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. 
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:
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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.
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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,
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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. 
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.)
Moving right along… Martin Scorsese. Oh, Marty Marty Marty – may I call him Marty?  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.
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  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.”
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Department of Epicurean Excursion 
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
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
Recipe Rating Refresher 
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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!
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 Which could be indicative of my lack of character.
 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).
 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….
 Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; The Age of Innocence.
 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.
* 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.