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The Senator I’m Not Speaking To

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Since the Senate’s impeachment kangaroo court trial, moiself  has had a few weeks to ruminate on this…issue. I’m not speaking to this particular senator, because – well, for one thing, why would he listen to me?  If I had the slightest inkling that he would consider my opinion, I’d ask Mitt Romney to seek his party’s nomination for president.

I’d be upfront with him: Senator Romney, I’m not going to vote for you.  After the last three years’ clusterfuck of spineless weasels (the only Congressional mammal not on the endangered species list)…

 

“Hey!”

 

…and their internationally-recognized, shameless, ass-kissing and toadying mendacity, I shall never vote for a candidate who has joined (or has remained in) the Republican party – no matter at what level, from local to state to federal – unless s/he performed the most epic grovel in the history of groveling, explaining why they did not speak up and/or actively oppose #45 and his traitorous, Putin-sucking minions.

How your fellow Republican senators can still roam the halls of Congress – and do so without their aides having to haul them in slop-barrows specially designed to contain their festering, gelatinous excuses for vertebral columns – still baffles me. 

That said, moiself is not lacking sympathy for some members of your party who perhaps have been seriously intimidated and /or genuinely confused by #45 and his barbarian horde supporters. If these people are determined to vote Republican, they deserve a choice other than the traitor/huckster in chief.  So, why not you?

While you and I would likely disagree about so-many-if-not-every issue, especially those wherein politics and religion intersect, you were the sole Republican senator who seemed to take your duty and your oath seriously.

I realize that you are a politician, and likely value that power above all else –  even above the religious beliefs you credit for your political positions, as your stance changes in the past would indicate. Thus, I have no illusions to shatter should it turn out that your currant “courageous stance” was, at least in part, a set up for future political positioning.

How far to the right Romney has gone over the years has had a lot to do with where he was running for office and who he was hoping to reach. Romney’s less extreme side asserted itself in 1994, when he challenged…Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts and portrayed himself as a Rockefeller Republican.

Although Romney lost.…his Rockefeller Republican image served him well when he ran for governor in Massachusetts in 2002 and won.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney was conservative-leaning but not extreme. He was pro-choice on abortion, and his program for universal health care in that state underscores the Republican influence on the Affordable Care Act of 2010….

But Romney moved way to the right when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Romney flip-flopped on abortion, pledged his allegiance to the Christian Right and the anti-choice movement and railed against universal health care…. It’s no coincidence that when Romney ran for the Senate in the 2018 midterms, he did so via Utah rather than Massachusetts….(as) Utah is much more conservative than Massachusetts…

( “Mitt Romney’s flip-flops: How the Utah senator has deceptively tap danced between being a reasonable conservative and a far-right ideologue,” alternet, 1-4-19

 

 

Still, you did what you did.  I thank you for it, even as moiself wonders why you did not publicly call out your fellow senators and try to sway more of them to do the right thing.

It’s ironic to me, that in a political body wherein the vast majority of the Republicans claim some Christian right wing and/or evangelical allegiance, and wherein each was required to take the following oath/affirmation, which referenced their deity –

I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.
(“Opening Ceremonies: The Impeachment trial of  [#45],” Wikipedia)

…that of these self-proclaimed conservative Christians, who generally and historically have abhorred Mormon theology (and denounced as aberrant, untrue, and blasphemous), it was a Mormon who stood alone, doing the right thing.

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of ruminations, can there ever be enough cow stories?

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
(Chapter 4 In A Series)
Sub Department Of You’re A Special Kind Of Stupid If You Think This Is A Good Idea.
Sub-Sub Department Of No.  Just, No.

There is a link I keep seeing on Facebook (unfortunately posted by a few FB friends), about what moiself fears may become the latest designer pet trend: mini-cows.

“No Joke: These Fluffy, Adorable Mini Cows Make Great Pets! “ reads the headline of the article accompanying the following picture.  “Woah…cows? How on Earth could a person be expected to keep a cow at their home? They’re big, loud, and pretty smelly too, right?
You would be correct about that if not for Lovable Little Ones, a specialty mini-cow breeder…. According to Lovable Little Ones, cows make “exceptional pets that demonstrate a great deal of affection, are very social, and are easy to take care of….” ”.

 

 

Look at those lil’ cows! About the picture: moiself has to admit, it is so cute it makes me want to squeal like a newborn piglet and slap that hog-faced MAGA hat-wearer I saw eating Twinkies ® at the farmer’s market.   [1]

It is *such* a cute picture, no denying it.  Now, can we look at the bigger picture?

As for the “no joke,” headline – I agree, this isn’t funny. If anyone out there is seriously considering this, please, even more seriously reconsider – to the point of consulting a therapist and having them do cow patty aroma therapy with you on a weekly basis –  should you even think about having a mini-cow as a pet.

FYI: I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned cows in this space before, and now, after last week’s  screed concise yet heartfelt presentation of the dairy cow dilemma, two weeks in a row of bovine blog bits? Trust moiself, this is coincidence and not conspiracy.

So, moooooving right along….

 

“What the….”

Sorry.

Mini-cows. I don’t get who comes up with these ideas. Someone has an interest in animals, a bit of time on their hands (and dollar $ign$ in their eye$?), and says to themselves,

“Selves, what can we do? Maybe we could work with existing animal welfare organizations to reduce animal suffering in, oh, say exposing the horrors of industrial farming, reversing habitat degradation which leads to species extinction….
Nope, that doesn’t interest us. We like pets. OK, let’s work for ways to reduce the surplus pet population (1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year in the USA  [2]  ), increase spay and neutering options and availability, and find responsible and loving homes for the animals that already exist….

 

 

MYOB and STFU, Martha; we’ve got a better idea.
Let’s take an ungulate mammal – which in 10,500 years of domestication has never been used as a companion animal – and use our knowledge of genetics and selective breeding to scale ‘em down and create a whole new market of “pets.”

The following is from the website of Lovable Little Ones, the farm business blamed credited with starting the trend. On the home page of the site there is a seven-point bullet list titled, Why Miniature Cows? Here are three of the bullet point list’s “answers” I found to be most notable and telling (and primarily aimed at potential mini-cow breeders?):

* Miniature Cows are great tax write-offs for the small acreage farmer.
* Miniature cattle can easily pay for themselves through the sale of calves and potential tax write-offs.
* Miniature Cows can be a great business opportunity. Demand for good quality miniature cows is very high. I currently have a waiting list that extends into 2021….

Yep. Gotcha.

 

 

Hey, it’s not all bad. You can size a cow down, but it will still be a ruminant with a four-chambered stomach whose nutritional requirements equal prodigious intake of fodder resulting in prodigious stool production. Translation: Mini-cow’s crap will not be so mini.

Petty little moiself adores the image that comes to mind:  the clueless/ arrogant (or even well-meaning) suburbanite with a big backyard who is the first in her neighborhood to have a mini-cow. There she is, taking her mini-cow out for a walk, nodding in greeting to dog owners, the latter tipping their metaphorical hats to her as they pass on the sidewalk, the dog owners each holding one bag of dung swinging from their grasp, she struggling to juggle eight bags of cow crap (plus her “mini” scooping shovel) ….

 

And don’t think you’ll get away with saying, “Not me – that was must have been someone else’s cow!” if your neighbors accuse you of being remiss in your scooping.

 

So, good luck with that, y’all. 

But I don’t need to wish *you* good luck, because *you* will have the good sense not to purchase one of these vanity symbols/playthings creatures, right?  As for the breeders, come on, Lovable Little Ones (and other mini-cow sellers, actual or potential) – consider the moniker you chose for your business; then pretend, if necessary, that you really do love those little ones, and don’t create them in the first place.  Put yourself out of this exploitative business.

If you really think it benefits humanity to have yet another designer animal variant, you need to talk with Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle:

The inventor of the labradoodle, the ubiquitous, mop-headed designer dog, said that creating the mixed breed was one of his life’s regrets.
Wally Conron, who has been credited with sparking a crossbreeding frenzy resulting in shih poos, puggles and more, said the labradoodle was originally intended as a guide dog….
“I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair,” Mr. Conron said. “Why people are breeding them today, I haven’t got a clue….I find that the biggest majority (of the doddle-dogs) are either crazy or have a hereditary problem…I’ve done a lot of damage…I’ve created a lot of problems.”
(Conron) said that unscrupulous people setting up “horrific” puppy mills, and backyard breeders who were breeding for bucks, were to blame for producing a glut of unstable dogs that would eventually be euthanized.
In an interview with Psychology Today… Mr. Conron acknowledged that the “doodle” name was “a gimmick” that went global.
“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’ I tell them: ‘No! Not in the slightest.’ I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding and made many charlatans quite rich.  I wonder, in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog — or a disaster!”

(Labradoodle Creator Says the Breed Is His Life’s Regret: “I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” said Wally Conron,
who developed the mop-headed dog.  NY Times, 9-25-19 )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are Lost, Hopelessly Lost

As the reality of the latest pandemic sets in, the world’s political leaders realize the need to consult with and empower the world’s greatest scientific/public health minds to coordinate strategy. Meanwhile, in the USA:

Donald Trump picks Mike Pence
to head government response to coronavirus.
( Headlines in newspapers across the nation, 2-26-20)

 

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
( [then] Congressman Mike Pence, in his op-ed “The Great American Smoke-Out,”  )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, I Guess It’s Enough That *We* Will Know It’s There…
But, Seriously?

Last week MH and I had our home’s upstairs carpeting replaced.  We (of course) chose the style/brand/color of the new new carpet, then just agreed with flooring store’s recommended carpet padding.  Come installation time, I’d no idea we would be getting a “woke” padding; i.e., one with a mission (or at least a message):

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Slow Cooking: For Two or Just For You, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Green Beans with Black Bean Sauce with Tofu

My rating:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you massively reject mini-cows;
May you wonder what charitable causes *your* carpet pad is supporting;
May you continue to speak to leaders who may or may not listen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] You have your illustrations of cuteness, and I have mine.

[2] As per ASPCA statistics.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up:  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Cheese I’m Not Cutting

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Department Of The Problem With Legalization

While I am oh-so-glad that smokers of the Stupid Sticks  [1]   no longer face criminal penalties, moiself is less-than-enthusiastic about the fact that so many of them feel free to share their rank-smelling exhalations in public.  Read: yet another beautiful stroll by the beach, tainted by an redolence that can only be described as festering skunk piss.

 

Just wait until *I* start inhaling.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only The Cows Could Talk

Dateline: a rainy Saturday afternoon; Tillamook Creamery.  MH and I are on the self-guided tour…  I’m not all that keen on it, but he says he hasn’t been in years… And I find moiself looking at one of the exhibits and thinking, It’s enough to turn a mostly plant-eating person like me into a full-fledged vegan (I can’t quite get moiself to give up Tillamook’s pepper jack cheese…yet).   I’m also somewhat surprised that animal rights activists haven’t defaced this audacious claim:

 

 

I know enough about the company and its history to respect Tillamook as a co-op business that strives to listen to both its customers and member farmers. But those “Good Start” fiction propaganda claims elide over the facts of what is done to dairy cows in order to get them to produce the massive amounts of milk (it takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheddar) needed for cheese production.  And it’s not as if cows sign up at the creamery due to the above minimum wage salary and awesome health benefits package. They are forced into an unnatural life;  cows evolved to make and suckle other little cows, not to provide humans with dairy and meat products.

This Good Start exhibit, the first stop on the self-guided tour, makes it sound like Man In His Infinite Wisdom® has improved upon Mother Nature – that heartless bitch who was stupid enough to evolve cows to live in groups, which is oh-so-risky for baby cows as they are in constant danger from “injuries from older, larger cows” which – what, suddenly topple over and crush the calves?  When has that ever been a thing?

Anyway, so they take un-weaned calves away from their mothers and bottle feed – y’all read that correctly, they BOTTLE FEED MILK TO A (non-orphaned) CALF, whose mother and her milk are like, right there? Somehow, in moiself’s mind, that doesn’t add up to making sure the calves are “well cared for.”

I find it sobering   [2]  to consider that those (admittedly delicious) cheeses they make come at quite a cost to the animals (humans included; we are animals, too) which provide the cheese base material.  Costs to human animals include the fact that cheese is loaded (saturated?) with saturated fat; also, consider the resources spent on raising and feeding these animals   [3]  and then trying to protect our remaining wildlands and water supply and atmosphere from the resulting methane and fertilizer and feces runoff pollution, and the dairy industry’s over-sized contribution to global warming: “In the U.S., every gallon of milk (produced) results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17. 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.…”  [4]

 

 

OK; off of my soapbox (milk crate?)…. For now.

Confession: the eleven-year-old in me loved looking through the creamery’s floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the cheese packaging assembly lines.   In my grade school, when the teachers had report card prep or whatever else arose (or maybe when they didn’t want to teach), they put us 5th and 6th graders in the school auditorium and showed us factory documentaries, wherein the wonders of the Wonder Bread (or other mass-produced and packaged) product assembly line were revealed.

Something about the assembly line process – all the machines doing one specialized thing (“I’m the bottle filler!” “I’m the bottle capper!”  “I’m the bottle label applier!”), and the factory employees in hairnets watching the machines, working together to assemble massive amounts of…stuff….  It was mesmerizing.

 

And much better than taking another boring spelling test.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gratuitous Fart Jokes Can Be Found Anywhere

Particularly, in a cheese factory.

 

 

I hope they’ve invested in a heavy-duty ventilation system to protect their workers.

*   *   *

Department Of Privilege, Celebrity Edition

Diane Keaton is one of my favorite actors. She’s also a good writer. I enjoyed her two memoirs (“Then Again,” and “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”) for her life and acting observations in general, and also for her specific recollections of decades-ago So Cal life that only someone growing up in Santa Ana (as moiself and Keaton both did) can appreciate.

I just finished her latest book, Brother & Sister.  The book revolves around how her relationship with her brother devolved from childhood best buddies to somewhat estranged adults, with she and her sisters trying to be caretaker to their artistically-inclined, poetry-writing, alcoholic, mentally ill brother.  B & S has been…problematic, I’ll say.  Keaton writes with heartfelt simplicity, self-deprecating humor and candor, but this book is…missing something.  It’s lightweight in  ways that have nothing to do with its slim page count.  

Here’s my problem.  Keaton’s brother is alive today (although dying of dementia as I type this) because of a liver transplant he received 20+ years ago. It’s a problem I know about because Keaton is honest enough to include this detail in her book: she grapples (very briefly) with the fact that her name and credentials and connections (read: Hollywood movie $tar) – including a substantial financial donation to a foundation run by the hospital which did the surgery – enabled her brother to get the life-saving transplant he very likely would not otherwise have received.

 

 

Yep.  Her brother was/is a schizophrenic? /bipolar? (he received many mental health diagnoses over the years) and an alcoholic. His mental illness(es) meant he would be unable to follow the stringent, life-long, after-care routines of transplant patients (ability to do so is one of the primary factors used to calculate a patient’s position on the transplant waiting list).  He also was quite upfront about the fact that he did not intend to give up the prodigious alcohol consumption which caused his liver to fail in the first place.  And yet this man got a liver transplant, ahead of others who had been on the list before him.

David Crosby, déjà vu?  Musician Crosby’s drug and alcohol excesses were legendary, even among his hard-partying peers.   Moiself recalls being surprised when I read of his receiving a liver transplant (“He’s still alive?”), then disgusted to hear how other transplant hopefuls remained on the list while a druggie celebrity vaulted ahead of them.

Crosby’s transplant raised a number of questions including: (1) did he receive a donor liver so “quickly” because he was rich and famous, i.e. is the system fair? (2) should someone whose organ has failed because of a previous “abusive lifestyle” even be eligible to receive a transplant in light of the current donor shortage? (3) just how does the system work anyway?
(“David Crosby liver transplant sparks vigorous debate on fairness of allocation system,” Transplant News, 11-30-94)

Keaton was upfront in her book (but quickly moved on) about the fact that the preferential treatment allotted to her brother was unfair, but, after all, she was just a loving sister doing what she could for her brother.  Moiself, The Suspicious Writer Who’s Had Experience In Such Matters, ®  can’t help but think that Keaton’s brother getting an organ transplant due to Keaton’s connections is somewhat parallel to the fact that Brother & Sister, a slim rumination on family relations, would not have been published if it had been written by another (non-celebrity) author.

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Writers;
Sub-Department Of Yet Another Southern Border Crisis?

English novelist Anna Sewell, who was not a horse, wrote Black Beauty, a groundbreaking, “first person” narrative memoir of the titular stallion’s life as a London cab horse.  Beloved by millions over the years, BB was influential in inspiring nineteenth century England’s animal welfare movement.

John Steinbeck was an educated, financially comfortable, native Californian, not an illiterate, dirt-poor “Okie.”  Steinbeck penned Grapes of Wrath, arguably one of the masterpieces of American literature, his novel about desperate, impoverished Midwestern tenant farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and economic hardship.

John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American dramatist and husband and father. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck, creating Loretta Castorini, a childless, female, widowed Italian-American bookkeeper, as its memorable protagonist.

Ursula LeGuin was neither a dark-skinned androgynous denizen of an alien planet nor a Roman princess in Trojan war times, yet this American heterosexual white Earthling, managed to convincingly create the lives of these beings and more in books like The Left Hand Of Darkness, the Earthsea series, and Lavinia

Stephen King, who was not  [5]   a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl raised by a fanatical, hyper-religious single mother, somehow managed to authentically bring to life that character and more in his first published novel, Carrie.

Boys and girls, can you guess which of the latest writing-outside-your-tribe literary controversies I am not-so-obliquely referring to?

American Dirt, in case you haven’t heard, is a novel about a Mexican woman and her son, the only survivors of their family’s murder by a drug cartel, who flee for their lives and head for the USA-Mexico border.  AD was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection (which almost guarantees a bajillion copies sold, plus movie options) and received glowing reviews, including from Latina authors and actors such as Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez and Salma Hayek.…until someone pointed out that the novel about Mexican immigrants was written by a non-Mexican, and the cultural identity police dog-piled on.

The book’s author identifies as white and Latina and has a Puerto Rican grandmother, but that’s not Latina enough for some.  Seemingly overnight the book went being reviewed as a captivating story that could “change hearts and transform policies” (Alvarez) to being “racist” and “filled with stereotypes.”  Just as quickly, the author went from to literary prodigy to pariah…her publisher even cancelled book tour appearances because of “specific threats to the booksellers and the author.”

 

 

Education and history professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote about how reaction to the book is emblematic of our cultural “shaming” and “mob mentality” phenomena. There are people attacking the book who don’t know anything about it except that it’s been declared “problematic” and that’s enough to get them to revile the author on social media platforms:

Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek admitted that she hadn’t read American Dirt before she hailed Oprah Winfrey for recommending it and for “giving voice to the voiceless.” But then Hayek heard a different voice — also known as a Twitter mob — and she changed her tune.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight,” Hayek posted the following day, “and I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Do you think Hayek read the book in the intervening 24 hours and came to a new judgment of it? Think again. Her “research” was of the social media variety, confirming that a lot of people were very offended by American Dirt. And that was all she needed to know.

A writer for the celebrity website Hola! congratulated Hayek for backtracking. “It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong,” wrote Robert Peterpaul, “but Salma Hayek is gutsy.” Really? How much courage is required to put your finger in the air, figure out which way the Instagram winds are blowing, and adjust your opinions accordingly?

( “ ‘American Dirt’ controversy scores another win for mob mentality,”
Philadelphia Inquirer 2-3-20)

 

 

Can a book be “good” or “bad” because of/in spite of what you think about the author’s personal characteristics, or their “qualifications” to write it in the first place?  I’m not talking about textbooks, instruction manuals, or nonfiction – not talking about how, yes, you’d want a rocket scientist and not a manicurist to write a rocket science manual. But the qualifications for a fiction writer to write on any subject are a bit more subjective, and include interest, imagination, and empathy.

There are legitimate beefs being brought up in the AD brouhaha, having to do with the historical marginalization of “non-mainstream” voices.  From talk show gag writing to movie directing, arts and literature are (still) fields rigged by and designed to favor white males.  Many of these men are sincere allies of female/non-white artists; nevertheless, it is sadly apparent that they don’t understand that the playing field is (still) not level, as indicated by comments such as, that when it comes to voting for awards they “…would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”   [6]

 

 

There are *so many* conversations to be had about the historic and ongoing dominance of the while/male perspective in the arts in general and literature in particular, including who gets to decide what is “quality” and who’s perspectives are publishable or award-worthy…and who gets a million dollar advance for their book.

Novelist Ann Patchett, pointing out that the AD author had received a seven-figure advance for her novel:

“I read the book and I loved it…There’s a level of viciousness that comes from a woman getting a big advance and a lot of attention….  If it had been a small advance with a small review in the back of the book section, I don’t think we’d be seeing the same level of outrage.”
( “Cultural appropriation, say critics. Sexism, defenders say of the criticism. How ‘American Dirt’ launched a publishing firestorm,” The Oregonian, 1-27-20)

The thing is, now that the caca has hit the fan, no one, from layperson reader to professional literary critic, will be able to read or review the book objectively without their reactions and opinions being viewed through the warped lens of identity politics.  As I have written before and will doubtless write again, my main concern in these literary skirmishes is my concern for censorship (and worse yet, IMHO, self-censorship), in that a writer’s personal characteristics are deemed more important than their capacity for imagination, research, and empathy.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’ve watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.

The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.

In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

(“The Comments I’m Not Making,” 9-27-19)

 

 

Yep, I’m quoting moiself.  Because…I can.

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

Recipes:
* Mahogany Eggplant
* Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

My rating for both recipes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8] 

*   *   *

May you “play fair” in matters of life and death and organ transplants;
May you realize when the playing fields are and are not level;
May you eat less cheese (but tell more cutting-the-cheese jokes);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] My old nickname for joints, because of the effect it had on those who, unlike Bill Clinton,* did* inhale.

[2] And it was the early afternoon and I was already sober.

[3] More farmland in the USA is devoted to raising meat-animal feed than food for human animals.

[4] “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?”

[5] Although, with a Stephen King book, anything could happen….

[6] Author Stephen King made that Tweet, regarding the 2020 “Oscars-So-White-male” controversy. King, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gets to vote in certain Oscar award categories.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[8]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Character Reference I’m Not Providing

Comments Off on The Character Reference I’m Not Providing

Department Of A Blast From The Past

Enjoying the free time of the newly retired, I’ve been sorting through some old (VERY old) files. I found this letter your mom wrote for me to include in a scholarship application. However challenging her last few years were, I will always remember the sweet lady who took the time to do this for me.

A friend from high school sent me the above email earlier this week, along with a photo of said letter – my mother’s “character reference” for my friend.

That was so delightful of her to do that.  The letter made me laugh for several reasons, including the fact that it was for a “character recommendation.” I have no memory of needing a character reference for *my* college and scholarship applications. I do recall the jaw-clenching process of asking teachers for academic recommendations (and appreciating their patience, as it seems they were each juggling other such requests from at least twenty students), but “character” recommendations? I’m drawing a complete blank.    [1]   

Perhaps only certain kinds of scholarships required it (my friend was applying to a private college with a religious affiliation)?  In any case, I can’t imagine which adult I would have requested it (a character reference letter) from – and I know I would have dreaded the process.  However, variations on their possible responses do come to mind:

“Oh yes, I can attest, she’s a character…”

A sad – to me – historical/patriarchal footnote…that, unfortunately, remains more than a footnote some forty years later:  my mother’s signoff on the letter. My father could sign letters, recommendations and other documents of importance, legal and otherwise, with his name, which was also his “title.” They were one and the same.  Like so many women of that era, my mother’s own name wasn’t enough to confer weight to her declarations.  Just in case you weren’t impressed by her being herself, she had to parenthetically include her ownership status:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Heart-Blast From The Past

This week, eleven years ago, 2-11-09: he left this life, but not this heart.

My father, Chester Bryan (aka, “Chet the Jet”) Parnell, died on 2-11-09. The years have changed my grief, as I think (and hope) they do for most people.  I’ve gone from anguish to appreciation, in that I realize “the luck of the draw.”  How fortunate my siblings and I were to have had him as our dad.

The following photo: I have just turned 19, and it is my first Christmas home from college.  Chet was 51, and was eager to prove to his wife (my mother, nervous, behind the camera:  “Don’t throw your back out!”) that he could still pick up his adult daughter.

Moiself can’t be the only person to look at a photograph of a parent and feel a combination of awe and weirded-out-ness to realize that you are older now than they were back then, in that photo.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yes, I Really Did Do This

Dateline: recently. Listening to the Curiosity Daily podcast, the February 7 episode, alluringly titled, “Measuring the Deadliness of Viruses (Like Coronavirus), Why We Do the Potty Dance, and Depression’s Cousin ‘Acedia.’ ”

Moiself was compelled to send feedback to podcast host Cody Gough, who was bantering with co-host Ashley Hamer during the recap/closing moments of the podcast.  Gough made a statement that…well…I could not let it go unchallenged.

Dear Cody Gough,

I’m a fan of the podcast, and as such, I need to offer a suggestion re a possible correction, after listening to your most recent (February 7) episode.  In the closing moments/recap of the episode, when you and Ms. Hamer were discussing practical tips about how to avoid having to do “the pee pee dance,” in response to a strategy recapped by Ms. Hamer, you said:

“…as a gamer growing up, I can tell you that’s not an option.”

I believe you need to apologize to listeners for the oxymoron
(i.e., linking the concepts of “gamer” and “growing up”).

Keep up the good work,
Nit-pickingly yours,
Robyn Parnell

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Mere Words Cannot Express How Sorry I Am
That “The Irishman” Won No Academy Awards

 

 

There were two films I avoided seeing in 2019, even though they were each nominated for multiple Academy Awards.  Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I see a lot of (theatrical release) movies, and try to see all of the nominees for Best Picture and most of the nominees for the writing and acting awards.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to spend good money and lengthy ass-sitting time on Joker and The Irishman[2]

Joker, when I heard about its plot points from a friend, seemed too bleak and too venturing-into-incel-territory for my tastes.   The combination of a loner/misfit male blaming female rejection for his problems, and yet-another-comic-book-character movie…I’d rather stay home and organize the cat feeding bowls, no matter how much the (mostly male) critics seemed to be coming in their pants re the lead actor’s performance.  Then, I ran across this interview with Time magazine movie critic Stephanie Zacharek:

“(Joker director) Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture — but really, he’s offering a prime example of it”…(he) presents (The Joker) as a man beset by misfortunes, from unrequited love to Gotham City budget cuts…. In “Joker,” Zacharek says Phillips wants viewers to pity (The Joker) because “he just hasn’t had enough love,” but what he’s done is create a protagonist who could become the “patron saint of incels.”

Because she…wrote one of the earliest negative reviews, Zacharek “became a target of angry, derogatory, sometimes aggressively misogynistic missives from people who haven’t yet seen the movie.”…. Zacharek shared more specifics about the trolls who came at her with “sick burns” both on Twitter and Instagram. One called her a “lonely old hag.”

“It was just so stupid,” (Zacharek )said. “How many of these people are out there? These are people who don’t think things through, and if this is the audience that this movie is courting, that proves my point.”

(Excerpts from “Several male film critics praised ‘Joker.’
Here’s why female critics aren’t sold.”   The Lily, 10-13-19.)

 

 

Yep.

Moving right along… Martin Scorsese.  Oh, Marty Marty Marty – may I call him Marty?   [3] I’ve enjoyed a couple of his films over the years but never understood what all the fuss was about.  The overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male movie critics and members of the Academy love to refer to Scorsese as one of “the greatest living film directors.”  He is part of that (unofficial) Young Upstarts/Now Respected Veterans club – three males of a similar generation who came to films around the same time and who have earned venerated, call-them-by-their-last-name status: Lucas, Speilberg, and Scorsese.

I know it’s not a competition, but for movie directors, I prefer Spielberg over Scorsese any day, hands down. Spielberg has chosen such a variety of stories to present over the years, from Jurassic Park to The Color Purple, from Saving Private Ryan to Amistad, From E.T. to Schindler’s List, from The Sugarland Express to Lincoln…you can’t pigeonhole what a Spielberg film is.

 

Yes, the director of that also directed this.

 

Now, here comes Marty with The Irishman.  A criminal syndicate/gangster film – imagine that! What a bold, new path for him! 

I have become convinced that there are some male directors who, subconsciously or otherwise, choose subjects and/or time periods (e.g. they set their films “historically”) so that they have an excuse for the way they portray (the few) women in their films.  They are relieved of the burden of doing something they’re not interested in doing the first place – creating three-D, complex, female characters who have a role other than to decorate or prop up the male characters – because, you know, Authenticity. ®  (“Oh well, that’s what it was like back in the 1940s/ with Italian-Americans/in the gang subculture….”)

A gangster/crime movie – you can get away with having a few females in the background for window dressing. Female roles *can* be significant in these movies, but only in ways which relate to the protagonist, as per these Scorsese film examples (both via Taxi Driver ): you got Iris, the teenage waif/prostitute who needs rescuing, and you got Betsy, The Unattainable Icy Blonde Who Rebuffs The Protagonist’s Romantic Overtures  And Thus Serves As A Catalyst For His Violent Self-Destructive Spree ® .

I saw the trailers and read a few descriptions of The Irishman, and said to moiself, “Oh, please, again?  If this film were an Olympic athlete it would fail the male hormone doping drug test.”

With few exceptions   [4]  Scorsese’s films present repeating themes:   Italian-Americans and their American assimilation (or lack of); hypermasculinity (as expressed via crime and violence); the search for a father figure; ethnic (especially Italian and Irish) tribalism, religious (read: Roman Catholic) notions of sin and guilt and salvation; crime, organized and otherwise; male power male pride male bonding….

Several months back, before I knew a thing about The Irishman, I read a snippet of an article which used a retrospective of Scorsese‘s career as a lead-in to a review praising The Irishman.  When I came across the phrase, “Scorsese does it again,” my reaction was, “Oh please, say it ain’t so…and get that man into cinematic rehab.”

 

“Is this what it’ll take to get you to see his movie?”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [5]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Holiday Cooking (from Candle Café; multiple authors)
Recipe:  Truffled Tofu Medallions With Wild Mushroom and Pinot Gris Sauce

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6]    

*   *   *

May you delight a longtime old friend with a copy of an old letter;
May you enjoy the petty pleasure of insulting gamers (or gangster movies);
May you remember your good fortune in loving even those you’ve lost;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which could be indicative of my lack of character.

[2] And they made it easy for The Irishman, by releasing it on Netflix after it played in theaters for 5.6 seconds (or whatever was long enough to qualify it for awards nominations).

[3] That seems to be the moniker the Hollywood in-crowd uses to signal that they know Scorsese, or at least know enough about him to be so personal….

[4] Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; The Age of Innocence.

[5] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[6]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Images I’m Not Unseeing

2 Comments

Department Of Just Wondering

Moiself recently heard an ad for a health supplement product which, according to the enthusiastic supplement hawker, contains “…both prebiotics and probiotics.” This made me wonder (but not enough that I Googled it, found out the answer, and destroyed the mystery) what that means; as in, I don’t exactly understand the terms.   Are prebiotics biotics before they turn pro?

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can’t Unsee This,
And Now, Neither Can You

Dateline: Wednesday am. As usual at the breakfast table, the second section of the NY Times  [1]  I read is the Food section.  Imagine moiself’s surprise when my eyes are seared greeted, not by the customary page 1 depiction of a delectable dish, but by a photograph of hirsute, floppy torsos gathered around a kitchen island. The sickening spectacle picture accompanies an article titled, The Joy of Cooking Naked.

“Despite the occasional splatter burn, nudists say their relationship to eating, at home or in restaurants, is better and healthier without all the clothing.”

Well, of course they do.

I don’t know about y’all, but nothing takes moiself further from the concept of a “better” and “healthier” relationship to food that seeing man-boob hairs dangling precariously above the salad bowl.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of You May Notice An Ongoing Theme

Yet another rumination of mine related to my previous blog posts sparked by the story of Chanel Miller, the writer   [2]  who was raped by the Stanford student/athlete.  Miller’s profound query/accusation about social mores and attitudes about men and woman and rape and “consent” keeps coming back to mind…because the world we (as in, we women) live in keeps reminding me:

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given.
But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?

Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?

Yet another such reminder surfaced when I was in Tacoma, helping daughter Belle move to a new apartment.   Belle and I discussed the “reminder” (ah, the intimacies that can be traded while riding in a U-Haul cargo van) as well as how she, moiself, and other womenfolk we know have pledged, not to hector, but to remind menfolk at every opportunity how time- and resource-consuming it is to navigate as a female in this world. We’d like y’all to know that such reminders, when we share with you our stories of the latest “incident,” are not occasional occurrences. Rather, they happen All. The. Time.

The reminder of which I speak:

Dateline: two weeks ago Friday, in the early afternoon.  My car is parked around the corner from the entrance to the apartment building Belle is moving into.  We are each attired in clothing that could best be described as “moving friendly” (casual/exercise clothes).  Belle is on one side of the open rear door to my car; I am at the other side; both of us are about to pick up boxes packed with books, kitchen items, linens, etc.  

 

Is this enticing behavior, or what?

 

A man in his late 20s-early 30s swaggers by us on the sidewalk, reeking of attitude.  He is dressed inappropriately for the weather – no jacket, sweatshirt, or upper layers despite the temperature being in the low 40s, only a thin, tight tank top covers his muscled torso. When he is about fifteen feet past my car he turns around and calls out to Belle:

“I don’t mean to bother you, but you are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.”

Belle flashes a WTF look at me and mutters, “Uh…yeah…right.” I doubt he heard her.

I-don’t-mean-to-bother-you Man keeps walking, backward, as if (despite his claim that he didn’t want to bother her) waiting for Belle’s reaction.  And – I found this interesting – he makes direct eye contact with *moiself* while doing so, in a way that reminds me of a schoolyard bully issuing a challenge.  After three to four slow beats, he turns back around and struts down the street, on his original course to…wherever.

Belle and I heft boxes from my car to the apartment building’s entryway.  We return for more boxes; Belle gets there first.  As I approach the car I see Man #2 walk by, behind Belle, who has her back to him as she reaches for another box. This man remains silent, but cranes his neck, his eyes brazenly fixed in the proverbial glued-to-her-ass mode, as he slowly saunters past her.

As soon as Lech #2 passes out of earshot I tell Belle what I’ve seen.  In (only partially) mock outrage, I declare, “What is it with Tacoma men?!”

But before the comment fully escapes my mouth, I’ve already answered it, silently, to myself, with the exact rebuttal Belle says aloud:

“It’s not *Tacoma* men; it’s just…men.”

 

“If you hadn’t been dressed so provocatively….”

 

We talked “about it” later that afternoon, in the afore-mentioned U-Haul.   [3]   “About it” includes how a part of me wanted to say to I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, when he made the comment to Belle and then looked at me, “Hey, I’m her MOTHER.” “About it” also includes how another part of me wanted to ask him, “Why do you do that? (something about his manner assured me that was not the first time he’d commented upon the looks of an unknown – to him – female, in public). “Dude, does that *work* for you? Is she supposed to say, ‘Oh gee, thanks so much, come back in 30 minutes for your blow job?’ ”

We talked about how often these things happen to Belle and her female friends.  Moiself recalled how it was the *exception* to the rule when I was her age and, say, out for a run, to *not* receive any commentary from a man or men (passing by, in cars or on foot), about my appearance.  [4]  We talked about reactions Belle has received from people when she shares such stories – how a few folks, mostly men but sometimes also women, get…not angry, but slightly irritated or confused, and say something ala, “Well, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe he (I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man) was just one of those people who’s made a vow to say something nice to someone every day.”

I haven’t that vow, but as my children and husband can vouch, I do something similar: I make “nice” comments to strangers (both men and women), at every opportunity.  But, I know the difference between what I do – offer innocuous, always positive remarks –  and what I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man did; I know why I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man’s remark bothers most women, even if we cannot always fully articulate *why* it bothers us (hint: because we know we’ll get slammed for doing so).

I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man made a very personal remark to a person
with whom he had no personal relationship.

For a variety of reasons (mostly having to do with an, oh-this-is-serious/life-is-short realization I had many years back), I tell people, acquaintances and strangers alike, something complimentary about them when it comes to my mind. I’m no fucking Pollyanna, it’s just when I see something that makes me smile, I want to share it.

“Excuse me, that’s a cool coat you’re wearing.”

“Dude, that is one serious backpack – what a color!”    [5]

“Those shoes are fantastic, and they look really comfortable.”

“Oh, that looks like the happiest puppy in the world.”

“That handbag is great – I love all the pockets….”

All of these commendations have something to do with what the person *did* (they chose the backpack or shoes), with choices they made. They actively chose to buy that coat or adopt that dog or use that purse today; they didn’t choose their gender, bone structure, or physique.  Those type of observations (“Chartreuse is a happy color for a grocery bag, isn’t it?!”) aren’t personal, not in the intrusive and suggestive way comments about your body or appearance – especially from a stranger – are.

 

All this intensity deserves a Baby Sloth In PJs break.

 

Department Of Getting To The Point

A simple yet intense reality:  the risks faced or taken by I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, vis-à-vis those of any woman whom I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man  is supposedly not bothering, are quite different, particularly when it comes to possible outcomes of their encounter.  He gambles with rejection; she chances assault and murder.

What does he risk, at most, in making “compliments” to a (female) stranger?  She might ignore him; she might do the embarrassed smile thing; she might take offense and tell him to shut up or FUCK OFF,”….    He risks having his feelings hurt.

She, however: if she responds or acknowledges him *in any way,* risks encouraging a man she does not know into thinking he can approach her.  Have you ever talked to a police officer or counselor or other professionals who specialize in dealing with sexual assault cases? They’ll tell you that an MO for some sexual predators is to “test” women and girls, by making comments to them and seeing if they can get a response.  Ask almost any woman who’s been in this situation and has had some man, seemingly just passing by, say something to her, and then turn around and approach (or even follow her) when they get a response (even a negative one).

It’s lose-lose for women when they encounter I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Men. If you turn a cold shoulder/give no response at all, or or respond negatively to the stranger(s) who make comments to you, you are a cold/unfriendly/unkind/humorless bitch who’s making the world a mean and suspicious place.  If you do respond positively in any way, and then the man (or some man after that) approaches, pursues, and harasses (or assaults, or….) you, “Well, what were you expecting?”  “Why were you talking to or accepting compliments from a stranger?” “Why did you “lead him on?”….

 

 

My daughter’s new apartment is similar to her previous one, in terms of the relative sketchiness of its downtown Tacoma neighborhood.  Although Belle will be mostly walking to and from work, she opted to pay an extra fee each month for access to a parking space in a secured garage in her apartment’s basement.   I’m glad she did, even as I rue that extra expense for her, as well as the other costs that she and her female peers weigh and take on, in matters of security and safety that don’t occur to their male friends.  We live in the kind of world where it is more expensive to just navigate your way as a female – you pay extra in a variety of ways, from financial to psychological, to have one more degree of safety. One more thing that a guy her age walking to and from work, or to and from his car parked on the street, might not even consider.

 

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid that men will kill them.
(Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist)

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan For Everybody, by America’s Test Kitchen

Recipe:  Potato Vindaloo

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]    

*   *   *

May you keep your torso (etcetera) covered in *my* kitchen;
May you enjoy satisfying revenge dreams about causing strangers
who leer at your daughter
to have their genitals acquire Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections;
May you refrain from commenting on the bodies of strangers;   [8]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The first section is Arts, so I can do their KenKen puzzles.[2] Know My Name, a memoir of Miller’s assault and her life before and after her assailant’s trial and conviction.

[3] Which I’d rented for the heavy-duty, big ass items such, as bed, dresser, futon, etc., which would not fit into my Subaru Outback nor Belle’s Honda Fit.

[4] The intelligible comments were always related to that; sometimes where were just whistles, grunts, groans, and words that might be closely translated to, ”Hey baby….”

[5]  Actually, I rarely address guys as “dude” in real life. That’s what blogs are for.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[8] Or acquaintances, for that matter.  Unless either seems at risk of shedding man-boob hairs in your Caesar salad.