New Year’s Eve has always held both the threat and promise of merriment. And by threat I mean the anxiety arising from the suspicion that expectations can never be met, and the pressure that comes with the knowledge – actually, of course, the astoundingly incorrect assumption – thateveryone else but me is having soooooooo much fun….
I’ve had some very enjoyable NYE’s, and some that really sucked. Most have been satisfactory if not at least tolerable but, frankly, closer to the zenith of what I call the Lame-o-meter. (it goes by other names, too).
One of the lamest of the lame occurred many years ago when I was living in The Bay Area. I’d received less than zero  invitations to NYE’s events and I’d neither the time, money nor inclination to organize even the smallest of gatherings moiself. All things considered, why not wallow in it? What might be one of the lamest things to do on a night generally considered to be full of promise and anticipation of exciting times to come? I stayed home, polished an old chair (not even my chair;  it belonged to the landlord) and watched that fucking ball drop in Times Square on one of those insipid, Wearisome Rockin’ New Year’s Eve shows.
That night has proven to be a shining beacon  — a light leading to improvement in the years to come. Every year, no matter what lackluster plans I have or lack for NYE, I reminded myself, at least you’re not at home polishing someone else’s butt ugly furniture.
What time is it? Have I had fun yet?
* * *
Department Of Pubic Service Announcements
Thanks to my alert cousin and Idaho resident, DF, for passing along this vital information:
Please, take care of yourself out on the roads this New Year’s Eve. A recent joint study conducted by the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related. This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes who drink bottled water, coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and stuff like that. So beware of those who do not drink alcohol – they cause three times as many accidents.
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Department Of Sudden Realizations
This is my last post for 2017. Can’t decide if that’s worthy of this
Can it be that I have almost let 2017 pass without having posted a single link to a screaming goat video?
You are so, so welcome.
* * *
May your New Year’s Eve activities be the envy of 1950’s valium-addicted housewives; May your New Year’s resolutions be amusing if not attainable; May you always appreciate the synergy of Bon Jovi hair music and screaming goats; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year, y’all, and Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day.
 Not possible, yethinks? Oh you of little mathematical imagination. I’d received one invitation, which was later rescinded (don’t feel too sorry for me – the event was cancelled. Or so I was told…hmmmm….)
 And polishing furniture, even my own? Something I Just. Don’t. Do.
 Or anemic bathroom night light, depending on my disposition.
Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair? 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:
The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond, features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.
I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads.
As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated. “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”
It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials. Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.
* * *
Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  during last year’s election cycle.
I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  or school board candidate. In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard? 
You’ve seen this sign.
Or, one of its variants.
I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….
Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….); I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster. And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?
To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements — I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.
Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of
IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)
Not exactly the warmest welcome to the neighborhood.
Once again, I digress.
It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it. Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®, would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.
Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G). Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket. Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).
For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.
Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.
From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:
Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me…
I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people
Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.
I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!”“So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?“) have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….
Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.
* * *
Department Of Before I Go Any Further….
Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.
* * *
May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial; May your convictions go beyond your signage; May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?
 I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial. Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)
 This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.
The instructor began Monday’s class as she usually does – going around the studio room and having each student to give their name and briefly describe how they are feeling and/or list any pose requests or “anything that needs attention.” (common responses include requests for core work, or poses targeting shoulders, or lower backs sore from weekend gardening sprees…) One yogi  requested something for “mood elevation.” As the instructor paused to consider the request, I could feel (in whatever part of my brain is responsible for involuntary movements) my arm beginning to rise. I quickly quashed my incipient pick me pick me hand-wave, because I realized I was about to blurt out, “I could tell you an elephant fart joke!”
Wisely, moiself kept that to myself. I didn’t want a fellow student to think I was mocking or in any way making light of her need for mood elevation…but I swear, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.
No doubt there are some exercises/yoga poses that might provide more long term mood ascension; still, when stuck in the here and now, how can you maintain a melancholy disposition when you hear an elephant fart joke?
This is “elephant’s trunk pose” (Eka Hasta Bhujasana). Farting not necessary (but certainly appreciated).
* * *
Department Of Thank You For That Image Which Is Now Seared In My Brain
Two yoga class stories in one post?
Dateline: same day, same class.  Our instructor led the class into utkatasana, aka, “chair pose,” and offered us this tip as for how to your weight back toward your feels while moving into the pose:
“…imagine you’re in one of those Porta potty’s,
and you don’t want to touch the seat…”
Dateline: Manzanita, Oregon, last weekend. Yeah, I know it’s a dog friendly town but…
Walking on west on the town’s main street, heading for the beach, a young married couple  approached me, slowly walking east. The women held the leash of an enthusiastic black Labrador, while the man held the hand of a toddling toddler, who – wait for it – toddled very slowly beside him. The woman was pointing to various holiday decorations adoring street lamps and shop windows, saying in a sing-song, high-pitched, kindergartner teacher voice, Oh look at the bright star! Do you see the bright star? And there’s a wreath – that’s a Christmas wreath of lights. The man joins in, saying “See the sparkly lights?!”
I think, awww, how cute…until, observing the woman’s and then the man’s eyes as they gaze down adoringly at the smaller being in their midst look, I realize they are pointing out these sites to their dog, and not their child.
* * *
Department Of Just What I Want To Hear Before My Birthday
Heretofore friendly/perky checkout clerk at the store:
“Would you like some out with your items?”
“No, thank you…well…
only if you have some cute box boys who need something to do…”
“Oh, I’m afraid they’re way too young for you.”
“Hahahahahah have a nice day….”
Moiself, for my ears only:
“And by have a nice day I mean….
I’d like to buy a vowel….
* * *
Department Of Doing Double Duty
So, you need a new wallet. Why settle for a run of the mill, small folding case to hold paper money, your photo id, credit cards et al when you can have that which also functions as a personal enhancement device?
Laugh, will you? As usual, the unvarnished truth can be found online, in this case via a description for a wallet with seemingly magical powers:
It helps you become more attractive and glamorous. The compact and elegant styles of this wallet make you outstanding and unique from others.
Tell me again how my wallet makes me glamorous.
* * *
May your natural glamour and attractiveness be independent from your wallet style; May the spirit of the holiday season prevent you from bitch-slapping humorless, impudent store clerks into next week; May you find an excuse to share an elephant fart joke in yoga class; …and may the hijinks ensue.
“…the #MeToo movement represented the ‘fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.’ ” (Time Magazine’s Editor-in Chief Edward Felsenthal, from in the NY Times article, ” ‘The Silence Breakers’ Named Time’s Person of the Year for 2017″)
About That Red-Circled Elbow
Along with the prominent women in the MeToo movement featured on the Time magazine cover, there is a woman whose face is obscured – as in, off camera. Only her right arm is visible. This a hospital worker Time magazine reporters spoke with, a woman “from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Editor Felsenthal said. The image is intended to symbolize women and men who have yet to come forward, or who wish to speak out but fear repercussions.
In an interview,Time National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow (only) image was deliberate:
“…a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward.”
* * *
Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past
AKA, An Incident I Haven’t Thought About In A Long Time
Specifically, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man ® .
Dateline: one afternoon, a long time ago in agalaxy at a university far, far away ( UC Davis. ) I was on campus; my first morning class had let out and I had three or so hours before my next class’s midterm exam. Instead of returning to my (off-campus) apartment for lunch I decided to splurge  and get a sandwich from the campus Coffee House and do my last minute studying the the exam on the campus Quad. ‘Twas a glorious spring day; I could have easily spent several hours happily parked by a mini grove of fir trees on the acres of green grass, along with other students studying, eating, napping, or tossing a Frisbee back and forth…
…but after about 45 minutes I had to move as I just couldn’t take it any more.
What had begun as a curiosity – what I thought at first was perhaps a stunt or prank – morphed from snarky entertainment into torture by seemingly infinite repetition.
A young man with curly, shoulder-length brown hair was riding a balloon-tire beach bicycle back and forth across the quad length, from north to south and then east to west, all the while singing the Gordon Lightfoot song, If You Could Read My Mind. He didn’t sing the entire song, only a portion of it: 
I never knew I feel this way And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it I don’t know where we went wrong But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back
That’s it. Thirty-six words, which he kept repeating singing. Over and over. And over.
It was… fascinating, at first. But ultimately tedious. After about fifteen minutes, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man’s path took him within a few feet of me and I caught a glimpse of his glassy blue eyes and realized, He is going to keep doing this until he either passes out or someone makes him stop. I felt a brief twinge of sorrow for the guy’s obvious…disturbance. But whether or not the man’s break from reality was drug-induced or the result of a mental health crisis, I (like the other students I saw leaving the Quad in droves) was young and impatient, and my sympathy eventually dissolved into annoyance. I lasted another half hour before I gave up and took my books to the library to finish studying.
After all these years, I remember what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man was singing but haven’t a clue as to how I did on the midterm for which I was studying. Which is perhaps the healthiest way to pass through this world, n’est ce pas? 
This is what the bike looked like. Unfortunately, this is not what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man ® looked like.
* * *
Department Of In The Running For My Favorite Headline Of The Year: 
Department Of There Should Be Some Kind Of Holiday Thing Here
I don’t know about y’all, but moiself is having a hard time getting excited – or even interested – in the holidays this year. If a Crazy Bicycle-Riding Santa ® would make an appearance, that might do it for me. I may just have to settle for the Speedo Santa Run.
* * *
May you be a Silence Breaker, or an ally to one; May you enjoy the sporadic Blast From Your Past ® memory; May you summon a modicum of excitement about any holidays you celebrate; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Time as in time…not as in Time Magazine…. There should be some kind of really bad pun apology here.
 Working at the school library to put myself through school, any non-home procured food – even a simple sandwich – was (or felt like) a splurge.
 The chorus? Verse? Bridge? Root canal? Help me out, musically literate people.
 Not to show off in front of Gallic illiterates, but n’est ce pas? is French for, “The birdhouse smells like stinky feet, does it not?”
 Other than the one about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
For almost three decades many years, on the second Wednesday in December, I have hosted a Ladies Lefse Party, as mentioned here and here and here and…. And yes, the soiree was Ladyfolk only, much to the chagrin of the Many Fine Gentlemen I Know Who Also Like To Make Lefse. ®
“This is how we roll, homie.”
Norwegian Americans – does this culture know from fun, or what? 
There was no Ladies Lefse Party last year – not in my house, that is (Ægir only knows what sordid celebrations were held in the nether neighborhoods of Minnesota ). I had the privilege of recognizing I needed to take (and being able to do so) a control-alt-delete sabbatical (as written about here ) which I did…or tried to do…in early-mid December.
December 2016 turned out to be quite the month for tempests, both meteorological and personal. Winter storm Caly brought snow/ice/freezing rain to regions of NW Oregon which rarely get such extreme weather and thus aren’t equipped to adequately deal with it (read: power outages, road closures, accidents, flight cancellations….). I returned early from my sabbatical to work around the weather re scheduling travel to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend/ mentor/former employer…just as my mother’s health precipitously deteriorated. Coordinating with my other siblings’ visits to our mother’s home (Santa Ana, CA) I booked another flight: for the day after Christmas.
I found out early Christmas morning, minutes before K arrived to open stockings and presents with MH and Belle and I, that my mother had died late the previous evening (my mother’s live-in caretaker wanted to spare us the sad news on Christmas Eve.).
A few months ago, looking ahead to the holiday season, I was anticipating the lefse party. Now I ‘m thinking, give it one more year. It’s good to take a break from the usual routines every now and then – even from those which bring you great joy – if only because doing so makes you more appreciative when you resume them. This is what I tell myself. However, all I know right now is this: it makes me feel sad to realize that I will not be able to call my mother after the party. No matter how foggy and/or fearful her brain could be in the last years of her life, she always perked up when I told her about the lefse parties. She was able to follow the narrative and share stories and recollections of her own. I think – I hope – the distance of another year will enable the fond memories to mute the bouts of heartache.
* * *
Department Of There’s Nothing Like Dissing White Trash 
To Segue From A Poignant Topic
Dateline: Wednesday morning, out walking at 7 am. Heading for a neighborhood park, I pass the house that always has at least three or four muscle cars parked in the driveway and/or on the lawn. I arrive just as one of the cars is being warmed up by its driver, who revs the engine, over and over (the resulting cacophony is surely appreciated by the neighbors). Plumes of gray-white smoke chortle, pop and chug from the car’s custom, over-sized tailpipe, and I think, So, when the driver’s a flaming asshole he makes sure his car has one, too?
The unmuffled engine farts increases as the driver backs down the driveway and shifts into first gear. I am tempted to chase after the car and tap on the window with my walking pole. In my brief but oh-so satisfying fantasy, the driver stops the car, rolls down the window, and I inform him, with a look of grave concern on my face, “Excuse me, sir, but there is obviously something really wrong with your dick car.”
* * *
Department Of I Can’t Make Up This Shit Installment 346.5
“There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today….. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.” (Angela Lansbury says women must ‘sometimes take blame’ for sexual harassment, CNN, 11-28-17)
Or, to play on the title of Lansbury’s most famous acting gig, Horseshit, She Said.
When I first saw Lansbury’s name trending in social media, moiself thought that yet another formerly bright star was going to be featured in the upcoming Emmy, Tony and Academy Awards roll call of the dead. Turns out…not. Unless those shows also decide to run a tribute for the brain-dead.
Oh, that’s just mean.
Actually, I’m going easy here.
Ever have that reaction where you cringe in embarrassment for someone else, when you read about what that Someone Else has said or done? Please, Angela darling, a follow-up: the world eagerly awaits your opinion as to how sexual assault victims, from three year old girls to 94 year old retired nuns in nursing homes, can own up to “the fact” that their efforts to “make themselves attractive” backfired.
Angela Lansbury, the (formerly?) beloved stage, film and television (Murder, She Wrote) actor, is 92. She’ll be given – rightly, perhaps – a certain amount of slack for the mind-jaw-bobbling-ignorance-revealing statements she made, in an interview with a British magazine, about the Hollywood sexual assault and harassment scandals. And I’m not going to read any of the excuses, because I can pretty much guess what they’ll sound like:
Oh this is so pathetic but remember, she’s 92; she’s from another era; she’s really old; she’s a prime example of just how entrenched misogyny and the patriarchy are; she’s in her 90s; she’s from a time where women had to look the other way and *not* rock the boat if they wanted to get ahead…and did I mention how old she is?
As to the shit I can’t make up: guess what Ms. Lansbury’s first film role was? It couldn’t be the one about a woman who is manipulated so persistently and successfully by a man she trusts that she begins to doubt what is all around her? Yep; it was Gaslight.
* * *
Department Of Even More Puerile Entertainment
During the last few weeks MH and I have been going to furniture stores, checking out their various counter stools/bar chair models. Last Sunday eve, as we wandered the aisles of Dania,  I confessed to MH that when we are at such venues and are inevitably approached  by a salesperson who asks, “May I be of assistance?”I’m having a hard time refraining from replying, “We’d like to see your stool samples.”
That’s so im-ma-chur I could barf.
* * *
May your age never excuse your ignorance; May the size of your car’s tailpipe reflect your acceptance of your attributes; May your immature thoughts be the delight (or bane) of furniture salespeople; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Tortilla; chapatti; matzoh; lavash; injera…flatbreads are common throughout the world. Lefse, the Norwegian flatbread, is made from potatoes and flour.
 And who, like so many of the fine men I know, never organize their own such parties, but just complain about not being invited to the women’s gigs.
 Fortunately, the Irish half of me is dominant.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.