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The Experience I’m Not Describing

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Department Of How To Describe The Indescribable

aka

Total Eclipse Of The Blog

 

My family and I joined twelve friends on an adventure to the Central Oregon high desert area, where we were able to find a prime viewing spot just above the Lake Billy Chinook gorge, with Mt. Jefferson to the west. We watched the eclipse in all its phases, from first contact [1] through the end, and were able to experience just under two minutes of totality.

Astronomers, other scientists, science geeks and groupies and other laypersons have tried, with varying degrees of evocative articulation, to speak and/or write about Monday’s solar eclipse.  Check NASA’s site for links to superlative photos and videos, if you’re interested.

As for moiself, I am still processing my experience, and thus am hesitant to write much about it.

 

 

 

muchrejoicing

 

 

 

 

You’re welcome.

Our longtime family friend  [2]  MM is a NASA astronomer and solar eclipse-o-phile. [3]  MM was the impetus and initial organizing force for the trip – his third (and our first) to the area of a solar eclipse totality zone.  In a heartfelt FB post, MM wrote about how it is difficult to put the experience of seeing a total solar eclipse into words…yet he managed to do so, IMHO, with concision and beauty:

It’s such an immersive experience with the Earth, the shadow, the moon, and the sun. … I’ve always said that “it speaks to your lizard brain,” which still doesn’t do it justice in any way. The indifference of the moon grinding on in its orbit while we humans gather in the shadow speaks to many things and moved me to tears.

 

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Department Of Please Stop Saying That

Allegedly Sentient Biped A: Let’s go see the Transformers movie tonight at the multiplex. Meet you there at seven-fifteen?”

Allegedly Sentient Biped B: Awesome!

 

 

WORD

 

 

The mis- and over-use of that adjective has bothered me for ages. But now that I have truly experienced something which merits the description of being

magnificent, majestic, imposing, splendid, spectacular, grand, awe-inspiring, striking, stunning, breathtaking, impactful

etc., I don’t know if I can continue to tolerate hearing awesome used in conjunction with the unfortunate myriad of comparatively ordinary, pedestrian objects and situations to which it is applied.

You know what this means.

I’m afraid I’m going to turn into One Of Those People Who Corrects Other People On Their Word Usage.  ®  

 

 

Grammarcop

 

 

All things considered, could you blame me, the next time some nonchalant café server attempts the following interaction?

Server: “Have you decided what to order?”

Moiself: “Yes, I’ll have your quinoa lingonberry salad special.”

Server: “Awesome!”

Moiself: “Uh…thank you for lauding my selection, but, trust me, I’ve seen awesome, and your salad – anyone’s salad – ain’t it.”

 

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Department Of We Are The World/We Are The Sunset

Perhaps the most memorable of the eclipse moments was also, for me, the most unexpected. It occurred during the totality, when I tore my gaze away from watching the extension of the solar corona and looked down, and around, at the horizon. There was another totality to be seen – that of the sunset effect. I turned in a circle, and instead of seeing a sliver of the pink/red glow of dusk to the west, it was in all directions:  360 degrees of “sunset.”

It blew my effin’ mind.

Without using any external technology (compass; GPS) or just previously knowing where you were (okay; Mt. Jefferson was to the west so we are facing east…),  there were none of the usual solar clues to orient you. You could not tell east from west from north from south.  For just under two minutes, “direction” or orientation didn’t matter.

What a humbling perspective. Could it make a difference, I wondered, if people all over the world could see it?

When I attempted to explain my experience to my son K and daughter Belle, K mischievously accused me of having “one of your hippie moments.”

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate those times when direction doesn’t matter;
May you prioritize seeing, at least once in your life, a total solar eclipse;
May you live long and well enough to have legitimately awesome experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] No, Star Trek TNG fans, not that First Contact.

[2] He and MH’s association goes back to mid 1980s Caltech.

[3] If there is such a thing, and I think that there is.

The Stream I’m Not Crossing

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My one solace after the George W Bush election debacle [1] in 2000 was reminding moiself that, if Shrub  [2] somehow didn’t manage to bungle his way into impeachment, the country would likely survive for four years. It seemed obvious to me that GWB would be a one-term president.

Then, September 11, 2001.

Still reeling from the terrorist attacks themselves and their wider implications, I remember watching GWB’s deer-in-the-headlights expression and demeanor, as he stumbled his way through his first extemporaneous comments to the nation, and I thought, He is so out of his league.

 

 

little debbie

This will make sense later on.

.

 

 

 

I, of course, had no prescience as to just how badly Bush and Cheney et al would outright lie and deceive the country, our allies and themselves mismanage the investigation into the attacks and muck us up in the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Although I knew there was no way GWB was capable of handling the situation, I also knew that the horrific tragedy of the terrorist attacks and their impending political manipulation almost guaranteed that he would be elected to a second term.

Truthfully, that was one of my first, stomach-turning realizations. There is a mess; Shrub will get us in even deeper; he will be reelected – because there are enough people who, even if they don’t like the job he’s doing, will be swayed by that most bizarre of American adages.  

You don’t change horses in the middle of a stream.

Now, I understand the (intended) meaning of the proverb, when applied politically – that it is best not to change your leader or your basic position when you’re part-way through a project, be it a campaign or a war.

But, really, if you’re going to change horses for whatever reason(s) why not do it as soon as you realize it needs to be done? Why not do it in the middle of a stream?

 

 

 

 

Ahem – not in the road, in the stream.  Yet again, I digress.

Why would you not change horses in the middle of a stream? I try to imagine the reasoning:

*   If you’re in the middle of the stream, you’ve already got a wet horse.. Let’s keep as many horses dry as possible.

*  Yeah, but what if you lead the horse to water but can’t make it drink or cross the stream?

*  Or, what if you start to cross the stream and then the horse stops to piss in the stream – quick, move it along, get it out of the stream before it poops…oh great, now we have a horse pooping in the stream and our drinking water source is – of course! – downstream, so c’mon, get the fucking horse out of the stream, and at least then it won’t be a fish out of water…

*  …and while you’re at it, remember that the old gray mare she ain’t what she used to be, or maybe just forget about the horses and find a bird because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but if the early bird refuses to catch the worm, perhaps you can kill two birds with one stone and get another horse….

*  So you get another horse, maybe even a better horse, or just get out and cross the damn stream yourself, horse-less, especially if the new horse turns out to be a horses’ ass…

 

I’m all in favor of animal adages, but I really think we need to use less idiotic idioms to influence our political decision-making.

 

 

horsecrossing

I said we’re crossing a stream, not the ocean…can anybody bring me a new horse?

 

 

 

 

This digression brought to you by the dick fencing rabid rhetoric that has been exchanged the past couple of weeks, between two world leaders. How I pity Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s Presdient Enrique Peña Nieto, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the various European presidents and prime ministers, and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, India’s Narendra Modi and the other Asian leaders, even including China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping – how I pity all of Civilization ®, really.  Not only do we have to contend with a mentally unstable world leader with borderline personality disorder and raging egomania, there’s that pesky Kim Jong-un.

 

 

 

deulingdicks

 

 

 

 

North Korea’s poster child for the intellectual and cosmetic dangers of inbreeding, Kim Jong-un (a Korean idiom which translates as Little Debbie) and our own #45 act as if they are competing on a Family Feud-style reality show for title of Craziest Uncle.

Sure, the North Korean leadership and anyone with an IQ over Kim Jong-un’s hat size the West (and The East, for that matter) have been rhetorically butting heads for way too long, and the idea of that unstable, deranged regime having and using nuclear weapons is…a nightmare, to put it ever so mildly.  As son K said the other night re NK’s dangerous and repressive regime (K had joined MH and I for dinner and the conversation turned to The Wacky World of Possible Nuclear Annihilation ® ),  the world’s leaders have just been kicking the can down the road for a long, long time.

Yep, I agreed, someone should have pulled a Zero Dark Thirty on Kim’s ass a long time ago… [3]   But, considering that there have been so many other instances of NK’s heightened belligerence and weapons posturing, why would the (alleged) leader of the USA ramp up the rhetoric at this particular time? What might it be that would cause him to put down his golf clubs [4] and start frantically waving his tiny hands, hoping that we will pay no attention to the man behind the curtain but, look, looky looky over there!

 

 

Mr.Rogers

Can you say distraction, boys and girls? I knew you could.

 

 

It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the FBI recently seized evidence from #45’s campaign manager as part of their investigation into the tRUMP’s campaign’s ties to Russia?

 

 

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Department Of Reasons You Don’t Want To Take A Weekend Getaway

Way, way up on the list would be to help your college age daughter, temporarily disabled after foot surgery, do a top-to-bottom cleaning and de-flea-ing of her house.  Which is how MH spent his weekend.

I get itchy just thinking about it.

 

 

 

flea

Pretend you’re looking at a picture of a baby sloth wearing pajamas, because this is just too damn disgusting.

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Headlines That Make Life Worth Living

Monday morning, MH and I were gob-smacked by this breaking news item from the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust: last week, their conservationists working in Antarctica found a fruitcake, wrapped in paper and in its original “tin-plated iron alloy tin” container,  which (they believe) belonged to the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. The fruitcake was part of his provisions on his ill-fated, early 20th century expedition to the South Pole.

Lizzie Meek, program manager for artifacts at the trust, said in a statement that the cake was surprisingly well preserved.
“There was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it, but other than that, the cake looked and smelled edible.”
(Fruitcake From Robert Scott Expedition Is ‘Almost’ Edible at 106 Years Old,
New York Times, August 13, 2017)

Moiself: “But, isn’t ‘almost edible’ a description of any fruitcake, no matter its age?”

MH: “It’s telling that they discovered the entire fruitcake – it hadn’t been eaten.”

Sadly, Scott (and all of his party) died in 1912, on their return journey from the South Pole. His death was “Almost certainly…due to chronic and extreme emaciation.”   [5]

The NY Times article included a picture of Scott with members of his British Antarctic Expedition, posing at the South Pole, with (my interpretation) forlorn, WTF did we risk our lives for when this herring eater got here first?!?!?! expressions as they stand around the tent left behind by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen[6]

The picture’s caption noted that “Scott died in 1912.”

I guess it was either that, or eat the fruitcake.

 

 

fruitcake

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May you never have to choose between death or fruitcake;
May your weekend getaways never, ever, include either of the words flea or infestation ;
May your and your horse just stay out of the damn stream in the first place;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Yet another in-over-his-head amateur attaining Our Highest Elected Office without actually being legitimately elected.

[2] Shrub was the nickname given the Junior Bush by the late great, delightfully and acerbically observant, gone-too-soon, Texas newspaper columnist, author and political humorist Molly Ivins .

[3] But then, you can’t just take him out and leave – what would fill the void? And who wants the almost unimaginable responsibility of rehabilitating a paranoid, repressed empire of 25 million people?

[4] In case you are wondering, you can keep track of the number and length of golf outings of He Who Criticized Obama for Golfing  at the site trumpgolfcount, here.

[5] As per expedition researcher Dr Lewis Halsey, (The Telegraph, “Captain Scott’s team were ‘killed by slimming diet’ scientists claim” ).

[6] who’d beaten Scott to the Pole by 33 days.

 

The Argument I’m Not Winning

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Department Of Perhaps It’s For The Best That I Am Not An Artist

 

Because, were I an artist, this is the summer squash I would paint. Over and over and over. It’s the most interestingly-shaped Romanesco zucchini I’ve ever seen.

 

 

 

pixiezuc

 

 

 

 

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In the WTF is happening to summer time-warp I’ve been experiencing, I’m already mourning the dearth of kayaking opportunities. Correction: the opportunities are there, of course, it’s just that the pesky time-space continuum keeps getting in the way.

I’ve been out twice this summer, both times with MH: once at a new entry point along the Tualatin River, and last Sunday, when we decided to check out the hitherto-unvisited-by-us Lacamas Lake, across the Columbia River in Washington State.

 

 

 

Matlacamaslake

MH inspecting an island in the lake.

 

 

 

I was unimpressed by Sunday’s “venue” – I am a paddling snob purist and detest sharing the waters with stinky, loud, polluting boats inhabited by sedentary slobs motorized craft.  [1]  Still, I would have liked Sunday’s paddle trip to have been longer.  But when I felt that blast from the past – the long-ago-but-still-familiar sensation of tightness in my bronchial tubes, which takes me back to those dreary days of the 1970s Southern California Smog Alerts – my lungs stopped enjoying the outing.

Sure enough, both MH and I received Air Quality Alerts on our respective AccuWeather apps. The air was icky – sorry to get all science-y on y’all.  Translation: the air was brown and hazy from a combination of the record-setting heat wave we’ve been having combined with the smoke from 37 ( !!! ) wildfires burning in the Northwest U.S. and Canada.

 

 

lily

A white lily pad bloom – a pleasant if momentary distraction from the brown skies.

 

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Department Of Early Morning Earworms

Last Sunday, as always with my early morning earworms, apropos of seemingly nothing I awoke with a Mitch Miller tune bouncing between my ears.

 

 

 

mitch

 

 

 

My parents both loved Mitch Miller’s music, and had many of his albums and watched his television show. Thus, my early childhood memories include listening to Sing Along With Mitch.  But, why now, and why Bell Bottom Trousers ?

On further reflection, the apropos of nothing was probably a big something: Tuesday, August 8, was what would have been the 93rd birthday of my father, Chester Bryan (akak “Chet the Jet”) Parnell. And Mitch Miller, or more specifically, the musical stylings of Miller’s all-male chorus, was one of the few things my father and I ever argued about.

My arguments with Chet were memorable, mostly because there were so few of them. My father adored his “Robbie Doll”   [2] –  he and I were of similar temperaments and got along famously. Thus, it took me by surprise that one night, all those years ago, when he teased me about how it wasn’t really possible for me to claim to like both Mitch Miller and The Beatles (this was after he’d run across a quote from Miller dissing rock ‘n roll music).  [3]  I responded with the righteous indignation only a grade-schooler can muster, spewing the counter charges I’d heard from Miller’s critics, who accused him of namby-pamby, gimmicky song choices and arrangements…

I can’t remember how I “won” the argument, only that it was obvious that I did. Although, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was also obvious that he’d let me win.  My father thought the sun shown out of my ass…and for a time it actually did, thanks to a tragic childhood flashlight accident, the details of which I won’t go into right now.  [4]

 

 

 

 

 

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Chetdec1978

“These are the good times.” Chester Bryan Parnell

 

 

 

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May you be free from Air Quality alerts;
May you enjoy these times, which are the good times;
May you be able to appreciate the balance of whatever in your life approximates both Mitch Miller and The Beatles;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Which paddlers encounter more frequently on lakes than in rivers.

[2] Chet’s childhood nickname for his second daughter, the nickname a high school friend would memorialize with a drawing of me as a doll, wearing a bank robber outfit and holding a gun. Yes, I’m talking about you, Ruth Rockliffe.

[3] “Rock’n’roll is the glorification of monotony. A certain element of juveniles accepts almost any form of it, even the lowest and the most distasteful, because everybody else in their group does.” From the UK Independent’s obituary of Miller.

[4] Which is, of course, a totally fictitious story, but one he would have loved.

The Gift I’m Not Pushing

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Dateline: Friday July 27, Cinemark Theatres complex. I’d been in Tacoma since Tuesday, visiting daughter Belle, helping her out after she’d had foot surgery the previous week, and I was feeling lousy. The cold/fever virus which was plaguing MH apparently hitchhiked with me, and by Friday morning I felt like a cheap retread tire left on the side of a highway. But I had promised Belle a movie of her choice, in a theatre with Comfy Chairs –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No not that kind, the “Luxury Loungers” –  those roomy cinema seats with reclining backs and elevating footrests– perfect for Belle’s recovering-from-surgery, boot-encased foot.

After our movie was over,  [1] Belle and I were among the last to leave our theatre, what with her navigating on crutches. Thus, we were privy to the poignant sight of another couple exiting the theatre across the hall, where Dunkirk was playing.  A petite elderly woman, clutching the arm of an older-than-me-but-much-younger-than-her man, was trying but failing to stifle her emotions. She was overcome by wracking sobs. Movie patrons from both theatres quickly gave her and the man space and privacy, the patrons flashing looks of sympathy as they passed the couple by.

As Belle and I headed for the restrooms, I rummaged through my purse to retrieve a packet of travel-sized tissues. “Please, wait here for me,” I said to Belle. “I have to go back.”

I found the woman and her companion, whom I took to be her son, standing next to the theatre hall wall. The woman was leaning against the wall for support and the man had his hand on her shoulder.

“Excuse me; may I?” I extended the packet of tissues toward her. She accepted them with a look of gratitude, and I indicated the theatre from whence she’d come.

“You just saw ‘Dunkirk?’ “

She reached out and clutched my forearm, her grip surprising me with its strength. “I didn’t know it would affect me like this,” she gasped.

I nodded, smiled, and said softly, “You’re British?” It wasn’t really a question I was posing; I was confirming what I suspected.

Her voice quavering, she replied that yes, she had lived in London as a girl – lived through the bombings, through it all.

 

 

 

Britgirl

 

 

 

She began to talk about the movie, and the memories it had brought back.

“It is such a powerful story,” I said, “and sadly, one that few Americans seem to know about. But, maybe now that will change.”

She told me that as much as she was surprised by how much she was reliving those times, her tears were also tears of joy, to see the “rows of teenagers” sitting in the theatre. She was pleased to see young people watching such a movie; perhaps, she said, they would learn something new about the times back then, and have something different to aspire to, “…especially in this world, where things, where leaders, are so…” she wavered, “so mean, and nasty, and cruel…”

“And you are remembering bravery, and a time of service and honor,” I offered.  She nodded, dabbing at her eyes with the tissues. I told her to please keep the tissue packet, and thanked her for sharing her memories with me.

Her son had remained silent, gazing down at his mother with an expression of utmost love and tenderness, while she spoke. He patted her arm and thanked me for “coming back.” I told him that I had to…and then it was my time to struggle with how to put my feelings into words:

…because we’re all human, going through this world together.

And as I was returning to where I’d left Belle I realized I was grateful that neither the woman nor her son had asked me what movie I’d just seen. I still don’t know how I would have answered, had they done so. Would I have tried to deflect from the fact that while they were being blown away by the heart-rending reality of Dunkirk, I was squirming through the raunchy, nonstop booty/fuck-fest joke-filled Girls Trip?

 

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Department Of There’s A New Community In Town, And They’re Nuts

 

Opening ad in a Live From the Poundstone Institute, [2] podcast:

“Support for this podcast…comes from Almond Board of California. Did you know that the almond community generates more than one hundred thousand jobs in ….”

Not only did I not know about the job generation, I had no idea there was an almond community…in California or anywhere else.   Almonds grow on trees, so I figured there are almond orchards, and therefore a certain critical mass of almond growers, pickers, and packers and shippers…. But the community thing has thrown me. I just can’t picture it.

 

 

 

almondjpg

The Mayor of the Almond Community considers the upcoming Town Hall Meeting agenda.

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Department Of You Had Me Until The WTF?!?! Part

Got a new cookbook, and was enjoying perusing the recipes until I read the author’s [3]  comments on a chard-red bean-peanut stew:

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day…”

Okay; stop, right there. Add a period after day and you’re fine. But noooooooooooo, she had to insert a comma, and….

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day, while wearing a cosy, knitted jumper.”

 

 

confused lady

 

 

Apparently, this is Yet Another Thing About Which I Am Both Unaware And Unimpressed ® . Enhance your appreciation of your meal – perhaps even increase its nutrient density – by wearing the right outfit?

 

Also – a knitted jumper? A garment which is flattering to Cabbage patch dolls no one ever?  I feel like putting on my Mom Voice ® and advising the author, Honey, you may feel cozy cosy, sitting at the kitchen table dressed in your knitted jumper but you look like an ottoman. There, there now, dry your eyes and have some yummy chard stew.

 

 

ottoman

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Department Of You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kidding

When I read the letter to the Dear Abby column, I thought I must be hallucinating. It’s the fever (from the previously mentioned virus) I reassured myself. Then the next day, when the fever had abated, I saw the same letter, in the same DA column, in another newspaper. It was from a husband seeking advice from DA. Husband and dad-to-be was concerned about being able to afford to give his pregnant wife a “push gift.” Which (until I read further   [4]) I had no idea what it was, or that it was even a thing.

Concerned Dad-to-be made no attempt to confront or reject this supposed tradition, but just meekly wondered if it was indeed a thing, and if so, how can he do it when he and his wife are tapped out financially?

 

 

 

alfienshock

Is this the galaxy’s most vile tradition, or what?

 

 

 

Now.  I have a husband. I have been a pregnant wife. I have heard of many strange customs (most of them religion-related or mandated) related to the social milestones of marriage and childbirth, ranging from the odd (Bundling or Tarrying[5]) to the shocking (Indian Baby-Tossing [6] ) to the stupid and potentially dangerous (The Tidong Bathroom Ban  [7] ). But I’d never heard of this push gift, which for many reasons strikes me as one of the more ultimately distasteful “traditions.”

I received no push gift after the birth of son K, nor three years later, when I Tarzan-yelled daughter Belle into this world.

 

 

 

 

It is fortunate that no wretched fool had gotten a hold of MH and convinced him that such a thing was necessary. If I had been given some bauble presented as a push gift it is highly likely I would have told MH where to push it.

And what about father and labor partner extraordinaire MH, who never left my side during my 13 hour hospital labor with our first child, even though, as MH confessed after the delivery, he really, really, really had to pee?  [8]  Should I have gotten him a holding-it-in gift?

And the name – push gift?

 

 

REALLY

 

Yeah, really?

Thank you honey, for your sacrifice in bringing our child into the world and thereby ruining your anatomy. I know your vagina and pelvic floor continence will never be the same again – here’s a charm bracelet.

And does this “tradition” not apply to women who are unable or do not have to push out their babies– i.e., those who undergo C-sections? Or do they get a runner-up trinket?

 

 

crackerjack

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May we remember we go through life together with our fellow humans;
May you tell the well-meaning but clueless humans where to push their push gifts;
May you remember that friends don’t let friends wear knitted jumpers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Praaaaaaaaaaaise de lawd when it was indeed over. It made me feel so uncomfortable…I’ll just say this: is a movie still pandering to stereotypes if a member of the group being stereotyped freely participates in it? I can’t imagine a white production team getting away with Girls Trip.

[2] A show with the inspiring mission “to gather all of the world’s knowledge,” or, as host Poundstone puts it, “to get less stupid, one topic at a time.”

[3] Brit, as you may notice re the spelling of certain words.

[4] A push gift is a present, often but not always an expensive item of jewelry, given by the husband to the wife on the occasion of her giving birth to their child.

[5] Bundling, aka, tarrying, is..oh, look it up if you’re interested.

[6] A centuries-old ritual in certain Indian towns in the first week of December, wherein babies (from both Hindu and Muslim families – this is interfaith idiocy) are tossed from a temple tower onto a cloth, held by men standing below the tower, and then the babies are passed to their mother. ..

[7] wherein tradition in the Indonesian Tidong community mandates newlyweds must not defecate or urinate for three days after the wedding, lest they bring bad luck upon their marital union

[8] And there was a bathroom, right in the room where I labored. I told him that was so sweet – his staying by my side – but  frankly, had our positions been reversed, I would have left for a minute to pee and he could have done so (like during one of the man times when my eyes were squinted shut and I was yelling invectives) without my noticing.