Department Of Autumnal Abuses
As delighted as I am to be able to wish y’all a (belated) happy autumnal equinox, as we enter this, my favorite season of the year, I am girding my proverbial loins for the onslaught of pumpkin-spiced products which flood the market at this time of year (and which one day may include nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon scented, loin-girding cloths).
Yo, y’all marketing types: Are there no other scents or flavors or ambiances associated with autumn – falling leaves? bales of hay? football cleats? – which can be exploited?
It seems you can’t spit (and moiself has tried) without hitting a pumpkin spice candle, room deodorizer, latte, coffee creamer, soap, lotion, shampoo, syrup, dried pasta, yogurt pretzels, dinner mints, liqueurs…but wait – there’s more.
If the devil  came to your autumn housewarming party, his host gift to you would be a bottle of pumpkin spice vodka, and this:
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Department Of 2020 Has Been Bad Enough, But…
I REALLY DON’T NEED THIS IMAGE IN MY BRAIN, OKAY?!?!?!?!
Dateline: last Saturday; early afternoon. I eject the exercise DVD I’ve been flailing about to working out with, and my TV reverts to…some old western movie. As I return the DVD to its holder and begin to take off my shoes and socks, it’s apparently time for an advertisement break. The images on TV change from Men on Horses ® to a series of sad/frustrated/dispirited-looking men holding up various curved/sagging vegetables: a curvy carrot, an arced cucumber, a badly bent banana….
It’s an advertisement for a treatment for Peyronie’s disease. 
All together now: “I’m no prude, but….”
I find moiself longing for the days when advertisements for undergarments couldn’t even mention which portion of the body the garment was for.
Remember when the makers of bismuth subsalicylate and other GI tract elixirs assumed that the public knew what their products were used for and did not reinforce the idea by showing us line dancers doing routines demonstrating which symptom they represented (e.g., Pepto Bismol’s Diarrhea Dame clutches her derriere)?
On second thought, more line dancers grabbing their butts! Less bendy bananas!
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Department Of It Was A Phenomenon Looooooooong Before It Had A Name
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence…..
Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t. Not yet, but according to the actuarial tables, I may have another forty-something years to live, more or less, so it could happen. Though I’m not holding my breath.
(Rebecca Solnit, in her essay,
“Men Explain Things to Me: Facts Didn’t Get in Their Way.”)
After hearing yet another friend’s story of Yet Another One Of Those Workplace Encounters, ® I’ve been thinking of the origin of mansplaining. As in, thinking that the woman who originated the term should get a Nobel Prize for Explicative Clarity. 
The term “mansplaining” was inspired by, but not specifically used in, the 2008 essay by author Rebecca Solnit, which I’ve excerpted above. Definitely a recommended read for anyone – make that, everyone – whether or not you’ve ever mansplained, or have been on the receiving end of a mansplaination, or don’t understand what the fuss is about.
My friend’s story reminded me of another story, one that returns to me now and then, ever since I read it,  which was at least three decades ago. The story, a brief recounting of a specific incident, was included in a writer’s longer magazine article on fatherhood. I don’t recall the entirety of the article, but the gist of that one incident the Writer/Dad shared is forever burned on my brain.
Writer Dad (WD) was working in his home office one weekend when his five-year-old daughter, “Junie,” came inside to see him. Junie had been outside with “Johnny,” a neighbor boy who was her frequent playmate. WD noticed that Junie seemed annoyed, yet also, oddly, thoughtful.
“What’s up, Junie-girl?”  WD asked his daughter.
“I’m mad, Daddy-man.”
“I can see that. Why are you mad, Junie-girl?”
“I don’t think I’m going to play with Johnny anymore. I don’t think I’m going to play with *any* boys anymore. I don’t think I like boys.”
“Why is that?”
“Because they tell you things you already know.”
“Oh… Um…not all boys do this, right?”
Junie nodded. “All boys.”
WD tried to placate her with his best Daddy-man smile.
She paused before responding with a resignation beyond her years.
* * *
Department Of Mansplaining ‘Splained
On July 19, 2018 writer and designed Kim Goodwin came to the rescue on Twitter, with this post, followed by her brilliant diagram on the subject.
“I have had more than one male colleague sincerely ask whether a certain behavior is mansplaining. Since apparently this is hard to figure out, I made one of them a chart.”
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Pun For The Day
I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought, “That’s the last thing I need.”
* * *
Department Of A Blast From The Past Which In Some Ways Reminds Me Of The Present
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay; 1998), I was visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana (CA). On top of the pile of periodicals suffocating their coffee table was the latest issue of a popular weekly news magazine.  Bold, fiery red letters announced the magazine’s cover stor, which was along the lines of,
“1968 – The Year That Shook The World.“
At that time, every other magazine and news outlet were doing stories on the 30th anniversary of 1968. I’d read several such stories, and was happy to see that magazine at my parents’ house, as it provided me with the opportunity to engage my mother in a conversation about 1968, which had been a pivotal year for people all over the world.
My mother wasn’t much for talking politics; even so, she sat down with me and began to reminisce. She remembered the morning in early June when I came out of my bedroom, groggy-eyed and complaining about a very disturbing dream I’d had in which Bobby Kennedy’s helicopter was shot down in our backyard… And I remembered how I looked up into her red eyes, realized that she’d been crying, and then she told me she and Dad had just learned that Senator Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the previous evening.
What with the assassination of MLK two months earlier, the nascent second wave feminist movement, the ongoing Vietnam War and student protests and civil rights protests and unrest around the world….. I recalled 1968 as the beginning of my political awareness, even as I recall my parents saying little if anything whenever I brought “things” up.
Mom admitted she’d used the “changing the subject” strategy when I’d wanted to talk about current events. She said she thought it was her duty to protect her children from depressing information over which they had no control (although she didn’t protect us from reading the newspaper or watching the TV news). Thus, even though she herself was very concerned about “everything that was going on,” she thought she had to maintain a sunny outlook for her kids and act as if everything was okay. “But sometimes…” Marion Parnell shook her head. “That was such a difficult year.”
I remember, it was as if a shadow had crossed over my mother’s face, even though the So Cal sun shown brightly through my parents’ family room window.
“Sometimes,” she murmured, “it felt as if the whole world was on fire… “
What made me think of 1968 is some of the streaming I’ve been doing, of episodes of a particular classic television show. History shows us that chaotic times often lead to the rise of dictators and fascist supermen, who promise security in exchange for liberty. As we presently deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and world economic insecurity, as well as the ramifications of *not* having every dealt with our country’s legacy of slavery and systemic racial injustice, and of having essentially ignored global warming with the resulting magnifying of wildfires and other “natural” disasters, all of this and more compounded by the political and personal corruption and gruesome lack of leadership by a puerile, tyrant-toadying excuse for a president and his sycophantic enablers, I’ve been seeking a nostalgia solace by watching reruns of a sketch comedy show which was launched during the chaos of 50 years ago.
Laugh-In (officially Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In) ran from 1968 – 1973; episodes are available via various streaming platforms, and I’m working my way through the seasons. Even as I’m (re)loving the episodes – for as much as the memories they bring back as well as the content of the episodes themselves – I’m well aware of the catch inherent for shows which strive to be topical: as you look back, the material is (of course and by definition) dated, and in some cases, even arcane. But, that’s part of the fun, for moiself.
I’ve no doubt that my young adult children would be somewhat confused (even bored), in the And just why is this funny? vein, by the show…and I must admit that many of Laugh-In’s slapstick schtick, gags and punchlines fall flat in 2020.
My offspring have grown up in a time when TV shows announce what MH and I call The Five Major Food Groups ratings (MATURE SUBJECT MATTER- SEX – VIOLENCE – FEAR -ADULT LANGUAGE). It is difficult if not impossible to have someone who wasn’t there appreciate the era in which Laugh-In began its run. How do I adequately impart to them what simple, naughty fun it was for a 12-year-old, taking turns watching Laugh-In with her friends at each other’s houses, giggling over the fact that the show’s sex and drug references are going right over our parents’ heads (and probably ours as well)?
In each episode I’ve seen there are several sketches/jokes about political or cultural hot button issues at that time, which make me stop and try to remember the references (“Ooh – that guy was a Nixon cabinet member…?”). Also, Laugh-In was not only topical culturally, but locally: it was shot in So Cal (in legendary “Beautiful Downtown Burbank“), and the writers inserted regional references into their skits. MH is 5 ½ years younger than moiself ; although he does recall watching Laugh-In it was the show’s regional references, and not its sex & drugs jokes, which confused him, as a seven-year-old Minnesotan. Even today, watching the reruns with me (which he does only as a last resort; i.e. when I’ve commandeered the TV), why would he get – or care about – decades-old jokes about Sam Yorty (Los Angeles’ mayor during Laugh-In‘s run)?
It’s been fun getting reacquainted with my favorite recurring sketches and characters. The Joke Wall; the Party; Tiny Tim, Wolfgang the German soldier (“Verrrrry interesting…”) ; Uncle Al the Kiddies’ Pal; Joanne Worley’s operatic complaints about chicken jokes and “Bo-oooooring!” and her never-seen boyfriend, Boris; Big Al’s Sports (and his “featurette tinkle”); Goldie Hawn’s giggling, vacant-eyed, Dumb Dora persona; “Here Come Da Judge,” The Farkel Family; Judy Carne’s Robot Theatre and “Sock-it-to me”…
Have there ever been a better-named pair of characters than Gladys Ormphby and Tyrone F. Horneigh?  And the worlds of television, cinema and theatre are forever in Laugh-In‘s debt for introducing us to Lily Tomlin. Her best known Laugh-In personas are Ernestine and Edith Ann, but my favorite of Tomlin’s characters was The Tasteful Lady.
Re-watching these episodes decades after they were broadcast, it’s amazing to realize that, despite the show being considered progressive, bawdy, and outrageous for its time…how do I put this? There’s no getting around how sexist much of the material was (but then, so was the country). And Laugh-In was only slightly less dated on much of its racial and cultural content (the few references to Native Americans were especially, stereotypically, cringe-worthy). But, that was then and this is now. I’ll forgive the show almost anything, because it gave the world arguably my favorite comic dialogue, from Tyrone’s and Gladys’ “hereafter” sketch:
* * *
May you never contract a disease which can be represented by a droopy vegetable;
May we soon live in a world where we don’t have to ‘splain mansplaining;
May you always know what you’re here after;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Of course, the devil would not come to such a party because he doesn’t exist. Those who know moiself realize that the supposition of devils and/or evil spirits is something in which I do not believe. Human behavior covers the spectrum – we do not need the supernatural to explain (or excuse) acts of cruelty…or kindness.
 As per those upright citizens of the Mayo Clinic, “Peyronie’s (pay-roe-NEEZ) disease is a noncancerous condition resulting from fibrous scar tissue that develops on the penis and causes curved, painful erections.”
 There is no such Nobel Prize, but maybe there should be.
 I think it was in Esquire magazine?
 As he recounted the story, he and his daughter had affectionate nicknames for each other (I made these up, as I can’t remember what they were).
 Time; Newsweek, US News and World Report were the big three – I think it was a copy of Newsweek.
 (pronounced “hor-NIGH”, to befuddle the censors)