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The Phone Call I’m Not Anticipating

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It’s never good news, when the phone rings before 5 a.m. 

It was the doctor from the emergency veterinary clinic. Our 16 ½ year old Bengal cat, B.B.  was there for his second night, as the staff tried to figure out why he had stopped eating. Blood tests with our regular veterinary office indicated pancreatitis; supportive treatment and pain management hadn’t helped, and he was just wasting away in front of us. Multiple screenings were not particularly revelatory, and then an ultrasound   [1]   showed fluid collecting in his chest; they suggested draining it and doing cytology on the fluid.  B.B. briefly perked up after the draining, then the fluid began to return and he was entering respiratory distress….

Daughter Belle was back at college after spending her spring break with us. We woke up Son K to apprise him of the situation, and he chose to accompany MH and I to the clinic. The three of us went through the box of tissues in the room where the vet brought B.B. to us, to spend a few last minutes in the laps he so loved (“He’s not drooling,” MH noted, “So you know he’s really sick.”  [2]  ). When we were ready, the vet returned, added several syringe contents to B.B.’s IV catheter while I stroked his head, and he was gone.

It was at once peaceful and gut-ripping. And all before the new spring day’s dawn.

 

BBsun

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Department Of A Brief History

You could consider me a hypocrite, in that one of our family cats is – was – an outdoor cat. For over eleven years I’ve volunteered for public (county animal shelter) and private animal adoption/rescue organizations, all of which educate/advise that cats must be indoor only pets (these organizations require adopters to sign a “contract”   [3]  stating they understand that they are agreeing to keep their cat indoors). I know all the reasons why it is better – for cats, for other animals, and for the neighborhood –  to have cats live indoors only. I agree with all the reasons.

And that was our intention when we got B.B. And he did fine for about 6 months, and we did everything right and on schedule.  [4] And then…something kicked in. And and and and and: He realized who and what he was:  he had to be the Bengal Boss. Of me, of you, of all cats, of the laundry….

 

 

BBsnow

B.B. The Snow King, Patrolling the ‘Hood

 

 

 

 

 

Re the latter: one of B.B.’d  many ways of trying to establish what he obviously thought was his Divine Right Of Household Dominance ®  (besides terrorizing our two other indoor cats) was to spray on just about anything, but in particular, on a pile of laundry. But not on any old pile of laundry – only MH’s.  An equally enticing pile of moiself’s laundry would be right there, next to MH’s, and B.B. would selectively piss on MH’s. It had to be A Guy Thing (i.e., testosterone thing), I figured.

Eventually, we converted our covered back porch to BBVille. MH and Belle constructed a box/platform (which Belle painted)…

 

 

topofBBhouse

 

 

…on top of which B.B. had his dining area outside of his covered bedroom, with a heated sleeping pad under his “winter” bed, which was inside the mini-condo with a flap opening. He preferred to sleep in his summer bed, on top of the condo, for the warm nights when he liked to sleep outside the condo and listen to the cricket serenade.

 

 

 

BBporchJPG

 

 

In B.B.’s younger days he was quite vigilant in defending his territory from the encroachment of squirrels, lizards, mice & rats  [5]  ) and…yes and unfortunately…any birds foolish enough to get within striking reach  (and some of those arrogant, taunting Scrub Jays would hop right up to him – they were practically asking for it).

Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, around which dwells a variety of urban-adapted wildlife, some of which roam the neighborhood after dark. The raccoons are champs at discovering and remembering which house has outdoor dogs and cats (and thus, an outdoor raccoon buffet, which I’m certain they view as their local food cart).

We always took B.B.’s food dish inside at night; nevertheless, we still had the occasional night visitors. B.B. was street-wise enough to give raccoons a wide berth; the nutria,  [6] while bothersome to neighbors further down the creek, rarely strayed into our part of the ‘hood  (but B.B. killed two who ventured here).  Possums B.B. seemed to regard with a placidity bordering on compassion – I think he thought they were some kind of deformed, mentally challenged feline. He never chased them away, but would stand by, looking on in mild surprise and pity (as if to say, Now, isn’t that pathetic?), when a possum managed to waddle up to his food bowl and take a few nibbles.

He was watchful and cautious around dogs (and never tangled with them, to our knowledge, although he made a few passes at smaller ones that got too close when their owners walked them by).  Other cats…were an other matter.

He had what I can only describe as a friendship with the cat who lived in the house across the street, a long-haired gray male (the imaginatively named, “Fluffy,”), who was also neutered and who never showed any aggression (and thus was the only cat B.B. would allow in our yard). Several times I saw the two of them under one of our cedar trees out front, sitting side by side, as if shooting the breeze. One time I approached and saw that there was a (dead) mouse on the ground between the two of them, which made me assume they were telling the cat equivalent of fishing stories (You shoulda seen the one that got away.”)  When Fluffy died, I wondered if B.B. missed his buddy.

Over the years B.B. cost us…I don’t want to estimate how much…in vet bills. Mostly/seemingly (as the vets tried to reconstruct how he’d obtained certain injuries) due to fights with other cats, or the hazards of roaming (e.g., jumping up on a fence post and landing on a protruding nail) and hunting (cracking teeth while chewing on a squirrel femur). Here is a photographic souvenir of one of his more “creative” injuries, which resulted from a bite at the base of his tail which got infected , requiring the vet to construct an interesting draining apparatus. To help B.B. save face, we told everyone the device was intentional – that B.B. was trying out a potential Halloween costume, with his butt as an African elephant’s head:

 

 

BBtail

*   *   *

 

In his later years we would often bring B.B.  inside in the evening, for some playtime with us (and his favorite slobber toy. as per K’s video below – turn up your volume). We still had to watch him carefully – as in, MH would say to me will you watch him for a sec? while MH turned his back to do something or get some thing, because in that mere second of not being right there and looking at him, B.B. might take the opportunity to correct the fact that our family room was bereft of his scent and attempt to remedy that by peeing on anything within pee-reach.  [7]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather warms it seems sad and strange, to not have him accompany me to and from the mail box (“like a dog,” as more than one neighbor has put it). B.B would scurry ahead of me, his tail upraised – the tip of it crooked always to the left, like a cane handle – and look back to make sure I was following him. Without warning he’d flop down in front of me, causing me to slam on my walking brakes and lean down to pet him as he rolled around on his back and commented  [8]   on the weather.

And in the coming summer, when I am out in the back and side yards, picking raspberries and blueberries, I know I will feel the absence of his presence by my side (and running commentary, which I always interpreted as, “you missed a bunch, back on the left….”

*   *   *

Department Of It Wasn’t A Uniformly Sad Week

There are usually opportunities for levity, even in bleak circumstances. To wit, I was able to bring a flit of amusement to the vet’s somber/compassionate visage as she described the euthanasia process to MH, K and moiself. When she said that she would begin by giving B.B. the anesthetic propofol, I felt a momentary relief of distraction, realizing the celebrity connection, and blurted out, Just like Michael Jackson!

And then, there was Monday. In the afternoon a UPS truck left a delivery on our front porch. It was a large box, addressed to MH, which presented me with the cherished opportunity to send him the following message:

You got a big package.

 

 

grannyshock

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the good fortune to have appreciated non-human companionship;
May your pangs of grief be assuaged by the depths of affection for what is lost;
May you find a ray of sunshine in a piss-storm
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Translation: $$$

[2] Despite B.B.’s tough guy of the “hood appearance, he was always a sweetheart to the vets, and drooling was his almost immediate response to petting and lap time.

[3] Which is essentially unenforceable.

[4] As per how introductions to the other cats were facilitated, timing of B.B.’s neutering, etc.

[5] Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, home to many rodents, and we were grateful for B.B.’s pest contro several years back, when we didn’t have the mouse/rat problems common to other homes in the neighborhood.

[6] An invasive, destructive rodent of South American origins – smaller than a beaver but quite aggressive and known to take over a beaver family’s territory, decimate neighbor’s lawns and even attack small dogs – no one in the hood regretted their demise, and after neighbors made multiple calls to animal control…I haven’t seen any nutria in the creek for years.

[7] For B.B., everything was within pee reach.

[8] Bengals tend to be extremely vocal.

The Dead Man I’m Not Praising

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Department Of The Sister- And Brother-Hood Of The Soiled Stocking

You feline fanciers know what I’m talking about: the moment when you discover a pile of cat barf – consisting of either too-hastily-consumed kibble which makes a rapid reappearance, or slimy green-fiber-streaked matter from a chewed-up houseplant –  by stepping in it.

At least my family is supportive to one another when it happens. We also have our own “scoring system” re the matter (which involves how many times you have to change your socks due to stepping in the cat upchuck   [1]).

It happens so sporadically I sometimes forget about the fact that it, like shit, does happen.  Just when I’m thinking, Ah, sweet hamster-cuddling bliss, I am living in a world of harmony and safety…I feel the sudden but unmistakable, cold, wet ick creeping in through the sole of my REI 90% wool blend…

I had an usually bad morning last week: it was a Three Sock Day ®  before 9 am. On a morning like that , sometimes it’s better (and safer) to just go back to bed.

 

 

barfsock

 

 

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Department Of Inadequate Obituary Headlines

The New York Times announced the recent death of Billy Graham by noting two of the activities that the protestant evangelist was arguably most known for – that Graham “filled stadiums and counseled presidents.“ Yep; that he did. As for what those stadium (attendees) and presidents were filled with and counseled for…let’s just say that, regarding Graham’s demise, there will likely be few if any tears (crocodile or other) shed by the Freethinking and human rights loving communities, especially as we see how the damage Graham both perpetuated and advanced (“in the name of the gospel” is no excuse) for those who were not straight white male evangelical capitalists are glossed over in the tributes to “America’s Pastor.”

My parents were admirers and financial supporters of Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. Their coffee table groaned under the weight of back copies of the BGEA‘s monthly Decision magazine and its other periodicals and brochures (which were kept company by at least a six month’s supply of Reader’s Digest and Trailer Life magazines). It was a goal of my mother’s to attend a Billy Graham crusade, and our family did so the summer of my 5th grade year, when the Circus BG Crusade came to town (i.e., to nearby Angel Stadium).

 

 

circusmonkey

Strangely enough, this was not the runner up to the Billy Graham Crusades motto contest.

 

 

 

I can’t remember if my entire family attended the crusade; I remember my parents encouraged me to invite a friend, and I brought my buddy, NJH. I can’t remember one single thing of what Preacher Billy said but I was fascinated with the whole show – for that is truly what it was – and when it came time for the “call,” [2] my friend wanted to go down and I went with her. I wasn’t going to miss that for the world.

NJK and moiself (along with the other crusade attendees who’d come down to the stadium field) were soon surrounded by BGEA “counselors.”  NJH and I each had our own young (college age) woman, whose soon-to-be-apparent mission was to “lead us to Christ.”  Straight-A student that I was, I prided myself on figuring out what would be the correct answer to every question my counselor threw at me…even as I was only giving her marginal attention. The real show – the interaction between NJH and her counselor – was right next to me.  NJH was crying, but not for the reasons her counselor had hoped  [3]  While NJH expressed her concern about her beloved cat who had recently died,  [4]  her counselor gently but persistently tried to steer NJH into believing that NJH’s tears should be shed for the state of her own sinful soul, not the welfare of a pet. What you are really upset about even if you don’t truly understand it now, the counselor counseled, is your realization of your own/ultimate sickness which is your separation from god, and there is no answer for that except to accept that Jesus who died for your sins (but not your cat’s)….

 

 

EVIL

 

 

 

I only vaguely recall the “follow-up” to having attended a BG Crusade: I must have given the counselor my name and address, because I began to receive (school-age appropriate) workbook-type materials in the mail from the BGEA. These workbooks instructed me to read select Bible verses and fill out and mail back a questionnaire based on the readings, for which…some kind of brownie points were promised.  It was homework, and I quickly lost interest. But the counseling on the baseball turf itself I remember vividly, with the enthralled clarity of a child  [5]  who at age 11 had neither the insight nor vocabulary to define to myself then what it was I was truly experiencing: one of the earliest sparks had been lit in my this stuff makes no sense detector.

There was no noticeable (to me) follow-up to my family’s BGEA Crusade attendance. As the years passed the only connection to all things Billy Graham was the propaganda literature my parents continued to receive and pile on the coffee table. When I’d come to my parents’ home for a visit, whether as a college student and later as young (and then not so young adult),  I’d occasionally peruse the coffee table offerings…and when I did, I’d often than not find myself cringing at the “messages” contained therein, as, beginning in the 1970s, Graham/The BGEA used the anti- “homosexual agenda” and other right-wing political  fear-mongering as “culture-saving” (and fund-raising) tactics.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep.

I also, very gradually, became aware of/began to educate myself re Graham’s background, including his history of involvement with (and mentorship by) the Good Old Christian Boy Tent Revival network, much of which espoused racist, anti-Semite, sexist  [6] and pro business/anti-worker attitudes.  As per the latter, Graham famously listed “union dues” and “labor leaders” among the ills that could not have existed in the Garden of Eden,  [7] and his public anti-union rhetoric caused one London columnist to nickname the American preacher “The Big Business Evangelist.”  Graham’s rise to public influence was abetted (and financed) by the wealthy and powerful, including billionaire Texas oilman, Sid Richardson, who,  

“… befriended the evangelist, introducing him to other corporate leaders and helping him out any way he could.  Graham’s film production company produced a movie, “Oiltown USA”, which cost $100,000 and espoused, “the story of the free enterprise system of America, the story of God-given natural resources by men who have built a great new empire.”  In 1951, {Graham} spoke about the “dangers that face capitalistic America”, that as a nation America was no longer devoted to, “the individualism that made America great”, and that to survive Americans needed to show, “the rugged individualism that Christ brought” to mankind.
(Billy Graham, “Big Business Evangelist”, Is Still Anti-Union And Touts Christ’s “Rugged Individualism.”

 

 

 

americanjesus

Forget “Turn the other check” and that Sermon on the Mount pacifist shit – I died to bring you American capitalism and rugged individualism!

 

 

 

 

 

In his later years Graham withdrew (somewhat) from his self-appointed Pastor To The Presidents ® role, in particular, after the Nixon tapes began to be released.  Graham made statements indicating he felt he had been used, in part, to help shore up Nixon’s image. I remember being shocked by Graham’s reactions to the release of the Nixon tapes – I was shocked that the Rev.  Billy was shocked by the language Nixon used as opposed to the content of what the president of the United states was actually saying and thinking. Nixon’s salty profanity seemed to be more important to Graham than the beliefs and policies Nixon espoused and which the strong language bracketed.  Who gives a fuck, I marveled, how many times tricky Dick said fuck and goddamn, when the real obscenity was Nixon’s racism, anti-Semitism, criminality, subversion and justification of genocide and lawbreaking. Graham was upset that Nixon took “the Lord’s name in vain.” How’s about literally and figuratively taking the very ideals of humanity in vain?

And then there was that pesky business about Graham’s private conservation with President Nixon being caught on tape, a conversation not included in the first batch of tapes but which became public record years later.

On March 2, 2002, the ghost of fascism came home to roost on the head of Riley’s  [8] chosen successor, Billy Graham. On that day, an additional 500 hours of Nixon tapes were released. In a 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham, the preacher expressed his contempt for, as he saw it, Jewish domination of the media.
(The Neo-Fascist Christian Roots of Rev. Billy Graham)

”They’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Mr. Graham said on the tape, after agreeing with Mr. Nixon that left-wing Jews dominate the news media. The Jewish ”stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” he continued, suggesting that if Mr. Nixon were re-elected, ”then we might be able to do something.”
Finally, Mr. Graham said that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.
”I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,” he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper’s executive editor. ”And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.”
(Billy Graham Responds to Lingering Anger Over 1972 Remarks on Jews, NY Times)

 

 

billydick

Just look at them out there, ready to swarm….

 

 

 

 

 

Graham attempted to excuse the inexcusable by saying, re his conversation with Nixon:

“I didn’t remember it, I still don’t remember it, but it was there. I guess I was sort of caught up in the conversation somehow.”

Caught up in the conversation, somehow.  Somehow as in, because it fit Graham’s actual, deeply held thoughts and beliefs – those attitudes were not the just-going-along-with-a-friend aberration Graham would have had us believe

Graham’s rise to publicity and influence was enabled by the wealthy and powerful, and he courted those who had both money and power as long as they stayed in power, including those whose origins or beliefs he disagreed with and/or despised, even as he privately (or so he assumed, until the oops! taped excerpt) and practically boasted about what he really thought about, e.g., the Jews who “swarm around me.”  Graham eagerly posed for pictures with JFK once he’d attained the presidency, even as Graham had supported Nixon and privately met with Protestant leaders to confab about ways to stop JFK from being elected president because he was a Roman Catholic .

 

 

 

WWJD

 

 

Life is short; it is curdling the contents of my stomach to go much further with this. Do your own research, if you care, about Billy Graham’s legacy to American politics, religion, and culture. Aside from the detestable Hebrewphobia and capitalism-at-all-costs-ophilia, you’ll encounter

* his support for (even creation of) toxic Christian patriarchy, including the (controversial even within some members of the evangelical community) “Billy Graham Rule [9]   regarding male/female workplace interactions;

* his and the BGEA’s long-held and  outspoken homophobia, which includes opposing and actively lobbying against LGBTQ civil rights laws;

* his apocalyptic/end days theology that only the return of Jesus, not civil rights   [10] and environmental legislation could “save” us, leading to his denial of the threat of global warming and rejecting federal efforts to stymie it and indicating that the federal government has no business passing laws to protect the earth for future generations.”

* his conflation of (white) Christianity and patriotism and work to destroy that most American of principles, the separation between church and state.

And then, you’ll be in need of this:

 

 

 

 

banghead

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just In Case This Is Your First Time Visiting This Blog
And You Were Wondering

 

 

anti

*   *   *

 

 

May you always try to free the monkeys in someone else’s circus;
May you never need the excuse of being “sort of caught up in the conversation somehow;”
May your worst of times merit, figuratively and literally, no more than a one sock rating;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You feel lucky when there is just enough moisture to dab the bottom of your sock with a towel and can convince yourself that you don’t *really* need to change your sock this time…it’ll dry up…soon….

[2] Analogous to an altar call, with the stadium infield serving as the altar.

[3] as were most of the people who’d made their way to the stadium field – that was the goal of Billy’s and his cohorts’ rhetoric, to induce tears, which were seen as a sign of your realization of your sinful nature and unworthiness (for which they had the only fix, of course, after they have put this idea into your head in the first place).

[4] god loves me so much he killed his son for me; okay, but if he’s in charge of everything like you say then why did he kill my cat, and maybe he could change his mind? If he can raise Jesus from the dead, one little kitty shouldn’t be too much trouble…

[5] who of course considered myself a Christian, as my family was and we were regular churchgoers.

[6] A term that would have shocked Billy and his supporters, who, of course, thought of their Iron Age attitudes towards women and girls as merely following “god’s plan.”

[7] (The Religious Right Has Been Pushing Anti-Union Right To Work Laws For A Century),

[8]  William Bell Riley, a Minnesota preacher and organizer (aka “”The Grand Old man of Fundamentalism”), whose contributions to American culture included spawning the Anti-Evolution League of America. Riley, a powerful force in the conservative wing of the Baptist Church during the 1920s, was “…rabidly opposed to the teaching of evolution, and was also extremely anti-Semitic.” Riley  founded Northwestern Bible Training School (aka the Northwestern Theological Seminary) and, shortly before his death, placed the leadership of Northwestern under the direction of Billy Graham.

[9] which, under the guise of “protecting” women (and the reputations of the powerful men who may be led astray by their female colleagues’ lady parts), effectively insures that no women will rise to positions of power, influence and leadership in conservative Christian/Political organizations.

[10] Graham was one of the first evangelists (in the late 1950s) to integrate his revivals, and made comments which seemed to support the emergent civil rights movement. But as the movement began to embrace confrontation in addition to its turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and seek actual and effective change in acquiring civil rights and overturning racist and segregationist legislation, Graham’s position changed:  “Once leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. began practicing civil disobedience and asking for the federal government to guarantee African Americans’ rights, Graham’s support evaporated. Within days of the publication of King’s famous 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Graham told reporters that the Baptist minister should “put the brakes on a little bit”.  (Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history, The Guardian)

The S*** I’m Not Explaining

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trueamerican

 

Unlike every other developed country on earth (those with very high human development on the Human Development index) the United States of America does not have Universal HealthCare.
(The U.S. is the Only Very Highly Developed Country Without Universal HealthCare, fact.myth.com

So, what the fuck is wrong with this country, you ask,  [1]  that we, unlike the other “first world” nations, cannot come up with/agree on a way to provide health care for all of our citizens?  I frequently come across this question, and sympathize with the viewpoint behind the rhetorical query/statement, even as it makes me just…tired…to consider the issue.  I also understand the criticisms and concerns regarding “nationalized” or one payer system, even as I’ve come to consider them rather immature and uninformed. Yes, Virginia, we all realize that any form of health care will not be perfect – it involves human beings, and health and behavior and organizations – nor without bureaucratic entanglements and fraud (like that *never* happens now ).

 

 

DUH

 

 

Still, I still have to wonder at…well…at those who continue to wonder anew and again and again re why we don’t do this.

Look at our federal budget, vs. those of those other countries whose universal health care systems you cite.  [2]  One of  The Mandarin Mussolini’s #45’s favorite non-shithole countries, Norway, whose health system is ranked one of the top in the world, typically spends from 1.4 to 2.1 % of its GDP on its military, while we….

 

 

usbudget

 

Any questions?

We police the effin’ world – that’s one of the biggest reasons why we (think we) can’t afford to pay for health care for all of our citizens. And some of the same, well-meaning people who ask why we don’t spend $$ on providing health care for all are the same, well-meaning people who, when there is suspected or evident ethnic cleansing/genocide and other human rights abuses in the latest formerYuglocentralslavianmiddleEastdumbfuckistanAmerianSubSaharan dictatorship, insist that we must go in and stop it – that we have a moral obligation as leaders of the free world to get involved in yet another country’s religious/civil war quagmire helping those who are being oppressed….

 

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Department Of A Rose By Any Other Name

Last weekend MH and I stopped at our favorite grocery store, where a Perky Young Wine Rep ®  was offering tastes of several varietals from a local winery. Funny, how my grocery cart always seems to make its way to the wine sampling table.

Due to its label, a certain Pinot Noir caught my eye (and later, my taste buds). Although the name on the label turned out to be a tribute as to how this particular vintage was produced, I took the opportunity to tease PYWR that, although I assumed she had nothing to do with the wine’s name, she might want to tell her bosses that the more politically correct term should be Tenant Farmer, and not Sharecropper, as the latter is considered pejorative by those coming from a sharecropper background.  [3]

So I am hearing, replied the PYWR. She both grinned and grimaced as she went on to say that I wasn’t the first person that day to tell her that.

The wine is delightful and fruity (and I actually like the label).  I wish I could raise a glass with, and speak the favorite toast of, my son of a sharecropper tenant farmer father:

These are the good times.

 

 

 

sharewine

 

 

 

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Department Of Different Points Of View

Last Sunday afternoon MH and I saw The Book of Mormon in Portland, which meant that last Sunday eve we were discussing the musical over dinner with son K and friend LAH.  It soon became obvious that I liked TBOM much more than did MH.

When LAH asked for our differing views, I said that I simply found TBOM (which has been described as “pushing Broadway to new levels of obscenity, blasphemy and outrageousness”) highly entertaining.  Despite understanding and appreciating satire and dark humor (as I must point out in his defense), MH thought the play “glorified violence” (Uh, remember, the people who wrote this are the people who created South Park, said moiself), among other annoyances (Yo, uh, the South Park. people…again).

But what really offended (Hello, remember, South Park?) MH was (SPOILER ALERT ) what he saw as the play’s “happy ending,” which he took as the promotion of the idea that facts and reality aren’t really important. In his opinion, the play’s point of view was that it doesn’t matter what made-up crazy stuff you believe. Just pick one – whether it’s the Book of Mormon or The Book of Arnold, and you’ll be happy.

 

 

peanuts

Sorry, even if a nice guy said it, that still doesn’t make it true.

 

 

 

Moiself disagreed with MH’s interpretation, which prompted MH to ask what point of view *I* thought the musical was presenting…which got me to thinking about my initial, brief assessment. I wasn’t sure the play had a POV, other than that which the South Fork creators have been presenting for years: that all POVs should be open to analysis – and subject to ridicule – based on content. 

The play uses Mormonism as a template for critiquing religious doctrine and proselytizing – and does so quite brilliantly (although as some have argued that it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, as the LDS  religion’s cup overfloweth onto their temple garments when it comes to providing material for a satire). You gotta love a musical with a song which references how church leaders attempted to solve the LDS god’s…problematic, to say the least… history of race relations (what one twentieth century [!!!!] Mormon apostle called “the Negro matter” ) when it became obvious that the LDS crazyass racist shit doctrine about the Lamanites (aka African Americans and indigenous Americans peoples) would not fly in the modern era.

[ELDER PRICE]
I believe!!! …that Satan has a hold of you
I believe!!! …that the Lord God has sent me here!
And I believe that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people! (Black people!)
You can be a Mormon! A Mormon who just believes…

[GENERAL BUTT-FUCKING NAKED]
(The fuck is this?)

(lyrics from “I Believe,” from The Book of Mormon (musical),
by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone.

 

 

generalBFN

 

 

 

You also gotta love a play with a character named General Butt-Fucking Naked.

And the dancing Starbucks cups in the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream musical number? Totally worth the price of admission.

Making fun of politics and American culture and religion is the South Park creators’ forte. Although they chose Mormonism for their musical they could have just as easily chosen to riff on Scientology or Southern Baptists.  I’d love to see how they’d deal with Catholicism…although, upon second thought, the resulting chorus line numbers featuring high-kicking pedophile priests might get a bit icky

Once again, I digress.

Although TBOM pokes fun at a conservative religion in particular I was glad to see it get in several shots at how contemporary, liberal religious believers – otherwise modern and intelligent people – justify still giving credence to their Iron Age Scriptures. How do believers work around the astounding misogyny, ignorance, brutality, violence, racism and just plain what-the-fuck-isms found in their holy books? They say (in their best, sweet but patronizing tone of voice), “Oh, that’s silly – of course it isn’t meant to be applied literally – it’s all _____ (symbolic; imagery; an allegory; metaphorical – insert your weasel word of choice)…

 “Salt Lake City isn’t an actual place. It’s an idea, a metaphor.”

…despite the fact that nowhere in their religions’ scriptures is it written that the prescriptions and proscriptions contained within them are only to be taken metaphorically, and despite the fact that their religions’ forbears took those scriptures/practiced those religions literally, as their knew scriptures commanded, for hundreds and even thousands of years.

I can understand MH’s take-away (and I’m sure he’s not the only one who found the play’s ending unsatisfying), but I did not think for a moment that the play advocated for believing mythology over embracing reality, nor did it promote the idea that faith, no matter what you place it in, overcomes all obstacles. After all, remember the play’s last line (another spoiler alert)?    [4]

 

*   *   *

Department Of One More Shot Before I Move On

 

explain this shit

 

 

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today…. The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather…. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.

(Mormon Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, speaking at a 1960 LDS Church General Conference, suggesting that the “Lamanites” [Native Americans] would go back to a lighter skin tone upon being placed in Mormon homes and accepting the Mormon gospel.  As reported in Conference Report, October 1960; Improvement Era [an official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1897 and 1970], December 1960, pp. 922–23.)

 

 

 

can you hear yourself when you speak

Can you hear yourself when you speak?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Random Things I’ve Always Wanted To Say To A Canadian

 

“So, what’s with Manitoba?”

 

canuck

Am I supposed to take that question literally, or is it a metaphor?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of One More Thing About Literalism Vs Metaphor

Reason #459 why I’m on a sabbatical from writing fiction:  I’ve known for years that whatever I make up simply cannot compete with the images available from reality, as per one of my favorite newspaper headlines from a few years back:

Teen high on LSD starts fight with a mailbox

 

 

*   *   *

May you take Broadway musicals literally and all else with 5 billion grains of salt;
May you be able to enjoy a toast with your father, whether in person or in memory;
May you say random (but nice) things to a Canadian;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] And really, could you ask without the profanity?

[2] Actually, you could compare our budget with that of any country in the world, to see the skew.

[3] My father, gently but consistently, corrected me whenever he heard me referring to his family as sharecroppers.

[4] “I STILL have maggots in my scrotum!”

The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Feel Like A Curmudgeon
Aka, A Pessimist Reads  “The Optimists”

A special edition of Time magazine (The Optimists, January 15) features a guest editor for the first time in the magazine’s 94-year-old history: Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, bagajajillionaire and global philanthropist. Gates has picked a slew of fellow guest editors and writers, running the gamut from scientists to celebrities, to curate “data and insights from leaders in many fields to show the upside of what’s ahead.”

Although I was initially attracted to picture of the grinning Ethiopian five-year-old boy on the cover as a symbol of optimism, I cringed to read the picture’s caption: Why The World Should Celebrate Mohamad Nasir’s Fifth Birthday.

 

 

#5

 

 

 

Yeah, happy birthday kid. And I’m sorry about your name.

The article featuring the boy (and six other Ethiopian children) is used as a focal point for the other issue’s articles; i.e., hope for the future vis-à-vis the fact that, “Thirty years ago, 1 in 5 children in Ethiopia didn’t live to their fifth birthdays.”

IMHO, whatever optimism I may hold for the future is tempered by the fact that in 2018 people continue to name their children after their religious leaders/idols/prophets.

And I have to wonder, given that more Ethiopian children are now growing into adulthood, what will that mean for a country whose birthrate is so high?  Unless you have cultural and infrastructural changes which allow for and encourage family planning, you are increasing the base rate for multiplication of even more poor people competing for even more finite resources. Ethiopia’s birthrate has been gradually declining, but it is still in the top 20 of the world. Its fellow countries on that sad list are almost all African, and are all – surprise! – also on the list of the world’s most impoverished countries.

It seems every third article in The Optimists deals, either directly or obliquely, with the global status of women, and how, “…there is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunity as men.  Nowhere.”  Any (non-religiously proselytizing) global aid worker will tell you that education and empowerment of girls and women is the key to lifting people out of poverty, and that as birth rates decline, the health of and educational opportunities for women and girls increase. 

Here’s something else many global aid workers will tell you, if they think it is safe to do so: “Culture” (read: religion) is the biggest obstacle to empowering and educating girls and women, especially and including the idea – heretical to all religions, up until relatively recently – that females have the right to be educated about, and be in control of, their own bodies and fertility.

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

 

Augustinejpg

 

 

 

*     [For women] the very consciousness of their own nature
must evoke feelings of shame.
(Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian, ca.150-215, Pedagogues II, 33, 2)

*  Woman is a temple built over a sewer.
(Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

*   No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.
(Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, 1483-1546)

   *   The root of masculine is stronger, and of feminine weaker.
The sun is a governing planet to certain planets, while the moon borrows her light from the sun, and is less or weaker.
(Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS movement)

(For more fun quotes which, after reading them, will make you want to douse your eyeballs in isopropyl, see 20 Vile Quotes Against Women By [Christian] Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, Alternet    [1])

 

“Naturally there will be fundamentalists in any religion, who insist on literal interpretations of outdated dogma. But the problem is not just with fundamentalism, but with Islam itself, says author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her book, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation for Women and Islam, she pinpoints three reasons why the Muslim world lags behind the West and, increasingly, Asia. First, “Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians…..The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact….”
(Big Think, Does Islam really Subjugate Women)

“A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.”
(Traditional Islamic saying)
“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Quaranic commentary).(Citations from the Council of Ex-Muslims online forum, topic: I left Islam because I am a woman)

 

 

 

 

no comment

 

 

 

I take good news wherever/whenever I can, but I’m too much of a realist to think The Optimists is brimming with good news.  I find little optimism in a “fact” which touts that more people are surviving in countries which have high adherence to fundamentalist religions. All these people, “surviving” (and then reproducing) for what – to be potential foot soldiers for the next our-gods-told-us-to-grab-your-land-and oppress your people war?   [2]

 

 

 

witches

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

*   *   *

Department of Existential Crisis

Moiself went through a bit of one after seeing the movie “I, Tonya” , which I highly recommend (the movie – not the existential crisis). Leaving the theatre with friend and fellow cinema buff CC, I started flashing back to my extended family’s distressing history, some details of which are long known to me and my siblings, some only suspected and recently confirmed.

I’ve written previously if very briefly about the life of poverty and deprivation my father’s family endured before, during and after The Great Depression. There were other aspects of his family life (child neglect and abuse; undiagnosed/misdiagnosed/mistreated adult mental illness and illiteracy) that go beyond – read: are not excused by – economic circumstances.

The movie brought the issue to a forefront for me, as yet again I wondered (this time, aloud to CC) about the formula no behavioral and developmental scientists have yet figured out: how is it that some people are able to escape a “white trash” [3]  background, while so many others stay and repeat (and then pass on) the dysfunctional behavior and thinking?

 

 

itonya

 One bad choice after another: chain-smoking asthmatic Tonya Harding
(here depicted in the movie, I Tonya, by actor Margot Robbie).  

 

 

 

 

How fortunate was my immediate family, the one my father created with my mother, that my father was able to get away?!  Given what he, or any child in such circumstances, was surrounded by – when that is all you have and all you see and you are told by those who may (or may not) love you but who certainly have control over you that this is your life – how was he even able to imagine a different future for himself?  How did he recognize that he wanted to do so – that, as he once phrased it to me, he knew he needed to get out?  It blows my mind  [4]  when I think about how he was able to marry and raise a family, be a loving and kind husband and father (despite the abominable example his own father provided in those roles), and keep his wife and children “safe” from (and mostly oblivious to) the deprivations and degradations of his own upbringing.

It is a complicated equation – the factors leading to paths a child may eventually choose, coming from an environment over which a child has no choice.  As to how this relates to the events depicted in the movie, Tonya Harding certainly made some dubious choices, to put it mildly.  I am no Harding apologist – I believe she was much more complicit, in the figure skating scandal and in her pubic skirmishes in the years that followed, than she admits to.  And yet it seemed obvious to me, even before the attack on Kerrigan, that Oregon’s “most infamous Olympian” had the deck stacked against her from the start.

Harding hadn’t the right “look” or background for her sport, which preferred its female participants to be ethereal and elegant, not athletic and assertive, and her outsider status and appearance seemed to matter more than her athletic talent and achievements.  She wanted to rise above her background, but (likely due to that very background) lacked the self-awareness and other emotional and cognitive skills to do so.  And those who were in position to judge her, literally as per her skating and figuratively as per her public persona, made it clear that she didn’t belong and would never be good enough.

Now then. Extended psychoanalysis and existential crisis aside, I, Tonya is a highly entertaining, well-written and acted movie.  I give it two thumbs up…and yeah, so both of the thumbs are mine….

 

two thumbs

*   *   *

Department Of Because It Was Tuesday Movie Night,  [5] That’s Why

Why not go all out in making a fun dinner (especially since being inspired by daughter Belle, who made gnocchi on Monday and sent me photos)? Le menu:

☼  potato gnocchi with garlicky tomato sauce
☼  
red wine vinegar roasted beets
☼  roast Delicata squash
☼  Arugula and baby romaine salad with dried cranberries, lemon-soaked red onion, toasted walnuts, red d’anjou pear, and Dijon vinaigrette
☼  2013 Pomum Red Wine

 

 

 

gdinner

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you have optimism for the future despite the present;
May your past not determine your future;
May you go all out for a Tuesday night dinner;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or just read the holy books of the three major monotheistic faiths.

[2] And it’s not even our god vs your god. Historically and currently, those who believe in the same deity maim, torture and murder one another over the details while their deity stands by and…what, watches the show?  (e.g. The Christian’s Inquisition’s  – drawing and quartering of infidels who do not confess to the “one true faith;  Blessed be the prophet Mohammed – yes, my brother,  we’re both Muslims, but I am the correct Sunni and you are the heretic  Shia so I’ll have to smite you,  maybe after we both persecute the Sufis….”)

[3] Yes, I realize it is a pejorative to some. But it’s my heritage’s N-word, which I claim for a variety of personal and political reasons.

[4] My affinity for 1960s imagery betrays me with that phrase, but, yeah.

[5] This week, it was The Post.  Go see that one, as well.

The N-Joke I’m Not Telling

2 Comments

 

 

Department Of We’d All Understand If They Banned Lutefisk Immigration

“Between 1825 and 1925, over 850,000 Norwegians entered the United States. In those hundred years, around one-third of Norway’s population crossed the Atlantic.
Other than Ireland no other European country lost a larger proportion of its population to out-migration.”

(from “Why bestemor never taught you Norwegian– Norwegian immigrants to the US had it easier than many from other countries, but still faced xenophobic pressure—and legislation—that forced assimilation,” The Norwegian American, January 12, 2018)

It was interesting for moiself to come across that quote this week. The majority of my ancestors were from Ireland and Norway – does this mean I’m the product of double native-population-reducing out-migration?

Anyone of Norse ancestry might enjoy reading the entire article. It contains snippets of history/facts I’ve run across before, from various sources, but, like a bucket of pickled herring, it’s nice to have a lot of it corralled in one source.  [1]

 

 

irishnorse

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Elephant (Still) In The Room

Disclaimer: That Was Not A Thinly (ha ha) Disguised Oprah Weight Joke

 

The Secret is not only drivel—it’s pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it’s easy to get what you want, is: Why (then) do so many people get what they don’t want?  As (The Secret’s author) writes, “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness.” Yes, according to The Secret, people don’t just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. Cancer patients have long been victims of this school of belief. But The Secret takes it to a new and more repulsive level with its advice not just to blame people for their illness, but to shun them, lest you start being infected by their bummer thoughts, too.
(from “I’ve Got The Secret: What happened when I followed the best-selling book’s advice for two months,” Emily Yoffe, slate.com 5-7-2007)

 

Bear with me – the above excerpt will be relevant in a paragraph or two.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

Seeing as how the average American’s attention span in minutes is inversely proportional to their waist size in inches, perhaps the Oprah For President meme is already a thing of the past. In case it isn’t….

Indeed, Oprah Winfrey’s sermon speech at the Golden Gloves Awards was stirring. Add that to her list of multi-faceted-if-eponym-centric  [2]   professional accomplishments, and I can understand the desire many people have re a draft-Oprah for president movement. Certainly, the wish for someone at the nation’s helm who is articulate and compassionate is a sincere one, and since the bar has been set so low…if one reality TV star masquerading as a successful businessperson can “win” [3] the Presidency, why not another TV star who actually is a successful businessperson?

 

 

confusedspock

Your point, although problematic, is a logical one.

 

 

But.  There is a really big but here.  [4]

On the one hand, Ms. Winfrey has built quite the media empire. She is obviously and exceptionally experienced and talented in the fields of media/broadcasting, TV and movie producing (and acting), and is known for her philanthropy. She has the proven ability to inspire and motivate her audience, and her rags-to-riches, self-made success story is appealing across a wide political and cultural spectrum. From what I know of how she runs her “empire,” should she ascend to a position of politician power I think it likely she would surround herself with a good advisers in the various fields over which she had jurisdiction, and actually and actively seek their input.

On the other hand…you have different fingers.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

Sorry.  [5]

On the other hand, Oprah’s other fingers have a long history of supporting, or at least giving voice to (and thus, in many minds, credence) what can only be called dangerous batshit crazy bullshit generously be called, junk science.  I am far from the only person who is concerned about this tendency of hers.

During her 25-year reign as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah repeatedly showed a weakness for crackpots and quack medical theories. One could even argue that she’s one of the most powerful enablers of cranks on the planet.
(“Oprah’s long history with junk science –
She may be the most powerful crank enabler on the planet.” Vox 1/9/2018)

From The Secret and its odious – and deadly –   “law of Attraction” horseshit, to huckster “medical” “experts” (we have Oprah to thank for doctors Oz’s and Phil’s media careers,) to anti-vaccine mouth foamers  to carnival trickster/faith healers (remember the forceps-up-your-nose-cancer-cure faith healer, “John of God,” ? ).

So you’ll excuse me if I don’t jump on the Oprah Winfrey bandwagon for 2020. Even if there wasn’t all that credulity towards New Age bullshit like The Secret, I’d still say that replacing one celebrity with no government experience with another celebrity with no administrative experience is not the way to get out of the era of Trump. (The same goes for you, too, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!) That Oprah is not a hateful person compared to Donald Trump is not enough, particularly given that she’s almost as bad on science and critical thinking as he is.
(from the science-promoting,  pseudoscience/misinformation/conspiracy theory-exposing blog, Respectful Insolence, 1-9-2018)

 

believe

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Other N Word

There is an N-word I can use, because I’m one of them. How delighted I am to be able to tell the rare, Norwegian-Irish joke.

A Norwegian and an Irishman apply for the same job at a firm in Dublin. Both the Irishman and the Norwegian do so well in the interview the boss can’t decide who to hire, so he sets up a small aptitude test. Both men score the same: 19/20 correct. After some consideration the boss calls the Irishman into his office and says, “I’m sorry, although you both scored the same on the test, we’ve decided to hire the Norwegian.”

“Surely, me being Irish would mean you would give the job to me instead of a foreigner!” The Irishman rants on and on about looking after the locals etc.

“It’s like this,” the boss replies. “We didn’t make the decision based on how many answers you got right…’

The Irishman, still angry, interrupts the boss. “But we both got only one wrong answer.”

“It’s not how many wrong answers you got,” the boss calmly continues, “It’s the particular answers you both gave to question #7.  The Norwegian wrote, ‘I don’t know’ as his answer. Your answer was, ‘Neither do I.'”

*   *   *

Of course, the ultimate Norwegian joke is that they are not Swedish.

 

 

swedishdeathjpg

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be mindful of the other hand;
May you be judicious in your own use of your own N-word and N-jokes;
May we all dare hope for a non-celebrity 2020 Presidential candidate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] So you know whom to blame.

[2] It’s so bizarre, how everything in her world has to have her name: The Oprah show; O magazine (with her O-ness pictured on every cover; OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)….

[3] Except that, he didn’t actually win…only the shameful relic from our past, the embarrassing, slave-state appeasing Electoral College constitutional provision, allowed the Cheetos Hitler to assume #45-ness.

[4] Not another veiled Oprah weight joke here, and shame of you for even thinking that.

[5] No, I’m not.

The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

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I’ve come full circle, and perhaps another 45 degrees, on the whole New Year’s Resolutions Thing ®. As an adolescent I was intrigued by the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions – or at least I was the first time I heard an adult talking about it. Then in young adulthood  [1] I though, oh puhleeeease, what a crock. Whenever I was asked about my NYR’s I’d reply that I had already, several years ago, made the only resolution I’d ever kept: to never make another NYR.  [2]

 

 

 

NYR

 

 

Now, I think NYR are a fine idea. Yeah, resolve to “do better,” however and whenever you can and whatever that entails for you. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the start of a new year to do so, but after all, the world is full of arbitrary limits, guidelines and restrictions,   [3]   so what the heck.

Some of my resolutions for this year are more profound than others;  all shall remain private….

My New Year’s resolutions
(1) stop making lists
(B) aim for consistency
(4-C.7) review basic mathematics

 

…but for this seemingly hackneyed one which, if kept, has a good chance of turning out to be the most nourishing to body and psyche:

Have more fun.

 

 

 

fun

*   *   *

Department Of Foodie Segue

 

☼  Roasted bell pepper and black-eyed pea fritters
☼  Corn muffins
☼  Mediterranean spiced collard greens

 

My New Year’s Day menu once again included a dish featuring black-eyed peas. I have done this for…decades, I guess. I do this in honor of my father and his heritage: specifically, his family’s tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day –  an act of culinary optimism which was supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.

 

 

BEPjpg

 

 

Despite consuming black-eyed peas every New Year’s day, my father’s family remained dirt poor sharecroppers.  [4]   Every year, as I bring whatever black-eyed pea dish I’m making to my family table, I can’t help but wonder: just once, did a brave soul in my father’s family– possibly his adored, spunky younger sister, Lucille – when presented with yet another bowl of black-eyed peas and the directive to, Eat up, y’all, it’ll bring us good luck in the coming year!, look around at the ramshackle farmhouse and her barefooted siblings  [5] and mutter, It still ain’t workin.’

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Benefits Of Getting Up And Out Early In The Morning

At any time of the year, but especially in the winter, if you start walking before sunrise and pay attention,  [6] you are occasionally rewarded with a sight like the top (and only the top) leaves of a tree aglow as they are backlit by the rays of the rising sun.

 

 

amtreelights

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Coop Is On The Loose

Another unforeseen benefit of an early morning constitutional: earlier this week I saw eleven hens (not all in range in this shot), in someone’s front yard at 7:15 am.  Were the chickens let out on purpose, or was it a jail corral break?

Either way, if I may anthropomorphize for a moment, they seemed tremendously excited to have new territory to scratch and new bugs to hunt. That particular homeowner (who may or may not be the urban chicken “rancher”) was getting their lawn aerated, whether they wanted it or not.

 

 

chickens

*   *   *

Department Of Why The #$!?* Is This Necessary?

 

This advice, printed on the “anti-mold sticker” in the box that held my new rain boots:

 

 

sticker

*   *   *

 

Department Of Benign Neglect

 

I think my sourdough starter is active. It may even have the pastry equivalent of ADHD.

 

 

starter

 

 

Were this crock of starter to be erupting on the White House kitchen counter, the crock who currently occupies the White House would likely be tweeting to North Korea about how MY STARTER IS UUUUUUUGE, BIGGER THAN YOURS AND THE MOST ACTIVE ON THE PLANET.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Do I Get A Girl Scout Badge For This?

Yesterday afternoon I was in the sodas aisle of the grocery store, looking for ginger ale for daughter Belle. An elderly woman was ahead of me, hunched over her cart, peering intently at the dizzying variety of Coca-Cola products. She suddenly announced in frustration and disappointment, “There’s no Cherry Coke!”

I wasn’t sure if she was addressing moiself, or beseeching the soft drink deities. In case it was the former, I pointed out a case of Cherry 7-Up to her. She said she’d tried Cherry 7-Up,  and it was okay, but she wanted Cherry Coke to go with her pizza (she had a frozen cheese pizza in her cart).  I pushed my cart up the aisle, looking for ginger ale and also checking every level of the soft drinks. At the far end of the aisle, away from the other Coke products, I found a case of Cherry Coke…and also found, much to my surprise, how excited I was to have done so.

“I found it!” I exclaimed, waving to the woman. Her watery blue eyes beamed as she  pushed her cart toward me. She thanked me profusely and said, at least three times, “You’re a good helper,” as if I were ten years old (or her beloved Labrador who’d just fetched her newspaper).

 

 

badge

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May your sourdough starter be the envy of the world’s small-handed despots;
May the new year favor you with an abundance of glowing treetop experiences;
May you be appreciated for being a good helper;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I think that should encompasse ages 20 – 56.

[2] Past failed resolutions include, “Be taller,” and “Do not engage in audible eye-rolling when someone mentions their detox cleanse.”

[3] E.g. you are no more capable of making discerning political choices the day before your 18th birthday than you are the day of your 18th birthday; still, you can’t register to vote when you are age 17 years 364 days….

[4] Excuse me, make that “tenant farmers,” as sharecroppers was considered a pejorative label.

[5] My father’s parents couldn’t afford shoes for all six of their children, so as the elder kids got shoes they handed them down to the younger siblings. You got to wear shoes if there were a pair that happened to fit you. My father went to his proverbial grave not knowing that my mother had shared the story, with my sisters and I, of how our dad was embarrassed as a child when he showed up barefoot at school and was teased by the townie kids, who called him a dumb barefoot farm boy.

[6] In other words, are not looking down at YOUR FUCKING CELLPHONE.

The Sign I’m Not Posting

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Department Of Not Sure What To Call This

Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:

I think you might enjoy this.  Cameos by Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/700-foot-mountain-whipped-cream/

The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond,  features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.

I listened to a lot of radio back then, and can’t remember any of the ads featured in the episode. It’s beyond bizarre (both the ads, and the guy who’s obsessed with interested in them). The era of acid rock also had Frank Zappa recording the voiceover  [1] (with a young Linda Ronstadt contributing background vocals) for a men’s shaving commercial, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose White Rabbit was arguably the definitive psychedelic rock hit, doing a jingle for White Levi’s?

I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads. 

As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated.  “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”

It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials.  Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  [2]  during last year’s election cycle.

 

 

trumpsignjpg

 

 

I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  [3] or school board candidate.  In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard?  [4]

You’ve seen this sign.

 

 

inouramerica

 

Or, one of its variants.

 

 

inthishouse

 

 

 

I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….

 

 

DUH

 

Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….);  I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster.  And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?

To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements —  I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.

Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of

IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)

 

 

 

 

mrrogers

Not exactly the warmest welcome to the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it.  Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®,  would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.

Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G).  Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket.  [5] Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).

For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.

Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.

 

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Department Of Looking Underneath The Tinsel  [6]

From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:

Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me

I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people

Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.

I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!” “So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?)  have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….

Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.

 

 

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

 

Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.

 

 

 

 

winter

 

 

 

 

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May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial;
May your convictions go beyond your signage;
May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?

[2] Or window or car bumper or….

[3] I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial.  Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)

[4] This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.

[5] Okay; maybe it’s time for another metaphor.

[6] Do “young people” even know what tinsel is? Nobody uses tinsel anymore – I think it may even be banned.

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