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The Historical Document I’m Not Appreciating

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Department Of Pipe Dreams

I had hoped – naively, as it turns out – that after my mother’s death and other losses, I would be able to bear paying attention to politics for more than two minutes…by the end of March. Yeah, that’s an attainable goal.

 

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

I actually thought it would be a welcome distraction.

 

 

 

obamalaugh

 

 

 

 

Yeah; rub it in.

Okay; I was more than wrong.

Still, I do try to distract myself, sometimes in ways that relate to politics. For example, I’ll imagine hopping into my time travel portal,  [1] zipping back a quarter of a millennium and trying to explain to those authors of the U.S. Constitution – those (alleged) founders of this country – something we take for granted, such as the wide variety of entertainment options we have in (what is to them) the future.  Would I be able to summon the right terminology to enable those old white bewigged dudes to picture a service like Netflix, or even a device like a DVD?

Our so-called “Founding Fathers” were intelligent, educated, and in many cases forward-thinking people. That said, there are just some things even an inventive mind like Ben Franklin’s could neither anticipate nor imagine. Including, I would argue, the fact that our country has become simply too big for the form of government they crafted over two centuries ago.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that the mind-fuck of an anachronism/poop stain upon the pants of democracy that is the Electoral College hasn’t been deep-sixed yet. I’m talking about another fact: there are 326 million people in this country, and the majority of them are getting electorally screwed by virtue of a old document written when the total population of the country one hundred and thirty times smaller than it is today.  [2]

Here’s a comparison: Wyoming and California.  I have traveled around this country a bit – a lot, in the Western states. I love Wyoming’s spectacular natural wonders (although California has that too, and more, in spades). I also love Wyoming’s state motto – “Equal Rights” – but, holy fucking inequality, Superhero Formerly Known as Batman, let’s take a look at some numbers.

* Wyoming is the least populous state.

* California is the most populous state.

* Wyoming’s economy: the state’s GSP (Gross State Product) hovers around $38.4 billion.

* California’s economy is the largest in the USA, rivaling that of the largest countries in the world, with a GSP of approximately $2.514 trillion.

It would seem “fair” that Californians would be the big puppies in any kind of federal governmental equation. They are, when it comes to the lower house of Congress. Yet when it comes to senatorial representation, 587 thousand Wyomingians have a greater percentage of representation in the most powerful chamber of Congress than do 40 million Californians.

 

 

thatswrong

 

 

I realize the historical reasons for the way congressional representation was divvied out; I know that the ultimate concern of unity and stability of individual states within a nation won out over any concepts of “fairness.” The compromise plan was/is that the more numerous and shorter term (and thereby less powerful) representatives are allotted per each state’s population, while exactly two senators are allotted for each state, regardless of population (a smaller number of senators serving larger terms = more power).  But that was then (1787, to be exact) and this is now, two hundred and thirty years later, when our form of representative government is, IMHO, devolving an Orwellian system wherein all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Of course, there are too many vested interests in the current system for me to imagine that there will be anything resembling reform or reorganization in the next few decades years. But if I could trade my time travel portal for a Reality Wand ® (patent pending), I’d wave it and get folks to consider something like this: Cascadia.

 

 

LargerCascMap_4-14

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Non Sequitur Breaks

It is unlike moiself, writing in this venue (that would be, my blog), to post a focused rant thoughtful ruminations centering on one issue, which is what I appear to be doing.  Although it could be argued that, by stepping aside and observing/commenting upon this singular focus, I am writing about at least two issues: my one issue focus, and my contemplation of the rarity of my focusing upon one issue…which kinda negates the former.

I’m confused.

That’s more like it.

We now return you to our regular programming.

 

facepalm

*   *   *

 

The concepts of nations and national boundaries were formed in primitive times with respect to what we now know about science – specifically and significantly in this case, ecology and geography. It terms of choosing sides or determining who belongs with whom, Bioregionalism –  the concept of organizing populations outside of or beyond political boundaries to form provinces or governing systems based on bioregions –  [3] makes far more “organizational” sense to me, as well as to the growing number of supporters of the movement.

The geographically distinct habitats, distributional patterns of flora and fauna, plate tectonics and topographic features of ecozones do not stop at the line drawn where 17th century politicians and surveyors decided that Minnesota ends here and Manitoba begins there.

I am an Oregonian. I reside in a state which was long ago defined by the (mostly artificial) boundaries of what was decided would be Oregon. Florida is also a state; but being a USA state is where  [4]  the common interests begin, and mostly end, between the two regional entities. Geographically, us Oregonians aint’ got much of a connection with Florida.

Oregon’s regional economic, climatologic and ecologic realities and interests are more closely aligned to the region known as the Pacific Northwest, including Washington State, parts of Northern California, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Enter, Cascadia. The Cascadian independence movement is a growing social and cultural – and ideally/ultimately political –  fantasy movement which seeks, in the words of the folks at Cascadia Now, to recognize and establish a bioregion…

…that defines the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, incorporating British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, parts of Idaho, southern Alaska and northern California, and in many ways is geographically, culturally, economically and environmentally distinct from surrounding regions. It is a place in the world with unique flora and fauna, topography, geology and is comprised of a interconnected ecosystems and watersheds….

A much more common definition of Cascadia instead seeks simply to help further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, as well as push or environmental and economic responsibility, and increased dynamic, transparent and open governance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you to contemplate “The Doug,”  [5] the proposed flag of the bioregion, Cascadia.

 

 

 

 

 

dougflag

*   *   *

 

 

 

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too….

(John Lennon, “Imagine“)

*   *   *

May you recognize when some animals are becoming more equal than others;
May your imagination work for the good of all animals;
May we all live to see the invention of The Reality Wand;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Does your imagination have a time travel portal? It really should.

[2] The US population around the time of the Declaration of Independence was 2.5 million.

[3] Bioregions are naturally distinct areas, defined via sharing common or overlapping physical and environmental features, such as watershed boundaries, soil and terrain characteristics, latitude and climate.

[4] And this is where there should be another footnote. But, there isn’t.

[5] As in the Douglas Fir tree, which adorns the unofficial but proposed flag for the Cascadia bioregion.

The Plot I’m Not Developing

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Happy (belated) Vernal Equinox!

This particular astronomical phenomena – one of two moments each year when our sun is exactly above the equator [1] and which, in March, heralds the arrival of the season we call Spring – is deserving of a more sophisticated name, IMHO. The way my mind works, when I hear the words Vernal Equinox I think of a hillbilly mother hollering off the front porch for her miscreant son to come home for dinner:

“VERRRRRRNAAAAAAL!
Vernal Equinox, you git yer sorry butt home right now ‘fore I throw yer supper to the hound dawgs!”

 

 

 

 

axialtilt

Axial tilt is the reason for the season (any season).

*   *   *

Department Of No, In Fact, They Are Not

We recently lost one of our cherished pets, our oldest cat, Mandy.
We never had children, so our pets ARE our children.

This was opening line in a letter to Dear Abby, 3/23/17. The writer goes on to express her disappointment that not all of her friends have expressed condolences for her loss, as they would for the loss of a child.

Her loss is genuine and heartfelt – I get that, and have been there. But it doesn’t matter how enthusiastically you all-caps your sentiment, your pets ARE NOT your children. The fact that you never had children does not turn your animal companions into de facto children. By definition. Offspring of dogs = puppies; offspring of cats = kittens; offspring of humans = children.

“My puppies are my babies.”

“Our cats are our children.”

We’ve all heard some variation of this sentiment. Perhaps some of us have even uttered it. And I “get it,” when it is used to describe and/or elevate the importance of our bond with our pets. It can also be used, IMHO and observation, as a self-protective response from people who have pets but no children and think they need to defend their child-free status when asked by us breeders (many of whom can be quite smug and overbearing about the matter) about their children:

We don’t have children; we have two   ____ ( dogs; cats; African grey parrots ).               

However, in some cases I’ve gotten the impression that the utterers, particularly those who’ are child-free by choice, [2] are serious. That is, they actually equate the two.

My ____( dogs; cats; African grey parrots) are my children.

That statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is also, I think, insulting to the creatures on both sides of the equation.

Here’s something I’ve long wondered about:  why don’t we hear that sentiment going the other way?

To wit: I’m one of those Animal Lovers ® people, and if I’m out for a walk, or at a park and I encounter dog owners and their puppies (and I refer to all dogs as puppies), I admire the canines and say something complimentary to their owners. This typically evokes my fellow bipeds to inquire after my pet status. When asked if I have any dogs my answer is, merely and truthfully, “No, not currently.” I’ve never – not once – been tempted to respond, “No, but I have two children. My children are my puppies.”

 

 

 

puppypj

Alert the ASPCA – this is animal abuse.

*   *   *

Department Of Inter Species Maladies
Aka Someone (Or Some Thing) Needs To Strengthen Their Abs

 

Our garbage can has a hernia.

 

 

 

 

 

garbagecanhernia

*   *   *

Department Of Friends With Benefits

By that of course I refer to my Swenadian  [3] friend, currently living abroad while her husband has a temporary university teaching gig, who brightened my Monday morning with an email filled with jokes involving Swedish-English linguistic misunderstandings.  [4]  Such as….

*  The HR division of a British parent company sent out a mail to their daughter companies worldwide. It asked simply: ‘Please report the number of employees broken down by age and sex.’ From the Swedish office came the reply: “The number is zero. If our staff are broken down it is because of stress and alcohol, not age and sex.”

and my personal fave:

*  Lars and Ronny were dining at a restaurant in London. The waiter came to take their order. “I’ll have a bloody steak,” said Ronny. “And how would you like your fucking potatoes?” asked the waiter.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Is Why You Should Talk To Strangers

 

Wednesday 3/22/17: Dear Diary, I made a new friend today! [5]

I’m out running errands, ’tis lunch time, a bit earlier than I usually eat but my stomach is reminding me of my lighter-than-usual breakfast and there is Sushi Town and tummy says you can go there and get something healthy RIGHT NOW….

I’m so glad I did.

Two minutes after I was seated at the sushi bar a woman was seated next to me. She ordered hot tea and water to drink, as had I, and when she asked for a bowl of miso soup I realized I had forgotten to do so and signaled the server. The Woman Who Did Not Forget To Order Miso Soup and I struck up a conversation about – wait for it – miso soup. As in, which sushi restaurant has the best? One thing led to another, and TWWDNFTOMS and were still chatting, almost two hours later. We exchanged contact information and I learned that TWWDNFTOMS is actually the lovely and talented KS.  [6]

We had many things in common, including

*recent (moiself) and ongoing (KS) major life issues involving caring for frail, elderly mothers with dementia;

* having lived in/currently living in a certain Hillsboro neighborhood;

* other common interests from the sublime to the silly, including science and nutrition and current events and love of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie. [7]

 

 

 

miso

The soup that launched a thousand conversations.

 

 

 

 

When I tested the waters by referring to Current Occupant #45 as the person whose name is not allowed to be mentioned in my house I discovered that KS is not only an intelligent, delightful, perspicacious person and well-read person with a ready smile and a quick wit, she is also one of those people whose moral compass and IQ exceeds that of her shoe size – read: she is fighting the good fight, and actively working to save her country from its electoral folly.

KS currently has a stronger stomach for political involvement than I do, and joked that I might not want to friend her on FB because so many of her posts and links would be the ones I confessed to skipping over recently because I just can’t stomach the stress of the political mess. She and her husband are involved with Indivisible, a grass roots kind of organization which triggered a this-is-familiar feeling for me, even as I told her I wasn’t sure I’d hear of it…until I returned home and did a search about the grass roots organization. Indivisible is composed of citizens who, in the organization’s own words, are

…working to inspire a cultural shift in how Americans think about the role of government in America by training the next generation of civic-minded leaders, disrupting and reframing negative media discourse about government, and creating a network of champions to change the conversation about government in their communities.

The organization advocates for local civic education and involvement. Your Congressional Representative weasels out of a Town Hall meeting – hold your own, anyway, and here’s how to do it, effectively and positively.

Check it out, moiself recommends. And take a chance on sharing a bon mot or two with that stranger at the sushi bar, or in line at the Post Office. You never know what may come of it. They’re your species, after all.

*   *   *

Department Of For Some Reason This Was On My Mind

 

A Cinematic Blast From The Past:

Remarks from an email exchange with my friend and fellow movie lover CC, re why we both loved the film Winter’s Bone – a movie we saw separately and both admired, making us Jennifer Lawrence fans years before she hit the big time with The Hunger Games trilogy launched. What both surprises and saddens me is my use of the verb allow…because that’s what it feels like, sometimes, when it comes to movie roles for women.

A female protagonist, who is allowed to be just that – the protagonist, herself.  She does the right thing; she is allowed to be resourceful and discerning; she is emotionally and physically strong, but not cartoonishly so.  She is the main character, without a man to lead/guide/rescue her; without her character being an appendage to a man and/or his love interest.  She is allowed to be and do all of this and be female without her sexuality

(a) being in any way part of the plot, or

(b)being threatened by others, or

(c) being threatening to others.

The desperation of the character’s circumstances was more than adequately portrayed by the actor without having her bare breasts used to illustrate her vulnerability (see directors’and/or actors stock excuse: “The nudity was necessary to the plot/character development…”)

 

 

 

 

Winters-Bone

Whaddya waiting for – stream/rent this movie if you haven’t already seen it.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Don’t Know You Need Until You See Them

To wit, an orange colander.  Along with the obvious, straining–liquid functionality, this handy device may also be used to protect against the kind of alien radio wave transmissions that apparently beset the Current Occupant, aka SCROTUS,  [8] aka #45, aka….

 

 

 

colander

*   *   *

May you be surprised by those things you didn’t know you needed;
May you appreciate puppies and kitties and babies for what they are;
May your nudity always be necessary to plot/character development;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And which in March is when the northern hemisphere tilts toward the sun, giving us “longer” – sunnier days. The other equinox occurs in September, the Autumnal equinox, marking the arrival of Autumn.

[2] In contrast to those who would have liked to have had children but could not, due to infertility and/or other life circumstances.

[3] A married couple, the husband Swedish and the wife Canadian.

[4] Shame on those of y’all who thought for even a moment what the other the “benefits” might entail.

[5] My diary entry for the day, if I kept a diary, which I haven’t since, like, age eight, a venture which lasted for all of  two days….

[6] As in my custom in this blog, she and all other civilian will be referred to be initials or a nom de blog, unless or until she requests otherwise or runs for public office, or has a tawdry affair with Ryan Reynolds.

[7] Season 3 is available tonight!

[8] So Called Ruler of the United States.

The Toilet Seats I’m Not Believing

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‘Tis The Season

MH and I are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tonight. I was going to use a certain Adult Beverage ®  as part of the glaze for the salmon I’ll be roasting; however, one of our guests has celiac disease and I wanted to make sure that by doing so I wouldn’t be poisoning him. I started to Google “can celiacs have…” and before I typed the e in have, the third choice that came up was my question:  can celiacs have whiskey. [1]

 

 

 

whiskey

*   *   *

About those snakes….

The first time I encountered the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland legend was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: the Santa Ana neighborhood of my grade school years). One Sunday afternoon in mid-March, a neighbor boy showed me the Sunday School pamphlet he’d brought home from his Catholic church. When I laughed derisively and pooh-poohed the pamphlet – which presented the legend as fact – my friend retorted with the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland, and there are snakes in every other country on earth…So how did that happen, Miss Non-Catholic smartypants? How did that happen – prove it, huh? Huh? Huh?

My neighbor/friend looked for any opportunity to witness his family’s “one true faith” (Catholicism) to the ultimately doomed moiself, whose family attended a Lutheran church. He was an otherwise very nice boy (his proselytizing phase lasted only a few months in grade school), with whom I enjoyed playing games of cards and tag and turning our bicycles upside down and pretending their wheels were steamboat paddle-wheels. Also, we enjoyed having spirited discussion of adult issues, like politics (hey, it was the 60s) and religion.

When it came to the “miracles” of that carpetbagging harasser of pagans and druids St. P, I immediately and instinctively understood that my friend had his head up his ass [2] – I mean of course, I knew that my friend was mistaken in claiming that I was the one who had to prove that St. Patrick had not done something – the burden of proof weighs upon the person making an assertion. But I was all of seven or eight; concepts like epistemological fallacy did not just roll off my tongue…whereas concepts like stupid dumb-ass were familiar and handy, and I probably applied one or two of them to my friend and/or his argument.

Wearer of Big Girl Pants® that I now am, I know that there are no snakes presently living in Ireland because, herpetologists and their pets aside, there have never been any snakes living in Ireland. Because: Science. As in latitude, and weather.

 

snakesplane

This M*****f****** snake thinks this plane is headed for Ireland!

 

 

 

There is no evidence of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. Snakes couldn’t get to the island nation because the climate wasn’t (and isn’t) favorable for them to migrate and then thrive there.  [3]

Faith and begorrah, but England ’tis an island, and it has snakes! Yes, but only three species, and snakes only slithered over to England in relatively recent geologic time – about 6,500 years ago.

As we all remember from 2nd  grade science class (or Sesame Street), over time, all plants and animals will migrate through and/or colonize suitable habitats. Cold-blooded reptiles need heat from their environment to survive, and The Ice Age made the European islands incompatible with  reptile migration until ~ 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating. The glacial retreat gradually exposed a land bridge between Europe and the island of Britain, and also between the isles of Britain and Ireland. Melting glaciers inundated Ireland’s land bridge ~ 8,500 years ago, but the land bridge between Europe and Britain’s persisted another 2,000 years after that. Thus; Europe’s intrepid snakes had more time to heed the reptile version of Westward, ho!

“Other reptiles didn’t make it either, except for one: the common or viviparous lizard. Ireland’s only native reptile, the species must have arrived within the last 10,000 years. [4]   So unless St. Patrick couldn’t tell a snake from a lizard, where does the legend come from?
Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in Judeo-Christian beliefs—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.
The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick’s dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence.”

(“Snakeless in Ireland: Blame Ice Age, Not St. Patrick,” National Geographic News)

St. P) snakes

 

 

 

“Over the centuries a number of legends have grown about St. Patrick, e.g., he drove the snakes from Ireland and used a three-leaf clover to teach about the Holy Trinity. These popular legends have endeared the saintly man to the Irish. The monks who wrote such dramatized stories about St. Patrick “were guided by their knowledge of what popular taste demanded.”
(“Knowing St. Patrick,” Our Sunday Visitor, A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper)

Although there were never any snakes for St. Patrick to “drive out” of Ireland, the dominant church and religious authorities never had a problem crediting a man they would go on to canonize as St. Patrick with a “miracle” that never occurred.

Good thing stuff like that never happens today!

 

 

creationism

*   *   *

Department Of More Petty Things About Moiself

 

I curse at ants  [5] before I crush them with my bare fingers.

 

 

ants

Oh yeah? That murdering bitch should hear what we say about her in our last gasps….

*   *   *

Department Of The Simple Pleasures Of Spring

My family lived in Southern California during my childhood, and one of our favorite camping destinations was the relatively nearby [6] Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At a very young age I came to have an appreciation for the desert other school kids found difficult to fathom (“What’s the big deal? It’s hot,  it’s a desert –  there’s nothing there!”). Those lucky friends who were invited along on those camping trips became converts to desert appreciation, if not upon arrival then soon thereafter, usually during one of our hikes to the Palm Canyon.

My favorite time of the year to go to the desert was during spring break, which usually coincided with the brief but spectacular desert wildflower bloom. This year, I almost thought about flying down spur-of-the-moment, but even if I did so I probably wouldn’t be able to get near the place: wildflower and desert lovers and sightseers have descended en masse to witness a “super bloom” – Anza-Borrego’s most spectacular in over 20 years.

A super bloom is a user-friendly term to describe what is, essentially, a wildflower KA-BOOM. (I’m sure there is some official botanical term to describe the phenomenon).

Southern California deserts, after experiencing one of the worst droughts in the area’s history, are experiencing the wildflower show due to a variety of reasons, including the due to recent heavy and steady rains. Anza-Borrego, an area which usually gets only 5 inches of precipitation per year, has had  7 inches of rain in the past 8 months.

As ephemeral as a seemingly rational policy statement from a #45  [7]  cabinet member, the super blooms will likely last no more than a week.  Enjoy it while/if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Lady Or The Tiger Or
The Door To Yet Yet Another Bullshit Misogynist Fairytale

A book of fables containing The Lady Or The Tiger was presented to me by my 4th grade teacher, as a reward for finishing first in a reading contest. [8]  TLOTT was the only story I remembered from the book. I thought the story was of ancient origin, and that thought was reinforced when I encountered TLOTT again, in a 5th or 6th grade English class. The story was so…primitive…it had to have come from The Ancients. Only later did I find out it was a (relatively) contemporary short story, published in 1882.

In case you’re not familiar with the plot, it involves a nasty king, his daughter (the princess), and her suitor. A lower-class (i.e. non-royal) subject falls in love with the king’s daughter and attempts to court her. The king is offended by this, and sentences the man to a devious punishment: he will be taken to an arena where he will be forced to choose between two doors behind one door is a beautiful lady; behind the other, a hungry tiger. If the man chooses the door with a lady behind it, he will have to marry her, and if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will be mauled to death.

The princess schemes within the court to find out which door has the lady behind it. She doesn’t want her suitor to have to marry someone else, but she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. At the auspicious moment, she signals him to choose a door….but the story ends as the man opens the door, and readers are left to ponder what choice she led him to make.

TLOTT was presented the ultimate allegory of a tough decision, but my grade school click! radar (aka the feminist eureka moment) came to the fore.  Excuse me, but “The ultimate allegory of a difficult decision?” You people (read: adults, teachers) gotta be joking. To even make the argument that there could be another choice, other than let him choose the other woman and live…

 

 

 

WTF

 

 

 

I didn’t think in WTF speak back then. Nevertheless, I argued strenuously that there should be no suspense as to what happened – she loved him! She directed him toward the lady, not the tiger.  He would live…the real suspense would be how the princess and her suitor could find another way to be together, away from her asshole father.

My various teachers pointed out what they said were the flaws in my argument, with what was, at the time, totally acceptable, totally sexist, “reasoning.” Looking back, their analysis was astonishing for its matter-of-fact assumptions of female pettiness: a woman’s sole or ultimate motivation must be love and security; women are jealous of other women; she’d rather see him dead than with another woman – who by definition must be her rival, because women can’t be friends with other women; if-I-can’t-have-him-nobody-else-can ….

TLOTT, besides being a shitty story, sparked one of the first of what would be an ongoing line of feminist inquiries and realizations: This is how the world is supposed to view women?  This is what women are supposed to think about themselves?

*   *   *

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Department Of But Why Wouldn’t I Believe Them – Do They Have A Reputation For Telling Lies and/or Spreading Misinformation? 
(And If So, Why Aren’t They working For The Current Occupant Of The White House?)

Subject line in an email caught in my spam filter:

You won’t believe these three toilet seats.

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you believe the toilet seats that must be believed;
May you never be too young or too old to call out fairy-tale horseshit;
May the luck of the Irish be better for you than it has been for the Irish;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

[1] According to the NIH’s Celiac Awareness Campaign, the answer is yes, for whiskey or any distilled beverage, even those derived from wheat, as the distillation process removes the gluten proteins.

[2] I wonder if he saw any snakes there?

[3] Other islands that don’t have (native, non-introduced by human) snakes include New Zealand, Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.

[4] Nigel Monaghan,  keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

[5] Ants that get inside the house. Free range ants, I have no problem with ’em.

[6] From our home in Santa Ana it was a 2 ½ hour drive – which for Southern Californians, is just around the block.

[7] Aka The Cheetos Hitler. I try not to say his name in my house, unless quoting someone with a stronger stomach.

[8] Looking back, I hate to think that I was given that story to read as a reward of any kind.

The History I’m Not Reading

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Content warning: Yes, content follows. Y’all been warned.

Plus (or bonus, depending on your POV), juvenile fart reference.

 

*   *   *

Department Of First Things First

Happy (almost) Birthday to the Queen of Hats!  [1]   This chapeau is for you.

 

 

 

hat

*   *   *

 

“For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.”  [2]

MH and I are traveling ’round Ireland in the late spring.

 

 

happy sheep dance

 

 

Thank you! We’re excited, too.

I try to read up on the history of places I’m going to visit, and also sample the destination’s contemporary art (in the form of fiction and films). As per the former endeavor, I am currently and once again reminded of why I loathe reading history: because war and religion, two of the most despicable human enterprises, IMHO, almost always figure so prominently. And in Irish history, the combination of the two is a feckin’ load of ballsch to curl your clackers.  [3]

I cannot recall the source of the nailed-it! quote I ran across, several years ago (I believe it was from an Irish novelist, not a historian), which went something along the lines of this:  Ireland’s cultural and political woes can be attributed to the fact that the Irish are “a twice colonized people – first by the Catholics and then by the British.”

There are many ways to interpret history, and two “sides” I keep encountering, each which urges the reader to keep in mind either (1) “History is written by the winners,” or (2) “History is written by the literate, whether or not they were the ultimate winners.”

 

 

spockskeptic

And your point would be?

 

 

 

Whatever. In either case, and especially with regards to reading Irish and European history, it’s the nomenclature, for lack of a better term, that gets to me. Consider the many, many, many – and did I mention a whole lotta? – pages devoted to the various invasions of “The barbarians.” Some of these pages are contained in a book I recently finished, the presumptuously titled, How The Irish Saved Civilization. HTISC, by it’s very title, presents a (dubious, in some critics’ eyes) supposition as fact. The book essentially argues for the elevation of the importance of the Irish Catholic clergy in preserving Western culture after the collapse of the Roman Empire, when western Europe was “…being overrun by barbarians” (aka the Huns, and the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes).

So. We have the entrenched residents, whose beliefs and actions I would not hesitate to call barbaric, whose priests waged wars and inquisitions to subjugate, torture and kill “heretics” (defined however they chose, from those who simply disagreed with official policy, to philosophers, Jews, “Witches,” Protestant reformers, and other fellow Catholics, the various factions who slaughtered each other over nuances in theology)…  But it’s these guys coming over the hill, they are the barbarians, because….uh…because they are illiterate and thus can’t cite their magic holy books to justify their atrocities.

Pot, meet kettle.

 

 

 

potkettle

 

 

 

My impression and subsequent summation of centuries of Irish history, after reading 600+ pages (and more to come!) in various books, is almost Tweetable  [4] in its brevity:

The ____ (civil articles; treaty; king; bishop) promised religious toleration; the _______ (king; landlord; bishop) saw no advantage in a peace now that victory was secure; the Gaelic infantry was slaughtered.

Lather; rinse; repeat.

 

 

 

irishproverb

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s This

Slogging through the pages of history, I am occasionally rewarded with a gem hidden in the festering bog. Such as this sentence, from a passage about kinship ties between Gael lords and the Catholic clergy:

“One sixteenth-century bishop of Clogher was eulogized on his death as ‘a very gem of purity and a turtle dove of chastity,’ this despite his leaving behind at least fifteen children.”
(Ireland: Land, People, History, by Richard Killeen)

 

 

 

turtledove

Not tonight, dear, I’m the turtle dove of chastity.

*   *   *

To those dear readers who enjoy such things, pretend there is a clever and apropos segue right here, perhaps one related to the Irish history of being both immigrants and emigrants. For the rest of y’all:

 

Department Of For Your Consideration

The answer to xenophobia cannot be xenophilia.
( James Traub, The Hard Truth About Refugees )

Apparently I’m not the only one who cringes with you-are-so-naive discomfort when I hear Ill-Informed But Well-Meaning People ®  spout the trés liberal, All refugees are innocent victims and we should welcome everyone! stance.

International affairs journalist James Traub, in his recent New York Times op-ed piece (cited above), offers up a smorgasbord for thought on the issue. He uses the Swedish idiom asikstkorridor (“opinion corridor” – i.e., things considered taboo not only to say, but to think) as a metaphor to reflect upon his visit to Sweden during the refugee crisis in 2015. His observations that  “…refugees from conservative Muslim countries, especially poorly educated young men, may not integrate into Swedish society as well as, say, relatively secular and prosperous Iranians or Bosnians,” and “polls find that Muslim immigrants are vastly more conservative than native Europeans on matters of sex, family and the role of religion in public life” are outside the liberal asikstkorridor.

Traub asserts that the truth about refugees and assimilation is complicated. As for the 2015 wave of largely Middle Eastern refugees to Sweden and other northern European countries, the jury is out as per how well refugees from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria will integrate. How much will they – will they at all – accept and support the extremely secular, extremely progressive cultures of their respective asylum countries?

He argues that liberals’ knee-jerk claims that all immigration has positive effects and that refugees will fit easily into European society are as unsupported as Trump’s knee-jerk claims that refugees are terrorists. Furthermore, the naive embrace of the premise that “…vast numbers of new people on our doorstep is an unmixed blessing, and that those who believe otherwise are Neanderthals” is the perfect door-opener for xenophobes who can point out facts that indicate otherwise. Thus, anti-immigrant/right-wing politicians can “parade their prejudice as truth-telling courage,” which helps spur the rise of leaders like the USA’s Trump, Geert Wilders (aka “the trump of the Netherlands”), and the French National Front president Marine Le Pen.

 

 

 

Swedish-Democrats

Ya, we’re all one big happy family.

*   *   *

Any cretins out there who are still opposed to women in combat,  [5] please listen to this Fresh Air interview with helicopter pilot Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart medals, and author of the new memoir, Shoot Like a Girl. An (edited) excerpt:

Terry Gross (Fresh Air interviewer): What are the arguments that have been used against you and other women being in combat?

Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar: “…They range from concerns that are very legitimate to concerns that are absolutely ridiculous. I think that the number one thing is…whether or not women are physically strong enough to be in combat…. First of all, we’ve already disproven that that’s an issue because there are women serving successfully in combat.
…yes, you have to be strong…but it’s not always the person who has the most brute strength wins. It’s…who is the best with their weapons, who is the best tactical thinker, who’s the best team player, who is the best leader, those types of things – who holds their composure when the bullets fly, because I’ve seen 200-pound men curl up in the fetal position and call for their moms…

I’ve seen firsthand that the warrior spirit is not directly proportional to how many pull-ups you can do. So the physical standards question is important, but the way that you answer that is…you keep the standards very high and you maintain one standard. There shouldn’t be two standards for women and men. There should be a standard for this job, for – to do this job, you should have to do these things. And those requirements should be job specific and not arbitrarily high in order to specifically keep women out.

 

 

 

siryessir

“Sir yes Sir that sexism makes your ass look big Sir.”

*   *   *

Department Of Sorry But That’s The Way My Mind Works

I am ¾ of the way through an eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. The program requires participants to commit to weekly Thursday night meetings, daily “homework” assignments, and one longer session – a six hour Silent Retreat – which was held last Saturday.  My monkey brain, of course, kept referring to it as the Silent But Deadly Retreat.  I had to use all of my still-nascent mindfulness skills to stop myself from wondering aloud about who would be the first to break (ahem) the silence?

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

*   *   *

 

 

May you always know what I mean;
May your silence be mindful and not deadly;
May your history not be a boring read for others;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Aka SCM, in this blog.

[2] From The Ballad of the White Horse, by G. K. Chesterton, English Critic, Essayist, Novelist and Poet, 1874-1936.

[3] For the Irish slang impaired, feckin’ = fucking; ballsch = rubbish; clackers = testicles.

[4] If I were a Twitter kind of person, which I am not.

[5] Make that, still opposed to women getting proper credit for serving in combat, because that is what your opposition amounts to, seeing as women have served in combat  in every war since those “barbarians” came over the hill.

The Speech I’m Not Accepting

Comments Off on The Speech I’m Not Accepting

Department Of Sneak Previews

truth

*   *   *

And The Oscar Goes To….

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

 

I love movies, and love going to the theatres to see them. By the end of the year I’ve usually seen a good many of the films which will garner Golden Globe and Academy Award Nominations.  [1] Every year I strive to see every movie nominated for best picture (and also as many movies as I can that have writing and acting awards). Every year, I fail to achieve this goal.

This year I succeeded! Well, as per my scorecard. I saw eight of the nine films nominated for Best Picture.  (The one directed by Mel Gibson…no need for me to frost my butt in the theatre for that.)

 

 

theaward

 

 

IMHO, awards for any kind of performing arts are, in essence, silly and subjective PR fests. Many talented and influential actors, films, etc. which we now consider classics were either overlooked at their time of release, critically panned and/or never won awards.  [2]  Although I happily concede to the ultimate insignificance of it all, moiself has opinions.  When I’m watching the Oscar telecast I usually have definite preferences about who should win what award. Then ask me two years (or sometimes as little as two months) later which movie won Best Picture or which writer won for best adapted screenplay or who for Best Supporting Actor, and it’s…huh?

As last Sunday’s Academy Awards show began I looked over the list of nominations, and loved the fact that, for the first time in many years, I thought that all the nominated films were mahvelous. I’d high hopes for my underdog favorite, Hell or High Water, but was prepared to toast any of the other nominees (with the exception of the one directed by that religious fanatic/racist/misogynist/anti-Semitic/drunken hack Hacksaw Ridge).

MH and I hosted one of our Movie Awards Dinners ® . These MAD events consist of us providing “movie food” (hot dogs in all permutations, [3] popcorn, Junior Mints, plus chips and guacamole [4] and champagne) served up on TV trays. The feast is lovingly consumed by MAD attendees as we watch the broadcast and mark our very own Oscar ballots as each award is announced: MAD attendees each have a ballot containing the list of nominees for the 24 broadcast award categories. We mark each category twice – in red ink to indicate, for example, which actor we personally want to win the Best Actor award, and in blue ink the actor we think is most likely to actually win the award.

At the end of the ceremony we tally up our scores in two categories: how many of our red ink/personal faves actually won Oscars, and how many of our blue ink/predictions took home a trophy. We have our own brief awards ceremony for our two categories: Me and Them. Winners receive a $25 gift certificate to a local theatre chain. [5] And the losers…well, we know it was an honor just to be nominated.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Acceptance Speeches I Loathe
Aka You Are A Working Actor And Not A Special Snowflake

 

 

speech

 

 

As per the afore-mentioned balloting game, I was pleased when Viola Davis’ name was announced for winning the Best Supporting Actress award. Besides the petty thrill of having chosen the winner (she was my personal fave in a strong field, and I also guessed correctly that she would be the Academy’s choice), she is an actor whose other work I have admired.

My admiration quickly faded as I listened to her acceptance speech.  Several days later, when I kept running across articles touting how “inspirational” her words were, I wondered if anyone besides me had actually heard what she’d said?

Let’s face it: most acting award acceptance speeches are faux-humble paeans to Self. Those in which the actor’s invisible friends are mentioned are the most cloyingly and self-righteously annoying of all – how nice of you to hold us captive while you praise your Lawd for taking time out from his busy schedule of ignoring the cries of schoolgirl Boko Harem rape camp victims to personally direct your career and give your parents the oh-so-extraordinary honor of raising you.  [6]

This declaration in particular, early on in Ms. Davis’ speech (transcript here), I had a hard time getting past:

I became an artist—and thank God I did! —because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

 

 

facepalm

Would someone initiate time warp so that we may go back and save this person from uttering her civilization-warping crap?

 

 

The magnanimous part of me is hoping that Ms. Davis was caught up in the moment and really had no idea what she was saying. The more sarcastic pragmatic part of me thinks her speech sounded just like what it was: rehearsed. Which means she had to have thought about that pretentious, self-congratulatory, elitist declaration before she spoke it.

Tsk tsk tsk upon cynical moiself. I suppose I should actually be relieved – thankful, even – on behalf of the rest of us little people.  From teachers to social workers to engineers to radiologists to landscape crews to mail clerks to hospice care nurses to nursing home attendants to baristas to food cart vendors to journalists to Peace Corps workers to fire department EMTs to parents and day care workers – good news for us all! After putting in long hours every day caring for others and ourselves, which often includes sharing our hopes and dreams and victories and defeats with friends and family and co-workers, we no longer have to bother with thinking about or even remarking upon anything related to existential, meaning-of-life issues. We can and should shift that burden to actors and other artists and stop wasting our time contemplating that which we can never truly understand, because “they” occupy the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

Calling all (self-considered or otherwise labeled) artists: [7]  what y’all do is important in its own way – at the very least, you ofttimes afford the rest of us a bit o’ momentary entertainment. But holy fucking inflated-sense-of-self-importance-disguised-as-cinematic-celebration – maintain some perspective. Clutch your trophy, say Thank you, humbly and briefly reflect upon the whimsies of luck and your red carpet privileges, and then sit your designer-swaddled buns down.

 

 

pretensioius

*   *   *

Department Of Nobody Is Listening To Me, But If They Were…
How To Make The Oscar Awards Show Telecast Better…

Or at least shorter. Which would be better, I think we can all agree.

I have many opinions on the subject. Attention, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists, y’all can start by considering this one: The Oscar Awards telecast should not have any musical performances, whether by the original artist/songwriter or guest singers, of the songs which are nominated for Best Song. These individual song performances plus their intros add 25 – 30 minutes to the show.

The Oscar telecast usually features brief (as in 15 second, tops) clips of the nominated acting performances, but doesn’t have anyone  – either the nominated actors themselves or stand-ins – acting out the pivotal, five minute scenery-chewing soliloquies which merited each nomination. Why can’t you do the same with the nominated songs? A measure or two is all we need.

We can and will hear the movie’s songs by watching the movies, just as we can see the acting by seeing the movies…just as we can see the movies, by seeing the movies.

 

 

sally

“If you’d only really like her suggestion…what a better show this could be!”

 

 

*   *   *

“When a woman writes a book that has anything to do with feelings or relationships, it’s either called chick lit or women’s fiction, right? But look at Updike or Irving.  Imagine if they’d been women.  Just imagine.  Someone would have slapped a pink cover onto ‘Rabbit at Rest,’ and poof, there goes the Pulitzer.”
(From the J. Courtney Sullivan novel, Commencement)

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gloria Steinem Stole My Neologism!

 

But since I like her so much, she can have her variant, with my blessing.

Background info: For years (a search of my documents shows at least since 2010) I’d been sharing my idea/gripe with friend and fellow writer SCM and others, about how we need counterpart terms for the almost-always-used-dismissive literary and cinematic classifying labels, chick lit and chick flick.  I decided it was only logical that dick lit and dick flick were up to the task. But I’ve never heard anyone else, outside of my circle of disaffected cynics acquaintances, use the term….

That is until yesterday, when the eminently quotable Gloria Steinem, in a NY Times op-ed, wrote about the quandary of a fellow passenger on her recent New York to Seattle flight. When passengers were offered free movie viewing to placate them during a long tarmac delay, a young man, frustrated by the available movie choices, sputtered, “I don’t watch chick flicks.”

Chick flick; chick lit. We all know what is meant by the terms. [8] Steinem briefly used the man’s dilemma to illuminated the double standard (read: sexism) that has been long-noted by and for women in fiction reviewing and classifying…

I wasn’t challenging his preference, but I did question the logic of his term. After all, much of what we read as great literature in school may well have been called “chick lit,” especially if it had been written by women.
Think about it: If “Anna Karenina” had been by Leah Tolstoy, or “The Scarlet Letter” by Nancy Hawthorne or “A Doll’s House” by Henrietta Ibsen — if “The Invisible Man” had been “The Invisible Woman” — would they have been hailed as classics?

… before advocating, rather tongue-in-cheekily, that the young man deserved a label to direct him toward films he might prefer (my emphases):

I realized the problem began with the fact that adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are “novelists” and “female novelists,” “African-American doctors” but not “European- American doctors,” “gay soldiers” but not “heterosexual soldiers,”….
As has been true forever, the person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective. Thus, my fellow passenger was left with only half a guide.
Bias is, as always, unfair to everyone. Inspired by the blood-and-guts, monosyllabic war movie that had taken us off the tarmac and into the air, I realized the answer by the time of arrival. The opposite of a “chick flick” is a “prick flick.” 

I nearly jumped out of my chair when I read that. For some reason, I felt as much like crowing, “You’re welcome,” as Right on!”

 

 

 

gloria

Back at ya, sister!

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you have the chance to share a collective consciousness moment with Gloria Steinem;
May you enjoy the simply if petty pleasures of watching silly awards shows;
May you know when it’s time to gush and when it’s time to sit your ass down;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Except for the years when the BOOM BOOM CRASH CRASH PUNCH PUNCH FIGHT FIGHT pictures dominate.

[2] Peter O’Toole, nominated for Best Actor eight times – zip. I tried to pass this wisdom along to younger members of my extended family who were incensed about certain Grammy awards: (“What does Beyonce have to do to win record of the year?!?!?”)

[3] Read: some vegan/veggie dawgs for us wimps.

[4] Not standard movie theatre fare but that’s what we like…and I make a hot damn fine guacamole if I do say so moiself (and I just did). Secret: white pepper and finely diced white onion.

[5] Go big or go home, I always say.

[6] (“My parents―I’m so thankful that God chose you to bring me into this world.” Really?  I mean, sure, thank your parents for their support, but get over yourself, Ms. Viola.)

[7] And as a  fiction writer I would be and have been included by some in this category.

[8] In movies, a chick flick is a movie which has, as Steinem succinctly puts it, “more dialogue than car chases, more relationships than special effects,” and its plot depends more on how people live than how they are killed.