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The Cemetery I’m Not Visiting

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Department of AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH

Radiolab is one of moiself’s favorite podcasts, as readers of this blog may have surmised from my mentioning it several times in this space. Recently the show has featured episodes of a themed series on sex and reproduction, titled, Radiolab Presents Gonads . During a recent morning walk I was listening to the July 26 episode of the Gonads series, Sex Ed. About half way through the episode the announcer made (what moiself considered to be) a startlingly inaccurate announcement:

“So far we’ve talked about condom demos without any condoms, periods, we even went on to talk about the deeply important topic of what happens to all the bananas after condom/banana demos….”

You know how NPR is proud of producing (inducing?) what they call “driveway moments?”  Hearing that announcement was, for moiself, yet another stopping-on-the-street-silently-screaming-to-nobody-who-can-hear moment.

Attention, well-meaning hosts of the Gonad series: No, you have not talked about “periods,” as in, menstrual cycles. Instead, you have presented one story about endometriosis[1]

 

 

 

PSA

 

 

 

Over 90% of women do not have endometriosis.  But you Gonadians used the story about one woman’s struggle with a rare, painful medical condition as somehow representative or emblematic of “periods.” A consequence of this is, that some of the people who don’t know much about or have no personal experience of menstrual periods – and as you Gonads hosts mentioned, “half the people on the planet do not get them”– are going to conflate this phenomenon of repeatedly experiencing toe-curling pain as being common to all women. And there is enough weirdness when it comes to public knowledge of and discussion about menstrual cycles without focusing on an aberration.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

 

Go out people-watching one day, to some public place where you can watch the crowds (and not look like a stalker).  Watch the people passing by, and try to figure out which of the women, on their way to and from work or the market or the park or the theatre, are having their menstrual periods. You can’t, because for most women it’s just another day of the week, except perhaps they needed to remember to pack a tampon in their purse….and where’s the sturm und drang   [2]  in that?

Radiolab Presents: Gonads is a multi-episode journey deep into the parts of us that let us make more of us. Longtime staff producer….explores the primordial roots of our drive to reproduce, introduces a revolutionary fertility procedure that sounds like science fiction, reveals a profound secret about gender that lives inside all of us, and calls on writers, educators, musicians, artists and comedians to debate how we’re supposed to talk to kids about sex.

Check out Misconceptions, part of a special exploration of fertility and reproduction from Romper & Radiolab.
(intro to the series, from the Radiolab site)

I’m well aware of the reasons why aberrations make for a “better” story. Like how the proverbial squeaky wheel gets the grease, the story of pain and inconvenience gets the attention. But please, earnest Gonadians, if you want to make a meaningful contribution to, as you say in your show’s description, how we’re supposed to talk to kids about reproduction and sex, why not focus on the more common reality? You could still produce an entirely entertaining segment about periods – say, by focusing on the myths and stereotypes and folklore and personal stories  [3] –  filled with interviews with people like…well, like the millions of women resembling me and my friends   [4] who experienced menstrual periods as just another bodily waste product to, ahem, periodically….

 

 

elvis

 

 

…. have to deal with, just another reality which was sometimes inconvenient but which, like with other normal bodily function, we did not customarily go around complaining or even talking about it (Goddamn it, I have to pee again and I just peed yesterday!) unless there was a major inconvenience – or entertaining story – related to it (I foolishly drank 6 cups of coffee before getting on the train only to discover there were no working toilets aboard and no stops for three hours and I was so desperate I tried to find a discrete corner where I could take a camel’s bladder-sized whizz into my briefcase….”).

 

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

And hey, Gonadians, about that last sentence in your intro: I realize the pun refers to another show, but speaking of misconceptions, there are so many about “periods,” and y’all have not serve to clear any up.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked in the reproductive health care field, in both “public” and “private” settings.  [5]  I saw firsthand how the depiction of severe menstrual pain as a normality can keep women from seeking medical help when they have an untreated STD or an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids or other abnormalities which can cause extreme discomfort. Just as importantly, the normalization of extreme period pain fits right into the script of fundamentalist religions and the patriarchy – that girls and women are somehow damaged and crippled).

 

 

 

sarcasm

 

 

 

So. Nice try, Gonadians, for tackling “periods,” a – what did you call it, a once “taboo subject” –  and focusing on the less than 10% thing that would put the boo in taboo, rather than the 90% which would make it seem like what it is – another natural, essential, biological process.

Yep, I’m annoyed by PMS – Period Misrepresentation Schmucks.

 

 

 

wellofcourse

 

*   *  *

Department Of Little Known Gems Used As A Post-Rant Segue

What do references to an obscure Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie, velcro, Harry Potter & Dracoy Malfoy, and NASCAR  have in common?  Why, that would be the song, Two Guys Kissin’ Ruined My Life:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Whistling Through The Graveyard

My two other siblings and I recently received an email from our older sister, which contained pictures of our parents’ respective grave markers.  The occasion was the arrival and installation of our mother’s marker. 

I am not a Gravesite Visiting Type Of Person ® .   [6] It’s not that I deliberately avoid going to the cemetery where my parents’ caskets  [7]  are buried in adjoining plot: I don’t have to be deliberate about it, since the cemetery is in So Cal and I live in Oregon.  Cemetaries; gravesites – it’s just not how I remember people. Should I be in So Cal visiting relatives and, for whatever reason,   [8] a trip to the cemetery is on the agenda, sure, I’ll tag along.  But there will be no purposeful pilgrimage on my part to see the graves.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the pictures my sister sent, and the stories behind them.

 

CBP marker

 

The inscription on my father’s (below the “Beloved husband….”) is an oft-repeated tagline of Chet’s – his mantra, if you will:  “These are the good times.”

When our mother’s gravestone arrived, my sister was surprised to discover that the headstone company had given us a stone slightly larger than the size she’d ordered for our father (and for no extra charge!), even though she thought she’d ordered the same size for our mother.

 

 

their headstones

 

 

 

 

I like the idea of Marion’s headstone being just a wee bit bigger than Chet’s, seeing as how in life, my introverted mother was often (if unintentionally) overshadowed by the “bigger” personality of my outgoing father.

 

 

 

MAPheadstone

 

 

 

There was joking relief expressed by one of the Parnell siblings, that the arrow for Mom’s inscription is pointing the right direction – toward her husband’s marker, indicating with whom she enjoyed the “good times.”  Although I got a kick out of imagining what if it wasn’t – what if the arrow pointed toward the right, to the next gravesite over, to another man’s gravestone.  ‘Twould give passers-by  [9] something interesting to speculate about.

 

*   *   *

 

May you always have something interesting to speculate about;
May you remember to focus on the 90% ;
May you watch that Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie;   [10]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Involving endometrial tissue which, for reasons not understood to medical science, growing outside of a woman’s uterus.

[2] I need to start using more German phrases in this blog. Suggestions are appreciated.

[3] Almost every woman I know has a hilarious story or six about how their own mothers/grandmothers/aunts had to navigate a world in which “such things” were not discussed.

[4] Ok, back when we were young enough to still be having periods.

[5] Respectively, Planned Parenthood clinics and a private OB/GYN medical practice.

[6] Yes, that is one of the lesser known “types” included in the earlier versions of the Briggs Meyers personality inventory, along with Intuitive, Judging, Thinking, Perceiving, Feeling, Gravesite-Visiting, Dentist-Avoiding….

[7] I am also not a casket-approving person. If it were up to me, all burials would be replaced by cremations.

[8] “Your entertainment choices are a trip to the cemetery to visit Mom’s and Dad’s gravesites, or attend your nieces’ and nephews” school talent show where each grade competes by singing their version of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie.”

[9] Including that anonymous (to us) man’s family members.

[10]Deathtrap.”

The Chickens I’m Not Kissing

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Department Of Things That Should Never Ever Have To Be Said

 

STOP KISSING YOUR CHICKENS ! ! !

 

 

chickenkisssing

This is so wrong.

 

 

 

Judging from a conversation I overheard recently, some people are still puckering up to their poultry, despite the CDC’s warnings that you can catch salmonella from doing so.

If the possibility of contracting an infection causing stomach cramping, bloody stools, diarrhea, fever, cold and chills and headache and vomiting isn’t enough to deter you from chicken-kissing, what about ethical concerns? I mean, even if such a behavior were risk-free, is it consensual? Do your chickens ask to be kissed? Do they have a choice in the matter?  Sounds like hen harassment to moiself.  [1]

 

 

 

 

angrychickens

Chickens flock (sorry) to the growing MeCluckToo movement.

 

 

 

*    *   *

Department Of The Miracle That Wasn’t

Regarding Thai boys’ soccer team and their coach who were rescued after almost three weeks trapped in a cave, YEEEEEEHAW!!! And HOOOOORAY!!!!  How nice to have some good news for a change.

Now. Regarding the rescue, can we stop all this “miracle” nonsense, please?

Of course, my usage of the term miracle nonsense is a redundancy, seeing as how there really is no such thing as a miracle, by definition of…well, the word’s primary definition:

Miracle   [mir-uh-kuh l]  noun

  1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
  2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.

 

Human beings, especially religious-leaning ones, tend to apply the word miracle to events and phenomenon which we simply don’t (yet) understand.

If you think the liberation of the boys from the cave was truly miraculous, then you might want to spend some time reading about the remarkable planning and efforts of the human beings who actually rescued them.

An actual miracle would’ve been if the boys’ heads suddenly spouted 24″ drill bits which allowed them to bore through the cave’s ceiling, after which the trapped team grew wings and flew through the hole to daylight. Another variation on a “miracle” would have been if the boys grew gills or some other physiological apparatus which enabled them to breathe underwater, allowing them to swim through the cave’s flooded passages.

Or, for the truly miraculous spectacle – which modern deities apparently think were worthy only for illiterate, pre-scientific peoples, as the gods have stopped performing them – bystanders could have heard a sonorous Sky Voice worthy of a Cecil B. Demille epic commanding the cave walls, Let my pitch peoples go  [2]  , as the walls parted and the boys, lead by Charlton Heston their coach,  triumphantly strode to safety….  [3]

 

 

moses

What are you waiting for, ye wacky boys – haul thy buns outta that cave!

 

 

 

Ah, but nothing along those lines happened, did it?

The boys were rescued due to the meticulous planning and efforts, over many days, of their fellow human beings, some of whom who risked their lives (and one of whom died) to devise a reasonable, feasible plan to save them, using knowledge about the layout of the cave, the available rescue technology and how it could be modified and adapted for the specifics of the situation, the contingencies of getting the boys through the water when several of them could not swim….

No miraculous intervention removed them from the cave – or trapped them there in the first place.   Humans (unintentionally) placed themselves in harm’s way, and other humans got them out.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh Yeah, And Another Thing….

During the many days of updates on the Thai soccer team’s situation I kept reading about how people all over the world were praying for their rescue. If those prayer-people truly thought their prayers would “work,” why bother with a rescue team? And what about the diver who died while performing that most noble of tasks– trying to rescue children? Guess he was on the wrong side of the prayer chain? Bummer.

 

 

 

blondepw

Oh, great, here she goes again….

 

 

 

Should I or any of my family be trapped in a cave, or under a log on the beach [4] or in any other dangerous situation or kind of distress, please oh please oh please, don’t waste any precious seconds of our lives or your time praying for us.  DO SOMETHING. ASAP.

If, for whatever reasons, you lack the physical/emotional/cognitive abilities to act, call 911, direct the responders to the situation, or assist those whom you who are able to assist.   I repeat: please contact those who have the appropriate experience, skills and equipment to help. Ditch the mumbo-jumbo incantations – CALL 911 !!

And, if for whatever reason you can’t do even  that, at least just stay out of the way.  Hey, if it floats your boat,  [5]  that is, if it makes you feel better about yourself (and that is the only efficacy that prayer might have) then go home and go to town – have a prayer-o-rama to your deity of choice.  But considering that your deity was effectively sitting on its metaphorical divine ass throne, fingers in its ear, humming Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah, I can’t hear you, when it came to answering the millions of prayers to save the life of that for brave rescue diver…you might want to consider a better use of your time.

Maybe you could join a community emergency response team, brush up on your first aid/CPR skills, practice for such contingencies, should they happen in the future (hint: they will). Human action is the only thing that has ever proved efficacious in emergencies…or other situations.

 

 

 

sorrygod

I can almost reach you…nah, never mind, you’re gonna drown, dude.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Nits To Pick

Yikes – Way Too Many “Likes”

So. I’m listening to this Radiolab podcast  and the subject is fascinating, but my frustration almost negates my fascination and I had to tell moiself “…don’t rip out your earbuds, it’ll get better…cause it can’t get worse….”

I was really, really, really – and did I mention really? – not liking the plethora of likes, from both the podcast producer, who was the episode’s narrator and interviewer, and the interviewee.

Like, she was just ,like…it was, like, just like…and then, like, it was, like….

Was it like that, or was it actually that? And if you’re not sure, then why are you talking about it?

Having to listen to that, over and over, is, to moiself, the aural equivalent of

 

 

 

chalkfingers

 

 

 

It is one thing if you are the reporter and the person you’re interviewing speaks in that unfortunate manner, but for the reporter herself to carry on in such a way…

If you can’t speak extemporaneously without the frequent insert of filler words, use a script. Or, get yourself a speech therapist or some professional who can help you figure out why you, a grown-ass woman, resembles a 15 year old mallrat when you speak.

 

*   *   *

 

May you give credit where credit is due and thank the humans;
May you never start kissing chickens so that you don’t have to stop kissing them;
May you, like, you know, like, what what, like, do I like say here;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And if you think they are kissing you back, you are wrong. They are trying to peck you.

[2] The pitch is the playing surface, i.e. field, for soccer.

[3] And why wouldn’t any deity worth its salt NOT pull off such a rescue, if it could? Just think of the publicity.

[4] A real danger along the Oregon coast…and people persist in ignoring the warnings about sneaker waves and logs.

[5] Even so, it won’t float the log off my leg….

The Baby I’m Not Head-Banding

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Alternatively Weep For And Scream At Humanity And/Or Get A Lobotomy And Join A Polygamous Cult
Because There Is No Hope For Humanity If People Think This Is Cute

 

 

Background info: IMHO, pink baby headbands should be outlawed as child abuse.

 

 

babybow

Also, if your baby is this furry you might want an outward marker denoting its species, not its gender.

 

 

MH wrote this about her “vitals,” on the announcement we sent to friends and family after the birth of our daughter, Belle:

…weighing 7 lbs 1 ½ ounces
stretching 20 inches from head to heel
Known allergies: pastels and headbands

When those baby headbands became a thing, I can’t remember. I just know that it wasn’t always like that – people either let their babies go bare-headed, or put a knit cap on them when the weather was chilly.  When I began to see infants with the headbands    [1]   I would ask the parent(s) variations on,  What’s up with that? And the parental unit(s) would inevitably spew variations on the following justification    [2] :

 

Babies are so androgynous-looking; this way, people know she’s a girl!

 

To which moiself would reply:

And it is important for strangers to know a three month old baby’s gender because….?

Are you shocked to hear that I didn’t get invited to many Mommy-Baby groups?

 

 

 

Kandbelle

K was confused by his baby sister: “Sure, they *say* it’s a girl, but where’s the strap of female identification?”

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

The cause of my most recent early a.m. rage against the machine ( aka yet-another-reason-not-to-check-Facebook-while-getting-dressed) was something I saw on a friend-of-a-friend’s post: a picture of a baby girl, with the caption, “If I had a daughter I would want to do this picture.

 Yeah, well, I *have* a daughter, and I left skidmarks deleting the picture, which I found nauseating…and now, of course, I can’t find it to share with y’all. Basic description: it is of a female infant, dressed in a billowy satiny prom dress-type-gown-thingy (which is composed of four times as much fabric as the baby has skin). The baby, whose forehead is wrapped with one of those frilly bow headbands, is sitting partially atop a mirror. The shot is taken at such an angle that you see the picture of the baby looking at her reflection in the mirror, and also the reflection itself.  It looked something like this:

 

 

babytutu

 

 

 

Note the choking hazard, knotted several times around her neck. Welcome to the feminine noose, babe.

 

*   *   *

Department Of And Then, There Is That Which Makes Everything Worthwhile….

Sub-Department Of Random Moments Of Petty Defiance

When I go for morning constitutionals at the coast I love walking up a cul-de-sac which has this sign at its entrance. I walk to the end of the street…and…can you guess what I do, boys and girls?

Yep. I turn around.

Cosmic chaos ensues.

 

noturnaround

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Saved By The Spirit Of America

I am a notorious parade-loather. I find parades, at both the conceptual and practical levels, to be…absurd, at best. Thus, unless a parade’s entrants and/or organizers acknowledge  the inanity of it all [3]  and try to be deliberately silly – anyone seen Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade?   [4] – you can count me out, as either a spectator or participant.

However….

The Oregon beach town of my dreams and my heart, Manzanita, has a yearly July 4th parade, which, I have been told, is just so low tech and small-towny cutesy that even a parade-hater such as moiself would find it adorable (or at least tolerable).  So, I had an idea for my participation in this year’s parade I had a banner made, and began gathering the beginnings of my parade “uniform, much to the consternation of MH, who wondered aloud if he would attend the parade (or would need to leave town afterward), should I be a participant, wearing and doing…whatever it was I was going to wear and do.

I checked the Manzanita City hall website where, I was told, parade entry info would be posted the first week in June. And it was, and…

Damn you, Foul Crushers of Aspirations!

 

 

brokendreamsjpg

 

 

 

Manzanita’s parade apparently has a theme, which varies from year to year. This year’s theme is, The Spirit of America. My planned getup could be – very, very, verrrrrrrrry loosely – attributed to a certain, uh, independence of spirit, but it definitely ain’t yer red white and blue/flag-waving, lovin’ that good ole country of mine. What I have in mind holds no disparagement toward my country nor toward the concept of patriotism, but it would be a non sequitur, given the theme, as per this description from the parade’s participant registration form (which has a picture of a very serious-looking bald eagle, ready to pluck the eyes out of anyone who would mock its usage as a symbol of American Greatness ® ) :

Decorations required: All entries including autos must be decorated in a patriotic theme and/or in the theme of the parade. The theme is “The Spirit of America”.

Last week I visited the city hall, to try and clarify the parade registration form information. The clerk told me she thought that the requirement to dress as per the parade’s theme might be only for entrants “who want to be judged.”

“Trust me,” I told her, “I’m judged all the time, whether or not I’m an official entrant of anything.”

She flashed me that I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about smile, and we bid each other a good afternoon.

Later that day, when I returned home (to Hillsboro), I reassured MH that he’d been saved by the (Liberty) bell, so to speak. My parade accoutrements will remain in my closet, in a bag protected by a sentiment dear to the heart of every perennial loser underdog sports team’s fans:

 

 

wait

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can Guarantee You Will Win A Double Nobel Prize
– For Both Peace And Medicine – If You Can Cure This

The mystery of why a person‘s immune system decides to treat a benign substance as a toxic invader…It’s just not right.

Yep, I’m talking Pollen. Or as I refer to it during the months of February through August here, in the Willamette Valley,  aka the Grass Seed growing Capital of the USA:

#!?&*% flora sperm.

Life as we know it would be impossible without the powdery, wind-and-insect borne gametes that fertilize vegetation ovules; I get that. But why do plants think it’s okay to try to get it on in my nose?

 

 

pollendeathstar

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Long Will I Be Able To Get Away With This?   [5]

I found this magnetic bumper sticker, a relic of when K and Belle were student drivers, in the garage, and put it on the back of MH’s car.

 

 

prankbumper

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you never be too old or indifferent to enjoy pranking your spouse’s car;
May you win many Nobel Prizes for your cure for seasonal allergies;
May you realize that society will put enough pressure on the female members of your family to be ornamental beings without you forcing it upon them when they are infants;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which were always pink…ah…is there a pattern, Sherlock?

[2] After the tenth time receiving the same answer, I stopped asking the question.

[3] As bunch of people sitting on street curbs, watching another bunch of people walk past them, or watching cars drive by slowly and horses poop while they are walking and then other people following behind scooping the poop.

[4] How could I not love a parade which introduced the world to the following Drill Teams:

* Synchronized Precision Marching Briefcase Drill Team

* Lawn Mower Drill Team

* The BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team

* The Shopping Cart Drill Team

* The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team

* The Marching Lumberjacks

* Claude Rains & the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team

* The Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, which marches while carrying mannequin arms.

[5] The answer was, a little over 24 hours…but it was a glorious 24 house, including him driving to work, not knowing it was there, heh heh heh.

The Sights I’m Not Lowering

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Department Of Check The Definition Before You Use The Word

progressive
adjective

pro·gres·sive  \ prə-ˈgre-siv \

1 a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress
b : making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities
c : of, relating to, or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of self-expression
2 : of, relating to, or characterized by progression
3 : moving forward or onward : advancing….

(Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Y’all get the idea.

Unless you’re referring to that pesky red rash on your patootie, something that is progressive  is generally…well, what would Jesus Martha say?

 

 

 

martha

 

 

Of course, the idea of progress and improvement and using education and reason to move forward has long proved threatening to many religious leaders.

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has….”
(16th century Protestant reformation leader Martin Luther )

And now we have mean-spirited Christian nationalist Billy Boy’s son Franklin Graham flogging a 21st century version of religion’s fear of progress.

“Progressive? That’s just another word for godless.“
(Franklin Graham, from “The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California.”
New York Times, 5-27-18 )

Hell yeah.

Frankie G., please know that you are welcome to take your traveling circus tent show and leave California – and please skip Oregon while you’re out west – and all states exhibiting progressive values – and go back to the safety of the Iron Age mythology/superstition rock you have crawled out from under.

 

 

religion1jpg

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of While We’re On The Subject Of Leaving The Dark Ages

Ireland Votes to End Abortion Ban, in Rebuke to Catholic Conservatism

Not long after seeing this welcome and long-overdue headline,  [1]   I saw another headline, about how the pope was “setting his sights lower” – as in, concentrating missionary efforts in the countries of South  American and Africa – now that Ireland seems to be going the way of other European countries (read: throwing off  centuries of Roman Catholic oppression and influence).

Many people are “crediting” the late   [2]  Dr. Savita Halappanavar‘s (and her grieving husband’s) pitiless and primitive treatment (read: lack of it) at an Irish (read: Catholic) hospital in 2012 as yet another prime motivator in the fight to overturn Ireland’s abortion restrictions. You may remember (or have tried to forget) reading about Dr. Halappanavar’s horrific death – which was commented upon by moiself,  here,

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old, 17-weeks pregnant dentist, presented with severe back pain at Galway University Hospital in late October. After doctors confirmed she was miscarrying, Ms. Halappanavar asked for a medical termination. Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says his wife asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated, but her request was refused because the fetal heartbeat was still detected (“This is a Catholic country,” Savita and Praveen were told). Savita spent a further three days “in agony” until the fetal heartbeat stopped, after which the doctors removed the dead fetus and took Savita to the intensive care unit, where she died of septicemia.

Heart-wrenching, scandalous, deplorable, merciless, primitive, callous – of the many dreadful descriptions  that can be applied to this travesty of medical “care,” surprising isn’t one of them. This is what happens, outrageously but totally predictably, when governments allow interpretations of Iron Age mythologies to influence and even dictate 21st century medical decisions.
As Irish Parliament member Clare Daly pointed out, 
“An unviable fetus…was given priority over a woman’s life.”

 

So, yeah.

As to the pope “setting his sights lower” re the RC church concentrating its missionary efforts on South America & Africa, in the wake of Ireland’s vote signaling the waning of influence of RCs in Europe…Hey, you – dude in the pointy hat –

 

 

pope

You talkin’ to me?

 

 

…don’t’ let the shamrock hit you in the ass on your way out the door. And be sure to take your snake charming charlatan saints with you.

 

 

 

SPDMyth

 

 

 

Aye, the RC missionaries, as per their own PR, drove out the old evil pagan ways of Ireland…and brought with them…oh yes, what is it they forget to mention? Maybe it’s how they subsequently brought in their new evil ways, including Catholicism’s “empire of misogyny,” enslavement of “fallen women,”  [3] restriction of medical care, religious and educational discrimination, child and adult sexual abuse by priests ….  [4]

 

*   *   *

May you understand the implications of progression;
May you be a part of any movement that causes a pope to set his sights lower;
May you continue to be patient with this blog, even when it strays too far into current events/politics and thus fails to deliver even one rousing fart joke;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] for Freethinkers and anyone who cherishes religious, political and scientific freedom.

[2] “late’ as in, dead due to religiously mandated, medieval medical care restrictions.

[3] E.g. the Magdalene Laundries.

[4] There could be a bajillion other footnotes even more depressing.

The Peasant Food I’m Not Upscaling

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Department of Not Surprised, But Still Sad

I recently read Junot Diaz’ acclaimed article in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma), wherein he revealed publicly for the first time his own history of childhood sexual abuse . [1]    It was a stirring account, to say the least.

I’ve never been fond of nor impressed by Diaz’s short fiction – and haven’t read but a few of his stories because the ones I did read left the proverbial bleech taste in my mouth, due in most part to the male-female dynamic found within. His style and themes reminded me of a more contemporary, multicultural Norman Mailer (and other acclaimed alpha male writers whose work I loathed, fiction writers who used their supposed hyper-realism narrative styles to impart their own loathing for women in any roles other than as their objects of sexual desire ). Ah, but for years Diaz was the new/exotic literary sensation in town, so who was this middle-aged white lady to judge?

Having undergone  sexual abuse seems particularly difficult for men to admit to; thus, my cynicism at his revelation shamed moiself. Cynicism as in, I thought that perhaps this (his essay) was his way of explaining/justifying (what I saw as) the sexism in his writing (a phenomenon too often explained/excused, for male writers, by literary “talent”    [2] )…

But that bit o’ skepticism was not my first response to the why reveal this now?-ness of his essay. My immediate, gut reaction was,  He’s laying the groundwork….  Translation: someone is going to accuse him of  Metoo conduct, and this (I did what I did because of what was done to me), overtly or implicitly, will be his defense.

And shame on me for thinking that.

I kept my opinion to moiself – now, there’s an admission you won’t often hear  – and was glad I did so.

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

Then came the story in last Friday’s New York Times, wherein Diaz was speaking at a writer’s conference:

The writer Zinzi Clemmons stood up. Without identifying herself by name, she asked Mr. Díaz about a recent essay he had published in The New Yorker detailing the sexual assault he experienced as an 8-year-old boy. She then asked why he had treated her the way he had six years prior, when she was a graduate student at Columbia….

Ms. Clemmons said she believed that Mr. Díaz had tried to pre-empt accusations like hers by writing the autobiographical essay in The New Yorker last month 

Other accusations of his misconduct have since surfaced;  Diaz resigned his position on the Pulitzer Prize board as the allegations are being investigated.

I feel bad about this; I take no joy in having my cynicism validated. I am not questioning the validity of Diaz’s report of childhood abuse. And the thing of it is, and it could be true that he abused his power over women as a direct (or oblique) result of his own history of being abused.  Or, these could be separate issues. Either way, all ways, it’s just….sad.

*   *   *

 

We Interrupt The Ranting For A Moment Of Gratitude

Deep thought of the day: a rubber chicken does not, in fact, have to be made of rubber, to embody the essence of the rubber chicken.

Translation: Mere words cannot express my feeling that there is an ultimate rightness to the universe, when I am presented with evidence that some mahvelous people, when they encounter an object which reminds them of a rubber chicken, are reminded of moiself[3]

Thanks, JWW.

 

 

jww

Whaddya think, is she’s one of us?

 

*   *   *

We now Return To The Previously Scheduled Ranting

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Reason To Scream At A Screen
Adjunct Department Of  Yes, I Should (And Do) Know Better

My afternoon exercise sessions often occur around the time when the local Decades TV station runs episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. If I am not working out to one of my exercise DVDs, I’ll tune in to the Laugh-In reruns. I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying the retro fun of it all, including memories of watching it when it originally aired.

 

 

tinytim

Can we ever forget – or forgive – the show that introduced the world to Tiny Tim?

 

 

 

I remember how moiself and my buddies would take turns watching Laugh-In at each other’s houses, sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor, usually with our parents seated behind us, sitting in their armchairs, also watching the show.  Our fun was enhanced by the prideful, barely stifled giggles that can only be produced by eleven-to-thirteen year olds who realized that the grownups and were laughing for different reasons (and at different times) than we were. Translation: many of the naughty jokes/double entendre‘s Laugh-In was known for– and almost all of the drug references – zoomed over our parents’ heads.

Fast forward to the present, and I am finding that for every skit or joke I enjoy and relive, I also marvel at how dated much of the show’s humor is.  [4]  What is particularly striking to me is how Laugh-In  – considered ahead of its time by tweaking the customs and prejudices of society – trafficked in so much hackneyed humor that was beholden to its time, in many cases reinforcing (not critiquing) stereotypes of ethnic minorities and gays and (especially) women.

Once again, I digress.

 

 

DUH

 

 

So. The danger to television-as-backdropexercising is that I am often in the middle of, say, lifting a dumbbell when the show goes to commercial, and thus am unable to hit the remote’s mute button. The commercials for daytime TV shows can be particularly odious, as the demographic is obviously considered to be the target audience for Certain Products For Those Of A Certain Age (read: elderly/infirmity drugs and diet plans).

One particular/frequently running ad is exceptionally…oh, how can I put it? It frosts my butt.  The second time I saw it  [5]  I realized, between biceps curls, that I had begun yelling at the television screen, at the two perky, formerly in shape and now chunky, E list celebrities (a former actor married to a former football player)  [6]  reduced to hocking a snake oil potion enthusiastically promoting a weight loss product. With no sense of irony and a surplus of golly gee this seems too good to be true, but it is! pride, they actually recited the following dialog:

 

* We eat our favorite foods and still lose four times more weight!

*Nothing in your lifestyle needs to change!
(as a picture of the implied favorites, foods-that-once-may-have-been-many-different-colors-but-which-now-are-all-deep-fat-fried-yellow ®, flashes by on the screen.)

 

 

hearyourself

 

 

 

And there I am, screaming at a screen, at the asinine and totally bogus “promises” repeated, again and again, about how “nothing in your lifestyle has to change….

but it’s your fucking lifestyle that got you this way in the first place  — it’s that junk you’ve been eating that did this to you and but now you’re boasting that you can continue eating the same rubbish ?!?!?

And of course, the grammar cop in me is irritated by the ad’s claims that a person using the weight loss supplement can “lose 4 times as much/more weight!”

Okay…I’m waiting…but there is no follow-up. Excuse me, aren’t y’all forgetting something?  “As much/more” are comparisons, and thus require comparatives.

 

 

Grammarcop

Hold still and this won’t hurt as much.

 

 

 

“Lose 4 times as much/more weight!”!”  As much or as more as what, pray tell? As much as a person who’s never used the product but keeps scarfing their favorite foods faster than a hotdog-eating contest competitor on death row?  More than a herd of weasels on an all-kale diet?  More than twelve three-toed sloths on a treadmill?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only You’d Had A More Interesting Childhood

My mother once told me that she viewed cooking as the least favorite of (what she considered to be) her duties as a homemaker. Although her family never went hungry, that attitude was revealed in terms of the variety (read: not much) of dinners she served to her family. She was the target audience for the advertising mad men – the  marketers whose mission was to convince 1950s – 1970s homemakers that the roles and tasks to which women were relegated were tedious and burdensome.  Convenient, an adjective heretofore not associated with food, became lauded — packaged meals and prefab  “food products” would save her from the drudgery that was cooking (and, these salesmen assured her, these food products were ultimately “better” – as in, more nutritious – for her family than anything she might be able to cook).

And she bought it –  hook, line, and Hamburger Helper sinker.

A recent Fresh Air podcast featuring an interview with chef Chef Lidia Bastianich made me think of my childhood culinary “heritage,” such as it is.  [7]  Chef Lidia is yet another foreign born cook of humble beginnings who came to the USA and made her fame and fortune (in both the TV cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurant businesses) by presenting the cuisine and heritage of her youth to Americans.

When Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked Lidia about the ironies of serving peasant food in top-tier Manhattan restaurants, I wondered if I had missed my chance do the same. However, unlike Chef Lidia, moiself did not have an exotic Italian-Croatian background. What would be the peasant food of my SoCal childhood that I could make seem trendy – Tang? Cool Whip? Rice a Roni? Spaghetti-os?

 

 

 

swanson

With the right marketing Manhattan gourmands will pay $95 for this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you realize the futility of screaming at screens;
May anything rubber chicken-related make you think of…someone you love;  [8]
May you maintain an embarrassed fondness for the peasant food of your youth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Raped at age 8, by a trusted adult.

[2] to wit, see Junot Díaz And The Myth Of Male Genius – How a male writer’s “brilliance” is used to explain away his obvious misogyny…

[3] Even better when they acquire said anything and present it to moiself.

[4] No surprise and to be expected, with any show that tacked political and social topical issues.

[5] The first time, I couldn’t quite believe I was hearing what I was hearing. And it was not an ad for hearing aids.

[6] To protect their privacy, I’ll call them Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete.

[7] It isn’t, really.

[8] Betcha you thought, if only for a second, that moiself was going to write, “moiself.”

The Super Power I’m Not Flaunting

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

Happy Star Wars Day, y’all.

 

 

May4

*   *   *

Department Of Justice Served Cold

While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.

Backstory.  Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH.  MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis.  For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.

The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed.  We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.

“Uh…expecting lumberjacks?” I ask.

“No,” MH replies, “But if the East Area Rapist shows up, we’ll be ready.”

 

 

EARjpg

 

 

Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!!   as I heard

Day 1: on an NPR newscast that authorities in California had arrested the suspect known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, and then on

Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly   [1] broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered

While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.

I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:

We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..

Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?

 

 

planet

Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle

Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading:  And the Band Played On  (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.

IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure.  [2]

As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:

Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?

Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  [3]   reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.

 

 

 

shame

 

 

 

Certain business interests,   [4]   political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).

Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear you at any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.

Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.

Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over 20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it[5]  And meanwhile, people were dying.

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.

On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …? Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).

And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses.  Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups   [6]   were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer).  And meanwhile, people were dying. 

 

“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.”
Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…

 

different

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden

Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see.  I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.

MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?”
Moiself: “I can smell fear.”
MH: ???
Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”

 

 

 

 

super

She who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive;
May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served;
May the 4th be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.

[2] When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.

[3] Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was  in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.

[4] E.g., for-profit blood banks.

[5] Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.

[6] The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as  an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).

The Prank I’m Not Playing

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Department Of Good Sports

Dateline: Monday, April 2; a local yoga studio. My fellow yogis were gracious participants in my idea to play a belated April Fools’ Day prank on our equally gracious instructor.

If you’ve attended a yoga class and/or have a home practice, you may be familiar with the variety of props that may be used to attain and/or enhance certain asanas[1]

 

 

yogaprops

 

 

Some people and classes use several props (e.g., blocks, straps and bolsters) while others use little to none. The classes I attend typically use a strap for a couple of poses, the blocks for maybe one or two, and bolsters for sitting and/or final relaxation. But it has always seemed to me that there was a prop missing. During poses targeting head and neck flexibility and strengthening or those concerned with posture or spinal alignment, when I hear the suggestion to lengthen the crown of your head, I think to moiself, “There ought to be a prop for that.”

April 1 fell on a Sunday. For Monday’s class, I was prepared. I’d purchased 24 paper crowns (Did you bring enough for everyone in the class, young lady?) and passed them out to my fellow yogis before class. The rest is history.

 

 

 

yogacrowns

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, Who, Moiself – Foodie Trend-follower?

I love me some avocadoes. I consume at least half of one avocado per day, included in my breakfast or lunch, or sometimes dinner.  [2]   But it never occurred to me to use an avocado to construct that most trendy of foods items. Until now.

Oh, look, I made some avocado toast.  To strive for authenticity, I’m thinking of charging moiself  $15 for it.

 

 

 

avotoast

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Don’t Expect (Or Want) To See In Trader Joe’s Parking Lot

It was just another shopper, pushing another red Trader Joe’s  shopping cart. Her cart was filled with groceries and there was a child  [3]  sitting in the kid seat portion of the cart. The other TJ Shopper ® and I were headed in the same direction; she was in front of me, and as I got closer to her I noticed something odd about the child. Its body size and movements (and the fact that it was sitting up unsupported) made me guess the kid was just under a year old, and its torso and limbs were in standard/chubby baby proportions…but the kid’s head was massively outsized, and blocky.

I quickened my pace and got a look at the child’s face.  Yikes, to say the least. It was as if someone had gotten hold of a 3 D printer and superimposed the head of Ricky Gervais onto an eleven-month’s old body.

 

 

 

terror

 

 

 

Now, I happen to admire much about that comic provocateur, Ricky Gervais. I’d love to espy his big head, say, one day when I glance through my office window and say, Isn’t that the multi-talented, stand-up comic/writer/actor/director/producer Ricky Gervais standing on my front porch?, and then I’d invite him in for a cup of tea and we can have a jolly good time poking fun at politics and religion and Caitlyn Jenner and other people who take themselves way too seriously.  But to see that enormous mug of his on top of a baby’s neck….

For the briefest of moments I considered returning to TJ’s, buying up all the Two Buck Chuck  in the store and drinking it in the backseat of my car.

I was going to try to find a couple of pictures online,  [4]  do some photo-shopping, and come up with something similar (to what I saw) to share with my readers. But it’s so kind of y’all to be reading this – I’ve no desire to ruin the rest of your day.  Instead, here’s a more pleasant occupant-of-a-shopping-cart image for you to ponder.

 

 

 

shopping cart

*   *   *

Department Of Do You Recognize Padding When You See It?

 

As you may have noticed, I’ve not much profound to say/report on this week.

 

 

einsteinduhjpg

 

 

Correction: actually, there is (too) much to say, much of it involving subjects that have been weighing on my mind recently. One of them is so bleak…think along the lines of articles by people even more thoughtful and articulate than moiself   [5]  who are willing to tackle such feel-good topics as

Robots taking human jobs causing hellish dystopia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Dystopian Future Has Come To Pass

Artificial Intelligence Will Best Humans At Everything By 2060, Experts Say

The US opioid addiction is an omen of a ‘hellish dystopian’ future, scientist claims, as AI takes over billions of jobs, leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives….

Not to be a downer or anything.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you already be working on next year’s April Fool’s Day shenanigans;
May you be pleasantly surprised by the next thing you see at a Trader Joe’s parking lot;
May you never pay $15  [6]  for anything on toast;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yoga poses or postures.

[2] Does anyone else remember when (to non-Californians) avocados were considered by some folk to be “exotic”?

[3] Presumably hers…although I noticed absolutely no familial resemblance.

[4] Of Mr. Gervais and random male babies.

[5] Make that, 100 times more….

[6]  Not even if it’s platinum-plated caviar (and why you’d want to eat fish eggs – with or without plating – is beyond moiself).

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