Department Of I Dare You To Listen To This Without Crying
The 11th: A Letter From George
I need to rephrase that, because moiself *wants* you to listen to this Radio podcast, even though it will make you cry.  Because a person you love, maybe even your own self, is either walking in Matt’s shoes, or will be, someday.
Matt is the grieving man who is interviewed in this The 11th: A Letter From George podcast, which, as per the Radiolab website, is part of a series
“… of mini pep talks designed to help us all get through this cold, dark,
But this is about someone trying to get through something arguably much more difficult, something a pep talk can’t solve, but that a couple friends — and one very generous stranger — might be able to help make a little more bearable.”
In the interview, Matt tells how he wrote about his loss and grief to a man who was, essentially, a stranger, after a friend had given Matt an excerpt from a book by this stranger, the author George Saunders. Matt found Saunders’ writing touching, and beneficial in that it wasn’t cliched:
“….he didn’t say it was going to get better;
he didn’t expect me to think that it was going to get better.
All it was, was just making me feel that the way I’m feeling is okay.”
Matt read from the letter he wrote to Saunders:
“Hello. I just lost my fiancé two weeks ago, and she was buried last Saturday. She was 29; we had just moved into our first house together and we were about to start our life. A friend send me an excerpt from your new novel and I keep it with me always…. I don’t even know if anyone will see this, but I just want you to know that you have helped me. I don’t even know what to do anymore, so thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve never experienced loss like this, and the only thing that’s keeping me from taking my life is that I know what it does to others. Be well.”
To Matt’s surprise, Saunders wrote back.
“Dear Matt. Oh, I am so so sorry for your loss.
That must be just unspeakably difficult….
I don’t really know what to say, except that someone told me this recently: that grief is a form of praise.
You are praising the wonder of the person you lost. The great pain you are feeling means great love. I can’t imagine that helps, but it is true.
It is like cause and effect, you really saw and knew and cherished her – that’s what your grief is proving, and proving that she was wonderful, and that you appreciated that….” 
Saunders later reached out to Matt on social media, to check in with him. Their correspondence is beyond touching.
You deserve, and probably need ,  a good cry, followed by a good uplift. You’ll get both if you listen to that episode.
* * *
Department Of Not The Murder Mystery Show I Was Expecting
Trigger warning: The following contains references to a “fact-based” TV series about murdered family members.
Dateline: two weeks ago, MH and I began watching A Confession, a six part BritBox series currently streaming on various services. I knew next to nothing about it; I thought it was going to be a typical murder mystery. But there wasn’t much of a mystery: the person who *seemed* to be the obvious perpetrator *was* the perpetrator.
Moiself only made it to the first part episode three when I realized where the series was headed. Despite the stellar acting and writing, I had to get up and leave the room.
It’s not a genre I spend a lot of time watching (or reading); still, it seems to me that in the typical murder mystery, the murder itself is or becomes almost a side note, to get the plot rolling to focus on
* the investigation and the antics of various law enforcement stock characters
(the jaded veteran, the /overenthusiastic but naive new recruit, etc.);
* the machinations of the legal/criminal justice system;
* what the crime and/or its investigation says about the larger culture.
The victim and family are not the primary focus. In many cases where the story is an adaptation of a murder/mystery novel, you don’t even care about the victim, who is portrayed as an unsympathetic character, thus sparking the whodunit intrigue (“Whodunit? The dude was a devious, hateful SOB – everybody who knew him had reason to dunit to him.”)
But A Confession, during the second episode, began to home in on the aftermath for the murdered young women’s families – their profound sorrows, horrors, regrets; their wrenching questions which will never be answered. This change in focus is a change I welcome for the genre…in theory. In practice, it turned out I was unprepared, and it proved to be too much for moiself to continue watching.
Perhaps because the subject personal is to me, I can’t help but wonder: do people who write these stories actually have close friends or family members who have been killed? I’m not talking about the classic or typical murder mystery series, many of which (e.g. the genre’s novels by Agatha Christie; Sayers, Grafton’s “alphabetical series”  ) seem to be almost…comical is not quite the word I’m looking for, but the tone is definitely light.
But A Confession was quite dramatic and realistic,  in terms of showing the overwhelming emotional consequences haunting a murder victim’s family and friends. And thus, my wondering: would anyone who has experienced this kind of a tragedy write such a story for…entertainment? And that’s what it is, isn’t it? We are watching a story about murder, to…pass the time, and amuse ourselves? Even if “fact-based,” the stories are not documentaries; we’re not watching them for edification, or to be informed as to, say, how we can avoid serial killers. And that proposition seems odd, to me.
Confession A: I was riveted to “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” the HBO documentary based on the book of the same name, about the serial rapist and murderer known as the Golden State Killer. Even though I knew what happened and how it ended,  moiself still wanted to see the portrayal of (at least partial) justice done, as I felt a connection to the story. I was in college near the area where the GSK started his crime spree – back then he was known as the East Area Rapist ( moiself previously blogged about his capture).
Confession B: Silence of the Lambs is one of my all-time favorite movies – although I’ve no doubt it would *not* be if it were a true story. Still, are A and B hypocrisies, or inconsistencies, on my part?
* * *
Department Of Watch This Instead
That would be the National Geographic documentary, The Rescue.
You are likely at least somewhat familiar with the against-all-odds, how-the-hell-didn’t-they-all-die ?!?!?, amazing true story The Rescue tells. If not, here’s a teaser:
One day in June 2018, members of Thai boys soccer team and their coach went for a hike in the Tham Luang cave. Most of the boys had been inside the cave before – exploring it was something of a local rite of passage, and they wanted to go further inside than they’d gone before, as part of a team-building exercise. (Two team members, who were tired and/or not feeling well did not go into the cave).
The cave became flooded; rising waters from sudden torrential rains blocked the exit and trapped twelve boys (ages 11 -16) and their 25-year-old coach when they were 2.5 miles from the cave’s entrance. Despite heroic efforts by Thai Navy SEAL divers,  search and rescue efforts were obstructed by the rising waters and strong currents within the cave. Having no contact with the trapped party for a week, Thai authorities summoned British rescue divers specializing in cave diving, who found the group alive, trapped on a cave ledge. But how the heck were they going to get them out? An international rescue operation was mounted….
* * *
Department Of A Flawless Segue To Yet Another Content Warning:
Department Of Next Time, Why Not Adopt An Egalitarian Mixed Breed?
Did you know that at least 60% of Golden Retrievers will develop cancer, and that cancer is the leading cause of death in all but 11 purebred dog breeds?
Calling all dog lovers: please consider boycotting watching the Westminster Kennel Dog Show, and all other such grotesque spectacles which celebrate the dog “breed standards,” which contribute to people’s preference for purebreds, which is responsible for the lack of genetic diversity within “pure” breeds and the resulting decline in the health of such dogs.
Holy doggy-do disposal device – think about it: the very term “purebred” reeks of…well, privilege (and even canine racism, one could argue).
And remember, the so-called “royal” families around the world have shown us what inbreeding can lead to.
“By age five, for example, half of all King Cavalier Spaniels will develop mitral valve disease, a serious heart condition that leaves the dogs susceptible to premature death. By the same age, up to 70 percent will suffer from canine syringomyelia, a debilitating neurological disorder in which the brain is too large for the skull, causing severe pain in the neck and shoulders, along with damage to parts of the dog’s spinal cord. And although Cavaliers may be a particularly obvious case of purebreds with problems, they aren’t alone. Most purebred dogs today are at a high risk for numerous inherited diseases….
For almost 4,000 years people have been breeding dogs for certain traits….But the vast number of modern breeds—and the roots of their genetically caused problems—came about over the past two centuries, as dog shows became popular and people began selectively inbreeding the animals to have specific physical features. Over time the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other such organizations have set standards defining what each variety should look like. To foster the desired appearance, breeders often turn to line breeding—a type of inbreeding that mates direct relatives, such as grandmother and grandson.”
(“Although Purebred Dogs Can Be Best in Show, Are They Worst in Health?”
Scientific American )
Because some humans think it’s cute for a dog to have, for example, a smashed-in face (ala the pug and bulldog varieties), dogs have been bred to emphasize features and traits that humans find adorable but which are in fact genetic disorders and malformations.
The multi-exotic-breed-mania has infected the cat world to a lesser degree. You don’t see the extremes in domestic cats:
* 43 – 71 recognized breeds (depending on what authority you listen to) ranging in size from a 5 lb Singapura to a 20 lb Main Coon
that you do in dogs:
* 360 recognized breeds, ranging from a 4 lb Chihuahua to a 300 lb English Mastiff.
Many veterinarians, biologists, cat breed associations, and other animal lovers want to keep it that way. Noting that it is cruel to breed animals with genetic deformities intentionally, they protest the breeding of The Munchkin (aka “sausage cat”), a relatively new breed of cat characterized by very short legs caused by a genetic mutation.
While many people think Munchkins are cute (and call them the “wiener dogs” cats), their stunted limbs impact their mobility – they struggle to run and jump, and suffer from back and hip problems similar to those experienced by short-legged dog breeds. 
“Much controversy erupted over the breed when it was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1997 with critics voicing concern over potential health and mobility issues. Many pedigree cat associations around the world have refused to recognize the Munchkin cat due to the welfare of the breed and severity of the health issues, including the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
(Wikipedia, Munchkin cat entry)
“Andrew Prentis, of Hyde Park Veterinary Centre has warned that it’s cruel to breed the cats knowing of their physical defects. He said: ‘The cat in its natural form has evolved over thousands of years to be pretty well designed and to be very efficient, healthy and athletic. The idea that someone wants to breed them to have effectively no legs and for entirely cosmetic reasons is very disappointing.’ …
A spokesperson for PETA told Metro.co.uk: ‘Let’s leave cats be and admire them for their natural selves. They’re not bonsai trees to be contorted into unnatural shapes on a selfish whim.
‘The demand for ‘designer pets’ is fueling cruel breeding practices that cause animals to suffer from painful, debilitating conditions such as lordosis, whereby their spinal muscles grow too short, meaning that the spine arches inwards, because their bodies are unnaturally long. People who buy them view them in the same way one might a designer handbag – and once the novelty wears off, many animals will inevitably be abandoned, putting extra strain on already overburdened shelters.
‘And while breeders continue to profit from churning out felines with genetic mutations, thousands of healthy, highly adoptable cats languish in shelters, just waiting for someone to take them home.’
( excerpts from “Vets are warning animal-lovers to stay away from the cruel trend
for so-called sausage cats.” UK Metro )
Please, please, next time, adopt a mixed-breed, aka, a mutt. If the demand for “pure” breeds (and “designer” breeds  and hybrids ) goes away, so will the supply.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Royal Inbred Family Edition
The 17th century French royalty depleted their treasury…
I guess you could say they were baroque.
What was the Russian royalty’s favorite fish?
My dentist told me that I am a royal descendant!
I get my crown next week.
What member of the royal family should always carry an umbrella?
The Reigning Monarch.
* * *
May you advocate for the mutts of this world;
May you appreciate the heroic efforts of rescue divers
(while not being reckless enough to need their services);
May you forgive yourself for enjoying Silence of the Lambs; 
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 If it doesn’t, then there’s something wrong with you. Yes, that’s judgmental of me, but here, in this space, I am The Judge. What, you didn’t get the memo?
 Excerpts from Saunders’ response (my emphases).
 Yeah, presumptive of moiself, isn’t it?
 “A is for Alibi…”B is for Burglar”… “C is for Corpse”….
 From what I saw, which, again, is why I couldn’t watch the series to its conclusion.
 I’d read the book.
 One of whom tragically died during an attempted rescue.
 (e.g. dachshunds and corgis, which were also bred for a naturally occurring but distorting and potentially crippling genetic mutations)
 For example, labradoodles, whose creator later lamented his decision to create the breed, saying, “I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster.” (“Health Problems in Labradoodles.”)
 Four Facts About Hybrid Dogs Unethical Breeders Don’t Want You to Know
 Which is a finely crafted film, from writing, directing, acting, cinematography and soundtrack – the whole cinematic enchilada.