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The Seasonal Spice I’m Not Appreciating

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Departments of Heroes and Villains

First, the good guys:

Goodbye to one of Oregon’s – and the nation’s – finest.  Donald G. Malarkey, a WWII paratrooper and NCO with the 101st Airborne Division’s legendary Easy Company, died on September 30, at age 96.

Malarkey’s story, and those of his fellow Easy Company paratroopers, is told in the finest historical miniseries of all time (IMHO, but don’t even attempt to argue with me), based on the book of the same name, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.

Several times in this space  [1] have I mentioned my fondness for the series, and how much the series meant to my father (also a WWII paratrooper).  Like everyone I’ve spoken with who’s watched the HBO series, I became absorbed in some way with each of the very different soldiers’ very different stories. That said, Malarkey (portrayed by the terrific actor, Scott Grimes  [2] ) stood out in many ways. It was engrossing and heart-tugging to watch him transform from the wise-cracking, amiable, optimistically brash private in paratrooper training to the haunted lieutenant, a veteran of some of the most bloody and decisive battles of the ETO. In the series’ interviews with the surviving members of Easy Company, the real (i.e. non actor) Malarkey evinced the survivor’s pain and humility (Why am I here and my buddies are not?), decades after the incidents portrayed in the series, that came from seeing his good friends blown to bits and/or severely maimed.

A far better tribute to your country than standing and saluting a damn piece of cloth “the flag” would be to educate yourself about The Big War, which continues to affect politics and policies, for good and ill, to this day. Band of Brothers offers a slim time portal…a window through which to look back at what so many of our fellow citizens – our friends and family – endured (and sacrificed) during those times.

 

 

 

Malarkey

 

*   *   *

 

different

 

 

Department Of Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish… And One Regressive Sexist Pig

The good riddance news: Hugh Hefner is (finally!) dead.

The bad news: people keep eulogizing him as if he were some kind of progressive pioneer and/or First Amendment activist.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yeah, really.

Hugh Hefner was a First Amendment activist the in the same way that my cousins who used the N-word were free speech advocates.

As an op-ed piece in The Independent put it,

To claim that Hefner was a sexual liberationist or free speech idol is like suggesting that Roman Polanski has contributed to child protection.
( “Hugh Hefner was the ultimate enemy of women – no feminist anywhere will shed a tear at his death” Julie Bindel, The Independent )

Friend RE noted with disgust on Facebook that people are “…holding Hugh Hefner up as some sort of humanitarian, or even making jokes that indirectly show admiration for this absolute scum of a person.”

Just the idea of using those three H words – Hugh and Hefner and humanitarian – in the same sentence is ludicrous.  If you were to publish a book about Hugh Hefner’s “humanitarianism” it would be one of the smallest books every printed, vying for that claim with Saudi Arabian Sports Legends, The Wit and Wisdom of Dick Cheney, and Authentic French Vegan Cookery.

Some feminists felt they had to make an uneasy alliance with HH, due to his financial support for abortion rights when times were tough in the pro choice movement. [3] But HH, a profiteer of mid-twentieth century/post-WWII prudery, [4] didn’t give a lecherous rat’s ass about women’s right to self-determination and bodily integrity. Rather, his support for abortion rights fit into his philosophy of as much sex as possible with as many women as possible…and some of them are going to get pregnant, and if you can convince them to have an abortion you don’t have to marry them and/or pay child support.

I even ran across a blurb lauding HH for supporting “feminist causes.” That would be news to the Predator-in-Chief, himself, who in an infamous 1970’s memo (leaked by secretaries at Playboy) lambasted a reporter, who thought she’d been assigned to do an objective story on the Women’s Movement for Playboy magazine, for not doing a hatchet job on feminists:

“These chicks [feminists] are our natural enemy,” wrote Hefner. “It is time we do battle with them… What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart.”

Finally, some harsh reflections and truth-telling have been getting through (Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner, and How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, and this piece in Salon,  among others)…which, apparently, is upsetting to some HH fans.

One Trump fan and singer who says she’s known Hefner since she was a teenager is beseeching commentators, “Please don’t trash a man with class.” [5]

 

 

yeahright

 

 

A tRump fan who thinks HH was a man with class? What a shocker.

I don’t know what flipped my stomach more over the years – the pajama-clad pimp himself, or the fact that many people thought it “hip” or “classy” to be associated with a third rate smut peddler sporting a fourth rate dye job. Some celebs thought it was a sign of coolness to be invited to the Playboy mansion. Bill Cosby was a frequent Playboy mansion guest…yet another shocker. Perhaps it was there that Cosby learned his Quaaludes strategy for “allegedly” drugging and then raping women. Hefner was a fan of the powerful sedative, which he often pressured his girlfriends and “bunnies” to take – he referred to Quaaludes as thigh openers.

Excuse me, tRrump fan, you were saying something about a man with class?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Enough Is Enough

‘Tis the season, again. And again and again and again.

Come October, it used to be you couldn’t walk within 30 feet of a Starbucks without getting a whiff of a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin spice chai or pumpkin spice frappuccino.  But now, in 2017: pumpkin spice – it’s not just for coffee shops anymore.

Have you noticed?  It’s everywhere. There are, of course, pumpkin spice scented candles and baked goods.  But, hey, Pumpkin Spice Industry ® , y’all be gettin’ outta hand.  I came across a pumpkin spice bathroom deodorizer. Finally, humanity has the means with which to fool guests to our homes into thinking that it was a festive autumn squash dessert which took a dump in our toilets!

 

rejoicing

And there was much rejoicing.

 

 

And the other goods…yikes. These are just some of the pumpkin spice products I’ve seen/heard of in the past week:

* pumpkin spice chutney
* pumpkin spice pasta
* pumpkin spice shampoo and conditioner
* pumpkin spice body lotion
* pumpkin spice antiperspirant
* pumpkin spice toothpaste
* pumpkin spice doggy chew toy
* pumpkin spice cough drops
* pumpkin spice vinegar

 

You can even purchase a pumpkin spray on spice, to apply to presumable anything that has somehow escaped being pumpkin-ized. (the spray’s how-to-use instructions include this evocative suggestion: Awaken your breakfast.)

 

 

 

bfast

“Yo, breakfast – wake up or I’ll use the spray…”

 

 

 

 

 

The last straw  [6] was yesterday, when I picked up our mail and saw one of those catalogs targeted towards Women of a Certain Age ®…addressed to moiself.  Y’all Lady Folks know what I’m talking about? You’ve never purchased anything from such a catalog, never even knew they existed, and then one day you start getting them in the mail.  [7] They have titles like, As We Change, Soft Surroundings, The Golden Times, and The Best is Yet To Come (which, I think, would be a slogan better suited to selling ED drugs to Men Of A Certain Age ® ).  

 

 

 

as we change

 

 

Oy vey.  I suppose it’s a better title than

As We Shrivel Up and Blow Away:
Feel Like a Nap, Look For Your Eyeglasses, Live Just To Spite Your Heirs

Yet again, I digress.

So, I get this catalog, and discover it contains a little foil sampler packet sample….of a pumpkin spice….ahem….”personal lubricant.”

I kid you not.

 

 

 

kirkscream

That’s…just…WRONG.

 

 

 

 

Okay, that was a (fragrance-free) lie. But the way things are trending, I betcha next year I won’t have to make up anything like that. Anyway, the point:  people, pleeeeeeease, stop. Pumpkin spice your pumpkin pie, and leave the rest alone.

 

 

 

pumpkin

Do I *look* like I want extra foam on my pumpkin spice latte?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May the spice in your life be anything but pumpkin;
May you feel free to trash a classless man;
May you appreciate the true heroes in life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like here, and here, and here….

[2] Currently piloting a starship in the TV sci-fi drama/comedy, The Orville.

[3] And many others thought he sought to excuse his exploitation of women by “buying” feminist sympathy, or at least toleration, by throwing money at pro choice organizations.

[4] Who profited greatly from said prudery, for if nudity and sexuality were truly considered healthy and natural, where would be the fun – and why pay for the opportunity – in sneaking behind the bushes and looking at nudie magazines?

[5] As quoted in How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, Slate.com

[6] Strangely enough, the straw was not pumpkin-spiced.

[7] I know the gummint is worried about an impending Social Security crisis, but is the SSA selling their data base to marketers?

The Takedown I’m Not Quite Appreciating

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horn tooting

Dare I toot moiself’s own horn?

 

 

Silly question.

And The Emmy For Best Limited Blog Post Goes To….

 

 

 

sally

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Dateline: last Sunday, watching (portions of) the Emmys telecast. A reunion of sorts, of the leads of the 1980’s movie 9 to 5, occurred when Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton walked on stage present the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. In what was apparently/generally considered to be a moment of empowerment – i.e., a takedown of #45 without even mentioning his name – Fonda segued to the award introduction by saying, “Back in 1980, in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”  Tomlin followed with the kicker: “And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

Except…not entirely.

 

 

lion

Sorry Ladies, but I’ve a bone to pick with you.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am such a fan of Tomlin’s and Fonda’s [1]  and even (surprise!) of parts of Parton’s respective careers.

But.

Since the release of their iconic feminist comedy…well…perhaps it’s just petty moiself, but I couldn’t help but squirm when I saw them on the Emmys and thought, what exactly has changed?

Those (relatively) powerful  and privileged women can, without apparent irony, wring declarations such as ” …we refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” out of their unrealistically, surgically-taut mouths, while the passion and conviction and other emotions I assume they wish to convey are barely detectable from the frozen/practically immobile facial muscles beneath their Botoxed/lifted and pulled countenances.

Add up the costs of the plastic surgery and cosmetic “enhancements” the three of them have obviously had, and it could underwrite hurricane relief in the US Virgin Islands for the next three months.

 

 

emmyshot

 

 

 

Such alternations of any natural appearance of aging are, in part, a direct result of the entertainment industry’s notorious acquiescence to the male standards of female appearance. Women actors must forever attempt to look like they are desperately attempting to pass for 35, while male actors like Robert DeNiro can still get leading man roles despite having a face that increasingl resembles albino beef jerky makes him look as if he is in his seventies. Which he is.

Keep up the good work, ladies, but don’t kid yourselves that you’ve refused to be controlled by sexism and hypocrisy.

 

 

*   *   *

 

Speaking of bones to pick….

Department Of Missing The Point

In Thursday’s NY Times there appeared a full page letter, addressed to #45 and Members of Congress, from The Episcopal Church. The letter, signed by prominent Episcopal bishops, implored the addressees not to end DACA.

Being bishops and such, they had to justify their appeal on religious grounds, and began the letter with a quote from Christian scriptures:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:1)

Yeah, well…Bishop Boys,  [2] that particular passage doesn’t exactly make your case in the way I think you intended.

 

 

WORD

 

 

 

It’s too bad they can’t be like Happy Heathens, Heretics and Humanists, whose motivation for helping the powerless and people in need is… because that’s the right thing to do.  We the (secular) people help one another, not at the behest of or to score brownies points with some supernatural entity, but because we recognize that we are all we have, and that we must try to overturn the divisive, provincial loyalties of the past, which are based on religion, nationality, gender, etc.,  and work together for the common good of humanity.

The quote used in the EC letter, like so many scripture passages, makes no case for treating strangers kindly because they are our fellow human beings and are in need of, are deserving of, being treated with dignity and empathy.  Nope; it takes the brownie point route: it says that you should welcome strangers because they might be your invisible friend’s special assistants.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Fun With Words

MH, shaking his head and chuckling softly after hanging up the phone after speaking with a medical billing representative about daughter Belle’s foot surgery.

“Her (the billing rep’s) word for patients’ visits is, encounters.”

Moiself, of course, immediately imagined the scenario of a doctor charting an “encounter” with a patient: I was walking down the hallway and turned the corner, and there she was!

 

 

mccoy

Dammit, I’m a doctor, not an encounter group therapist.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

“It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system.”

“I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.”

The future will be better tomorrow.”

“Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.”

“For NASA, space is still a high priority.”

“If we don’t succeed we run the risk of failure.”

“If you give a person a fish, they’ll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they’ll fish for a lifetime.”

“You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, Happy campers you have been, and as far as I’m concerned, happy campers you will always be.

“I understand the importance of bondage between parent and child.”

“Verbosity leads to clear, inarticulate things.”

“I stand by all the misstatements that I have made.”

The above is  a sampling of the many mangled messages from arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest public bunglers of the English language, J. Danforth “Dan” Quayle. [3]

After watching portions of Sunday’s Emmys awards telecast –  essentially a #45 dump-a-thon  [4] which occasionally bestowed an award – I recalled what a comedy writer said, oh-so-many years ago, during the 1992 political race. The writer, along with a couple of political cartoonists, sheepishly confessed to rooting for the Bush–Quayle ticket, for what he described as purely selfish reasons:  material.  You just sat back and watched  Quayle, and the jokes and cartoons essentially wrote themselves.

Quayle, who eventually could claim the dubious honor of being featured in many a political and cultural journal’s Dumbest Vice Presidential Picks of All Time list, was described as “the handsome, blond junior senator from Indiana,” and it was rumored he had been chosen for the Republican presidential ticket in part for his looks, which some people mistakenly thought akin to a matinee idol.  [5]   Republican party analysts hoped, as reported in this LA Times article,  that Quayle’s youth, and his”…boyish handsomeness that has proven appealing to some women voters” would help Bush to close the “gender gap that makes him (Bush) less popular with women….”

 

 

quayle

 

 

 

Much to the chagrin of Republicans and the delight of everyone else, it didn’t take long for folks to realize that the GOP had put someone on their ticket who was…how you say…a shiny box of Cracker Jack with no prize inside.  For many of us, it was both amusing and frightening to think that such a person was a heartbeat (and a minus 35 IQ points) away from the presidency. Quayle gave every indication of being, politically and intellectually, the kind of person who would ask for a price check at the Dollar Tree.

It is obvious that political commentators, satirists, cartoonists, stand-up comics, the entire cast of SNL and late night TV talk shows hosts, have had an surplus of material since the Mandarin Mussolini took office.. But I don’t think any of them were rooting for that possibility (or if they were; I hope they’d be ashamed to admit it now).

 

*   *   *

Department Of Not Quite The Affirmation He Was Looking For

A conversation with a friend about ego-centrism, self -aggrandizement, false humility, and other endearing traits, was responsible for this  story coming to mind.

In the mid 1970s, (former) Beatle John Lennon and his wife, artist Yoko Ono, were separated for 18 months, at Ono’s suggestion, to relieve stress on their relationship. Ono stayed in New York while Lennon went to Los Angeles, where he engaged in a period of self-doubt and alcoholic debauchery (which he was later to call his “Lost Weekend”), hanging out with other like-minded substance abusers in the music world (e.g., singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson).

One night in March 1974, Lennon and a group of friends went to LA’s legendary Troubador nightclub.  At one point, while waiting for the headliner to come on stage, Lennon went to the restroom. He rifled through the drawers in the restroom’s cabinet, found a (clean) Kotex napkin, stuck it to his forehead, and returned to his table. He continued to wear the unique chapeau for the remainder of the evening. Because the drunker you and your friends get, the funnier is the sanitary napkin stuck to your head.

The increasingly inebriated Lennon  ordered drink after drink and reportedly behaved obnoxiously to the nightclub staff.  [6] When he left his table and headed for the exit he was confronted by a waitress, who asked him why he wasn’t leaving a tip.

“Do you know who I am?” Lennon snapped.

“Yeah,” the waitress  retorted. “You’re some asshole with a Kotex on your head.”

 

 

 

lennonhat

On the other hand, he had been photographed sporting less flattering headgear….

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you never be some asshole with a Kotex on your head;
May you never be referred to as a Happy Camper;
May you come to terms with your doctor viewing your visits as encounters;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Especially their latest venture, Grace and  Frankie. See it, it you haven’t already

[2] And girls – this is the Episcopal Church, after all. Like all Christian denominations, still peddling Iron Age mythology, but with their own 21st century, gender-inclusive twist.

[3] who – believe it or not, kiddies – was an actual Vice President of the United States of ‘Murka, during the Bush The First term.

[4] Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

[5] They compared him to Robert Redford, if you can imagine that. No need to imagine that Redford was not pleased, and fired back at Quayle and his supporters.

[6] “It was my first night on Brandy Alexanders and my last,” Lennon later said, when recalling the incident.

The Gift I’m Not Pushing

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Dateline: Friday July 27, Cinemark Theatres complex. I’d been in Tacoma since Tuesday, visiting daughter Belle, helping her out after she’d had foot surgery the previous week, and I was feeling lousy. The cold/fever virus which was plaguing MH apparently hitchhiked with me, and by Friday morning I felt like a cheap retread tire left on the side of a highway. But I had promised Belle a movie of her choice, in a theatre with Comfy Chairs –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No not that kind, the “Luxury Loungers” –  those roomy cinema seats with reclining backs and elevating footrests– perfect for Belle’s recovering-from-surgery, boot-encased foot.

After our movie was over,  [1] Belle and I were among the last to leave our theatre, what with her navigating on crutches. Thus, we were privy to the poignant sight of another couple exiting the theatre across the hall, where Dunkirk was playing.  A petite elderly woman, clutching the arm of an older-than-me-but-much-younger-than-her man, was trying but failing to stifle her emotions. She was overcome by wracking sobs. Movie patrons from both theatres quickly gave her and the man space and privacy, the patrons flashing looks of sympathy as they passed the couple by.

As Belle and I headed for the restrooms, I rummaged through my purse to retrieve a packet of travel-sized tissues. “Please, wait here for me,” I said to Belle. “I have to go back.”

I found the woman and her companion, whom I took to be her son, standing next to the theatre hall wall. The woman was leaning against the wall for support and the man had his hand on her shoulder.

“Excuse me; may I?” I extended the packet of tissues toward her. She accepted them with a look of gratitude, and I indicated the theatre from whence she’d come.

“You just saw ‘Dunkirk?’ “

She reached out and clutched my forearm, her grip surprising me with its strength. “I didn’t know it would affect me like this,” she gasped.

I nodded, smiled, and said softly, “You’re British?” It wasn’t really a question I was posing; I was confirming what I suspected.

Her voice quavering, she replied that yes, she had lived in London as a girl – lived through the bombings, through it all.

 

 

 

Britgirl

 

 

 

She began to talk about the movie, and the memories it had brought back.

“It is such a powerful story,” I said, “and sadly, one that few Americans seem to know about. But, maybe now that will change.”

She told me that as much as she was surprised by how much she was reliving those times, her tears were also tears of joy, to see the “rows of teenagers” sitting in the theatre. She was pleased to see young people watching such a movie; perhaps, she said, they would learn something new about the times back then, and have something different to aspire to, “…especially in this world, where things, where leaders, are so…” she wavered, “so mean, and nasty, and cruel…”

“And you are remembering bravery, and a time of service and honor,” I offered.  She nodded, dabbing at her eyes with the tissues. I told her to please keep the tissue packet, and thanked her for sharing her memories with me.

Her son had remained silent, gazing down at his mother with an expression of utmost love and tenderness, while she spoke. He patted her arm and thanked me for “coming back.” I told him that I had to…and then it was my time to struggle with how to put my feelings into words:

…because we’re all human, going through this world together.

And as I was returning to where I’d left Belle I realized I was grateful that neither the woman nor her son had asked me what movie I’d just seen. I still don’t know how I would have answered, had they done so. Would I have tried to deflect from the fact that while they were being blown away by the heart-rending reality of Dunkirk, I was squirming through the raunchy, nonstop booty/fuck-fest joke-filled Girls Trip?

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s A New Community In Town, And They’re Nuts

 

Opening ad in a Live From the Poundstone Institute, [2] podcast:

“Support for this podcast…comes from Almond Board of California. Did you know that the almond community generates more than one hundred thousand jobs in ….”

Not only did I not know about the job generation, I had no idea there was an almond community…in California or anywhere else.   Almonds grow on trees, so I figured there are almond orchards, and therefore a certain critical mass of almond growers, pickers, and packers and shippers…. But the community thing has thrown me. I just can’t picture it.

 

 

 

almondjpg

The Mayor of the Almond Community considers the upcoming Town Hall Meeting agenda.

*   *   *

Department Of You Had Me Until The WTF?!?! Part

Got a new cookbook, and was enjoying perusing the recipes until I read the author’s [3]  comments on a chard-red bean-peanut stew:

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day…”

Okay; stop, right there. Add a period after day and you’re fine. But noooooooooooo, she had to insert a comma, and….

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day, while wearing a cosy, knitted jumper.”

 

 

confused lady

 

 

Apparently, this is Yet Another Thing About Which I Am Both Unaware And Unimpressed ® . Enhance your appreciation of your meal – perhaps even increase its nutrient density – by wearing the right outfit?

 

Also – a knitted jumper? A garment which is flattering to Cabbage patch dolls no one ever?  I feel like putting on my Mom Voice ® and advising the author, Honey, you may feel cozy cosy, sitting at the kitchen table dressed in your knitted jumper but you look like an ottoman. There, there now, dry your eyes and have some yummy chard stew.

 

 

ottoman

*   *   *

Department Of You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kidding

When I read the letter to the Dear Abby column, I thought I must be hallucinating. It’s the fever (from the previously mentioned virus) I reassured myself. Then the next day, when the fever had abated, I saw the same letter, in the same DA column, in another newspaper. It was from a husband seeking advice from DA. Husband and dad-to-be was concerned about being able to afford to give his pregnant wife a “push gift.” Which (until I read further   [4]) I had no idea what it was, or that it was even a thing.

Concerned Dad-to-be made no attempt to confront or reject this supposed tradition, but just meekly wondered if it was indeed a thing, and if so, how can he do it when he and his wife are tapped out financially?

 

 

 

alfienshock

Is this the galaxy’s most vile tradition, or what?

 

 

 

Now.  I have a husband. I have been a pregnant wife. I have heard of many strange customs (most of them religion-related or mandated) related to the social milestones of marriage and childbirth, ranging from the odd (Bundling or Tarrying[5]) to the shocking (Indian Baby-Tossing [6] ) to the stupid and potentially dangerous (The Tidong Bathroom Ban  [7] ). But I’d never heard of this push gift, which for many reasons strikes me as one of the more ultimately distasteful “traditions.”

I received no push gift after the birth of son K, nor three years later, when I Tarzan-yelled daughter Belle into this world.

 

 

 

 

It is fortunate that no wretched fool had gotten a hold of MH and convinced him that such a thing was necessary. If I had been given some bauble presented as a push gift it is highly likely I would have told MH where to push it.

And what about father and labor partner extraordinaire MH, who never left my side during my 13 hour hospital labor with our first child, even though, as MH confessed after the delivery, he really, really, really had to pee?  [8]  Should I have gotten him a holding-it-in gift?

And the name – push gift?

 

 

REALLY

 

Yeah, really?

Thank you honey, for your sacrifice in bringing our child into the world and thereby ruining your anatomy. I know your vagina and pelvic floor continence will never be the same again – here’s a charm bracelet.

And does this “tradition” not apply to women who are unable or do not have to push out their babies– i.e., those who undergo C-sections? Or do they get a runner-up trinket?

 

 

crackerjack

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May we remember we go through life together with our fellow humans;
May you tell the well-meaning but clueless humans where to push their push gifts;
May you remember that friends don’t let friends wear knitted jumpers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Praaaaaaaaaaaise de lawd when it was indeed over. It made me feel so uncomfortable…I’ll just say this: is a movie still pandering to stereotypes if a member of the group being stereotyped freely participates in it? I can’t imagine a white production team getting away with Girls Trip.

[2] A show with the inspiring mission “to gather all of the world’s knowledge,” or, as host Poundstone puts it, “to get less stupid, one topic at a time.”

[3] Brit, as you may notice re the spelling of certain words.

[4] A push gift is a present, often but not always an expensive item of jewelry, given by the husband to the wife on the occasion of her giving birth to their child.

[5] Bundling, aka, tarrying, is..oh, look it up if you’re interested.

[6] A centuries-old ritual in certain Indian towns in the first week of December, wherein babies (from both Hindu and Muslim families – this is interfaith idiocy) are tossed from a temple tower onto a cloth, held by men standing below the tower, and then the babies are passed to their mother. ..

[7] wherein tradition in the Indonesian Tidong community mandates newlyweds must not defecate or urinate for three days after the wedding, lest they bring bad luck upon their marital union

[8] And there was a bathroom, right in the room where I labored. I told him that was so sweet – his staying by my side – but  frankly, had our positions been reversed, I would have left for a minute to pee and he could have done so (like during one of the man times when my eyes were squinted shut and I was yelling invectives) without my noticing.

The Stairwells I’m Not Sniffing

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Department Of Reasons To Like Tourism

Dateline: Tuesday. Friend CC and I were walking down the stairwell from the 6th floor of the parking structure near Portland’s Fox Tower Theatres, on our way to see The Big Sick[1]  I was purposefully and vigorously inhaling through my nose – in contrast to employing my usual, defensive, mouth-breathing strategy while navigating a Portland stairwell. After three or so flights of stairs I asked CC if she, too, noticed something strange.

The something strange was a pleasant floral aroma, which we both identified as honeysuckle. Which was soooooooo preferable to the pungent stench of urine (and worse) which usually wafts up and down that stairwell (and other Portland urban area access points).

I speculated that some ammonia-odor removal crew was had been on the scene – and also noted how clean the stairwell looked. Not one cigarette butt or crushed plastic cup nor piss stain outline to be seen. CC, who works in downtown Portland, says that in the past few weeks she’s noticed, as she’s made her 16 block walk to and from her commuter train to her office, a marked improvement in the area, which she attributes to the increase in tourists she’s also noticed. Certain streets, corners, alleys and parkways where sketchy-looking people congregated to panhandle (read: extort) passersby or just stare at them menacingly are now seemingly clear of loiterers, and she’s seen Portland Parks employees, wielding large buckets of mysterious but agreeable-smelling cleaning solutions, sprucing up the downtown.

 

 

toilet

” ‘Morning at the Florists’ or ‘Tweaker Takes a Dump’ – which freshener scent shall I use today?”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of No To Mainlining Tequila Or Acquiring A Chippendale’s Rent Boy – What Kind Of Midlife Crisis Strategy Is This?

My Friend LU, a proud Denver CO denizen,  is in the midst of a month long vacation, whittling down her goal to hike/climb all 50+ of Colorado’s 14ers [2] She has described this mountainous (sorry) task as “…the Peak-a-Day remedy for my midlife crisis”…

Her description made me a bit puzzled, in that LU, who has yet to summit (no more, I promise) her 50th birthday, is a bit too young for a MidLife Crisis ® . Or so I thought. A bit o’ research later and I realized that, once again, moiself was/is the outlier with regard to the pesky MLC phenomenon.

I was an early reader , yet a late bloomer – the latter term used here to refer to common social and/or cultural conventions. For example, I married at age 31  [3] and had my children, K and Belle, when I was 36 and 39 respectively. [4]   Also, I didn’t experience the emotional/existential questioning of identity and self-confidence – what I refer to as the What-now?-ness of The Third Act, and what is more commonly referred to as a Midlife Crisis  [5] – until I was in my mid-late 50s.

The first time I tossed out the term Midlife Crisis in relation to moiself, MH couldn’t help but weigh in with an observation. This man, the apple of my eye, the nectarine of my nose, the tangerine of my toe, the kumquat of my kidney, the apricot of my ass….

 

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

 

 

Anyway, MH, Mr. Supportive incarnate, offered this:

Mid -life crisis? Do you really think you’re going to live to be 110?

The honeymoon never ends, does it?

*   *   *

Department of WTF ?: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

We wouldn’t be in this mess – having to send an astoundingly  immature, tweet-posturing mortification of an excuse for POTUS to G-20  and other world summits [6] –  were our presidential voting system not shackled to an archaic slave state appeasement scheme.

The Electoral College : much has been uttered re the need for its abolishment and/or reform, and little done (as I have carped about before in this space[7] ). There are ways to change this system, and there are people working long and hard to do so….and then our elected officials sit on their asses…until the next time they can bemoan how someone can lose the popular vote by millions and yet be “elected” POTUS. 

So. I am pissed off, disenchanted, and yet (perhaps saddest of all), cynically not surprised by the political action – or rather, inaction – on the matter. I refer to that which has happened in my own beloved state, Oregon, where last week the legislature ONCE AGAIN proved they had no balls by dropping the ball re this issue of national importance and international repercussions.

 

 

wethepeople

 

 

 

Which leads to my first guest blog post. To present a more nuanced, less testicle-insulting illumination of the situation, take it away, MH:

Why I am so disappointed with the Oregon State Senate

The Oregon State Senate failed to pass the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) for the FOURTH time.  Actually, it is more than that, but it’s the fourth time that the House has done its part of the job (2009, 2013, 2015, and 2017), and the Senate has not.  Many of our Senators claim to support it – a majority, even, but it just doesn’t happen.  Eleven other states have had the good sense to pass it.  It is past time for Oregon to do so.

What would the bill do?

It would award Oregon’s electoral votes for the president of the United States to the candidate that receives the most popular votes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  It would go into effect only when states that account for a majority of the electoral votes (270) have joined the compact. 

The eleven states that have passed the compact represent 165 electoral votes.  Oregon represents 7 electoral votes.

Why is this bill important?

We have a bad system for electing the president of the United States. 

More than three-quarters of the voters in the United States are politically irrelevant when electing the President.

Oregon’s electoral votes (for example) have gone to a Democrat in the last eight elections.  The vote hasn’t been close enough that either candidate had any incentive to care about gaining a few more votes.  If you don’t win the state, you get nothing.  If you win it, you get it all.  The same is true in nearly every state.    Every vote for the Republican Presidential candidate in Oregon has counted for nothing for the last 30 years.  Conversely, every vote for the Democratic candidate in Texas has counted for nothing since 1980.  

If you don’t live in a “swing state,” your vote is of no importance to a presidential candidate. 

That importance (or lack thereof) carries over into the treatment that states receive from sitting Presidents.

You can watch a video expounding on this far more than I’m doing.

This bill, once enacted by enough states, would make every vote count and be valued equally.

But what about….?

There are several reasons oppositionists present as making the NPV a scary or bad thing to do.  None of them hold up to scrutiny.  The nice folks at National Popular Vote Inc have done an admirable job of addressing the concerns with reason and evidence.  Their videos aren’t exciting, but they are clear and convincing.  If you think this is a bad idea because it would favor big cities, disfavor small states, enable extremist candidates, or some other reason, I encourage you to visit their site and see what they have to say about it.

What now?

Let your state legislators know that you are disappointed in them and that you want them to pass the NPVIC at their next opportunity.   You can find your state representatives here.  You can also contact them through the NPV web site, which gives a history of the efforts in Oregon.

Senator Ginny Burdick was particularly crucial to stopping the bill this session by keeping it from escaping the Senate rules committee.  If you happen to be in her district (Portland, southwest to Tigard), it would be especially helpful to let her know.  In the end, she said that she would only support the bill if it was referred to the voters.  While that sounds like a good thing, it is the legislature’s job (constitutionally) to decide on the method of awarding electors.  In addition, a referendum requires an expensive public campaign (with no one to fund it) to counter the myths about the effects of the compact.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Precious Special Snowflake Of Self-Concern

Content Warning: gender pronoun satire ahead

 

 

content

 

 

MH, for those of you who’ve either (1) figured it out on your own, or (2) checked the about me info on my blog header, is my blog acronym for he who is My Husband.

MH identifies as male; pronouns he/him/his/himself. Or, when dealing with British monarchy (as we are so often called to do), HRH[8]

Moiself  [9]: I identify as Scarlett Johansson; pronouns she so fine/her be wow/hers is the best/herself is the babe of babes.

 

*   *   *

Department Of What An Odd Dream To Wake Up From
Aka, How You Know That It’s Time Go Back To Sleep

Last week, early one morning (~ 5:30 am), I awoke from a dream in which I was watching a TV commercial for what might genteelly be described as a novelty item or gag gift – you know the category (such classy items as fake glass spill, windup talking dentures, fake vomit, remote control fart machines, fake turd-in-the-toilet….).

 

 

 

novelty items

 

 

The advertisement showed a young boy playing in the hot summer sun, running back and forth through the sprinklers in his back yard, while aren’t-we-having-fun-in-the-sun music plays in the background. After about ten seconds of this seasonal fun the boy slips and falls on the wet grass, landing smack on his behind. The boy rolls over and lies face down on the grass, giggling with embarrassment as the camera closes in on the back of his shorts. It seems his siblings have played  a prank on their brother, dressing him in special shorts that, when wet, reveal a heretofore invisible brown stain, as if he’s soiled himself.  The boy’s siblings chortle with glee (off camera) as the boy sings this ditty:

  ♫  Why did you take my Pooh Pooh pants now?
Why did you take my Pooh Pooh pants now?  ♫

 

facepalm

It must be the truth; there’s no way she could have made up something this inane.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your early morning dreams be entertaining if inane;
May you do your part to change Electoral inanity;
May the urban stairwells you have to traverse be sweetly fragranced;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which you must see. 10 thumbs (or whatever digits float your boat) up.

[2] A “14er’ is a mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14k feet.

[3] Seven years behind the median age of first marriage for females (at that time)…although the timing was just fine by moiself…and also by my parents, who were convinced I would hold to my vow to never marry.

[4] And yep, having kids was also on my list of Things Not To Do.

[5] Once thought to be a mainly male phenomena, midlife crises are now recognized to be gender-inclusive, although tending to hit women earlier – in their mid-30s to late 40s –(or so say People Who Track Such Things.)

[6] Or have to deal with his embarrassing  and inflammatory ignorance at home.

[7] Specifically, then Senator-Elect Clinton’s vow to get rid of the EC after the GWB election debacle.  She – surprise! – and the other senators did nothing, which came back to haunt her oh-so-recently.

[8] Her Royal Husbandness.

[9] in case you’re interested and since I don’t believe I’ve ever specified….

The Acceptance Letter I’m Not Sending

1 Comment

Content warning: writer’s rant. This would be so much better with a few poop jokes dropped (sorry) [1]  here and there.

This post is related to the fact that Native American author/poet  [2]  Sherman Alexie has a new book out and is making the rounds of radio/TV/print news media publicity.  I recently heard a portion of a radio interview with him, and it sparked a memory of the occasion when Mr. Alexie’s name was last (to my knowledge) front and center, having to do with a brouhaha in the literary world.

Listening to writers talk about writing (or reading about writers being interviewed about writing) is perhaps my least favorite arts news format.  I have learned to skip most Fresh Air podcasts when a fiction author is featured, as I find their discourse (yes, even when they are being interviewed by the mahhhhhvelous Terry Gross) cringe-worthily pretentious. The author’s work itself, independent of their yakking about it, is often quite a different matter. For example, whether or not I’ve heard him speak (about himself), I have quite enjoyed most of what I’ve read by Mr. Alexie (and have heard good things about him from several independent bookstore owners).

Back to the pesky brouhaha: There may be a few of you non-literary (read: sane, or at least moderately well-adjusted) folks who cannot recall reading about a publishing “scandal” two years ago, described by the New York Times as, A White Poet borrows a Chinese Name and Sets Off Fireworks.  Lucky you.

A brief summation of the fireworks: Every year the Academy of American Poets chooses a different guest editor to select 75 poems to be published in their “Best American Poetry” anthology. Sherman Alexie was the 2015 BAP editor.  Both Alexie and the anthology received some rather intense criticism (read: political/cultural Ad hominen attacks)  having to do with the hot button, Are we having fun now? literary and artistic topics of artistic freedom, diversity, cultural appropriation, inclusion, entitlement….  All this and more sniping discussion came about because the anthology included a poem which was written by a “white” poet writing under a Chinese pseudonym.

Like all of the poems chosen to be in the anthology, Yi-Fen Chou’s “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve,” had been previously published.  [3]  After the poem was selected for the anthology, the poet Michael Derrick Hudson revealed (to BAP editor Alexie) that Yi-Fen Chou was his pen name. Alexie did not change his decision to publish the poem in the anthology. He included a note in the anthology’s introduction about Hudson’s pseudonym, and also wrote an essay about the experience and his decision.

Excerpts from the 9-10-15 New York Times article (A White Poet borrows a Chinese Name and Sets Off Fireworks; my emphasis)

In an essay on the Best American Anthology blog on Monday, Mr. Alexie, a Native American, defended his decision, saying he had paid closer attention to the poem because of the author’s name — a kind of “racial nepotism,” he said — but ultimately chose it because he liked it.
When Mr. Hudson revealed his use of a pseudonym, Mr. Alexie wrote, he debated how to deal with this instance of “colonial theft,” but decided that dropping the poem “would have cast doubt on every poem I have chosen” and “implied that I chose poems based only on identity.”
“Never thought I’d see poets using yellowface to get published in 2015 but here we are,” Saeed Jones, a poet and the literary editor of Buzzfeed, said on Twitter. Jezebel ran a post under the headline “If You’re a White Man Who Can’t Get Published Under Your Own Name, Take the Hint.”  [4]
Ken Chen, a poet and executive director of the Asian American Writers Workshop, said Mr. Hudson was guilty of “cynical mischief” in the service of a “reactionary fantasy.”
 “He believes that he’s being cheated, and things will only improve if writers of color are virtualized away,” Mr. Chen said in an interview. “If only they didn’t really exist, and were just white guys with pseudonyms.”

*   *   *

 

I was at once frustrated and not at all surprised by the controversy. I was also pleasantly surprised by Mr. Alexie’s honest admission of a not-so-well-kept suspicion/secret in the Animal Farm world of literary submissions and selections: that all animals’ identities are equal, but some animals’ identities are more equal than others.  [5]

As to the this will get me some press over-the-top outrage expressed by some of Mr. Hudson’s fellow poets, their reeks-of-envy hysteria speaks for itself.  I do have a question for Ken Chen, whose festering turd of vitriol  [6]  is included in the last paragraph of the NY Times article (excerpted above).

He believes that he’s being cheated, and things will only improve if writers of color are virtualized away,”…“If only they didn’t really exist, and were just white guys with pseudonyms.”

What kind of bullshit declaration is that?  Mr. Chen, you know nothing re what Mr. Hudson “believes.” Where is your evidence that this person you disparage – whom you’ve apparently never met nor even spoken to – has a “reactionary fantasy” (whatever that is) and thinks “things” will improve  [7] “if writers of color are virtualized away”?

Dude…some unsolicited advice?

 

 

 

 

keep calm

 

 

 

*   *   *

My sister-in-law, “Billy,” is Chinese, a native of Canton. She has assumed her husband’s (my brother’s) Irish surname when they married, and not long before they met she began using a (typically male-associated) first name which she chose because it was easier (than her given Cantonese first name) for Americans to pronounce.  I wonder, what masquerade might she be accused of, were she to become a writer? What accusations of gender/ethnic/cultural nepotism might be flung her way, should she submit work under her adopted name and some other chip-on-their-self-righteously-authentic-shoulder writers discovered she was born Choi Cheok-Jin and not Billy O’Malley[8]

I snickered when I first read about the BAP anthology controversy – snickered to think that someone’s naive knickers could be knotted over the fact that yet another writer had successfully used a strategy that writers throughout history have employed. For a variety of reasons – from subverting sexism,  [9]  a longing for privacy and/or anonymity, the desire to escape typecasting (type-writing?) [10] or just wanting to test and tweak editors’ and publishers’ assumptions about the author’s background – many writers have submitted and do submit their work using a pen name or two.

The author we’ve come to know and love as J.K. Rowling agreed to publish her Harry Potter series using gender ambiguous initials rather than her given name ( Joanne Rowling, no middle initial), because her publisher thought Harry Potter’s target audience (young males) might be put off by a book written by a woman.    Did Rowling (and her publisher) commit “gender nepotism”  [11]  by doing so?

 

 

 

hermione

Accio Neptosium!

 

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had a story and several poems published in two different literary journals, each of which aspired, as per their “mission statements,” to give voice to the concerns of (the so-labeled) Generation X.  Not only were Gen X-ers these respective journals’ target audience, the journals – both separately and vehemently in their writers’ guidelines – stated that writers submitting work must themselves be of the Gen-X age range.

Which I am not.  And yet, my story and poems were chosen for publication.

I wonder about journals and publishers which stipulate contributor demographics; specifically, how do they enforce their objectives to publish only writers of a certain background or identity (e.g., age/culture/gender/sexual orientation/ethnicity)? Do they make assumptions based on surnames and/or appearances (and thus, for the latter, require photo IDs)? Do they ask for DNA samples?

 

 

 

submission

“Decoding unknown alien transmission… it reads, ‘please submit your manuscript along with your saliva sample….’ “

 

 

 

Since I was not in the target demographic specified for contributors by those particular journals, I suppose you could argue I “cheated” by submitting my work.  I typically scorn publications which have demographic specifications in their writers guidelines, and do not submit my work to such venues (yeah, that’ll show em!).  But, on those two occasions…well, I guess I was feeling frisky.  I decided to submit my work because I thought it a good fit, and also to remind moiself  about the danger of self-censorship in the face of the write-what-you-know/what-you-are balderbash…and to make my point, even if somewhat anonymously, about the power of literature to both include and transcend identity politics….and also, in my own small, pesky way, to mock the “our only criteria is literary excellence” claim often touted by  touted by literary journals and anthologies and writing contest sponsors.

“Our only criteria is excellence (as long as you fit into our special box). Thank you for your excellent work which we’d like to publish…and what do you mean, you’re outside the box?”

I’d long thought about writing and submitting an essay on this topic, but what publishing outlet wants to admit they’ve been stung? The Literary World ®  is not exactly known for humility and modest egos.

Also, I’d been down that road before. One editor told me the following when I submitted to his journal a humor piece mocking the publication world on a related topic (the ubiquity of literary contests and award-bestowing):  Virtually *every* journal or literary venue has a contest/award of some kind. Your chances of finding an editor who would agree to make fun of their own complicity in what you essentially describe as a scam…Look, you’ve written a fine, witty article that is going to be an orphan. You are not going to find a home for this piece.  [12]

I respect journals’ calls for/specializationin /preference for specific subject matter (thus, e.g. I do not submit my non-murder mystery stories to murder mystery journals).  I have nothing but scorn for journals, editors and publishers who champion a system in which, implicitly or explicitly, a We seek stories about poverty-stricken, disaffected white teenage boy gang members, and we will only consider stories by writers who are themselves poverty-stricken, disaffected Midwestern white teenage boy gang members because only about poverty-stricken, disaffected Midwestern white teenage boy gang members can authentically understand and/or are entitled to write about poverty-stricken, disaffected Midwestern  white teenage boy gang members policy is practiced.  [13]

 

 

 

 

buttocks

It’s high time for a pictorial sanity break. Tomatoes resembling buttocks do wonders for the soul.

*   *   *

 

Although I snorted with derision when I read the afore-mentioned Gen-X journals’ guidelines, I did have select pieces that I thought would be a good thematic fit for them. I also noted that neither journal requested contributor photos nor dates of birth, and thus had no way of confirming an author’s generational affiliation.  Heh Heh heh.

I chose to dishonor the journals’ guidelines by sending them my Gen-X-themed-fiction/poetry-written-by-a-non-Gen-Xer. The editors of the journal which published my story effused in the acceptance letter about how I had captured the particular zeitgeist they sought – about how the tone of my story was “exactly what we are looking for.”

Gee, thanks – oh, and by the way, that’s the point of being a *fiction* writer.  Somehow, miraculously, I was able to get the tone without being the tone. It’s called craft; skill; experience; imagination; empathy. It’s called creative writing for a reason, you ageist, imaginatively constipated twerps.
(excerpt from the acceptance acknowledgement letter I did not send)

*   *   *

Department Of This Post Would Be So Much More Entertaining
If It Had Some Poop Jokes In It.

 

 

 

cpt obvious

Well DUH, Captain Obvious.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Seemingly Inappropriate Segue to A Dead Mother Reference

Had she not died (last Christmas Eve), today would have been my mother’s 89th birthday.
Just thinkin.’

ChristmasEve1983

Chet and Marion Parnell, Christmas Eve 1983

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you take more pictorial sanity breaks than appear in this post;
May you occasionally indulge in cynical mischief when it is called for;
May you find entertaining poop jokes (or whatever floats your boat) somewhere, if not in this space;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Not really.

[2] And the fact that, in this Identity Politik world, Alexie is commonly introduced and/or described in these venues not as an American poet/author but as a Native American poet/author is also related to the subject of this post.

[3] In venues ranging from large-circulation periodicals to obscure literary journals, small press anthologies or a collection of an individual poet’s work ( and in the case of this particular poem, in the literary journal Prairie Schooner).

[4] Despite Jones’ and Jezebel’s hissy fits to the contrary, there is no “hint” for the poet Hudson to take, as poems under Mr. Hudson’s own name have been published in numerous journals.

[5] This covers a variety of identities and interpretations, having to do with an author’s “name” value just as much (or more) than their cultural identity (i.e. a shitty poem by a well-known poet is more likely to get consideration and even publication than a fantastic poem by a newbie or no-name poet).

[6] No personal attacks in this space – it’s against my principles.

[7] What does that bizarre phrase even mean, in this or any other context – things will improve ?

[8] For privacy reasons, these names are similar to, but not actually, either  her real birth name nor her adopted name.

[9] Emily Bronte (aka “Ellis Belle” for Wuthering Heights and Mary Ann Evans (aka “George Elliot” for Middlemarch) and Karen Blixen (aka “Isak Dinensen” for Out of Africa) and the prolific French author Aurore Dupin (aka “George Sand”) and Alice Bradley Shelton (aka sci fi’s “James Tiptree Jr.” for The Girl Who Was Plugged In) are just a few of the numerous women who’ve used male pen names to submit their works without prejudice. Until relatively recently, most publishers would not even look at manuscripts submitted under a female pen name (and prejudice still exists, as per the J.K. Rowling and James Triptree Jr. decisions re their respective genres).

[10] As in writers known for a certain genre who want their non-genre work to be judged for itself, and not on their prior works…see following footnote for one notable example.

[11] Rowling has also published a crime novel series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

[12] He was right…except that I did find a home for it. My essay, You Can Be (or already are) an Award-Winning Writer! was published (retitled as Author! Author!) in Bear Deluxe magazine.

[13] Imagine the likely antacid addiction of the publisher who, had he adhered to such standards, would have forever been known as the douchebag who refused to consider the manuscript for The Outsiders  (and Rumble Fish  and Tex and That was Then..This is Now, and the other young adult novels of S.E. Hinton ) because of who the author was not.

 

The Woman I’m Not Born As

Comments Off on The Woman I’m Not Born As

Dateline: Tuesday eve, post dinner. Son K is staying with his parental units [1] while recovering from jaw surgery. K and I are watching Bright Lights, a documentary about Carrie Fisher & her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and we came to the following point in the film, a segment which momentarily caused my son a reaction which might have endangered his recovery (he is forbidden from jaw-dropping for several weeks).

Singer/dancer/actor Reynolds, a product of the Warner Brothers and MGM studios star systems, was being interviewed about her passion for film history preservation, a passion which she manifested via her extensive collection of movie studio props, costumes and other memorabilia. She was giving the interviewer a tour of her collection, naming or describing the objects in terms of their connections to cinema (e.g., These are Dorothy’s slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”….):

“And this is Elizabeth Taylor’s stool…” Reynolds paused, makeup stool, from Cleopatra.”

OH THANK GOD, K blurted out.

I nearly dislocated my own jaw with laughter, while K sighed with relief and said that he appreciated Reynolds’s clarification, because “People will buy all kinds of stuff….”

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor 2

Cleopatra sits on a * throne, *not a stool, you barbarian schmucks.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh Please Not This Again

It is just as well that I’m a writer, not an editor. Were I editing a newspaper or magazine, I might soon be out of a job. For this is an essay in defense of cultural appropriation.
In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.
(Kenan Malik, opening lines from, In Defense of Cultural Appropriation  )

I’ve written about this issue before (9-16-16’s post, The Culture I’m Not Appropriating), and likely will again in the future, as this cultural appropriation controversy – this boil on the buttocks of arts & literature – keeps recurring.

The controversy resurfaced recently when Hal Niedzviecki, editor of Write (the magazine of the Canadian Writers’ Union), penned an editorial defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority backgrounds. Within days, a social media backlash forced Niedzviecki to resign.

This brouhaha provided the impetus for writer/broadcaster Kenan Malik‘s mahvelous op-ed in the NY Times. Malik cited the circumstances of Niedzviecki ‘s resignation, along with other controversies in the worlds of arts and literature,  [2]  to examine and defend  the concept known as cultural appropriation.

What has always struck me (or perhaps smote me, given the analogy to come) about this topic is that an accusation of cultural appropriation [3] is the intellectual equivalent to Religion’s  [4] defensiveness and protectionism when faced with analysis and critique. And now, I am happy to know that I’m not the only one smote by the similarity, as per Malik’s opinion that The accusation of cultural appropriation is a secular version of the charge of blasphemy.

Malik understands that although racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others, writers and artists have nevertheless, always and necessarily engaged and examined the experiences of The Other. However, this engagement – which he terms messy interaction – does not always occur on a level playing field; thus, Malik acknowledges the resulting, understandable impulse which leads some artists to call for cultures to be walled off and boundaries to be policed,” even as he wonders how creating gated cultures helps promote social justice.  (my emphases):

But who does the policing? Every society has its gatekeepers, whose role is to protect certain institutions, maintain the privileges of particular groups and cordon off some beliefs from challenge. Such gatekeepers protect not the marginalized but the powerful. Racism itself is a form of gatekeeping, a means of denying racialized groups equal rights, access and opportunities.

In minority communities, the gatekeepers are usually self-appointed guardians whose power rests on their ability to define what is acceptable and what is beyond the bounds. They appropriate for themselves the authority to license certain forms of cultural engagement, and in doing so, entrench their power.

The most potent form of gatekeeping is religion. When certain beliefs are deemed sacred, they are put beyond questioning. To challenge such beliefs is to commit blasphemy.

Ok; if this topic interests you, read the article cited. Or my afore-mentioned post. Yes, I am daring to reference moiself. But only because Georgie Boy  [5] recommends it.

 

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
(George Bernard Shaw).

 

 

 

shaw

*   *   *

Department Of Get That Woman A Backbone, A Zoloft, A Shotgun, And An Attorney – In That Order.

Y’all may recall the radio station I’ve mentioned several times in this space – the station I listen to when I am driving; the station I like because of its eclectic playlist. From well-known to incredibly scarce pop songs, interspersed with bizzarre/long forgotten TV theme songs, commercial advertisements, etc. I find it a font of amusement…and an occasional spewer of WTF?!?!?! culture shock.

The latter is best illustrated by a hitherto unheard (to moiself) song the station played this week, when I was out running errands and had to pull my car over to the side of the road to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing.  [6]

I listened, in watching-a-zombie-train-wreck fascination and repulsion, to what just may be one of the most offensive songs ever written. When I returned home I looked it up: Born a Woman  was recorded in 1966 by a female Uncle Tom (Aunt Thomasina?), named Sandy Posey.  The songwriting was credited to “Martha Sharp,” – who apparently isn’t very, as per her misogynistic/masochistic lyrics:

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor
Or if you’re smart or dumb
A woman’s place in this old world
Is under some man’s thumb

And if you’re born a woman
You’re born to be hurt
You’re born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on
And treated like dirt

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Really.

The song continues with yet another verse depicting the sorry lot of womankind, and then there is a coda, for which there can be no explanation. Other than drugs. Or maybe a temporal lobe lesion or three. Or perhaps, the Stockholm Syndrome?

And when my man finally comes home
He makes me glad it happened that way
Because to be his woman
No price is too great to pay

 Yes I was born a woman
I’m glad it happened that way
Oh I was born a woman (fade out)

 

Fade out, indeed.

 

 

lobotomy

 

*   *   *

Department Of Fun With Religion Continues

Aka, You Can’t Makeup This Shit

Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats to spare a man from having to sit next to them, a Jerusalem court ruled on Wednesday, handing down a groundbreaking decision in a case brought by a woman in her 80s.

Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest, are a growing phenomenon that has caused disruptions and flight delays around the world and prompted protests and social media campaigns. The pressure to switch seats can be particularly acute on El Al, Israel’s national airline. And the issue has become emblematic of a broader battle in Israel over religion and gender in public spaces.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Renee Rabinowitz, now 83, boarded El Al Flight 028, bound for Tel Aviv from Newark in December 2015. She had settled into her aisle seat in the business-class section when the passenger with the window seat showed up: an Orthodox man who complained about sitting next to a woman. A flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate him….

Israeli Woman Who Sued El Al for Sexism Wins Landmark Ruling, NYTimes, 6-22-17)

 

 

 

jew

Calm yourself, Mr. Tuches, we would be happy to accommodate you with your own private seat in the economy cabin lavatory for the remainder of the flight.

*   *   *

May you be glad you were born, but remember you weren’t born that way;
May you do your part to advance cultural appropriation and appreciation;
May you have the opportunity to appreciate or even appropriate a cinematic icon’s stool;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which would be MH and moiself.

[2] Including the editor of a Canadian writers’ journal being forced to resign after he defended the right of white authors to create characters from indigenous backgrounds; an artist organizing a petition to have another artist’s work not only censored but destroyed (the work in question was a painting of the corpse of Emmett Till ( an African-American boy murdered by white men in 1955).

[3] C.A. is variously defined as the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture –  sometimes it is referred to as cultural misappropriation, when the adoption or use of the elements in question is claimed to be damaging to the intellectual and/or artistic rights of the originating culture…and yes, there are a whole lotta terms being used in those definitions which have not (and cannot) be objectively defined.

[4] Capital R, as in, any or anyone’s religion.

[5] Not to be confused with Boy George.

[6] Isn’t it time for a sixth footnote?

The Headwind I’m Not Appreciating

Comments Off on The Headwind I’m Not Appreciating

Department Of Future Aspirations

Yoga teacher giving instructions on how to perform Supported Bridge Pose:

* Place a yoga block by your side and lie supine on your mat, arms at your side.

*Bend your knees; rest your feet flat on the floor, hips width apart, toes and heels in a line, heels as close to your sit bones as possible.

* Exhale, press your feet into the floor. Inhale and gently lift your hips off your mat, just enough to slide the block underneath you.

* Position the block low against the back of the pelvis, so that your sacrum is supported on the block and your fleshy buttocks are just off the edge of the block….

In my next life I want to be a yoga teacher, if only to have a legitimate, professional reason to use phrases like,  fleshy buttocks.

*   *   *

Department Of Simple Pleasures That Have Me Humming Like An Idiot
For The Rest Of The Day

Last Friday, a few hours after last week’s blog was posted live, I was driving to yoga class, listening to The Local Radio Station With The Eclectic Playlist I’ve Mentioned Before ® (in the 2-24 post). I had to take time for a driveway moment  [1] when I got to my destination (or perhaps in that case, a parking lot moment?).

Whatever the name of the pause, I had to take it. Because, apropos of nothing, the station had begun playing the theme song to the cartoon series, Underdog.

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve even thought of that show, or heard the theme song? [2]

 

 

 

underdog

♫… speed of lightning, roar of thunder/  fighting all who rob or plunder….♫

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Privilege Schmivelige – Appreciate The Reality Of Your Tailwinds

 

No, this is not an elaborate set up for a fart joke.

 

 

astonishedspock

I find your assurance quite unnecessary, given the fact that all known sentient species appreciate  fart jokes.

 

 

Ahem. I instead refer to the Freakonomics podcast I recently listened to (the March 15 episode). The episode has the provocative if whiny title , Why Is My life So Hard? . This podcast has, IMHO, performed a public service by giving us another metaphor with which to understand the much-debated concept of privilege.

It seems that some white men feel put upon when it comes to any discussion of the white male privilege thing. Or perhaps I should say, some “men who believe that they are white,” as author Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it, in his wonderful book, Between the World and Me.  Coates reminds us that DNA and genetic analysis show there is no such biological reality as ‘race;” rather, the invention of race (and thus, racism) come from the human need to construct a social hierarchy.

Once again, I digress.

It seems that many….

 

 

confusedspock

For example, the Tellarites consider flatulence humor a necessary overture to the establishment of successful diplomatic relations, as I discovered when the Tellarite ambassador mistook my greeting as an invitation to pull upon my outstretched digits in expectation that he would subsequently hear the sound of emissions of a gaseous nature passing through an unobserved part of my anatomy….

 

Yeah. 

I’ll start again.

It seems to moiself that there are white men who feel put upon by any mention of white male privilege. It also seems that most of the men I know personally – compassionate, empathetic and intelligent dudes that they are – do not feel that way.  [3]  For those who do, perhaps it might help to try to understand the reality of social privilege through the metaphor of headwinds and tailwinds.

The stated purpose of the particular podcast to which I refer was to try to understand why it’s so easy for many people to “…feel put upon, to feel resentful, to feel that life has made things harder for them than it has for other people.” The podcast features two psychologists, who study how people make judgments and decisions in their everyday and professional lives, discussing their recently published paper, The headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry: An availability bias in assessments of barriers and blessings.

 

 

 

angry spock

You needlessly complicate matters! Had you heeded my original admonition, you could be entertaining your patient yet bored readers with the “Lethal Atmosphere” video by now.

 

 

 

Thank you for your suggestion, Commander. I’ll keep that in mind.

AS I WAS SAYING….

Both competitive and recreational runners and cyclists know that when you have a headwind, it’s not very pleasant. You’re aware of it the whole time; it impedes your progress and you can’t wait until the course/road changes so that you can get the wind at your back. When you reach that 180 turn and have the wind “on your side,” you are relieved and exhilarated…but only for a little bit.

You remain conscious of a headwind the entire time you’re fighting against it, but you quickly stop appreciating the boost a tailwind gives you – you take it for granted, even to the point of forgetting that it exists.

“…you’re grateful for about a minute. And very quickly, you no longer notice the wind at your back that’s helping push you along. And what’s true when it comes to running or cycling is true of life generally.
We have to pay attention to the barriers in front of us because we have to get over them, or get through them in some way. We have to overcome them. We don’t have to pay attention to those things that are boosting us along. We can just be boosted along. And that fundamental asymmetry in attention is the headwinds/tailwind asymmetry.”
 (Tom Gilovich, Cornell University Professor of Psychology,
known for his research in heuristics and cognitive biases)

In our society, white males – even those born into poverty, as was my father – have had a tailwind for hundreds if not thousands of years. As marginalized groups begin to make gains in access and power, WMs may begin to believe that their advantages – which they probably don’t even think of as advantages, but merely as their “lot” in life or their circumstances – are diminishing. That belief is not entirely incorrect; their advantage is diminishing…just a smidge.  But it’s still there; it’s still an edge they have, over someone not born into their social potential and advantages.  [4]

“…What we’ve shown in the lab is directly applicable to some of the discussions going on in the country right now. There’s this term that “there’s a war on white males these days,” white Christian men, and channeled through the headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry, you could see why that group would think that. That is to say, the influence they’ve had has decreased, and of course that’s the focus of their attention. That decrease. At the same time, if you look at it from the outside, what you see is an enormous advantage that had existed for hundreds of years being reduced just a little bit. And from an outside perspective, it doesn’t look like at all like a war, it looks like just a little bit of rebalancing and we even need to rebalance some more.
(Tom Gilovich, from the Freakonomics interview, my emphases)

 

 

Here. Are you happy now, Spock?

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate the wind when it is at your back;
May you appreciate the headwinds with which others have to contend;
May you always root for the underdog;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You are likely familiar with the concept if not the term: a driveway moment is when you just can’t leave your car after returning home, but turn off the engine and stay for a few minutes with the radio on, because you’re captivated by a story – say, something on NPR, or perhaps a Serial podcast – you’ve been listening to.

[2] And the masses respond, their voices raised in unison, Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve cared?

[3] Or at least they do not admit to feeling that way.

[4] Even my father, 4th of 6 children born to a pair of marginally educated, impoverished tenant farmers, had an advantage and potential:  over his sisters and other females, by being male, and over the other tenant farmer families, who were the descendants of African slaves. My father’s father was illiterate, to the point that his wife, who had all of a 5th grade education, had to read his farm contracts to him and then he would sign them with the proverbial X. Yet was made foreman over the other (black) tenant farmers, most of whom could read and write, because, as my father once told me, “You would have had a riot back then if you put a black man in charge of a white man.”

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