Department Of Whatever Stupid Thing You’ve Done,
You’ll Feel Better About Yourself After Reading This
Dateline: Wednesday, ~ 8 am; trying to squeeze in some advance dinner prep – mixing up a plant-based Caesar salad dressing – before my 9 am streaming yoga class.
Usually, I turn the blender off, LIKE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO, when I tap down/add more ingredients, etc. But I was just going to scrape a bit of the dressing down the sides of the blender, and it was such a small spatula…
Before I knew it the blender blades grabbed the spatula, whirled it around and ejected it, along with most of the blender contents. My hair and face were blotched with salad dressing, as were parts of the kitchen, including the ceiling, nearby cabinets and counters, appliances, the kitchen floor…. Lemon juice, caper brine, Dijon mustard and other acidic ingredients in the dressing stung my eyes (and the next day I noticed blotches of acid burns on my face – hopefully, the marks will fade/heal in a few days). 
After I rinsed my eyes and face and beheld the kitchen, moiself’s heart sank. Where to start? I called upstairs to MH: “Uh, I need your help down here…” He descended the stairs; I led him to the kitchen carnage and said, “Now, you can’t laugh, because I could have blinded myself.”
Later, after we’d cleaned up as best we could, MH tentatively asked, “Can we laugh now?”
This is my contribution to the never-ending, You think *you* did something stupid? Listen to this!, make-everyone-feel-better campaign. This was a public service on my part.
I happened to have a haircut appointment that afternoon, and my haircutter got a kick out of my explaining why she might find bits of dried yellowish gunk in my hair. I’d managed to clean most of it out, then stopped when I remembered, “Ah yes, I’m getting a haircut in a few hours and a professional is going to wash my hair….”
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Department Of Yeah, We All Know How, Sooner Or Later, Drunks Who “Lose Their Way”
Decide To Defraud The Government And Buy A Lamborghini
(excerpts from “Orange County man who bought luxury cars with COVID relief funds sentenced to prison,” LA Times, 2-18-23, my emphases)
“An Orange County man who fraudulently obtained $5 million in pandemic relief loans and then spent the money on lavish vacations, luxury sports cars and his own personal expenses was sentenced Friday to 4½ years in prison….
Mustafa Qadiri…obtained the funds by submitting loan applications to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress created in March 2020 to provide emergency aid to small businesses struggling to survive amid COVID-19 related shutdowns and other business interruptions….
Qadiri…filed the applications…on behalf of four separate Newport Beach companies, none of which were actually in operation at the time…lied about the companies’ employee numbers, falsified bank balances and created fake tax returns….
Several friends who wrote character references for Qadiri…described him as a caring and generous man….successful in business early in life, then suffering from alcohol abuse in recent years — which caused him to lose his way.”
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Department Of I’m Still Thinking About This
Dateline: early eve, February 5. Texting with a friend who was watching the show, moiself realized the Grammies were on and I’d forgotten about it. I quickly turned on the TV, but ended up switching back-and-forth between the telecast and a recording of the latest SNL, because the Grammy Awards show was, for the most part, IMO, rather tedious.
I know it’s not an award show these days unless someone gives a speech about how progressive and inclusive they or their idols are. So, there was that. But another, unexpected drag was having that panel of non-industry folk (read: music fans) giving their take on why *their* favorite song should win the Record of the Year award. Really? If I wanted to hear the opinion of average Joes re what song they like I’d get together with a bunch of my neighbors and we’d just talk about it.
When I’m watching a show celebrating the arts, I’m watching for the art being celebrated. If the show is (ostensibly) about celebrating popular music, I’m watching for the music performances, not the speeches. Perform, y’all, not preach! I want to see the performers sing and play their songs, more than I care about whether or not they get an award.
And then: the MF (Madonna’s face) brouhaha.
“Look, I don’t know exactly what has happened to Madonna’s face, but like the rest of you I can neutrally observe that most 64-year-olds do not emerge from the back-end of middle age with a brow line as smooth and hard as polished river rock. Earlier this week she appeared at the Grammys looking rather [insert your own kind or unkind adjectives; I’m not going to do it for you], and people noticed in a very big way, and by the next morning news outlets like the Daily Mail had lured in a whole scalpel of plastic surgeons to dissect what they believed had gone into the situation, and into Madonna.
Soon the artist herself responded via Instagram. ‘Many people chose to only talk about Close-up photos of me Taken with a long lens camera By a press photographer that Would distort anyone’s face!!’ she wrote…”
“…and no, I do not understand her capitalization rules but I am reprinting them because with Madonna you never know when something is a mistake and when something is a curated message. ‘Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny That permeates the world we live in.’
She is right, of course, about the misogyny in particular. The takeaway from President Biden’s State of the Union speech was, his best performance in years, not what is going on with his eyelids? but the takeaway with Madonna — an icon who has been steering culture since Ronald Reagan was in office — was, did Madonna’s face eat Madonna’s face?”
(excerpts from “The unacceptable Look on Madonna’s face: We seem so horrified when women age, no matter how they try to do it.”
Monica Hesse, The Washington Post, 2-9-23 )
I was watching that part of the Grammies show, where Madonna (who apparently hasn’t toured/has stayed out of the public eye for a couple of years) introduced a couple of performers. A part of me still wants proof that it is/was Madonna who did so. Is DNA photo analysis a thing yet? Had she not been introduced as Madonna, moiself would not have recognized one of the most recognizable figures in pop music. And I assumed the long-distance filming of her – not a still photographer’s shot, but the camera filming her, while she was speaking – was because the camera operators were equally appalled and thought that a closeup would be…well…even more cruel.
Of course, the pundits had to weigh in via the various news outlets. Judging from what I read, some of the op-ed writers needed cognitive enhancement even more than Madonna thought she needed Botox. I’m thinking of author Jennifer Weiner’s NY Times guest essay. Her essay title alone is worthy of a cosmetically enhanced face palm:
“Madonna’s New Face Is a Brilliant Provocation”
Oh, deary dear deary deary. Ms. Weiner, y’all be trying to sell us a big festering turd on that one. That “new provocation” is the same old capitulation to the wolves of sexism and ageism wrapped in the sheep’s clothing of cosmetic “enhancement.”
(excerpt from Weiner’s essay)
“…Beyond the question of what she’d had done, however, lay the more interesting question of why she had done it. Did Madonna get sucked so deep into the vortex of beauty culture that she came out the other side?….
Perhaps so, but I’d like to think that our era’s greatest chameleon, a woman who has always been intentional about her reinvention, was doing something slyer, more subversive, by serving us both a new — if not necessarily improved — face and a side of critique about the work of beauty, the inevitability of aging, and the impossible bind in which older female celebrities find themselves….
‘I have never apologized for any of the creative choices I have made nor the way that I look or dress and I’m not going to start,’ [Madonna] wrote on her Instagram on Tuesday. ‘I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come.’
Moiself will let a couple of letters-to-the-NYT-editors writers have a go:
Ms. Weiner quotes Madonna as saying, “I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come.” I am curious, how does this represent trailblazing?
Cosmetic surgery for approval or attention, even self-approval, seems less like trailblazing and more like objectification. To see more women aging naturally in the media spotlight would be the definition of a trailblazing and daring example to set.
(ST, Los Angeles)
Jennifer Weiner writes, “I’d like to think that our era’s greatest chameleon, a woman who has always been intentional about her reinvention, was doing something slyer, more subversive, by serving us both a new — if not necessarily improved — face and a side of critique about the work of beauty, the inevitability of aging, and the impossible bind in which older female celebrities find themselves.”
Please. As a 65-year-old woman, I can tell you: Having extreme surgery is certainly not a new way to “ ‘critique’…the work of beauty, the inevitability of aging, and the impossible bind” in which all older women find themselves….
It strikes me as extremely sad that so many beautiful women in their 40s, 50s and 60s think that erasing their years cosmetically — cutting themselves open, pulling or pushing their skin and rearranging their faces — is a reasonable approach toward getting older….
Here’s the thing, Weiner, and all y’all other defending-Madonna pundits: I (duh and of course) am with you on the sexism and aging thing, and about criticizing the culture that “makes” women think that they have to cosmetically mutilate enhance themselves to hide the physical manifestations of continuing to live (i.e., aging). But your opinions are only half correct. Yes, the culture blah blah blah, but cosmetic procedures are also an individual choice, especially for someone with as much money and influence as Madonna.
Does Madonna, or any other performer, sincerely want to be radical and provocative and trailblazing? Then show – *be* – an honest portrait of individual aging. Madonna’s extensive work reinforces, rather than critiques, the unfairness and stereotypes of women and aging, and does *nothing* to change or challenge the ”impossible bind” re women and their appearance, nor does it recognize the power of the individual to dare to age publicly, gracefully, and even proudly.
I highly doubt that an Isis-backed, terrorist-funded, plastic surgeon’s team kidnapped Madonna at gunpoint. No one forced her to do the procedures she chose. Societal pressures, schmessures – of course that exists. But to somehow paint Madonna (or any woman who succumbs to the real and pervasive social coercion to erase wrinkles/dye hair/hide any evidence of aging) as a victim is infantilizing. Would we do the same for men, in a slightly different but ultimately related topic – as in, would we excuse misogynistic behavior by noting that society was primarily responsible? Would we accept the rationalization of the bricklayer who, when called out for cat-calling women who pass by his construction site, says in his defense, “Yeah, I know it’s not right, but this is the society I live in, and I was raised to see women this way.”
Sure, females in the public eye, from news anchors to performers to politicians, have been enculturated to see themselves and other women in a certain way…and in Madonna’s case she absolutely participated in setting up her ever-youthful, hyper-sexualized image that can only and ultimately boomerang and provide a then vs. now, comparison downfall. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Consider poet/singer/songwriter/photographer/author, Patti Smith, who at age 76 continues to produce her art. Not only is there no evidence that a surgeon’s scalpel or Botox syringe has ever penetrated her skin, Smith doesn’t even dye her graying hair.  But then, Smith never based her music and art on her appearance or sexual allure (as Madonna definitely did/does, whether or not you think that by her doing so she exploits or critiques the phenomenon). Smith’s music and poetry – her body of work – have always focused on what’s beneath the surface, unlike so many female performers where their body of work is entangled with their the presentation of their physical bodies.
…and speaking of so many performers, when I beheld many of the other/younger female performers I saw on the Grammy show …. Oh, dear, I felt so old.
I felt like I wanted to be their Wise and Beloved Auntie® whom they invited backstage; I wanted to tap them on their shoulders, point to Madonna and say,
This could be you someday. Have you noticed how your male musicians/actors/emcees/performer peers are not showing as much skin as you are, and have you thought about why?
You’ve been lied to if you think that displaying your sexuality means you are taking control of it and are not in fact being defined and exploited by your appearance. By creating this body of work that has more to do in some ways with your body than your work, although you may want to keep working on the work, your actual body will crease and change and fade…and then what?
When you make your face and your body such a vital focus in your presentation of your art, *that* will be what your audience will focus on. They’ll be writing and talking and posting about *you* one day – and not about your work, but about how your face looks like a rhino’s ass.
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
(Warsan Shire, Somali-British poet, writer, teacher)
* * *
May you not need reminding to turn off a blender when you poke it;
May you never confuse greed with “losing your way;”
May you fight the misogynistic powers that tempt you to embrace “anti-aging”; 
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 They have…but not completely, yet.
 nor even combed it, as a snarky Rolling Stone magazine writer speculated many decades ago, in his profile of Smith.
 And the Oscars and Emmys and all of them.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org
 And remember that the only sure fire way not to age is to die.