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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

*   *   *

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 Omission I’m Not Admitting

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Department Of Corrections

Dateline: Sunday eve. As I settled in one of the Comfy Chairs ® in our family room, looking over my 2018 Oscar ballot (along with fellow Eager Oscar Watchers MH and friend LH), I gasped in horror and embarrassment. My reaction was worthy of a supporting acting nomination, as I realized I was mistaken re my previous claims (on this blog, to fellow movie-loving friends, to total strangers in the quick check line at the Home Depot….  [1] ) of having seen every movie nominated for the Academy Awards  “Big Ones.”

 

 

To Protect, Serve, And Apologize

 

 

 

Just in case y’all have lives as pathetic as mine are wondering, the “Big Ones” are the seven awards for Best _____

Picture;
Director;
Actors in a Leading Role, male and female;
Actors in a Supporting Role, male and female;
Best Original Screenplay  [2]

There was the name, Canadian, dignified, yet mocking me for my smugness.  Christopher Plummer,  number four of the five actors listed for Actor in a Supporting Role, for his role as multi gazillionaire J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, a movie I’d made plans to see with a friend.  I can’t remember what happened…but I didn’t see that movie.

Christopher, darling, loooooove your work all these years – and really, could anyone have played a Shakespeare-reciting Klingon general as well as you did?    [3]   So sorry to have missed your latest.  I hope you’ll forgive me.

 

 

A pox upon the silly human; I am sick with laughter as she fears her remembrance doth hold rank!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stress Reduction
Sub-Department Of Eventually Luck Runs Out

No political rants today; the week has been stressful enough.  To wit: one of the many, many things I do not “believe in” – including gods, the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, and the accuracy of the garment label claim, one size fits all – is “fate.’  Accordingly, I also do not believe that I can, intentionally or otherwise, “temp fate.”

So, apparently it’s just sonofabitch coincidence that, two days after musing to moiself, apropos of nothing, Golly gee, it’s been 40 years since anyone has hit my car, am I lucky or what?!, guess what happens in the parking lot of the Elderberry Inn on Highway 26?

Ford truck backing up, meet stationary Subaru Outback.

 

 

 

 

 

The first Very Nice Claims Department Person (for the insurance company of the dude who hit me  [4]) I spoke with asked me to describe the extent of the damage (to my front passenger door), starting with, Have you checked to see if the door still works?

I told her the door can be opened and shut and locked; I didn’t know about the power window (which was all the way up,) and would not check it. VNCDP asked why I would not check the window. The question surprised me. I told her I’d leave that to an auto service person and would NOT attempt to ascertain whether the window “works,” seeing as how:

(a)  This is NW Oregon (the claims dept person was located…somewhere else); it rains, frequently. It is raining right now, even as we speak. Thus, even if I am able to get the window down…

(b) I might not be able to get it up

(c) I realize (b) is a problem typically associated with men….

 

Okay; I stopped myself from saying (c). But I did think it.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I get to be acquainted with just how much fun it is to deal with insurance bureaucracy and repair estimates…and with what appears to be, as of this writing, the looming/potential ignoring of responsibility by the Dude Who Was Initially So Cooperative ®   [5] – a dude who almost made his boneheaded-act worthwhile  [6]  by telling me, as I was photographing his insurance card and driver’s license, how he’d once backed his truck into his wife’s car.

Your Honor, the Defendant has already admitted that he doesn’t look where he’s going when he puts his truck in reverse….

 

 

 

Why do I get all the bone heads in *my* courtroom?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Ought To Last Him

Back in the day, I used to regularly make buttermilk biscuits for son K and daughter Belle.  I gradually and persistently tweaked the recipe as the years went by, trying out more “healthful” ingredients,  [7]   but one thing that remained the same was son K’s love of Gloria’s Mount Hood Marionberry Fruit Spread as a biscuit topping.

I fell out of regular biscuit baking when the offspring flew the proverbial nest. Son K graduated college three years ago and is living and working nearby. He has turned into an occasional and enthusiastic baker, and recently asked for my biscuit recipe. He also wanted to know where he could find that marionberry fruit spread he loved so much (he’d looked, but had been unable to find it in any local stores).

Even when I served it on a regular basis, it had been difficult to find a regular supply of the stuff  – I used to order it by the case from the maker. I searched the web and thought I’d found a supplier via the Made in Oregon website, but the site had an out of stock notice re the marionberry spread. Perhaps, I sadly posited to K, it’s no longer being made?

A few weeks ago I spontaneously decided to stop and check out a roadside store I pass regularly on my drives to and from the coast. I had long been intrigued by the signs outside the store advertising the store’s various specialty items, such as, “vegan jerky.”  After stopping to sample the store’s wares I was able to assure MH that vegan jerky was not, in fact, “jerky made from vegans” (which was his guess). Unexpected bonus: the store had jars of various flavors of Gloria’s fruit spreads, including a couple of the Mount Hood Marionberry K adores. Gloria’s was still being produced, the store clerk assured me, but she had no idea where the store got their supply.

I did my Internet Snooping Thing, ®  found the local producer, and….

What to get your 25 year old son for his birthday?  Why, this, of course:

 

 

Shown: case one of two

*   *   *

May you correct that which needs correcting;
May we all live in the future wherein car repairs are accomplished with a Harry Potter-ish Carrus Reparo spell;
May someone love you enough to give you cases of your favorite fruit preserves for your birthday;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

And a (one day belated) Happy Birthday to my favorite son.

Son K, age 2 ¾, Mackenzie River Valley, circa Fall 1995

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To the dude with the pack of florescent light bulbs, I am so sorry.

[2] I vacillate on including Best Adapted Screenplay in my “big ones” category;  I want the original author of the adapted material to get the lion’s share of the credit.

[3] In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

[4] Which shall not be mentioned by name here…unless they really piss me off, so stay tuned.

[5] Of course he was, seeing as how he hit me.

[6] Strike that – of course it wasn’t worthwhile, under any circumstances.

[7] Replacing most of the unbleached white flour with oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour; using non dairy “milks” and/or yogurts and other substitutes for butter….

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 Connections I’m Not Calling

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Department Of Random Ideas Which If Implemented By The Right People
Could Turn Out To Be A Groovy Thing

Calling all the Music Industry Connections I have:  [1] please do pass along the following suggestion to Ms. Bonnie Raitt.

Background: I’ve always loved the music of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song Free Bird, even as I’ve found the lyrics to be annoying (as in, whiney).  [2]   In a Flash of Insight ® …

 

 

insight

Yeah, kinda like this.

 

 

 

 

I had this week (while guess what song was playing on the radio?), I realized how the song could be redeemed, for moiself:  if Bonnie Raitt did a cover of it.

Ms. Raitt, are you listening? If so, please give us music-living mere mortals something to talk about  (sorry) and work your magic. Couldya wouldya, please oh please or please?

Or if not, could you please find an excuse to get Dennis Quaid out of his sly sexy devil semi-retirement and the two of you could do another flirty, Thing Called Love-ish video?

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Damage To Our Selves, Our International Reputation,
Our Environment And Civil Rights And Women’s Rights
And Basic Human Decency 
Is Almost Worth It…

…to hear an actual patriot/worthwhile human being, in this case Senator Tammy Duckworth   [3], have the opportunity to respond to The Cheetos Hitler’s treacherous oral spew. Here, in a series of tweets, Sen. Duckworth drops the mic on #45’s latest:  [4]

We don’t live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore an oath—in the military and in the Senate—to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.

Thankfully, there are better quotes from better Republican Presidents. Here’s one from Theodore Roosevelt—a Republican who earned the applause he received—that Trump might want to consider:

 

 

bonespurjpg

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of On Second Thought

Hyperbole, schmerbole – I realize that nothing is worth the damage to ourselves, our international reputation, our environment and civil rights and women’s rights and basic human decency and and and and and and…

and I apologize for, in a moment of trying to find the silver lining in the megaton dumpster of shit coming out of the White House, implying that the relentless opportunities for mockery provided by Cadet Bone Spurs is almost worth…anything.

 

 

 

picard

*   *   *

Department Of Well That’s Enough About That   [5]

Ever seen something so cute you just wanted to puke a stream of 100% proof  [6]  blood sugar?

Dateline: earlier this week, in a Trader Joe’s . I’m pushing my cart down the aisle when I hear a little girl’s yelp of delight.  The high-pitched voice belonged to a half-pint-sized dynamo who raced around the corner of the aisle to stand in front of, and point at, a shelf with various apple- and fruit sauce mixtures. She looked over her shoulder, toward (what I presumed, and later confirmed) her mother’s shopping cart, the edge of which I could just make out jutting from another (intersecting) aisle. The pitch of the girl’s voice and size of her body made me think like she couldn’t have been more than three years old, but what came out of her mouth was beyond precocious.

“I think we should get this one!” The girl jabbed her finger upward, indicating a jar of apple-carrot sauce mixture, and her tone changed from excited to reassuring. “Now, I’m not saying I don’t like the other one,” she pointed to the regular, apples-only applesauce, “but I think this one would be much healthier, Mom.”

 

 

slothpeekaboo

I don’t have a picture of the girl, but she was about this cute.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Movies I’m Not Critiquing

Except of course, when I am.

I saw a multiplex extra jumbo popcorn-sized jug full of good films this past year. Thus, it’s going to be difficult for me to root for my favorites when it comes to Academy Awards time.

As always, I am trying to see all (or as many as I can) of the films which have been nominated in the “big” categories (Best: Picture, Director, Lead and Supporting Acting, screenplay original and adapted).  Once again, it is likely moiself will fail in that endeavor, but I think this year I’ll come close to seeing most of them.

The favorites I’ve seen in the past ~ 14 months include:

– The Shape of Water
– Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
– Wind River
– Lady Bird
– Get Out
– The Big Sick
– The Post
– I, Tonya
– Wonder Woman
– Battle of the Sexes
– Hidden Figures
– The Disaster Artist
– Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

 

andtheoscar

 

 

 

Here’s how my list compares with the Oscar Best Picture nominees, which are:

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I have yet to See Call Me By Your Name or Darkest Hour, but plan on seeing both movies. I saw Dunkirk and Phantom Thread, but they did not make my list of favorites. (I wish one of the two war flicks [Dunkirk or Darkest Hour] and Phantom Thread could trade award consideration places with Wind River and/or The Big Sick).

Right now, my choice of best picture is between about five of the films up for the Oscar.  I could force myself to narrow it down to two choices, each of which is representative of the two classifications into which I can sort almost any movie I deem worthy of seeing:

(1) that which portrays an alternative and yet somehow believable or at least captivating reality (as in, The Shape of Water);

(2) that which presents a reflection of reality which, while fictional, is remarkable and poignant in both its narrative and character development/believability (as in, Lady Bird).

 

 

windriverjpg

 

 

 

 

Movie buddy and dear friend CC and I have often discussed how our judgment of the movies we like are based on not so much the immediate reactions, but those which stick with us – the movies that have you going over and defining to yourself, for days or even weeks afterward, what you saw and how you felt, as well as what you think the movie’s creators were trying to get you to see and/or feel. (Wind River, Three Billboards… and The Big Sick, for example).

The small moments of character revelation, the big u-turn in plot, all the elements which cause you to turn to the side, locking eyes or exchanging a knowing nod (or an eyebrow raising WTF?!?!?) – yes, even in the dark, with your friend or family member, or a total stranger….

Have more fun this year. See more movies. Get out of your house and off of your couch and mingle with your fellow bipeds, even if just for a couple of hours.

Yep, this is an unabashed promotion for the theater-going experience.  [7] A tragedy is more keenly felt, a documentary is more riveting, a comedy is funnier, when you’re gasping or laughing (or crying) with company. Two thumbs up for sitting with strangers in the dark.

 

 

 

theatre

Strangers…or maybe friends you haven’t met yet.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Want To Know Before I Die,
But I Don’t Want To Find Out And Then Die, Like, Right Away

Can anyone tell me what exactly is the pompatus of love.

I refer to the song lyric, and not the movie with the same idiotic title.

Every once in a while I think about things like this.  [8]   Not that I want to take all the mystery of life….

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

May you avoid puking (anything, for any reason) in the aisles of Trader Joes;
May the pompatus of love warm the cockles of your heart;
May you bond, however temporarily, with strangers in the dark, over a good movie;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] How many ways can you spell none?

[2] Dude, grow up and change, if your lack of it is causing you problems, or if it’s fine then just stop complaining about how you can’t – what are you, five years old?

[3] She of multiple honorable identities, including military veteran and helicopter pilot (who lost both legs in combat); first Asian American elected to Congress in Illinois and first disabled woman elected to Congress.

[4] This time, calling those who did not applaud during his self-congratulatory deluded ramblings State of the Union speech “treasonous.”

[5] Which was my father’s go to phrase when you were getting into conversational territory in which he didn’t want to tread…even when such territory was entered, honestly and directly, in response to a question he had asked you.

[6] Or however the stuff is measured.

[7] Although I’m talkin’ movies here, this includes live theatre – plays and musicals – of which I am also a big fan.

[8] Usually when moiself is trying to avoid thinking about something more consequential.

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….

 

*   *   *

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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 Year I’m Not Rating

2 Comments

 

Department of the In Between

Happy In-Between Week. ®    [1]

New Year’s Eve has always held both the threat and promise of merriment. And by threat I mean the anxiety arising from the suspicion that expectations can never be met, and the pressure that comes with the knowledge – actually, of course, the astoundingly incorrect assumption – that everyone else but me is having soooooooo much fun….

I’ve had some very enjoyable NYE’s, and some that really sucked.  Most have been satisfactory if not at least tolerable but, frankly, closer to the zenith of what I call the Lame-o-meter. (it goes by other names, too).

 

crap

 

One of the lamest of the lame occurred many years ago when I was living in The Bay Area. I’d received less than zero  [2] invitations to NYE’s events and I’d neither the time, money nor inclination to organize even the smallest of gatherings moiself.  All things considered, why not wallow in it? What might be one of the lamest things to do on a night generally considered to be full of promise and anticipation of exciting times to come?  I stayed home, polished an old chair (not even my chair;  [3] it belonged to the landlord) and watched that fucking ball drop in Times Square on one of those insipid, Wearisome Rockin’ New Year’s Eve shows.

That night has proven to be a shining beacon  [4] — a light leading to improvement in the years to come. Every year, no matter what lackluster plans I have or lack for NYE, I reminded myself, at least you’re not at home polishing someone else’s butt ugly furniture.

 

 

NYE

What time is it? Have I had fun yet?

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Department Of Pubic Service Announcements

Thanks to my alert cousin and Idaho resident, DF, for passing along this vital information:

Please, take care of yourself out on the roads this New Year’s Eve.
A recent joint study conducted by the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related.
This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes who drink bottled water, coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and stuff like that.
So beware of those who do not drink alcohol – they cause three times as many accidents.

 

 

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Department Of Sudden Realizations

This is my last post for 2017.  Can’t decide if that’s worthy of this

 

sob

 

Or this

 

 

happyfacespider

 

 

Hint: when in doubt, always choose the Hawaiian happy face spider.

 

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Department Of Righting Wrongs At The Last Minute

Can it be that I have almost let 2017 pass without having posted a single link to a screaming goat video?

 

 

 

 

You are so, so welcome.

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May your New Year’s Eve activities be the envy of 1950’s valium-addicted housewives;
May your New Year’s resolutions be amusing if not attainable;
May you always appreciate the synergy of Bon Jovi hair music and screaming goats;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy New Year, y’all, and Au Vendredi!

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[1] The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day.

[2] Not possible, yethinks? Oh you of little mathematical imagination. I’d received one invitation, which was later rescinded (don’t feel too sorry for me – the event was cancelled.  Or so I was told…hmmmm….)

[3] And polishing furniture, even my own? Something I Just. Don’t. Do.

[4] Or anemic bathroom night light, depending on my disposition.

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