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, and tempering that with Philip Norman’s new biography of Paul McCartney, and also You’ll Grow Out of It,  a collection of essays by Jessi Klein, the standup comic and writer for Inside Amy Schumer.

I chose the latter book mainly for the chapter titled Get the Epidural, upon which a hilarious sketch  (It’s Better For the Baby)  from Schumer’s show  [1]  was based.  That chapter was indeed delightful, but it was near the end of the book.  I had to skip from the chapter about watching The Bachelor, [2] which I could not stomach; thus, I had to punish the author [3]  by not reading the intervening eleven chapters between The Bachelor and Get The Epidural. And then, I just didn’t want to read the rest of the book. The author’s style and humor…I got it. Didn’t need to get anymore.

One of the Truly Great Things About Being An Adult ® is that it doesn’t matter whether I paid $12.99 for the Kindle book or $500 for a season theatre subscription – if I decide I am no longer interested in the book or the play, then I stop reading/leave at intermission. That money and time is gone and cannot be retrieved; I understand the Sunken Costs Fallacy and I get to decide at what point it just isn’t worth it to me anymore.

Once again, I digress.

Get The Epidural, as you may surmise by the title, is about the expectation and pressure pregnant women experience re choosing their birth “experiences.”

 

I'm planning on having a sea turtle birth.

“I’m planning on having a sea turtle birth.”

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, in my job as a health educator in a family-oriented OB/GYN practice, I tried to steer away women from using the term “natural” re childbirth sans drugs.

“The more accurate term,” my spiel went, “is medicated or un-medicated childbirth. It is natural to seek relief from agonizing pain. No one asks your husband if he’s going to have his broken leg set ‘naturally,’ right? If the pregnancy is housed in your uterus and exits via your vagina, regardless of how much or how little pharmaceutical intervention took place in between, that’s a natural birth.”

Thus, I did my “Preach it, sistuh Jessi!” dance when I read Klein’s rumination on this irony: that women are pressured to do this one thing “naturally,” yet during the rest of their lives they are told that everything which is in fact natural about their bodies (e.g. the existence of leg, underarm and pubic hair; their womanly body shape, their normal hair color and texture and skin tone and complexion) is either annoying and/or gross and/or deficient and must be eliminated or altered.

It’s interesting that no one cares very much about women doing anything “naturally” until it involves them being in excruciating pain.
No one ever asks a man if he’s having a “natural root canal.” No one ever asks if a man is having a “natural vasectomy.”
(Jessi Klein,  You’ll Get Over It)

*   *   *

Department Of What’s In A Name?

From birthing to naming – how did I get on the baby thing? Coincident with my reading the afore-mention essay I also read an anecdote about baby naming, which reminded me of my e-versation with friend KW in which he teased me for insisting on spelling my name “…in some bizarro way.”  In return, I felt obliged to relay the story of my naming:

 

record

 

Actually, ‘twere my parents who insisted on spelling my name Robyn (for my father, whose middle name is Bryan).  Here is what they told me about how I got my name.  [4]

I was born in Santa Ana Hospital. The day after my birth the Nurse Who Was In Charge Of Such Things ® brought the birth certificate form and other discharge documents into my mother’s hospital room. She asked my parents, “What name do you want on the birth certificate?”

“Robyn Gwen Parnell,” my parents replied, and relayed the spelling of each name.

“That’s not how you spell Robin,” the nurse huffed. “It’s spelled with an i.”

My parents said Nurse Jackboots seemed pretty disgusted with them, but they insisted that, no, they were spelling it Robyn with a y.  Nurse Nazi-nose actually continued to argue with them about it. My parents held firm.  Nurse Poopypants rolled her eyes, completed her paperwork, and told them they’d receive a copy of the birth certificate in the mail, eventually.  When my parents received the copy of my birth certificate they put it on a pile of papers on my father’s desk, and it wasn’t until a few months later, when they got to organizing things, that they actually looked at the certificate and discovered that Nurse Ratchet had taken it upon herself to give a bureaucratic fuck you to my parents [5] and had spelled my name with an i !

 

 

 I know what's best. Trust me.

I know what’s best. Trust me.

 

 

Chet and Marion [6] Parnell were furious, but Chet consulted a lawyer friend who told him not to worry, you can spell the name however you like, it’s no problem. A few years after my college graduation, when I asked for a copy of my birth certificate, my father found a judge who put some kind of amendment to the document, to note the initial clerical “mistake.” Santa Ana Hospital burned to the ground not long after that. Karma, I sez.

Friend KW said he found it somewhat scary, that a nurse would decide to override the parents’ choice for a baby’s name. He did also advocate for judicious selection in naming – “proofreading and gentle questioning might not be inadvisable in certain cases.”  He cited the story of a young pregnant woman who came into the hospital where KW’s SIL worked at a nurse and who insisted on naming her new baby boy Gonorrhea. (“She just liked the way it rolled off the tongue [ew!] No amount of gentle persuasion dissuaded her.”)

Anyone who would give their baby such a name (“And let me introduce you to her older sister, Chlamydia, and her twin brothers, Herpes and Simplex.”) – that’s grounds for instant, mandatory sterilization, IMHO. It almost makes the heretofore odd (to me) fact that certain countries (like Iceland) have “naming laws” seem reasonable.

 

 

There oughta be a law.

There oughta be a law.

 

 

And then, when it comes to names, there is the issue of unsolicited feedback.

I’ve shared the Ultimate Baby Naming Advice ® [7] to many a prospective parent – advice which I mistakenly forgot when I was expecting my firstborn.

My mother was the first person to ask what names MH and were considering. This was early in my second trimester of pregnancy, when I’d telephoned my parents to talk about planning a visit to see them. We didn’t yet have the amniocentesis results, and so all (gendered) names were in the running. I told my mother that we’d barely started to consider names, but for a girl, I was thinking about “Aurora” – as in Aurura Borealis, a groovy Natural Phenomenon ® , and also as in the name of the 19th century French author whose pen name was George Sand. We’d call her Rory.

“Oh. That’s…interesting,” my mother mumbled.

Most people like things to be interesting, because interesting is, you know, interesting. When my mother uses that word, she means the opposite. I hung up the phone, knowing there would be fallout feedback.

The next day my mother telephoned me and said that I might want to consider a different name, seeing as how “R’s are the most difficult of the consonants for people, especially children, to pronounce.”

This, from the woman who gave three of her four children R-names.

Yep, I replied, I’m fully aware of that, having grown up being called “Wobyn” by my younger sister and her friends – and now my nieces and nephews – until they could pronounce the R sound. It didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now. I even find it rather endearing.

But really, you should see it when little children, even older people, struggle to pronounce a name with more than one difficult sound….

Still doesn’t bother me, Mom.

She wouldn’t drop it.  “Now, I want you to go stand in front of a mirror and look what happens to your face when you say, ‘Aurora.’

Her point was…?   [8]  My response was, “I want you to go stand in front of a mirror and look at your face when you say, Buttinsky.”

She changed the subject.

Six months later I had my son, K.

 

 

Look what happens to your face when you say, awesome.

Look what happens to your face when you say, awesome.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Because This Is A Classy Space, That’s Why

 

Aka, The Joys of Owning Cats, Chapter CDMXVII

Banana slug, or hairball? You be the judge.

 

 

NovaBarf

*   *   *

And One More Thing ©

 

Banana Slug or Hairball? was the title of the game show pitch I submitted to the leading game show production company in America. I got no callback, imagine that.

 

 

 

 "I'll take Mollusks for $1000, Alex."

“I’ll take Mollusks for $1000, Alex.”

*   *   *

May you have an entertaining naming story;
May you in turn provide an entertaining naming story for others;
May you be as natural or medicated as the situation merits;
May you celebrate whatever when it’s about fucking time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You must see that sketch, if you’ve ever been pregnant, or have ever known or seen a pregnant woman talking about her “birth plan.”

[2] Yeah I know it’s supposed to cheeky fun showing how confident you are in your own intellect to admit to being happy you are to watch a brain sucking show…still, ICK. It creeped me out to even read about someone else watching it, and I couldn’t make it through the essay. 

[3] I’m sure she’d lose several nights of sleep/gain a few stress pounds if she knew about my opinion.

[4] So, perhaps my name should be Rabyn?

[5] Not my parents’ phrasing.

[6] Not spelled Maryon, for some reason.

[7] “Do not tell your family the name you have chosen for your child until you’ve given birth and the name is on the birth certificate, for if someone thinks they have a chance of changing your mind, they will try to do so.”

[8] I’m still not sure. I only know that she must have done that herself, and thought saying the name made her…look funny? 

The Culture I’m Not Relativizing

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Content warning: content, much of it cranky. If you’re not cranky, you’re not paying attention.

*   *   *

Here is the understated headline of the article MH alerted me to, in Tuesday’s NY Times:

Clash of Values Emerges After Afghan Child Bride Burns to Death

I find the passive voice repugnant – burns to death? The girl didn’t just spontaneously combust. She was beaten and set on fire, after being bartered away as a 6th grader to settle a family dispute – treated and discarded as the piece of dispensable property women ultimately are in such brutal and backward cultures.

Clash of values. What an obscenity it becomes, being put so mildly. And how many times have I read variations of this grotesque play out of cultural values?

* Afghan woman, whose genitalia was severed by her husband, fights for justice amid rising violence against women

* Banished or battered at home, Afghan women share stories of surviving abuse.

*  … the images show an Afghan woman beaten to death by a mob…savagely beaten not by bearded Taliban but by very young men, wielding sticks and carrying mobile phones.

Go ahead, do the search yourself. You can Google until you gag with this subject, and also with the knowledge that for every story of the barbarous treatment of women and girls that makes the news, thousands more are not headline grabbers; rather, it’s just Life Goes On in Afghanistan and other Islamist cultures.

Back to the shiny happy first story. In the final paragraphs of the NY Times article, the story tells of how a relative of the family suspected in the girl’s torture and murder was questioned, by a criminal investigator and local activists, as to whether the girl was even old enough to consent (to the bartered marriage) in the first place.

“Why are you asking me? Go ask the Prophet,” (the relative) said, explaining that they were merely following traditions from the Prophet Muhammad’s time.

 

 

warning

 

 

As I have no doubt noted before in this space, I am not a cultural relativist. I abhor the fact that there is even such a concept as cultural relativism. And if you support it or defend it and I find out about it, I am going to go all medieval judgmental on your ass. Because the idea that people’s backwards and bigoted beliefs and cruel behaviors should be understood in terms of their culture leads to backwards and bigoted beliefs and cruel behaviors being defended or even excused…because it’s their culture.

You bet your ecumenical ass I’m gonna judge that. Judging cultures – any and all cultures – is what we all should be doing.

Discerning differences and making choices are good and necessary practices. It is wise to judge a tree by the fruit it produces. If your pear tree consistently produces sour-tasting, parasitic-ridden pears that rot before they ripen despite your best horticultural and pest control efforts, you’d best leave it to the bees and get your Anjous elsewhere.

 

 

bees

 

 

Don’t let any mush-brained cultural apologist fool you into thinking there are not valid criteria for testing or judging beliefs, world-views or practices, whether religious or non-religious. There are criteria, and they focus on the centrality of that most humanist value, compassion.  Analyze a belief, worldview or practice – does it lead to compassion and loving kindness?  Or does it produce in its adherents certainty, self-righteousness, belligerence, and the domination of the powerful us over the vulnerable them? [1]  

A worldview that teaches humility, gratitude, love and compassion and fosters equal responsibility and equal justice for all, is “better” than one that justifies or permits slavery and/or inequality and/or values (or even demands) incuriosity and ignorance re the natural world and/or preaches fear and guilt or the domination of the majority by a plutocracy.

Way back in the ’60s and ’70s I heard the argument that the ideology of Apartheid was part of the Afrikaaner culture; thus, who are we, as non South Africans, to understand or judge South African society? When enough of us worldwide stopped accepting that excuse, Apartheid was ended.

As a brown-skinned person with a Muslim name, I can get away with a lot more than you’d think. I can publicly parade my wife or daughters around in head-to-toe burqas and be excused out of “respect” for my culture and/or religion, thanks to the racism of lowered expectations.
( Pakistani-Canadian writer and physician and self-described “Atheist Muslim” Ali A. Rizvi )

 

allah says

 

  

“Go ask the prophet.”

Fuck your prophet.  Fuck anyone’s prophet. Fuck your shitty prophet’s shitty, primitive, ignorant, Iron Age, intellectually dysenteric misogyny still practiced as “traditions” by the various prophets’ blinkered, small-minded, ignorant followers Find some kind of shield, place it over prophet-following countries, and remove it when there’s nothing left but the cockroaches. [2]

Some days, that’s how I feel. Which is one reason I so love Bruce Cockburn’s song,  If I Had a Rocket Launcher …because it reminds me why it is a good thing I don’t have a rocket launcher. [3]

So. On my good days, I try to remember the individual women living in such cultures. I try to think of the almost 500,000 women sponsored via an organization I’ve supported for many years, an international organization which works directly with “marginalized women in 8 countries  [4]  affected by war and conflict…to offer support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency,” via offering these women  “job training, business and life skills, access to opportunity and more.”

On my bad days, [5]  I consider the email I got from said organization informing me of the new “sponsored sister” I’ll be supporting for the next 18 months and think, What’s the point? I think about the fact that this woman lives in Afghanistan, and I am sponsoring her…for what? To “access opportunity” in a culture of this?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Tried, I Really Tried…

…to force myself to watch a live telecast of the Republican Convention.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yes, really. Civic Duty ®  and/or Informed Citizen ® , and all that.

Five minutes into it, I thought it would be more intellectual stimulating [6] to enjoy re-watching one of my favorite Star Trek TNG episodes, appropriately titled, Disaster.

 

 

Has there ever been a larger assemblage of metaphorical Number Twos, Number One?

Has there ever been a larger assemblage of metaphorical Number Twos, Number One?

*   *   *

 

Speaking of disasters,

Department Of This Should Come As Little Surprise, But Still…

I’m shocked – shocked! – that anyone associated with the self-anointed Law and Order candidate would engage in such bald-face, bare-assed thievery.

Please tell me someone is planning to sue for plagiarism, after many journalists and bloggers pointed out that portions of Melania Trump’s convention speech contained “striking similarities” – i.e., word for word pilfering – of Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic convention.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Oh – cynical moiself. Who am I to judge? [7] It was difficult for Melania, growing up as a black woman in Chicago. Just ask her daughters, Sasha and Malia.

*   *   *

Department Of Yes It’s True I Live To Burst Your Bubble

In our over-stressed and under-thought society, we esteem the concept of taking time out from our busy lives to notice, admire and appreciate the simple pleasures in life. We even have an advisory adage for it:

Remember to stop and smell the roses.

I am someone who stops to smell the roses, whenever I’m out walking and come across a particularly alluring one. Thus, I feel entitled to add a cautionary addendum to that adage.

 

 

How quaint; she's going to bollix it up for us, isn't she?

How quaint; she’s going to bollix it up for the rest of us, isn’t she?

 

 

If we (claim to) appreciate taking the time to seek the beauty in the everyday world, I hope we also appreciate telling the truth about performing such acts. Because the thing about stopping to smell the roses is that if you do so you will, at times, feel sorely disappointed – even betrayed.

As MH can testify, many is the time I’ve paused on our walks or hikes to sniff a beautiful flower, only to indignantly exhale, What is this – they call this a rose!?

Not every rose smells like a rose, or like any blooming thing at all, for that matter.

Not every visually enticing flower has a fragrance worthy of its name. Some of the most visually stunning roses seem to have no scent at all, as if they’ve had their monoterpenes bred out of them. The beautiful grandiflora salmonie that caught your eye may not have a whiff of anything remotely floral  [8]  emanating from its delicate, salmon-colored petals.

 

 

 

Keep Calm and pretend you relish the aroma reminiscent of your grandmother's mothballed woolen stockings.

Keep Calm and pretend you relish the aroma of your grandmother’s mothballed woolen stockings.

 

 

*   *   *

May you, like Trump Missus #3 in a series,
have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and call bullshit (and plagiarism) when they hear it;
May you beware of trees producing rotten fruit;
May you take the risk and stop to sniff the blossoms anyway;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Be it men over women, true believers over infidels….

[2] I would like to find a shield that would let the innocent flora and fauna survive, but the people, I’m not so sure are worth preserving. Even the “victims” of such cultures go on to victimize others, as that is how they are raised.

[3] Ah, but if Trump were president, a rocket launcher in every garage!

[4] Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan.

[5] Or perhaps, realistically, those are also good days?

[6] And less psychologically disturbing.

[7] Oh, that’s right – I settled the judgy thing in the previous rant.

[8] Or remotely salmon…for which you may be grateful.

The Slough I’m Not Kayaking

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Department Of Not To Be Disrespectful Toward
Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform ®

… but every time I walk past The Tacoma Fallen Firefighters Memorial I imagine that the second guy in the sculpture – the one tapping the first guy (pointing the hose) on the shoulder, is calmly but insistently saying, “Dude, put down the hose – nothing’s on fire.”

 

 

tacomafirefighters

*   *   *

 

I had yet another opportunity to pass by the above pictured sculpture during MH’s and my last minute/last weekend trip to Tacoma. Because when your 20 year old daughter hints and hints and hints again that she’d like to see you, you drop everything and go.

In late August Belle will start her junior year at the University of Puget Sound. She’s staying in Tacoma for the summer, working fulltime as a Zoo Camp Counselor at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  We’ve enjoyed hearing her talk about the camps, and comparing them with her stories from last summer, when she was a camp counselor for the Oregon Zoo. [1]

When we drove up last Saturday, Belle said she wanted to show us around the zoo. We’ve been to the PDZ & A several times over the past few years when visiting our offspring.  [2]  This time we got a brief “backstage” tour, courtesy of Belle, which consisted of being able to step inside one staff-only area:  the marine wildlife food preparation facility, which included a huge, walk-in freezer filled floor-to-ceiling with cases of various fish and shellfish (read: more frozen herring [3] than you can shake a walrus’s tusk at).

As a five year Oregon Zoo volunteer, a biology major, and a volunteer docent at her school’s Natural History Museum, Belle has amassed a good deal of information about fauna and flora. Still, as our daughter led us from exhibit to exhibit, MH and I were impressed by how much she knew about the animals in every habitat . [4]  I guess that’s what happens when you’re leading two camps per day, five days a week – you have to know your stuff.

And then there are the moments you just have to strut your stuff, as when Belle eagerly donned my Convertible Survival Kit ®  [5] when MH and I took her for a spin around town.

 

 

sadieconvertible7-16tacoma

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Screw The Slough

Because his company is weird that way, MH had July 5 off as a vacation day.  [6]  What shall we do, he asked? I suggested we take our kayaks out for the first paddle of the season. I wanted to try out one of the entry points along the Columbia River Slough, and so, with our Paddler’s Access Guide in hand we loaded up the car, drove to what looked to be the optimum entry point…and then on to the next, and the next, and the next….

The first entry point was strewn with trash and had other signs of being used as a homeless camping/partying area. It was devoid of bipedal presence save for one Sketchy Looking Man ® sitting on a bench by the camp/party area. We parked our vehicle and walked down to the slough’s boat dock, SLM watching us every step of the way.

The slough was…well, we knew it was a slough, but it was really in full slough mode (low water depth and tepid-to-nonexistent flow). Probably good for winter and spring paddling, but already too late in the season, at this particular entry point (~ 17 miles upstream), for a decent paddle. That, plus the area’s vibe, which was if you-leave-your-car-you-will-return-to-find-it-broken-into, led us into checking out other slough access points downstream.

 

 

columbiaslough_general

 

By the time we’d reached access point four or five MH said, “I suppose we can look at this as a scouting excursion for future trips.” As time went on it became imperative, first for MH and then also moiself, for us to find something resembling a bathroom.  Ninety minutes after we’d arrived at the first access point and were still not in the water, I said “Screw the slough.” I knew there were pit stop facilities at Smith and Bybee Lakes Wetlands, so we ditched the last slough entry point [7] and headed there.

I’d been kayaking at Smith & Bybee several times, including once with MH. I’d give it a solid 3 on the 1 – 10 whoopee scale; I wanted to try somewhere new, but our plans hadn’t worked out and it was getting late, so what the heck. After The Pause That Refreshes © we checked out the canoe launch ramp.  Ay yi yi. I’d never seen the water level so low. How dare they call it Smith and Bybee Lakes?

 

 

yeahright

 

 

We hiked around the S & B Lake wetlands for an hour before returning to our car and heading off to find lunch. At least the birds seemed happy with the conditions in the boggy-wetlands-which-no-self-respecting-limnologist-would-call-a-lake – we saw an astounding number of Great Egrets wading about in the muck.

It turned out to be a good, low key day, capped off by a delightful evening at downtown Hillsboro’s Tuesday Marketplace. MH and I got dinner and a bottle of wine from the various food venders, found a spot on the courthouse lawn which was close enough to see the music stage but far enough away to be safe from the blaring amps and pissing pugs, [8] and staked our claim with folding chairs.

 

I really wish I could say I was joking about this.

I really wish I was joking about this.

 

 

It was a perfect evening for being outside – that temperature where you don’t know where your skin ends and the air begins. We enjoyed listening to the classic and original rock provided by Hippie Love Slave, a band that, besides having an awesome name, has a guitarist/singer whose vocal stylings reminded me of Grace Slick. I encountered said vocalist between sets, and shared my opinion with her. She took it as the compliment I intended, and then I complemented us both on being old and wise enough to understand.

 

 

 

 

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Be Happy To Explain It To You

In the wake/midst of the Thunderswampfuckton of Crap ® that our country is experiencing (and will, no doubt ,keep on slogging through), in particular the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge followed by the allegedly retaliatory shootings in Dallas, I’ve been hearing and reading about (what I take to be) a misunderstanding of the activist movement known as Black Lives Matter.

 

 

SOAPBOX

 

 

The very phrase or concept itself seems to be, IMHO, misconstrued. So, attention, critics – be you well-intended or closeted/overt racists – I’m about to clear it up for y’all.

It’s like this: You don’t walk into an Nike footwear store and criticize them for not carrying dress shoes.

But what about the Florsheims!

 

 

Wingtips Matter

Wingtips Matter

 

 

I’ll try again.

My city has a veterinary clinic named All About Cats . The clinic’s founding veterinarian had a multiple animal practice (dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds) for over two decades; now he has one specializing in felines. One of the reasons he got the idea of establishing a felines-only clinic was his observation, during his years of practice, that cats were more stressed in a vet clinic by the smell and presence of dogs than vice-versa.

When I first saw the clinic’s sign I did not feel obligated to point out to the clinic’s staff, “I appreciate your intentions, but, All About Cats – life is not all about cats!” But I do know someone who, when they were informed that there was a new veterinary clinic in town that sees only cats, had that kind of reaction:

Oh, yeah, well, what about dogs?
What about budgies, and hamsters – other pets need veterinary care, too!”

All About Cats does not equal And other animals don’t need/aren’t worthy of veterinary care. Establishing a feline-only clinic does not mean you dismiss or dislike other animals. It merely denotes a special area of concern or concentration, for which there is a reason.

Black Lives Matter is a special interest civil rights/activist group. It exists because…well, because there are, unfortunately, fucking good and sad/pathetic reasons for it to exist. Including the fact that when my son K told me, many months ago, about being pulled over by a cop because K’s car had a non-functioning tail light, I had the privilege to not think that K might have been in danger.

I’d had The Talk with both of my offspring about how to behave if, while driving, they were ever pulled over by a cop. Still, it never occurred to me to ask K if he’d been overly respectful to the police officer no matter how the officer had treated him; it did not occur to me to ask/remind K if he’d remembered to move very slowly, always keeping his hands in sight, when the officer asked him to product his license and registration….

 

 

 

privelegejpg

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the privilege of assuming your children will be safe;
May you be able to enjoy the moments that arise and screw the slough when called for;
May you stop and smell the roses (or the frozen herring – whatever is handy);
..and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What the stories have in common: she remains mystified by the immaturity and moodiness of the younger kids (in particular, five year old boys), who “…don’t listen to what you say and have a meltdown when they spill a cup of water.”

[2] K, Belle’s brother, also attended UPS.

[3] And herring doesn’t smell any better the colder it is.

[4] Including their names. I mean, two gorgeous tigers lying side by side (“The one on the right is Kirani and the other is her sister, Dari”), they looked identical, to me.

[5] Which I keep in our new car, for those top down moments. The kit consists of a choice of three Glamorous Sunglasses ® , a scarf, and a tube of bright red lipstick to complete the ensemble.

[6] Other holidays which most people get as vacation days, Like MLK day or Memorial Day, he won’t.

[7] Kelly Point Park, which might be a good entry point for future kayaking on the slough but which also had signs of sketchy-ickiness and people-camping-who-shouldn’t-be (including two recently burned-out cars –  as in completely torched, parked side by side, — in the parking lot. Yet another omen).

[8] Yo, dog owners: when you bring your dogs to the various Farmer’s Markets – and you seem to think there is a city ordinance which requires you to do so – please mind where they “go.”

The Girl Power Link I’m Not Sharing

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“So flattered and honoured that our crazy song
is being used so beautifully for such a great cause.”

(Melanie C.)

The “crazy song” former Spice Girl Melanie is referring to is the Spice Girls’ hit song Wannabe; the great cause is “Girl Power,” as per the link to The Global Goals ‪#‎WhatIReallyReallyWant video. The video has been getting a lot of sharing and positive comments among my FB friends, but I can’t bring myself to click on share.

The Global Goals is (or seems to be) an internet organization which wants us all to “Make the noise” about inequality and investing in education and other opportunities for girls and women worldwide. In their own words:

Girls and women are disproportionately affected by (challenges of global challenges of poverty, climate change and inequalities) and are key to building resilient communities to withstand them. That’s why we need to ensure World Leaders and the Secretary General of the United Nations listen to the voices of girls and women and put them first in policies and plans.
2016 is our chance to use our collective power and tell world leaders what we really really want for girls and women….

 Truly laudable goals…but [1]

The tune is as catchy as ever; still, I had to sigh the same sigh (as in, not this, again) when I saw the video.

 

 

reallywant

 

 

I wanted to love the video’s two brief scenes featuring girls in Arabic/Middle Eastern and African Muslim classrooms [2] with a sign Quality Education For All Girls on the rooms’ chalkboards.  Wanted to love, but couldn’t, because I paid attention to the video as a whole, and thought that, however sincere the sentiments behind those who produced it, the people who most need to be reached by the message or ideas the video wants to send are not likely to look at the video or appreciate the ideas/ideals expressed in it, due to the clothing and pelvic gyration-dancing of the other girls/women in the video. The video will likely be seen as just one more piece of Western propaganda.

You see what they mean by “Quality Education?!”
What they really want is for our females to be corrupted by infidel Western immorality….

Content warning: cranky feminist rant ahead.

So I’ll tell you want I want/what I really really want: I want messages of Girl Power to stop playing along with the commercialization and sexualization of girl bodies; I want third wave feminists and their (supposed) supporters [3] to stop illustrating the idea that “girl power,” and the related idea of loving/accepting/celebrating your body means donning tit/ass/ab revealing clothing and using provocative, sexualized gyrations and dance moves to “sell” the idea of equality.

Harumpf.

I think I need some celebration of boy power to change the mood:

 

 

 

*   *   *

The Book I’m Not Recommending

As in, not merely recommending; rather, urging you to read How Not To Die, by Michael Greger, M.D.

The author, Dr. Gregor, cheekily acknowledges his book’s intentionally provocative title – which really should be, How Not To Die Prematurely, he writes later on in the book. The book itself is provocative in that its message, that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat and can prevent and even reverse chronic disease, has been scientifically established yet is almost unknown among medical doctors, who receive little to no training in nutrition but plenty of indoctrination (and free samples and steak dinners and other perks and incentives) by pharmaceutical companies – companies which, of course, have a strong disincentive in having people choosing nutritional and lifestyle changes over popping pills.

But, don’t just take moiself‘s word for it. Here’s my favorite review of the book: [4]

Stop whatever you’re doing and buy this book. Not only does Dr. Michael Greger drop a metric f*ckton of evidence that a plant-based diet will save your damn life, he lays out the blueprint to make it happen. Dr. Greger shows us how regular folks can eat well and not get taken down by some totally preventable bullsh*t. Thug Kitchen”

HNTD was recommended by a friend.[5] I was skeptical at first, given the book’s similarity, title-wise, to another book I’d read several years ago: The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead. But the two books could hardly be more dissimilar.

A “litany of decay and decrepitude,” as one reviewer described it, TTALITODYBE takes a supposedly humorous and fact-filled examination of the medical and philosophical issues re aging and death…and it just got to be too much for me. Chapter after chapter delineating the cognitive and physiological indignities that await you, the majority of which you have little or no control over.  Even the ones that didn’t apply to me…it added up to an impacted bowel-ful of dismal TMI. Did I really need to know, for example, about the inevitability of scrotal sagging?  Although I must admit it is a lot of fun to type scrotal sagging.

 

 

Thanks, mister, but I've no interest in seeing if the carpet matches the drapes.

Thanks, mister, but I’ve no interest in seeing if the carpet matches the drapes.

 

*   *   *

The Cheese I’m Not Making

But I will be, soon. The following picture is of what will become a batch of rejuvelac, a non-alcoholic fermented liquid made from sprouted grains (quinoa, in this case), which I will use to (attempt to) make non-dairy cheese.  The good, the bad, and the ugly shall be reported herein. Eventually.

 

rejuvelac

*   *   *

Department of With Apologies to Nike, Just Do It

Feeling frisky recently, I wanted to go to a Dollar Tree store, fill a handcart with a miscellany of the store’s wares, get in line at the checkout counter and ask the clerk for a price check on every item.

Sometimes, I am amazed by my self-restraint.

 

 

Oh, thank you – because this job doesn't suck enough already.

Oh, thank you – because this job doesn’t suck enough already.

 

*   *   *

May you restrain yourself when necessary;
May you just do it when just doing it is called for;
May you appreciate the good, the bad, the ugly, and the cheesy;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You knew a but was coming, didn’t you?

[2] I assume Muslim, as the girls are clothed in identical school uniforms and all wear hijab or headscarves.

[3] Many if not most of whom, I’d wager, are first wave misogynists, clothing marketeers, or just plain lechers.

[4] And you know you gotta trust the opinion of someone who works in the Thug Kitchen.

[5] A friend who has made and maintained the changes recommended in the book for several years now, changes which caused me to literally gasp when I saw her, she looked so %$&* healthy and happy was back to her normal high school weight (and if that subjective evidence isn’t impressive – and BTW health, not weight loss, was her objective – her cholesterol, BP and other “disease indicator” numbers have significantly dropped).

The S*** I’m Not Fixing

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Department Of Now Who Can Argue With That?

 

 

 

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
(Jim, aka The Waco Kid, Blazing Saddles)

 

 

Happy (belated) birthday to Mel Brooks. He shares a birthday with my nephew, BPV, who turned 26 on Tuesday while Mel is…can it be…90?

In Mel’s honor, I had to watch a certain movie Tuesday evening. I have three of his films in my DVD collection; Blazing Saddles won out.

I am ever so fond of Brook’s boisterous Western spoof for many reasons, [1] including that it has come to remind me of my offspring.

 

 

explain

 

 

Gladly, Neil. The weeks preceding each of K’s and Belle’s births, I had an après-diner DVD (or video rental) film fest – two movies per night, screening my then-current or all-time favorite comedies. I was trying to laugh ’em out.

While watching Blazing, I wondered yet again: if the movie were made today, how likely is it that the film’s dialogue would include such copious usage of the N-word?  [2]

Brooks was an equal opportunity offender and master genre satirist. Blazing includes some of my favorite movie dialogue, including the authentic frontier gibberish speech opening this post. One line from the movie (can you guess which?) was nominated for the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Movie Quotes. [3]

 

 

And, of course, there is the scene which altered the art of the western cinematic genre. For decades after the release of Blazing Saddles, directors complained that they could no longer include any incident involving a campfire, due to Brooks’ lampooning of that iconic Western setting.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Is Going To Make For Interesting Dinner Table Conversation

It’s been a movie-watching week at dinner time. MH was late getting home on Monday, and I settled into one of our comfy chairs and put in a Netflix video: the documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.”  A few minutes past the title sequence MH returned home. He began watching the documentary, which included having to watch me squeal with delightful recognition as one of my college professors, journalist and historian Ruth Rosen, made an onscreen appearance.

MH asked me a few questions about the documentary’s subject matter – the resurgence of what historians call 2nd wave feminism (circa 1960-1972). This prompted me to ask him if he’d ever read The Feminine Mystique, or Sexual Politics, or The Feminist Papers, or….I gestured toward the shelf on our family room’s ceiling-to-floor bookcase where those books, and other seminal (so to speak) writings of the feminist movement may be found. Uh…no?

Alright then, what about Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice? Nope?  Okay, not even (I did not use those words) Black Like Me?

MH said something about one disadvantages of not going to a liberal arts college (he attended Caltech) was not having those books on his reading list.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

And I was flummoxed.

I sat there thinking…stuff I mostly didn’t say. Once again I indicated our bookshelf by the fireplace. I read those books, and not because I attended a “liberal arts college” where they were required reading. I attended UC Davis, a public research university with (at the time) a mostly science/agricultural bent and reputation. Some of those books I read were mentioned in a couple of the classes I took, in the classes’ supplemental/extra reading syllabi, but were not “required” reading. All of them (and many other titles) should, in my opinion, be required reading for every citizen, regardless of their academic interests. Because of THE PROFOUND SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND ECONOMIC CHANGES both documented and/or foreshadowed in them; because….  Oy vey.

 

Consider yourself warned.

Consider yourself warned.

 

 

Equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of any ism, is something MH and so many Good Men ® like him espouse and practice…and also, in some ways, IMHO, take for granted, often times because of how they were raised. But MH is no historical ignoramus; thus, I sat…and wondered. I wondered why so many men of his age, class and ethnicity who are (considered to be) well-educated, seemingly display little curiosity about why those books were written and the historical context in which such manuscripts and manifestos could be – had to be – produced?

People who have a science- or evidence- or reality-based view of the world (I consider both MH and I to be in that category) want to know how the world works. That is one of the strongest incentives MH and I had for eschewing the religious indoctrination of our respective childhoods and families: “It” (religion) is not a rational explanation for How Things Work. ® .

I am puzzled by people who hold a reality-based worldview and yet seem to lack the curiosity to understand the many other ways in which the world “works.” Perhaps it’s simply because those other ways are just too damn complicated. Even as complex as understanding the biology, chemistry and physics of life is trying to understand and dissect the pesky, messy, human political and cultural processes…including how a person may be an unwitting beneficiary of systems he did not design but by which he profits and therefore has no vested interest in dismantling…or even fully recognizing.

 

 

yeahright

 

 

Our brief exchange on the matter made me think of a term which makes many people defensively (unfortunately) cringe. It’s in the category of those terms which can be seen as cultural yellow alerts – ala “microagressions” or  “heteronormative” –  terms which cause a certain number of people to close their ears, minds and hearts the moment you use them.

I intuitively understood “privilege,” the first time I heard the word used to frame matters of social inequalty, [4]  because it was a concept I’d previously defined to myself as “luxury.”

Many men – including MH and our son, K – are decent folk who would never (consciously) think of oppressing, limiting or defining someone because of race or gender or sexual orientation or economic or social class.  Nonetheless, MH and K and manparts-people like them, as people born into this country’s dominant/normative gender/race/class, have the luxury of not having to think about their dominant or privileged status, simply because it isn’t part of their daily experience (unless it is “required reading” in some academic or theoretical setting).

The thing about privilege is that it’s invisible to we who have it. The ultimate privilege is the fact of not having to think about privilege, or to even notice that it exists.

Oh, and this privilege, luxury, or whatever you want to call it – it’s not inherently a bad thing. As scientist and atheist/feminist writer and activist Jen McCreight has pointed out, we all have some kind of privilege over somebody. What matters is whether we’re aware of it, how we use it, and that we not dismiss the concerns of the people who don’t share our particular form of it.

 

Young man, if you honestly think this country doesn’t care about religion or race, then you are privileged. You have grown up in an America that has enabled you to not know otherwise.
And I don’t need to you to be sorry about it, because you didn’t create that. I’d just love for you to someday understand it.

(Mary Elizabeth Williams, We Don’t Need Your Apology, Princeton Kid written in response to an essay published by a Princeton student who claimed he’d “checked his privilege” and decided he need “apologize for nothing.”)

 

Okay; deep, cleansing breath. Writing this makes me feel…old. Like I’ve failed my kids. Wasn’t my generation supposed to fix this shit?

 

 

Yep – totally your job!

Yep – totally your job!

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of generational shit:

Department Of Saving Time And Heartache And Maybe An STD Or Three

“Booze gave me permission to do and be whatever I wanted.”
(Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget,  by Sarah Hepola)

 

I wish I could get all teens through twenty-somethings to listen to author Sarah Hepola‘s interview on the June 21st  edition of Fresh Air, in which she discusses her participation in the “hook up” culture of college and the reality of sex without the “liquid courage” of alcohol. It would be wonderful if young men and women could have the insights at age 19 that Hepola didn’t recognize until age 35.

 

*   *   *

May you feel responsible for fixing a modicum of shit attributable to any generation;
May you appreciate the well-written campfire scene;
May you remember the insights at age 35 when you’re way older than that;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Not the least of which is singing along to the marvelous title song. I still can’t believe Brooks got the singer of so many iconic Westerns, Frankie Laine, to do it with a straight face…or straight vocal cords.

[2] According to an interview with Brooks I read many years ago, co-screenwriter Richard Pryor is to thank for that.

[3] Yes, it’s now official – there is a list of Best 100… for everything.

[4] E.g., white privilege or male privilege.