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The “Women And Children” I’m Not Protecting

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Dateline: Tuesday. Confidential to the woman who exited the grocery store ahead of me:

 Dear Multiple-Scented One,
Unless you began your day by bathing in the effluence of unaltered male ferret musk, dried off by rolling in a pile of festering, freeze-dried lutefisk, then gargled with a puree of 50 raw garlic cloves before heading out to your day’s errands, your body’s unmasked odors could not possibly have been worse than the plethora of perfumed potions with which you doused yourself, thus fumigating every public space you visited.
Please, for the sake of the ozone (and the mucous membranes of my nostrils and lungs), consider going au natural when it comes to the fragrances.

*   *   *

Department of Veteran’s Day Reflections

Dateline: Monday, 1-11-19. I made a spur of the moment decision to see the movie “Midway,” to mark Veteran’s Day.  Moiself left the theater feeling rather pensive, thinking about a trope I’d grown up with (although of course it wasn’t called that at the time) which was often used as a justification for war or as a motto to inspire our military’s fighting men:

We Must Protect The Women And Children.

One of the reasons cited for excluding women from the military and/or serving in combat (“the front lines”) was that the Women and Children ® must be protected. (We now know that, throughout history, women *have*served in the front lines and in combat – just not “officially” as in, getting credit – or in some cases, permission – for doing so).

Here’s the thing: those vaunted women and children supposedly being protected by the menfolk?  In any and every war, civilian/non-combat-related casualties have always outnumbered military casualties.  [1]  And during wartime the civilian population is largely – altogether now – women and children.  When I was a young girl I remember thinking, whenever I read or heard stories of war, that I’d rather have the opportunity to fight if my country or village came under attack, rather than passively die in a bombing raid or via disease or starvation or any other of the many ways that civilians being “protected” die during wartime.

 

 

In WWII, Admiral Doolittle‘s raid on Tokyo shattered the Japanese Imperial Army’s notions that their revered capital city was impenetrable.  Doolittle and the 79 other B-25 bombers/flight crew members did not have enough fuel to return to the aircraft carrier from which they’d launched; thus, they deliberately glided as far as possible after their fuel ran out and (crash) landed on the (Japanese-military-occupied) Chinese mainland.   [2]   Sixty-nine of the airmen, including Doolittle, escaped capture or death, many due to being helped by Chinese civilians.

In retaliation for the Tokyo raid and the help offered by the Chinese to the American airmen, the Japanese military occupied, ravaged and then torched many Chinese cities and villages, killing over 250,000 – yes, a quarter of a million –  civilians:

“(An American missionary) observed the result of a Japanese attack on Ihwang:
“They shot any man, woman, child, cow, hog, or just about anything that moved, They raped any woman from the ages of 10 – 65, and before burning the town they thoroughly looted it…. the humans shot were…left…on the ground to rot, along with hogs and cows.”
The Japanese marched into the walled city of Nancheng…beginning a reign of terror so horrendous that missionaries would later dub it “the Rape of Nancheng.” …
Over the summer, Japanese soldiers laid waste to some 20,000 square miles….
(Civilians who were suspected) to have helped the Doolittle raiders were tortured…. soldiers forced (civilians) who had fed (Doolittle’s airmen) to eat feces before lining up ten of them for a “bullet contest” to see how many people a single bullet would pass through before it stopped. In Ihwang, (a man) who had welcomed an injured American pilot into his home, was wrapped in a blanket, tied to a chair and soaked in kerosene. Then soldiers forced his wife to torch him.”
(Excerpts from “The Untold Story of the Vengeful Japanese Attack
After the Doolittle Raid,”  Smithsonian.com )

Give me a death on the battlefield any day, over that.

 

( “Women in the American Revolution,” from American Battlefield Trust )

*   *   *

Department Of Another Fitting Movie For Veterans Day

Do you know who was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War? Go see the movie about the amazing freedom fighter/escaped-slave-turned-abolitionist,  Harriet Tubman, if you haven’t already.  Or read up/refresh yourself on her story…on second thought, don’t be content with just that.  It’s a really good movie. Then ask yourself why is Harriet Tubman’s name and image not on all of our currency?

 

 

Harriet, the movie, is directed/co-written by actor/director/screenwriter Kasi Lemmons.   Cinema buffs may know Lemmons for giving us the luminous Eve’s Bayou, and also for playing Ardelia, Clarice’s fellow FBI special agent, in The Silence of the Lambs.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, by The Moosewood Collective
Recipe:  Tunisian Vegetable Stew

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher    [4]     

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Department Of Well Duh

“…(a computer scientist) describes how he examined cloud-computing services from Google and Amazon Web Services that help other businesses add language skills into new applications. Both services failed to recognize the word ‘hers’ as a pronoun, though they correctly identified ‘his.’ ”

 

 

Something that should come as no surprise, but still is disheartening to consider: The process of “training” AI (Artificial Intelligence) devices  to know what we know – e.g., by having them scan/download the sum of human writings, both fiction and non-fiction – will also imbue said devices with our historical and cultural biases, thus fostering the continuation – even propagation –  of prejudices and preconceptions.

“….while researching a book on artificial intelligence, computer scientist Robert Munro fed 100 English words into BERT (Google’s new AI language algorithm): “jewelry,” “horses,” “house,” “money,” “action.” In 99 cases out of 100, BERT    [5] was more likely to associate the words with men rather than women. The word “mom” was the outlier.

“This is the same historical inequity we have always seen,” said Dr. Munro…
Now, with something like BERT, this bias can continue to perpetuate.”

And if that doesn’t depress you enough, these biases – surprise! (read: not) extend toward cultural and ethnic discrimination (my emphases):

Researchers have long warned of bias in A.I. that learns from large-amounts-data, including the facial recognition systems that are used by police departments and other government agencies as well as popular internet services from tech giants like Google and Facebook.
In 2015, for example, the Google Photos app was caught labeling African-Americans as “gorillas.” The services Dr. Munro scrutinized also showed bias against women and people of color.


BERT and similar systems are far more complex — too complex for anyone to predict what they will ultimately do.
Even the people building these systems don’t understand how they are behaving,” said Emily Bender, a professor at the University of Washington who specializes in computational linguistics.

( All excerpts from, “We Teach A.I. Systems Everything, Including Our Biases:
Researchers say computer systems are learning from lots and lots of digitized books and news articles that could bake old attitudes into new technology.”  NY Times, 11-12-19 )

“What Brave New World shit is this?”

*   *   *

Department Of Ok, That Was Depressing…Back To The Movies

The Cinematic Count So Far

As mentioned previously in this space, in the past few years I have vowed to see at least one movie per week in an actual movie theater. In 2019, with 7.5 weeks to go, my movie count is 47. From Welcome to Marwen (early January) to the most recent, Pain and Glory, my favorites of the bunch include:

On the Basis of Sex; If Beale Street Could Talk; Captain Marvel; Us; The Aftermath; Hotel Mumbai; Booksmart; Late Nite; Once Upon a Time In Hollywood; The Farewell; Blinded by the Light; Ad Astra; JoJo Rabbit; Harriet; Parasite; Pain and Glory.

My walk-out count (i.e. movies moiself walked out of, due to a combination of disgust/boredom) is, fortunately, only two:  What Men Want, and Little.

Winner of Best Speculative Review Before Having Seen The Movie:  why, that would be moiself, when son K told me he was off to see Lighthouse with a friend.  I make it a point to never read a review of a movie before I see it; I do see a lot of movie trailers because I’m in a movie theater every week.  I’d seen one preview for Lighthouse, which gave away next-to-nothing about the plot and made me skeptical as to whether or not I wanted to see it.  [6]  Before K left for the theater he asked if Lighthouse was on my must-see list.

MoiselfI dunno, it’s, what – a movie about two men in an isolated lighthouse?  So, 90 minutes of masturbation and farting and snoring and peeing and pooping and arguing…?

K’s first comment to me when he returned from the theater:
HOW DID YOU KNOW ?!?!?

*   *   *

May you realize that artificial intelligence can never override natural stupidity;
May you and yours never have to bear the label, civilian casualty;
May y’all see at least one movie a week before the year’s end;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] In the cases where a country is invaded.  Our country’s most recent wars have not been fought on/in our country; rather, we’ve shipped our fighting overseas.

[2] Sixteen B-25s launched; 15 crashed in China, and one made it to Russian territory.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[5] BERT (“Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”) is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. 

[6] Which I eventually did.

The Middle I’m Not Meeting In

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Department Of This Is Way Too Existential Of A Question To Tackle Before Breakfast

Sub-Department of Could This Be Another Variant of Male Directile Dysfunction?

Dateline: Sunday morning, circa 7 am; Bay Area town, visiting friends who live in a hilly neighborhood with many winding roads.  MH and I are out for a morning walk. A car slowly approaches us from behind, and slows even more but doesn’t quite stop, as the driver, an older Asian man, rolls down the window and in lightly accented English, asks, “Do you know where I am going?”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m A Middle Child, But Sometimes You Gotta Choose Sides

“There’s nothing in the middle of the road
but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.”
( Jim Hightower, Texan, progressive political activist, former Agriculture commissioner,
author of There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion      [1] )

 

Time to revisit a brief but wise meditation of the myth of the morality of middle ground. Excerpts from There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground, by Tayari Jones,  Emory university professor and author  (my emphases ) :

“…we are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf. I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground. People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space. This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.”

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon….”

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic….

The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant
than the issues over which we are sparring.

Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values? Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families?… Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist?

The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms. Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.

Compromise is not valuable in its own right,
and justice seldom dwells in the middle.”

Check out this essay in its entirety, originally published last year (11-5-18) in Time.

 

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Minimalists Cooks at Home, by Mark Bittman
Recipe:   Piquillo Peppers with Shitakes and Spinach

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [3]           

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Department Of Explaining Blog Brevity

Moiself is recently returned from a trip to Bay Area, to help longtime friends memorialize their 27-year-old son, who died unexpectedly in August.  MH and I also visited friends who graciously offered us accommodations during the trip — the same dear friends whose 27-year-old daughter was murdered in January.

The lingering trauma of losing a child of any age, and especially in violent circumstances, cannot be underestimated…nor fully comprehended.

 

 

*   *   *

May you be patient with those of us trying to comprehend the incomprehensible;
May you be wary of “meeting in the middle”;
May you continue to remember to  love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em;

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which is snort-laughing funny; moiself recommends y’all read it.

[2] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[3]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

The Law(s) I’m Not Rising Above

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Department Of Questions That Get Me In Trouble (Although They Shouldn’t)

NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.

That proclamation, a supposed axiom of our justice system, does not always seem to be so axiomatic when it comes to the rich and powerful.   Since the latest/final straw revelations of #45’s felonious acts I’ve been hearing, reading, and even seeing it (moiself has noticed NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW signs posted in shop windows and on people’s lawns) all over the various news outlets.

No one is above the law is a sentiment/principle/practice I heartily agree with… yet moiself can’t help but wonder if those who are earnestly advocating NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW realize that the principle goes both ways, and all ways?  That train runs north and south, east and west, up and down, left and right….

If you truly would like to see #45 and his minions prosecuted for their innumerable crimes – and it’s starting to look like the federal prisons are going to get awfully crowded if all of his abettors are brought to justice – then what do you have to say to your fellow citizens who expect the same principle should be applied to all matters of the law?  For example, to people who have entered the country illegally. Illegally, which means to violate the law – you know, the law that *no one* is above?

If your answer is “No!”  or some variation of, “Well, wait – that’s different….”  can you take a deep breath and consider for a moment why there are those on the so-called far right who feel that they cannot dialogue with us lefties?

 

I agree with this sentiment, but there *are* humans who commit illegal acts. I wonder how the sign holder proposes we deal with that?

*   *   *

Department Of And Now We Segue To A Much Less Loaded Question

Question: what are your two favorite obscure Beatles songs?

 

 

By obscure I mean not one of their bajillion [1]  number one hits; perhaps a B-side or a song from besides or maybe just a lesser known song from Revolver (e….g., “For No One” ) or Rubber Soul  [2]  (maybe, “If I Needed Someone”) or any of their other albums.

Mine are I’ll Be Back and No Reply Both are examples of why I continue to love the group’s music.  These two songs contain varying rhythmic and/or chord progressions, along with a certain melancholy tone, stunning harmonies and impassioned vocals so different from what their rock ‘n roll peers were doing at the time.

And yours are?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Are The Odds?

Oh, about one in 18,250 – a conservative estimate given that there are 365 individual dates each year  [3]   and at least a 50 year age range for people who can legally purchase alcoholic beverages (get out your calculators, y’all – there’s one on your smartphone)….

So:  1 in 18,250.  Those are, at the very least, the odds that the clerk in the grocery store defied when she came over to my self-checkout carrel to use her key scanner to enter approval for the bottle of wine I was purchasing. This particular store requires that the clerk enter an “over age 21” birthdate for every customer’s alcohol purchase. The clerk told me she is able to determine “90% of the time” that a customer is over 21 by sight rather than by checking ID (which she doesn’t like to do because it takes longer); after she used her scientific method to determine my age (Wrinkles? Check. Gray-flecked hair? Yep.) she quickly keyed in a random birthdate which would make me over 21, a random date which happened to be MH’s birthdate: the exact month, day, and year.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Shocked…

outraged, gob-smacked, flabbergasted, stunned, astounded, dismayed, offended, aghast, appalled, astonished….might as well throw in the whole book of synonyms.

 

 

And by outraged I mean of course that I’m Not. At. All. Surprised.  I refer to the recent revelation that the slightly-less-recent “revelation” about red meat eating is likely a steaming pile of…that which hails from the end of the cow that even die-hard beef eaters eschew.   [4]

“Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.”
(NY Times 9-30-19)

Provocative headlines, indeed. ‘Tis reasonable to be skeptical when “new studies” proclaim to overturn hundreds of other studies.  Indeed, those new studies were criticized by other scientists in terms of methodology and data collection and analysis…and now, ta da!:

The study, which has received a plethora of criticism and has been branded an ‘egregious abuse of evidence’ – concludes that red and processed meat isn’t as harmful as previously thought.

It has since been discovered that lead researcher Bradley C. Johnston, who disclosed that during the past three years he didn’t have any ‘conflicts of interest’ to report….According to the New York Times, as recently as December 2016, Dr. Johnston was the senior author on a study which was paid for by food industry giant International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), who are ‘largely supported’ by companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Mars, and Cargill – one of North America’s biggest beef processors.

(“Scientist Behind Red Meat Study Previously Tied To Food Industry”)

 

 

Oh golly gosh, what a letdown. Because in the history of all history we just can’t imagine a doctor or scientist getting paid for shilling for the “food” industry which, of course, only has our best interests at heart.

“… the Coca-Cola company, as far back as fifty years ago, began a campaign to hire scientists to attempt to shift the blame/public attention for increasing obesity and type 2 diabetes rates away from sugar consumption by blaming dietary fat. Their scheme to divert attention from the mounting evidence linking soda consumption with weight gain and poor health included funding the Global Energy Balance Network, an “astroturfing”   [5]   organization purporting to research diabetes but whose employees were actually being paid to promote the idea that insufficient exercise, not bad nutrition, was the primary cause of weight gain.    [6]

(previously blogged about my moiself in my prudently titled segment,
Department of Fuck You, Coca-Cola, 3-2-18)

 

“And with the funds from my  shameless whoredom ground-breaking research I could, dare I say, rule the world…”

*   *   *

Department Of The Clueless Guy Who Thinks He’s Attractive No Matter What ®

Watching a recent Unsuccessful Flirtation ®  [7]  made me think of my favorite experience with such a dynamic.

Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (circa 1989), at a Bay Area Planned Parenthood. I was working my regular shift at the check-in desk for that PP’s Tuesday morning clinic.  The clinic saw patients, male and female, for a wide variety of needs, the majority of which were for routine tests and bloodwork and STD treatments.

“You know how these American foxes go wild for our sexy infectious diseases!”

A man similar in age to mine (maybe late 20s – early 30s) approached my desk.  His idea of checking in for his appointment took the form of leaning his elbow across the desk, making serious, eyelash-batting eye contact with me, giving me his name and appointment time and then attempting to chat me up.

There was no one in line in back of the guy, so he wasn’t taking up anyone’s time but mine…but, geesh.  He said something about recognizing me, then segued into a series of questions/statements meant to elicit personal information from me, which I responded to by ignoring them as I got his chart and prepped his intake paperwork.  Meanwhile, he’s telling me that he knows the clinic closes for an hour at noon, presumably so the PP staff can have a meal break, so where do I like to get lunch nearby – do I know any good restaurants or cafes?

The thing is, besides…

(1) not being attracted in the least to this guy, and

(2) being married,    [8]   and

(3) there is no #3

…how is it possible he could ignore the fact that I, too, was capable of recognition?

I’d seen him – checked him in for his appointment – in several previous clinics.  Even if I hadn’t, I had his chart, right there in front of me, to tell me that he was coming in for appointment #4 in a series visits to have topical applications of acetic acid to treat his HPV.

Dude, you are flirting with me?  Here?  Now?

 

I *work* here – I know what you’re here for: to have warts burned off your penis.  I mean, props to you for doing the responsible thing, but it’s not a turn on.

*   *   *

Department Of Just When You Thought The Story Couldn’t Get Any Better

So. I got away from Obliviously Flirting Warty Penis Man by getting up from the desk to take his chart back to the clinician who would see him. I must have had “a look” on my face, because the clinic’s Nurse Practitioner asked me what was going on. I told her; we both had a good laugh.

The following Tuesday the same NP rushed up to me as I was getting my coat from the employee break room “I’m so glad I found you – you’re not gonna believe this! she exclaimed. She had just arrived to work the afternoon clinic and wanted to tell me about the previous week’s clinic, but hadn’t been able to find me after she was done seeing patients that day (my shift ended at noon)It seems that the OFWPM had started putting the moves on *her*, during his appointment!  Yep, he was sitting on the exam table, nekkid from the waist down, asking leading/flirtatious questions of the Nurse Practitioner who was applying an acetic acid solution to his genital area. She attempted to quell his queries by telling him that she needed to concentrate on what she was doing…which led to OFWPM making some lewd remarks, including about how it was nice to be around an attractive woman who enjoyed her work…which led to the NP shoving an acetic acid-coated swab up his urethra.

Her apology was immediate, if not sincere: Whoopsie daisy – I am **so** sorry!

 

“You remember the Klingon proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold…or with a red hot acid swab shoved up your pee-hole.”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [9]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Kitchen Express, by Mark Bittman

Recipe: Microwaved Honey Eggplant

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [10]

*   *   *

May you never harass a clinician who has your private parts in her hand;
May you live the kind of life in which your only response to the previous advice would be, “Well, DUH;”
May you cherish your favorite lesser known Beatles songs;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Okay; it was twenty-one.

[2] Arguably one of the best album titles ever.

[3] Y’all with Leap Day birthdays can go pout in the corner now.

[4] Nor chew.  Ewww.  Although dead flesh eaters will eat just about anything….

[5] Astroturfing is “…the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by a grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection.”

[6] And we now know it’s the other way around – you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.

[7] A man in a coffee shop was really trying to impress a woman, who was giving off every I’m not interested vibe known to humankind.

[8] I kept pointing to his chart with my left hand, — even tapping it, to get his attention – asssuming he would notice my humble but obvious gold wedding band.

[9] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[10] * Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

The Comments I’m Not Making

Comments Off on The Comments I’m Not Making

Department Of Raising Them Right

Dateline: last Friday; circa 4 pm; a Manzanita (OR) grocery store. Three towheaded children watch their equally blond parents taste the Syrah that is offered at the store’s weekly wine tasting. The parents speak softly to each other, in lightly accented English which makes me think they’re originally from Germany, or possibly the Netherlands…maybe North Dakota. 

Spicy,” Mom says, sipping her wine sample. The middle child, a boy who looks maybe five years old, grins up at the store’s wine tasting host and says, “Expensive.”  [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Goes The Neighborhood
Chapter 391

The latest salvo in my never-ending battle against tasteful lawn décor:  [2]

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

An Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

Recipe:  Moong Dal

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

   *   *   *

Department Of Naming Your Kid After A Leafy Green Is Child Abuse, IMHO

Dateline: Tuesday evening, circa 7:30pm, our local Costco.  Leaving the store with MH, I do something moiself has never done before. 

 

 

No, not that.  (Holy farting Jesus H. Buddha on a raft – nuns have the dirtiest minds).

There are two female employees at the store’s exit door. What I do is that I look at the nametag/ID badge of the Costco employee whose job moiself had hitherto thought of as Receipt Swiper (the employee who looks at the goods in your cart and then uses their Sharpie Pen ® to make a loopy mark across your receipt).   [5]  Beneath the employee’s name is her work title, which, for some reason, startles me: Front End.

Moiself: “Oh, my!

Receipt Swiper: (looking at me quizzically) “Yes?”

Moiself: “Sorry – I’m just wondering, is there another person in the back of the store with the title, ‘Rear End’ ?”

Receipt Swiper laughs and makes her sharpie mark on our receipt.  The other employee standing by RS’s side also laughs, and I look at her ID badge, which has no title, just her name.  I somehow manage to refrain from commenting with the first thing that comes to mind; instead, I do a double take to make sure that, yep, according to her Official Costco Badge, ®  this young woman’s name is Kale.

(The comment moiself does not make):
“Right on, Sister!”  [6]   My name is Arugula, and this is my husband Radicchio, and our two children are Romaine and Endive.”

 

Why do all the dickheads come to my line?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Go Read This Man’s Essay Right Now

Moiself refers to American writer Walter Mosley’s compelling essay, Why I Quit The Writer’s Room, wherein he describes how he came to quit a new job writing for a network television series after receiving an (anonymous) complaint about his use of language.

I’d been (in the new writers room) for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.”

I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.”

He said, very nicely, that I could not use that word except in a script. I could write it but I could not say it. Me. A man whose people in America have been, among other things, slandered by many words. But I could no longer use that particular word to describe the environs of my experience.

Someone else in the writer’s room – HR would not reveal the identity to Mosley – had called HR about Mosley’s use of the N-word (which Mosley had used in sharing an encounter which had happened to him; he didn’t call anyone that word). Mosley’s concern about being censored – “…if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job.” –   led him to resign from that show.

 

 

Some of my most cherished beliefs and opinions I hold and espouse,  [7]  both as a Mere Mortal ® and A Writer ®, have developed over the years because I have been able to hear and read ideas and words that made someone feel uncomfortable – even threatened.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’v watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.  The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.  In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

Had I listened to that flaming and festuring turd of suppression advice, the protagonist (and other crucial characters) of my book The Mighty Quinn  could not have existed. Because who was I, a 50-something female, to write about the travails of a bullied fifth grade boy?   [8]

In the ideal A & A regime, moiself, as an able-bodied, politically left-of-center, plant-based-eating-and-cooking, yoga-practicing,  religion-free, English-speaking, healthy, heterosexual, middle-aged, native born American woman primarily of European descent residing in the Pacific Northwest, could only “authentically” write about my tribe.  No 30-something, ALS-stricken, bi-curious, computer programming and ESL-student, cricket-playing, Indonesian immigrant son of Baptist missionary parents living in Utah could – or should – escape the confines of my mind and onto the pages in that stifled world.

 

 

I do not believe that it should be the object of our political culture to silence those things said that make some people uncomfortable…. if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job. And furthermore I do not believe that it is the province of H.R. to make the decision to keep my accusers’ identities secret. If I’ve said or done something bad enough to cause people to fear me, they should call the police.

I’m a fortunate guy. Not everyone can quit their job. But beyond that, we cannot be expected to thrive in a culture where our every word is monitored. If my words physically threaten or bully someone, something must be done about it. But if you tell me that you feel uncomfortable at some word I utter, let me say this:

There was a time in America when so-called white people were uncomfortable to have a black person sitting next to them. There was a time when people felt uncomfortable when women demanded the right to vote. There was a time when sexual orientation had only one meaning and everything else was a crime.

(excerpt from Walter Mosley’s Why I Quit The Writers’ Room)

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Telling Your Parents To Shut Up   [9]

The pleasures of walking alone on the beach early in the morning are legion, but the dangers are very real, as per a recent 6:30 am-ish stroll I took along the shoreline near Nehalem Bay State Park. A vigorous and obsessive dog dashed by me, chasing gulls it would never catch; 30 seconds later I made a friendly/offhand comment to the only other person I saw on the beach at that time, whom I assumed was the dog’s owner.  [10]   She turned out to be a wild-eyed, animated, proud ex-Marine determined to engage me in conversation.  In less than 90 seconds she’d managed to turn my dog comment into an opportunity for her to go to LaLa Land – specifically, to speechify about the fact that although she was born and raised in SoCal (as was moiself) you couldn’t pay her to live there anymore (ditto for moiself)…which somehow led to her impassioned defense of California’s Proposition 13….   [11]

He (Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Holmes) did not have a curmudgeon’s feelings about his own taxes. A secretary who exclaimed ‘Don’t you hate to pay taxes!’ was rebuked with the hot response, ‘No, young feller. I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.’
(Felix Frankfurter, “Mr. Justice Holmes and the Supreme Court”,
as cited in Quote Investigator)

I managed to extricate myself from the political harangue chat, but not the memory it invoked. Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away, moiself and MH were in Santa Ana (CA), visiting my parents at a time when they’d just happened to have recently received their property tax bill. My folks were proud beneficiaries of Prop 13   [12]  and they were practically gloating when they waved the bill in front of MH and I and asked us how much we were paying in property tax for our house in Hillsboro (OR).

Strike “ practically gloating” – it was up front, out of the closet gloating. They gleefully pointed out that moiself and MH (who found an excuse to leave the room when he realized where the conversation was headed) were paying over ten times what they were in property taxes.  Although my parents were usually Nice People ® , they mentioned this disparity repeatedly.

I told my folks, sure, like most people I don’t particularly enjoy paying taxes, but I do enjoy the numerable services I receive in exchange for doing so.  I make it a point to look at the entire property tax bill when it arrives…

At this point I was interrupted by my parents, who made the comparison, yet again, of how little they paid and how much MH and I paid  –  with the implication that we were somehow schmucks for paying more.

As I was saying…I look at the entire property tax bill, not just the number we have to remit. I pay attention to how the  tax total is broken out into categories – primary, secondary and community college education; parks and recreation; police and fire and rescue services; enhanced sheriff patrols; clean water services, urban road maintenance….  I think about all the services I get for my $$ and thus am grateful, both for those vital, life-and-community-enhancing services and for the opportunity to share their cost with my fellow citizens…

And so, Mom and Dad, CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP ABOUT THIS?

 

 

They were momentarily shocked into silence, which allowed me to explain the reasons for my umbrage.  During that past year, my parents had had several grandchildren in CA public schools…and my folks had also received at least one visit from the fire department and two from the paramedics (due to various “old people” incidents, which included my father accidentally starting a fire in their oven and my mother having two falls requiring emergency medical attention).  Given the publicly-funded services they had directly benefited from, they were not paying anywhere near their fair share of the cost of living in a civilized society. Instead of gloating, how about even a modicum of gratitude? If that’s too much to ask, how’s about just saying nothing at all about your taxes, particularly nothing about how we are paying 10x what you are?

My parents mounted a lame defense of their tax gloating, then quickly changed the subject. Earlier I had noted the ubiquitous stack of Billy Graham Association literature on their coffee table; I remember thinking at one point during the tax talk,

What would your Jesus say about your tax burden? As I recall, according to y’alls scriptures, not only did JC *not* have anything nice to say about the desire for nor the accumulation of wealth, he famously admonished his followers to “render unto Caesar” … Oh yes, but the modern prosperity gospel gives y’all entitlement to make sure you feel fine about rendering the least while others render more.

 

*   *   *

May you be judicious in discerning when to tell your parents to “shut up;”
May you carefully consider what causes you to attempt to censor other people;
May your yard ornamentation be celebrated in your neighborhood…or not;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The Syrah was $46/bottle. How did the little smartass know?

[2] And who is anyone to argue against such an obvious homage to diversity?

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[5] Which indicates…what?…their initials, methinks, signifying you are not walking out with an unpaid for HDTV or a 50 pound sack of Kirkland Signature Pirate Booty Puffs.

[6] Does anyone say Right on! anymore?

[7]  And continually revise, as new information comes to light.

[8]  and Quinn’s friends and antagonists, who are a mix of male and female, English, Russian- and Bantu-speaking, religious and religion-free, emotionally stable and physically abused….

[9] And, BTW, why do we tell someone to shut “up,” and not down?

[10] She was not;  she was walking the dog for a friend who was out of town.

[11] In 1978 California voters enacted a “tax payer’s revolt” measure, which amended their state constitution to both limit property taxes and make it extremely difficult to raise them in the future.

[12] Which limited property taxes to 1976 assessed values and allowed very strictly limited increases, the assessment of which, for older folks, could be carried to a new home when they relocated.

The September Rituals I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Some Movies Abbreviate Better Than Others

Ticket in hand, I looked for the theater in the multiplex which was showing The Peanut Butter Falcon at 2 pm.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If You Can’t Stand Misanthropy and/or Curmudgeon-ry
Then Slowly Back Away From Your Computer/ Other Device Right Now, Okay?

Someone had to be the first. Who started this “Fido has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge” thing? And by thing I mean supernatural crap wherein otherwise/mostly sentient, rational and potty-trained adults resort to sickly-sweet euphemisms when reporting on the death of their or another person’s beloved pet.

Now, before you get your incontinence garments in a knot, notice my use of the term, beloved pet.   Moiself, too, has had the heart-squeezing experience of losing dearly loved pets over the years, whether they died via natural (old age) or accidental means   [1] or euthanasia.  But, really:  Rainbow Bridge?  Can’t we just say what happened?  Your dog died; you miss your canine companion, and are sad.

Why is reality not sufficient? Who’s behind this? Something tells me the kind of people who fantasize about unicorns are involved.   [2] 

Disclaimers: The RB metaphor is used by good people with good intentions, blah blah blah. But hey, there are those of us who are trying to watch our lifestyle markers, eat properly and exercise and avoid high fructose corn syrup – which is added to everything these days, including toilet paper  [3]   – and  yet we get hit by these Type-2-Diabetes-inducing images from which there seems to be no hiding.

Moiself was curious/annoyed enough to do a little research on the term.  And by, “a little research” I mean the laziest easiest kind of research possible.  All hail Google search engines:

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of several works of poetry written in the 1980s and 1990s that speak of an other-worldly place where pets go upon death, eventually to be reunited with their owners…..
The first mention of the “Rainbow Bridge” story on the internet is a post on the newsgroup rec.pets.dogs, dated 7 January 1993, quoting the poem from a 1992 (or earlier) issue of Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League Newsletter, which in turn is stated to have quoted it from the Akita Rescue Society of America.
Other posts from 1993 suggest it was already well established and being circulated on the Internet at that time, enough for the quotation of even a single line to be expected to be recognized by other newsgroup readers…
.
(Wikipedia, Rainbow Bridge entry)

I still want to blame the unicorn people.

 

Whatever floats your boat.

*   *   *

Department Of Other Multi-Colored Bridges That Are Also Not Crossed
By Your Dead Pets, Or By Any Other Creatures, For That Matter

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am not religious, and hold no credence in the existence of anyone’s heaven or hell or other stages of post-reality existence. But I am convinced there is an afterlife, as per these two phenomena:

֎  people live on, after their physical life has ended, in the ways they are remembered by those who love them, and by the impact their deeds (for better, worse, and everything in between) have had on the world;

֎  and also by the fact that my mother has been reincarnated in my cerebellum, or whatever portion of my brain is responsible for time perception.  I heard her distinctive voice via my own proclamation this week:

How did it get to be September already?!

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Inspiralized, by Ali Maffucci

Recipe:  * Vegan Celeriac Alfredo With Broccolini

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

Department of September Rituals

Very occasionally, someone (who doesn’t know me well) asks moiself if I am “still working.”  During the rare times when I am asked my occupation in some formal/legal way (e.g., tax forms), I put down “retired,” for lack of a better option. I feel rather…odd…in doing so. How can I be retired, from anything? Because I don’t really know if I am, or not. When it comes to writing for publication, I am on a sabbatical, which may or may not be permanent…which segues into the September routine I’m (not quite) missing.

September brings the strangeness of being apart from the back to school mode, which I’ve previously referenced (8-24-18)  :

There is something different for me this year, about this time of the year – this particular end of August. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized that Belle’s graduation from college in May (brother K graduated three years earlier) means that for the first time in twenty years, there is no Back to School ® component to my life. The end of summer/resumption of school, the preparation and routine and rhythm of such, it was not so all-encompassing – for both my personal and the family’s schedules – when the kids were in college.  Still, it wasthere.I’ve noticed how “out of it” I’ve sometimes felt, during the past four years, with regards to schedules of other families – including even the approaching of holidays – by not having at least one child with a public school schedule. There was no compelling reason for me to keep track of certain things, and so I didn’t…and then I found myself frequently (and sometimes sheepishly) surprised by the mundane:
Why is there less traffic these past couple of morning? Why are there so many kids wandering around in the early afternoon…oh..yeah….it’s probably a teacher conference/grading/”staff development day” off for the schools….”

But September has other significant ritual associations, for fiction writers. Fall is (or used to be) when writers would send for updated guidelines from literary journals, many of which are associated with colleges and universities and thus have publishing schedules which are linked to the academic calendar. September was back to school housekeeping for writers: what are the Oxnard University Review’s new writers guidelines – same as last year, or any changes? What are their deadlines and estimated response times? Do they want online or print submissions? Do they still have two three month reading periods year round for their three issues, or do they publish bi-annually now? Are there new guidelines regarding manuscript length; will they have any special/themed issues?

Back in the olden days, before even the most obscure of journals had a website, writers obtained this information re the time-honored send-a ms. guidelines-request-enclose-a-SASE method.  All those stamps and envelopes added up to be a financial irritant – not an insignificant part of a writer’s budget, when you consider that the vast majority of the “good” literary journals (i.e., those that actually pay and/or have a circulation above 1000 readers) accept less than 1% of manuscripts submitted.  The acceptance rate for the “other” literary journals – from the obscure to the prestigious, they offer no remuneration for publication other than copies of their journal and, of course, the dreaded promise of “exposure” – varies from 2-10%.

 

(cartoon via electriclit.com)

 

That financial irritant of guidelines requests/SASEs has been mostly alleviated, in that you can now get guidelines from a journal’s websites. But the major irritant for writers about those guidelines – whether you got them via a letter or a computer screen – remained: discovering that a journal had a no simultaneous submissions policy.

(Oh-so-brief- Definition: A simultaneous submission is the submission of a literary work – e.g. a short story,  novel or short fiction collection or another piece of writing –  to more than one literary magazine or publisher at the same time.)

*   *   *

Blast From The Past: the Ongoing   [6]  Department Of Complaining About….

In the past year, reading Facebook posts from writers reminded me of a few   [7]  of the major complaints I had re submitting work to literary publications, including response time and no simultaneous submission policies. Especially infuriating were/are the journals who have a no simultaneous submission policy (i.e. these journals have the audacity to ask for exclusive submissions – as in, they want you to guarantee you are not submitting your work to publications while they are considering it) and also have notoriously long response times, some up to 8-16 months .

Really.

What kind of B.S about submitting a M.S. is that?  How did that policy – editors demanding exclusive consideration of your work – even get started?  Imagine going to a job interview where your potential employer said you couldn’t apply to any other jobs until he made his decision (and you noticed you were one in a line of 50+ applicants outside his office door)?

Once I began to encounter that imbalanced policy, I vowed I would not submit work to magazines that declared they would not read ss (simultaneous submissions).

In theory, I refused to support such a monstrously skewed power dynamic.  If editors wanting to enforce a ss policy were willing to practice the exclusivity they expected from writers – i.e. if they promised to only consider one ms. at a time –  then I would promise to submit my work to them and only them.

In practice, my policy in response to journals proclaiming a no ss policy was twofold:

(1) Depending on how obnoxiously self-important the guidelines were written, I either did not submit work to those journals which had that policy…

(2) or I did…but didn’t tell them my work was a ss[8]   After all, they didn’t tell me how many manuscripts other than mine they were considering, did they?   [9]

*   *   *

One of the “reminder” FB posts I mentioned came from NS, editor of the late great literary journal, Oasis (1992 – 2009)  [10]  who is also a writer.   NS’s beef is with editors and journals who waste writers’ time via absurdly long response times to manuscript submissions.  NS – I’ll call him Neal,   [11]   because that’s what his mommy and daddy did – was one of the more efficient and competent editors I’ve had the privilege of working with: smart and  pleasant; down to earth and enthusiastic; no BS.  Despite (or more likely because) of having had the experience of being a literary magazine editor, Neal finds the standard long response times of journals to be maddening, even insulting:

Isn’t it odd how most literary magazines make you pay for the privilege of ignoring you?
 Also:  All you literary magazines who claim to appreciate SO MUCH the men and women who submit to you, prove it. Start by no longer claiming you need 4 months to do what can be done in 4 minutes.

I – and most fiction writers, I’d bet – am fully in NS’s corner on this.  What is it with some journals’ response times – what could possibly be their excuse?  If you don’t know in two months, you will in eight…twelve…even more?  You are not conducting trials on the efficacy and safety of pharmacological treatments for malignant melanoma; you are considering which stories to publish.  Do you like the story, or not?  Does the story “fit” (if you’re that type of journal) with the rest of the material/theme of the issue, or doesn’t it?

 

 

Not all journals were like that. I kept on file the guidelines of a few of the best of what I considered to be Good Examples ®, two of which moiself will share with y’all:

Simultaneous Submissions: We accept simultaneous submissions, since we feel that it’s unreasonable to expect writers to give a magazine an exclusive look at a work unless the magazine can respond within two to three weeks.
We want writers to have every possible opportunity for success, so we’re willing to risk losing a story we want when someone at another magazine may have done their reading before we have, and in that case we’ll be sorry to lose the piece but happy for the writer.

We encourage simultaneous submissions.  It is unreasonable for any editor to ask for exclusive consideration of your work for an indefinite period of time.  There are many good writers submitting quality work.  Unless you have just won a Pulitzer or have an established rapport with a publication or editor, send your best work out to numerous publications you have vetted.  If your work is accepted elsewhere before you hear from us, just drop us an email and we will be very happy for you!

It was shocking to me that the reasonable-ness of these magazine’s respective policies…well…shocked me, when I first read them.  It was a Eureka moment – here are editors who understand and respect writers (and likely are themselves writers, as well as editors and/or publishers).

 

Are we done complaining yet?

*   *   *


May you never voluntarily cross anything resembling a Rainbow Bridge;
May the story of your life provide for a most provocative movie marquee abbreviation;
May you remember that the more you complain, the longer you live;   [12]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Run over by a car….shudder and ick.

[2] Almost always (or so it seems to moiself) the Rainbow Bridge metaphor is used in relation to dogs, but I’m sure other animals involved.

[3] Just a hunch. I haven’t actually read a toilet paper ingredients label.

[4] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[6] As in, neverending.

[7] There were many….sooooooo many….

[8] As in, it was already under consideration by another journal, or I’d also planned on submitting it elsewhere.

[9] And yes, it is possible I ended up on the notorious/rumored “blacklist” for doing so.

[10] Full disclosure: my story We’ll Talk Later  (which was included in my short fiction collection, This Here And Now, ) was published in Oasis in 1993.

[11] I usually don’t name names in this blog, unless the namee is somewhat of a public person.

[12] Or actually it just seems longer to everyone around you.

The Presidential Cabinet I’m Not Staffing

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Department Of Somebody Got A Screenwriting Credit For This?

Dateline: last Saturday, Manzanita OR. Pondering the recent news re the death of actor Peter Fonda, I wondered how it was that moiself had made it through life as a movie fan (including taking a film class in college) without having seen that supposedly ground-breaking classic, Easy Rider.

Friend JWW was visiting MH and moiself. JWW and MH each claimed to have seen Easy Rider and, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, agreed to watch it with me that evening.

You know That Thing ®  when you get embarrassed for people you don’t even know and/or who aren’t even in the room with you?  That’s the thing I felt, watching Easy Rider. As (a cartoon version of) George Takei might say,

 

 

 

Now I know what it feels like to have a bad trip, despite never having dropped acid.

Anyone who has watched older, “classic” movies has probably noticed that many such classics, however groundbreaking and/or interesting they may have been when they were released, just don’t hold up over time. This is the case, IMHO, for Easy Rider.   I’ll just leave it at this: if ever there was a movie which turned out to be an inadvertent Public Service Announcement   [1]  for the idea that Drugs Makes You Stupid ® ….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Apologies I Don’t Quite Believe…

A.K.A. Why I Love Walking On The Beach Early In The Morning

Dateline: last Saturday circa 7 AM, walking north along the beach at Manzanita.  The beach is fairly devoid of other bipeds; then I espy a figure dressed in shimmering, vibrant green attire walking south, about 50 yards in front of me. Woman In Shimmering Green heads in my direction when her two Corgis leave her side and do their funny-odd, scuttling dwarf-dog, crab-run towards me. She calls to them in vain as the scamper in the sand in a circle around me and beg for pets, which I am happy to provide. 

Woman In Shimmering Green approaches me, shading her eyes against the morning sun. She is barefoot, slim, with thick, shoulder length platinum gray hair styled in a manner reminiscent of Lauren Bacall.

 

“You know how to whistle for a corgi, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

 

Speaking of Bacall, I note that Woman In Shimmering Green has that classic movie star style bone structure which ages well even when wrinkled – she appears to be in her late 50s or early 60s, and she is a knockout. The shimmering green reveals itself to be a rather stunning silk pajama ensemble with an elaborate, dragon pattern stitched in gold thread on the sleeves and legs.

She laughs, pointing at her bare feet and then at her pajamas, and says apologetically, “I didn’t even bother to get dressed.”

“This is the beach,” I hear moiself reply, thinking of my own beach walking “ensemble” (workout shirt and pants and knee high waterproof boots). “You look fine to me.”

We exchange a few sentences of small talk before she moves on; she says something along the lines of how she just got out of bed and the dogs demanded to be walked so she came out here figuring no one else would see her “looking like this.”

Which, I want to call BS on.  I mean, c’mon – she looks better at 59 than I ever did in my prime (assuming I had a prime, maybe for 15 minutes when I was 19 or 20). She is one of those “natural beauties,” and I think she knows it. She of the expensive dogs and designer pajamas wants me to give her the benefit of the doubt and believed she just rolled out of bed looking that way?  Yeah, right, fuck that exhibitionist bitch

Never mind. I decided to stick with my initial, more generous assessment:  she’s just another early riser enjoying the beach.

And so it goes. That is, she goes her way and I go mine, with moiself laughing aloud as I imagine the scenario wherein I do the same as she allegedly did: roll out of bed and just come to the beach without altering anything about the way I look and/or dress in the morning.  I picture someone from the local beach cleanup committee following behind me, wielding an enormous butterfly net which they are attempting to place over my head.  Please stop it. You’re scaring away the tourists

 

I don’t have a picture of the woman in the green dragon pajamas, so Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and his legendary dragon stage outfit (circa 1977) will have to do.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Looking On The Bright Side

So many Democratic Presidential candidates…so many podiums on the debate stage.  According to what I’m reading and hearing, many people find it easy to get confused or even discouraged about that fact – they figure what with so many candidates there is a dilution of interest, money, and time for serious examination of issues that require more than gotcha sound bites.

But I’m starting to think, it’s all good. The winnowing process has already begun via the debate committee qualifications; also;  some of the lesser known/funded candidates have consulted their Magic 8 ball and dropped out…even as others remain in the race despite not qualifying for the third round of debates (someone please copy Bill De Blasio on the if-you’re-polling-at-less-than-0.05%-this-is-pointless memo).

 

 

As for the debate qualifiees (which moiself assumes will include the eventual nominee), we started with twenty-plus and are now at ten. They are, in alphabetical order:

* Former Vice President Joe Biden

* New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

* South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

* Former San Antonio Mayer/Obama Cabinet Member Julián Castro

* California Sen. Kamala Harris

* Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

* Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke

* Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

* Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

* Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

There are positives about every nominee – a lot of energy and optimism and experience. I think that exposure to this many serious candidates is win-win for the country, because the Also-Rans are quite a talented bunch; you could fill the President’s cabinet with top-notch talent. And I am, in fact, hoping that when the proverbial dust settles and the President/Veep slate is chosen, that that is what will happen.

I’m already imaging a  Presidential Cabinet Roster, along the lines of the Also Rans‘ experiences and interests. For example, for Office of Management & Budget Director I’d nominate Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who has long expressed an interest in campaign finance reform. Michael Bennet, the Colorado Senator, has a zeal for education – and there we have the position of Secretary of the Department of Education filled.   

So, let’s say the ticket is President: Elizabeth Warren and Vice President: Corey Booker . My fantasy cabinet for the moment might include the following as secretaries and/or administrators of their respective departments:

White House Chief of Staff, Pete Buttigieg

Department of State, Joe Biden

Department of the Treasury, Bernie Sanders

Department of Defense; Kirsten Gillibrand

Department of Justice, Attorney General, Kamala Harris

Department of the Interior, John Hickenlooper

Department of Commerce, Andrew Yang

Department of Labor Beto O’Rourke

Department of Health and Human Services, John Delaney

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro

Department of Energy, or the Environmental Protection Agency, Jay Inslee

Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Tulsi Gabbard

Department of Homeland Security, Amy Klobuchar

It’s fun – try it yourself.  What might your fantasy Presidential cabinet look like? Also, there may be some kind of board game potential in this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

Recipes:

* Sautéed Eggplant With Basil and Chilis

* Barley Salad with Cucumber And Yogurt-Dill Dressing

My ratings, for both recipes:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher [3]

  *   *   *

Department Of The Never Ending Fight Against Maturity

 

Dateline: last Wednesday eve, at McMenamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. We are having a belated birthday dinner for MH while enjoying the tunes of one of our favorite performers, singer-songwriter Billy D.

Apropos of…something…I got son K to agree that, should the “natural” order of life proceed and I predecease him,  [4]  he will lead my memorial  attendees in singing and/or reciting rousing renditions of two of my favorite childhood songs: “Scab Sandwich” and “Beans Beans the Musical Fruit….”  To be followed by a pass-the-microphone session wherein attendees share their favorite, Robyn-would-have-liked-this fart jokes.

Y’all been warned.

 

*   *   *

May you pick a memorable sing-along for your memorial gathering;  [5]

May you waste spend precious neurological energy constructing your own
Fantasy Presidential Cabinet  ® ;

May you never experience Easy Rider flashbacks;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] put out by The Man, as one of the movie’s characters might say.

[2] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[3]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin (a character from The Office who would eat anything) would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[4] The “natural” order – parents dying before their children, is something I am no longer taking for granted, given the events of this year: two longtime friends each suffered the deaths of one of their young adult children (one in January, the other just this month).

[5] Remember, if you don’t, someone may do it for you.

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