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The Dinner I’m Not Hosting

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* Taking my car through the car wash;
*posting links to the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” and Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,”
on Facebook,
and thinking of Way. Too. Many. other songs for the COVID-19 situation;
* hanging a bag of nut milk   [1]   to drain over the kitchen sink….

Someone has too much play time on her hands.  Girls and Boys, are you, too, practicing safe sex Social Isolation ® ?

 

Abby, my Emotional Support Avocado, who typically occupies the middle of the back seat (always safely buckled in – click it or ticket!), gets to play inside while I vacuum out my car.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Was Not Prepared For This

Dateline: Monday, March 16. Email from my yoga class studio (my emphases):

…effective immediately, we will be limiting class sizes to 9 students. With this class size, the “social distancing”
between students in our classroom can be up to 40% higher than the CDC recommended distance of 6 feet.
Our Older Student Population
Because you are in a higher risk group, we are recommending our students
who are 60 years and older to please stay home until conditions improve.

Moiself  immediately began thinking most unyoga-like thoughts:  Ahem, and WTF?  When did I get into a “higher risk group” when I can keep up with the Millennials in class and seriously kick some yoga ass  [2]  in pigeon pose….

Fine. I’ll be a Good Citizen. ®  It’s funny to me, how much that frosted moiself’s butt, to realize that I’d been placed in a Category.  The next day I was still a bit steamy.  [3]  Perhaps I’m overreacting…

 

Ya think?

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
British Invasion Edition

For those too young to wipe your own behinds remember, the British Invasion refers to

“… a cultural phenomenon of the mid-1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom and other aspects of British culture
became popular in the United States…. groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks…and the Animals
were at the forefront of the “invasion.”  [4]

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are, IMHO, are applicable to our self-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times. At first I thought to list them alphabetically, but had more fun arranging them in groupings:

* A Hard Day’s Night
* Don’t Bother Me
* Get Back
* Get Off of My Cloud
* Inside Looking Out
* Long Distance
* Run For Your Life
* You Better Move On
* You Won’t See Me
* You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

* Getting Better
* We Gotta Out Of This Place
* Help!
* Doctor Robert

* From Me to You
* Gimme Shelter
* Hello Goodbye
* Helter Skelter
* Here, There, And Everywhere

* I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
* I Feel Fine
* How Do I Get Close
* Worried About You
* I Want to Hold Your Hand
* You Can’t Always Get What You Want
* You Can’t Do That
* You Really Got A Hold On Me

* I Should Have Known Better
* I’ve Got a Feeling
* Misery
* I’m So Tired
* Ventilator Blues
* Wish I’d Never Met You
* Where Have All the Good Times Gone
* Who’ll Be the Next in Line
* It’s All Over Now
* The End

 

*   *   *

Department Of Another Way To Get A Good Laugh In Stressful Times…

…is to do something really stupid – something that makes you face palm yourself (which is one reason why moiself  is a Frequent Flyer when it comes to giggle mileage).

 

No question, that’s the most pathetic flying metaphor we’ve ever heard.

 

Dateline: earlier this week, after an at-home (of course) workout and before venturing to the grocery store. I change from my exercise t-shirt to a non- less-smelly t-shirt and glance in the mirror.  I reach for my toothbrush to use as an eyebrow brush: when I pull a snug shirt over my head, my eyebrows get a little unruly.

 

Not Andy Rooney unruly, but, still….

 

A second too late, as I have placed brush to brow, I realize that moiself had applied a small dab of toothpaste to the toothbrush a couple of hours earlier, got distracted, and set the toothbrush down on the sink edge without brushing my teeth. Thus, I now have very straight eyebrows with a dab of minty white toothpaste in them, giving me that certain je ne sais quoi (as well as a minty/fluoride scent wafting from my forehead).

The thing is, I did both brows before I realized what I was doing.  The second thing is, this is not the first time I’ve done this.  I’d say my average is once every two years.  Upside: my eyebrows have never had a cavity! So, yeah, I’m not absent-minded, I’m participating in an important research program involving the collection of dental hygiene data.

 

Stand back, she’s about to try SCIENCE.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Rescheduling Fun

There were to be ten of us around my dining room table on Tuesday, March 17.  Even before our state’s governor (in line with CDC and other health organization guidelines) called for voluntary social distancing, my guests began to cancel.

Not to worry, moiself assured my would-be guests via email, we will not scratch our celebration. We’ll just postpone it until…until we know more about what’s going on.  Also, I’m assuming my guests cancelled due to their concern for public health safety, and not as a commentary on my planned dining table centerpiece:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Silver Linings

If something is good coming out of this pandemic it might be the concept of social distancing, which may come in handy after Whatever Is Going To Happen ® has died down.  Playing it correctly and not overusing it, you could artfully excuse yourself from certain tedious personal and professional obligations.  Y’all know what I’m talking about: that feeling of, “I’d rather stick a Tabasco-coated tuning fork in my eyeball than attend…

* another of my nephew’s ukulele recitals;

* our Homeowner’s Association meeting on proper dog-walking and waste disposal protocol;

*my boss’s latest attempt to mitigate his blatant racism, sexism
and homophobia by holding a pronoun sensitivity training session;

* my neighbor’s latest pyramid scheme lure   Amway/Herbalife/Mary Kay bait setting-disguised-as-a-ladies’-cocktail-party….”

Repeat after moiself:

“Oh, gee, I’d love to, but for the sake of community health,
and as per the advice of my ____
(doctor/psychiatrist/pedicurist/Mar-a-Lago online Medical School and Virtual Putting Green website),
I’m practicing social distancing.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Problem Solved

“…1,135 people have needed intensive care in Lombardy, but the region has only 800 intensive care beds….
As the COVID-19 epidemic expands and the disease progresses, (ICU beds) are in increasing demand, especially because of the breathing problems the illness can bring. Every time a bed comes free, two anesthesiologists consult with a specialist in resuscitation and an internal medicine physician to decide who will occupy it.
“In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients,”
NY Times, 3-16-20 )

 

“Sometimes extraordinary problems require a supernatural response.  Fearless prayers is what is needed in this moment.
Let’s all pray for a swift end to the coronavirus.”
( Tweet by Jentezen Franklin, evangelical pastor, whose online service #45 claimed to have had joined for the National Day of Prayer to counter the coronavirus.)

 

 “…(Evangelist) Cindy Jacobs…said God told her to create a global day of prayer to stop the virus from spreading.
(  Mother Jones online )

 

 

When there is a shortage of vital medical equipment, Those In Charge Of Such Things ® face agonizing choices (and remember, every day in this country, people are placed on respirators due non-coronavirus related accidents/illnesses).  Should these triage situations arise in the United States, I’ve got a solution to easing the shortage.  Yes, I hereby volunteer to be Triage Czar.

 

I’m just in it for the hat.

 

Here’s how I’ll do it. Short of being able to talk to all ICU admit-tees and/or respirator candidates in person, I’ll design a simple questionnaire to be filled out by the patient or their designated medical representative, to determine the patient’s category.

Category 1:
Conservative Christians (and even the moderates and some liberals) and followers of any other religions (and the NRBS – “Not Religious But Spiritual” folks),
particularly those who claim to “believe” in the power and efficacy of prayer (or crystal energy patterns, homeopathy, reiki, etc.),
particularly those who pray for cures  (for any and all conditions, from cancer to “gay-ness”) for themselves or friends and family, and those who credit
supernatural intervention when they recover from illness.

Category 2:
Freethinkers, Brights, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists: religion-free folk
who hold a naturalistic world view and follow the guidelines of medical science.

How does this work, you ask?

Category 1: Y’all who put your faith in the supernatural, when you are admitted to the hospital you will be assigned a bed in the chaplaincy ward,
where you and the chaplains/religious /spiritual counselors/fellow believers of your choice
can pray pray pray pray pray.

Category 2: Y’all get the doctors, the medicines, the ICU beds, and the respirators.

Surprisingly logical, for a human.

You’re welcome.

Should be a most revealing data gathering experiment, if my advice would be followed and someone kept statistics.   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Wildwood: Cooking From the Source in the Pacific Northwest, by Cory Schreiber

Recipe: Apple-Cider Raisin Bread

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to medical care;
May you always remember what is on your toothbrush;
May you have an epic playlist when you are in social isolation;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Don’t have a cow, dairy industry – I realize that almonds do not lactate.

[2] Actually, kicking some yoga ass is not a thing.

[3] The day after that, all classes were cancelled.

[4] Wikipedia; British Invasion.

[5] Of course, many people of all worldviews, including the supernatural, will have an immune system up to the task and recover on their own.

[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.

The Exhaustion I’m Not Getting Over

Comments Off on The Exhaustion I’m Not Getting Over

“I want my non-women friends to look at Elizabeth Warren’s trajectory and
understand how fucking exhausted I am, every woman is, today. Exhausted.
Climb every mountain, there’ll be a white man there already who
took the lift, and gets the prize.”

I feel this tweet in my gut this morning. I’d just insert “old” before the “white man”, because I’m ever hopeful this will change. One day .

I got this from a friend’s Facebook page last week and have seen it shared many times since.  It originated as a tweet; since I have yet to inflict moiself with that particular form of social disease media, I depend on the kindness of others to share the goodies.

Yeah, it’s been a couple of weeks…  [1]  and still I hate the fact that this nails how I feel.  Why does the glass in this particular ceiling seem like it’s made of titanium?

There has be a word for this phenomenon – most likely from the language that gives us terms like Schadenfreude and kummerspeck and treppenwitz. Maybe….

Screwdenfrauenpolitikscheisse

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Forget Every Ten Years

Why do I get excited when the census questionnaire arrives…and then am disappointed, every time, to see how boring the questions are?

     

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Curse The Pollen

Pollen, an allergy trigger for one in five Americans, is surging year after year…. A recent study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found that airborne pollen counts have been increasing around the world as average temperatures climbed. The majority of the 17 sites studied showed an increase in the amount of pollen and longer pollen seasons over 20 years.
(“It’s not your imagination.
Allergy season gets worse every year.”
Vox, 5-21-19)

Dateline: earlier this week, at a grocery store.  One glance at the friendly checkout clerk and moiself can see that she shares something with moiself and one in five Americans:  seasonal allergies (aka, “hay fever.”)  Her friendly eyes are red, teary and itchy-looking; she is sniffling, and finally gives in to a sneeze, turning her head behind her and putting her face into her elbow.  The woman standing in line behind me sighs oh-so-loudly, which causes me to glance in her direction; thus, I see how she rolls her eyes in disgust and glares at the clerk as she conspicuously reaches for the bottle of hand sanitizer the store has placed by the checkout credit card scanner.

Although the clerk has finished bagging my groceries, I decide to linger and get chatty, in part to annoy enlighten Eye Rolling Woman.

Moiself, to checker: ”I feel for you…and I’m feeling it already.”
(I point to my own eyes and throat).
“Allergy season starts earlier every year, doesn’t it?”

Checker, nodding: “Yes, it does! And now, everyone is so paranoid…”

Moiself: “In the past few weeks, I bet every time you sneeze or cough you feel like you should have a neon sign on your forehead
which reads, “ ‘Hello – allergies!  They’re not contagious!’ ”

Checker: “Exactly!”  (she flashes me a grateful smile).
“I’m so tired of explaining it….”

 

 

Allergy season is here, America.
People, including moiself, are going to be sneezing and coughing.
Try not to lose your shit, and don’t assume every sniffle is an indicator of:

* influenza

* covid virus

* covert prius

* the heartbreak of psoriasis

* Ebola

* E. coli

* eHarmony

….and/or any other viral or parasitic infestation. Okay?

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Addendum/Apology re The Previous Department

I was thinking of the word/sound “flow,” from covid virus to covert prius to psoriasis, and meant no disrespect to people living with psoriasis (an autoimmune disease which, as Someone Who Knows pointed out, can be truly heartbreaking)!

I was thinking of that old commercial, wherein “…the heartbreak of psoriasis,” was used to promote an OTC medication (Tegrin), used for mild scaling of the scalp or skin, and which, like any over-the-counter medications, had no actual/beneficial effects in controlling actual psoriasis lesions.   But the alarmism of the commercial had the effect of getting people with just ordinary dry skin or dandruff to fear that they had psoriasis, and, as many doctors feared, it encouraged people who might actually have psoriasis to postpone seeking medical treatment and waste time and money on ineffective treatments….

Also, as MH pointed out to me: “There’s a whole lotta people out there who haven’t seen that commercial….”

Which I could take as a commentary on my age, but I’m not gonna go there.

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 5 in a series

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
(Erica Jong, American author)

Not that I think people who request advice (in particular, from advice columnists) are stupid.  Far from it.

It’s just that, sometimes when I read a Dear Abby-type letter, I can’t help but think,

“No, really – we’re supposed to believe that you *don’t* know
what to do in this situation?”

I started reading advice columns when I started reading newspapers, which was…I can’t remember, but my father once told me it was when moiself  was in first grade.  From the nationally syndicated columns of yore such as Dear Abby and Ann Landers, and today’s Dear Prudence (slate.com), Ask Amy, and sometimes even Savage Love    [2]   and many more, I found (and still find) them to be one of the more entertaining (and sometimes educational) features of the paper.

Even the bad columns could be “good”  in some ways, as in the jaw-droppingly sexist, regressive (even for its time) admonitions of The Worry Clinic, by George Crane . The Worry Clinic (an advice column which appeared in my parent’s favorite newspaper,  The Orange County Register, and which I have previously trashed described here) had some excellent take away nuggets: mainly, that its consistently contemptible, anti-wife/anti-woman admonitions were a useful eye-opener for the budding feminist that was moiself.

 

 

So many of the issues presented in letters from advice-seekers – from dealing with the expectations of demanding friends, unreasonable workplace dilemmas, nosy neighbors, clueless extended family, partners disagreeing over sex-love-money-pets-careers-whatever – seem to me to have one thing in common.  What you’ve got is grown-ass people asking for permission from (supposedly) objective grown-ass strangers to make the grown-ass decision to tell people the truth.

Dear Moiself,
Blah blah blah blah blah blah something funny blah blah blah
something WTF blah blah blah blah,
and, I mean, really – blah blah, right?
I’d appreciate your perspective.
No real names, please, I live in a small town.
Just sign me,
She Hates It That Friends Are Calling Every Day

 

Dear SHITFACED,
First of all, thank you for the lovely acronym opportunity.
It seems seems like you already know what you want to do;
you just want a stranger (with credentials!)
to give you permission to do it.  Consider yourself permitted.
Moiself

 

And she wonders why her advice column career never made it out of space dock?

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Way To Cook, By Julia Child

Recipe:  Steamed Eggplant With Parsley Sauce

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you never be too emotionally exhausted to try and tear down the glass ceiling;
May you receive (and give) advice with good humor;
May you be patient with allergy sufferers (and grateful if you’re not one of us);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] Since Warren and Klobuchar dropped out of the Presidential race.

[2] Although I admire Dan Savage as a writer (and activist), his advice column, Savage Love  (subject: sex, sex, and more sex)  is not for the squeamish. Many is the time I have quickly scrolled past questions and answers as I – who would likely be described in his column as a straight cis vanilla middle aged lady – see things I would just rather not read about, thank you very much…and, eewwwww….

[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

1 Comment

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.

The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Comments Off on The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Department Of Is This The First Bad Pun Of The New Year
Or The Worst Bad Pun Of The New Year?

 

 

So, if you identify as pansexual, would the above be an acceptable threesome?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Just Walk On By
While Looking Down At Your Cellphone
(You Know, Like Everyone Else Does These Days)

Dateline: earlier this week. Moiself had time to kill before an appointment, so I went to a nearby, large indoor mall.  It used to be *the* mall in our county, and I hadn’t been there in a couple of years… Wow. I can actually say that.

Anyway.  I am walking as I usually do in a mall: expeditiously, as if I have an Important Destination ® in mind.  I am passing a series of – what are they called, those mini-merchants, those booths in the walkways between the main stores on either side?  Kiosks? You know the ones, they hawk sunglasses and calling cards and everything in-between and upside down….

Anyway #2:  As I pass one of those kiosks an overdressed, hipster-ishy young man steps from behind the kiosk’s counter, holds out some kind of…sample, and says, [1]

“Something for your face, ma’am?”

 

 

Now then. If you are a young (-er than me) male, unless your name is Tex and/or you are wearing a cowboy hat and spurs, please don’t call me Ma’am.  Yep, that preference of mine makes it difficult for a stranger to address me (and if you are a stranger, why are you trying to address me?), but there you have it.

Anyway #3: “Something for your face, ma’am?”  My first instinct is to blurt out, “Are you implying that my face needs ‘something’?

I somehow manage to quash that instinct. I learned years ago that most people should think twice about asking a question if they don’t want to hear the answer.  Keeping in mind the time-tested wisdom about which Dionne Warwick sang, I just walk on by.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sports Team Names That Have Got To Go

Dateline: Later that same day, 1:45 pm, having a late lunch at a McMenamins Pub. I am seated in a corner booth almost directly under a wide screen TV mounted on the wall; the TV is at an awkward angle for viewing if you are seated where I am seated, and the server apologizes for this.  I don’t mind – I came to eat, not to watch a hockey game or whatever.

Near the end of my meal I glance up at the TV and see a headline on the bottom of the screen –a sentence moiself’s brain doesn’t register as being related to sports news:

Predators Hire John Hynes As Head Coach

PREDATORS have their own team ?!?!?!

I don’t follow hockey and have never heard of a sports team with that most unfortunate (IMHO) moniker, so for one gloriously short and moronic moment, I’m thinking that a group of priest pedophiles has hired a high profile lawyer…and what’s with those guys wearing ice skates in the background, and…oh…never mind…

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of “Best ____” End-Of-The-Year Lists

You can’t avoid reading about them, or even listening to them, if you are a radio or podcast listener. What with the changing-of-the-decade aspect to the year 2020, list-makers – from news pundits to music critics to podcasts hosts – have the chance to not only compile their best/favorite episodes of the year, but also of the decade. 

I recently listened to a Best Of TED Radio Hour podcast.  The Source of Creativity, which originally aired in 2014, poses a – if not *the* – prime question about creativity:

Is creativity something we are born with or can we learn it?

Questions like that make my brain hurt.

 

 

The episode featured excerpts from three different TED talks by three different speakers, on the subject of creativity.  “How do you get over writer’s block?” by musician Sting, gave way to Charles Limb, a doctor studying the way the brain creates and perceives music, who spoke on “What does a creative brain look like?”  By the time the third speaker, British education specialist Sir Kenneth Robinson, ruminated re “How do schools kill creativity?”   [2]  I found my mind wandering (this happens to us Creative Folks ® , you know) in the direction of contemplating my current/ongoing creative excursion: culinary pursuits.

I once heard cooking described as performance art. Those of you who know moiself, either personally or through this humble high tech scribble fest,  [3]   may recall that performance art is something I have totally trashed for which I have a little respect (“Oh, I see…you can’t actually do anything or make art, and aren’t willing to put in the discipline to acquire artistic talent and skills, but you can ‘perform’ a facsimile of it.”)  

Cooking as art?  Certainly, it can be.

 

 

Apart from the glut of television/streaming cooking shows, which can range from entertaining and motivating illuminations of craft/technique to dreadful, self-aggrandizing platforms for the host chef’s expansive and a blustering ego, I’ve never considered cooking, and the creation of meals and edible   [4]  delights, as a *performance* art. However, with my self-imposed sabbatical from fiction-for-publication-writing, I’ve come to see cooking and meal planning as a major creative outlet.

What I like about this particular art form is that it is recyclable and consumable.  When I experiment with a new curry combination I am not crafting an object  –  e.g., a painting or sculpture – to be a representation or an abstraction of a separate object or concept.   I am making the curry itself.  The dish will either be consumed and hopefully enjoyed, or ignored/disliked /discarded into the compost pile or garbage disposal…unlike the painting which may hang on someone’s wall until it migrates to the landfill (or the curry-themed short story collection which ends up on the remainders table at the bookstore).

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [5]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook, by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Nada.

Really. Flipping through the book’s pages, which I hadn’t done in years, I realized there was nothing I wanted to make.  Butter butter butter butter, and did I mention butter?

I keep this cookbook because a dear friend gave it to me and MH, along with the other Silver Palate cookbook, as a wedding present. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I would have – and did – make some of the recipes from the SP books.  But I don’t cook with those ingredients anymore. And didn’t feel like going through all the modifications to make the recipes palatable to my taste and health and sense of ethics….

About the latter: the SP cookbook recipes are dairy-and-meat-heavy, and this homey don’t play that game. It’s hard to address this issue without getting up on the you-know-what,

 

See?

 

…But please, watch the National Pork Producers Council’s chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom squirm, during her interview on the latest 60 Minutes segment, “Is overuse of antibiotics on farms worsening the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?”

The episode focuses on how and why public health officials investigating a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak were thwarted from visiting farms that provided pigs to contaminated slaughterhouses. Watch the veterinarian squirm on camera; try to imagine the idealistic young person interested in science and animals that she likely once was, now reduced to alternately shilling like a snake-oil salesman (she’s a veterinarian working for a pork lobbying group, for fuck’s sake) – and deflecting like a politician, for the unethical and barbaric factory meat industry.  Watch, and for the 659th time (if you’ve been paying attention) ask yourself, Do I really want to support the cruel and corrupt system that is industrial farm meat production?

Once again, I digress.

I keep these SP cookbooks in my collection, and always will.  They still make me happy, just to see them up on the shelf, and think of the good times with the person who gave them to us.  So, I appreciate the books and the people they remind me of…and I move on to the next cookbook in the list:

Tahini & Turmeric, by Vicky Cohen & Ruth Fox

Recipe: Saffron-infused Cauliflower Soup with Sumac Oil

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6] 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [7]   Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

Of course you can.

We’ve come full circle: say goodbye to the Partridges in my pear tree until later this year.

*   *   *

May your new year be filled with good puns (that is not an oxymoron)
and bad puns (that is not a redundancy);
May your musings on the source of creativity not stifle your imagination;
May you hold gentle thoughts for young men whose job it is to approach older women with
something for your face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Presumable to moiself as there is no one else in the vicinity.

[2] This talk had a rather provocative title, as it starts with an assumption, not a fact, as a given – that schools *do* kill creativity, and thus the issue is *how* schools do that, not if they do or don’t.

[3] Aka, blog.

[4] ‘Tis unfortunate, IMHO, that because the term edible has come to be associated with cannabis use (at least in this weed-legal state), I feel compelled to add a disclaimer: my edibles are not “edibles.”

[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) one 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.

[7] In our pear tree.

The Tree I’m Not Climbing

1 Comment

Shall we get this over with?  I mean of course, you just can’t get enough of The Dropkick Murphys when it’s “…that time of year.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Words Matter, Which Is Why We Use Them When We Argue

“We live in an age of overstatement and overpraise.  Something isn’t merely good, it’s awesome.  A movie or a TV show isn’t just enjoyable, it’s epic. Any performer over the age of thirty who manages to do good work isn’t just a solid professional, he or she is an icon.”
( Fresh Air Rock Critic Ken Tucker)

Moiself has been seeing the following cartoon shared several times (on Facebook), and it makes me want to tear someone’s hair out.  [1]   Let me edit it, I plead into the void, please oh please oh please:

 

 

The thing is, I like the cartoon and its sentiment that not all creatures have the same abilities, nor needs, nor environments; thus, to judge, say, a fish for its tree-climbing ability (fish live underwater and therefore cannot – and do not need to – climb trees) or critique squirrels (partly arboreal mammals which have no reason to swim) for its pathetic backstroke is unfair, even nonsensical.

 

Oh, but critique this, you cynic!

Stop. Do not be distracted by such foolishness.

Yep, I get the intention of the drawing, although I think the blanket criticism of Our Education System ® is unfair, as are most blanket statements (you know, like expecting all animals to climb trees).

But I’m wondering if the same person who drew the cartoon also wrote the caption?  If so, I’d like to judge them on their underwater tree-climbing ability, because the hyperbolic sentence, “Everyone is a genius” is a real butt-froster.

If everybody has a certain trait or is a certain thing, that no longer makes the trait/thing exceptional. It negates the definition of genius (used here and in that comic, as a noun):

Definitions of genius

1 (noun) unusual mental ability

2 (noun) exceptional creative ability

3 (noun) so,meone who has exceptional intellectual ability and originality

4 (noun) someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field….
( vocabulary.com )

Why was that sentence even included in the comic – what does the patently false/grossly mistaken declaration “Everybody is a genius” have to do with unequal consideration of different talents and abilities?

You can be very talented and intelligent and a hard worker, the top 10% of your high school class, and still not be a genius (don’t worry, there will be plenty of other hackneyed adjectives applied to you, most likely by your family, such as AMAZING!) It’s not all or nothing.

Your four-year-old nephew pounding out “Chopsticks” on his toy piano may be indicative of his interest in music,   [2]  but that doesn’t make him a genius. For a humbling comparison of true genius/exceptional ability, you may want to investigate the life of Mozart, one of the greatest (and most enduringly popular and influential) of classical composers, who began writing musical pieces when he was between the ages of 4-5 and who composed more than 600 works before his early death (age 35).  Better yet, just listen to his overture to the opera, “The Marriage of Figaro.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Would Someone Please Solve This Problem
(And Do So Before I Get Too Much Older)?

“It’s time to get serious about a major redesign of life. Thirty years were added to average life expectancy in the 20th century, and rather than imagine the scores of ways we could use these years to improve quality of life, we tacked them all on at the end. Only old age got longer….
‘….as longevity surged, culture didn’t keep up.
‘…. (we are) living in cultures designed for lives half as long as the ones we have.
Retirements that span four decades are unattainable for most individuals and governments; education that ends in the early 20s is ill-suited for longer working lives; and social norms that dictate intergenerational responsibilities between parents and young children fail to address families that include four or five living generations.”

(excerpts from “We Need a Major Redesign of Life,” Laura L. Carstensen, professor of psychology,
 Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity,
The Washington Post 11-29-19 )

Thank you in advance.  And whatever your solution is, make sure it includes dancing.

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Nutrition Champs, by Jill Nussinow
Recipe:  Smoky Sweet Black Eyed Peas

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]     

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [5] Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

*   *   *

May you be old experienced (or cool) enough to always be able
to identify this week’s Partridge;
May you know the definitions of genius, awesome, amazing, and other superlatives,
and apply them judiciously and accordingly;
May you remember that the solution to all problems should including dancing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Not mine – what good would that do?

[2] Or, he may just enjoy annoying the adults in his life.

[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) one 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 would 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.

[5] In our pear tree.

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