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The Letter (To The Editor) I’m Not Sending

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Department Of Although I Promised Not To Use The Term
“Silver Lining” When Referring To A Pandemic….

…there is at least one good thing to come from our world’s current situation. The “good” I refer to is a side effect of the stay at home/shelter in place/physical distancing/non-essential business closures. This side effect – I need a better term; ’tis not marginal consequence – provides some evidence that it might not be too late for us (humans). It’s the realization that, when we stop screwing with Mother Nature, even inadvertently, we begin to clean her (read: our) house.

“4.2 Million Deaths per year attributed to ambient (outdoor) air pollution.
…. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about seven million premature deaths every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.
( World Health Organization website, health topic: air pollution )

 

New Delhi, during rush hour…not at night.

 

Imagine living a mere 500 miles from the world’s tallest mountain range – in the geographic scale that means Mt. Everest is practically in your backyard – but you haven’t been able to see the world’s tallest peak in 30 years?

* Residents in the northern Indian state of Punjab say they’re seeing the Himalayas for the first time in decades while on coronavirus lockdown.
*Since India was put on lockdown in March to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country’s air quality
has seen immense improvement.
*The air quality has increased because public transportation has stopped,
fewer people are driving, and there’s less air traffic in the skies.
( excerpts from “India’s air quality has improved so much since the country
went on coronavirus lockdown; citizens can now see the Himalayas
for the first time in 30 years,” Reuters)

“The reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country.”
( Marshall Burke, assistant professor, Stanford Department of Earth System Science, from CNN’s China’s coronavirus lockdown curbs deadly pollution, likely saving the lives of tens of thousands, says researcher” )

It remains to be seen, of course, how people and businesses adjust after the various stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.  That tiny, optimistic part of my brain – a part so small it cannot be located on this map of basic brain regions –

 

(that tiny part is located behind the brainstem and contains the pathways for minor yet essential neutral activities, including optimism, holding grudges, understanding fart jokes….)

 

– that part lets me hope that all sides of this multi-faceted situation, from big and small businesses to individuals, will see the benefits of working (at least part time) from home where and when possible, and coordinate alternative solutions to our transportation and energy needs and uses.  

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Letter (To The Editor) I’m Not Sending

That would be a letter in response to The Oregonian’s front page promo puff piece article several weeks back, titled “Crafting an Easter message of hope and faith at a time when both seem elusive.”

The article was written by staff writer Tom Hallman Jr., who purported to explore “finding the light in a season of darkness” and other such (supposed) Easter themes, all from Christian points of view.  [1]

I wasn’t sure what to call the piece when I first read it, and even now.  “Article” is too neutral, for that which was essentially a newspaper staff member’s promotion of a particular religious faith; also, it ran on the front page of a (supposedly) neutral newspaper, and not in the op-ed section.

Moiself  meant to craft a response of some sort, something compelling and rational, a day or so after reading the article, which is when my feedback would have been more topical, if not appreciated. You know the advice: “Strike while the iron is hot;“Make hay when the sun shines,” and…um…“Tee up while the caddy isn’t looking” – all those inspirational sayings from the pantheon of metallurgical, agricultural and sports idioms which make this The Greatest Nation On Earth ® .

 

 

I wanted to ask Hallman if, in light of the COVID-19 crisis (or for other reasons), he is planning on doing comparable PR pieces/blatant bootlickery  articles on religious faiths besides Christianity, as well as articles exploring religion-free worldviews, during their respective, reflective, special times and/or celebrations?

MH has an abundance of co-workers who hail from all over the world, largely from India and other south Asian countries. These folks, who have become an integral part of the Portland Metro area society and workforce, have a variety of cultural and worldview roots, including Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh (and secular!). What about their – and other – ways of “finding light in darkness?”

The Hindu multi-day celebration of Ganesh Chathrthi will be coming up this summer. Ganesh is a Hindu avatar known as the “remover of obstacles” and “imparter of wisdom”– attributes even non-Hindus can appreciate, especially in these COVID-19 times when there are obstacles aplenty (and a shortage of wisdom, considering what passes as “leadership” from the White House).   

Besides (and no disrespect intended), who doesn’t enjoy the image of a colorfully-dressed, multiple-limbed elephant avatar (and his ever-present rodent sidekick)?

 

 

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, reflection, and community, is ongoing, as I type.  Vesak Day, upcoming any day now,  [2]  is observed worldwide by Buddhists (and some Hindus), who, heeding the Buddha’s exhortation that the only way to truly honor him is to follow his teachings, encourage love, peace and harmony via “noble deeds” such as donating to charity, organizing blood donation drives, distributing gifts and food to those in need, etc.

Portland has a thriving Pagan community, and given the past months of uncertainty (and those to come), the Wiccan celebration of Lughnasad (August 1) will hold special meaning this year. What can Wiccans teach non-wiccans, with analogies via a celebration filled with both the hopes and fears that are as real today as they were in ancient times: hopes for a bountiful harvest and abundant food, juggled with fears that the harvest might not be enough and that the approaching winter will be filled with struggle and deprivation.

Here’s one of Hallman’s opening statements, in his The Oregonian Easter article:

“What we’re hungry for is an answer of certainty. Given that (his prior statements of the worries of our time, including spread of a new disease, school and economic closures and general life disruption and uncertainty)…Is there a place this Easter for a message rooted in something as nebulous as the concept of Christian faith?”

Here moiself’s  reflective statement, after reading Hallman’s article: Will be we be seeing a front page feature on the relevancy of modern interpretations of ancient celebrations – as we did with Easter –  illustrating other worldviews, e.g., the Wiccan acknowledgement of facing your fears, concentrating on developing your own abilities, and taking steps to protect yourselves and your homes?  Are Hallman and/or other Oregonian reporters going to write about that?

 

We’ll get right on it.

 

Or, how about space for a message that needs no special time of year, in contrast to (using Hallman’s wording) “a message rooted in something as nebulous as the Christian faith”   [3] :

“Is there a place for a non-nebulous message — a message as far as possible from supernaturalism, and which is as grounded as the principles of Humanism?”

These principles, found in greater detail here, are, briefly and chiefly:

Humanism affirms both the ability and responsibility  of people to live their lives and pursue opportunities compatible with social and planetary harmony, and seek the greater good for our fellow human beings. Since it is free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism derives the goals of life from human need and interest, rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.

 

 American Humanist Association logo

 

“Protestants and Catholics are shrinking as a share of U.S. population;
all subsets of “none” are growing.”
(“In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace,”
Pew Research Center, 10-17-19, Religion and Public Life)

 

It should come as no surprise that, along with the nationwide increase in the number of people who ( are willing to   [4] ) identity as Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, et al., at least one third of Oregonians claim a “not-affiliated/none” label when asked to list their religious affiliation . Added with the number of people practicing non-Christian faiths, that makes ~ forty percent of Oregonians who are “Christianity-free.”  That sounds like a subject worthy of exploration in a publication which calls itself The Oregonian.

 

“You heard the lady; we’ll get right on it.

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
Los Angeles Seminal Punk Rock Bands Edition

And by seminal moiself  is referring to how influential and ground-breaking were the punk bands which formed and played in So Cal in the late 1970s/early1980s – not the variety of bodily fluids that were flung onstage during a Germs performance.

Along with the afore-mentioned Germs, Bands in this genre include Black Flag, Alice Bag Band, the Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline, Fear, and (my personal favorite), X.

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

 

Modern Man
American Waste
Annihilate This Week
Beat My Head Against The Wall
Fix Me
Life Of Pain

I’ve Had It
Loose Nut
Nervous Breakdown
Nothing Left Inside
Padded Cell
Shut Down

Media Blitz
I Don’t Care About You
Let’s Have a War
We Destroy The Family
Have A Beer With Fear
World Up My Ass

 

 

Deny Everything
Moral Majority
Killing For Jesus
Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not
Back Against The Wall
We’re Desperate

I’m Coming Over
Some Other Time
When Our Love Passes Out On The Couch
Under The Big Black Sun
How I Learned My Lesson

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Painting The Town Blue
What’s Wrong With Me
Lettuce and Vodka
Live Fast Die Young

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  I just can’t put it down

 

MAKE IT STOP

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [5]

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week

Featuring this week’s Theme Day and recipe:
Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Monday: Mushroom Stroganoff Over Roast Cauliflower

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6]

*   *   *

May you find your own silver linings (and perhaps a better term to describe them)
in times of stress and deprivation;
May you be able to spot the mountain ranges – be they metaphorical or
actual – from your own backyard;
May you embrace the part of your humanity that takes responsibility for its own destiny;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which, like the name “Easter,” was appropriated by early Christians from Celtic, Germanic and Pagan cultures.

[2] Many religious or cultural holidays use a particular culture’s ancient lunar – rather than the contemporary Gregorian – calendar, and so their date(s) vary from year to year.

[3] I would add, “or any religion” when it comes to being nebulous.

[4] Those who are open about being religion-free face “intense prejudice” in this country.

[5] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[6]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again
* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.
* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.
* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.
* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Habits I’m Not Building

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Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

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

[9]

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

 

The Lemon I’m Not Squeezing

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Department Of The Song I Want Sung At My Wake

Dateline: December 26, circa 7 am:  Thinking of the impending New Year while walking on a 27˚ morning, listening to author John Green’s latest Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, in which he discusses and “rates” the history of the song-we’re-still-singing-after-200+-years: Auld Lang Syne.

From the proverbial Out Of Nowhere ®, I realize I have tears in my eyes.  Feeling the chill as the moisture emerges from my tear ducts, moiself thinks silly thoughts, ala, Are they (the tears) going to freeze my eyeballs?

♫  We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here…  

Sing it to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

 

 

Those alternate lyrics come from what Green describes as “that recursive lament of British soldiers” from World War I, who were embittered by “devastating losses of the war, and the growing use of poison gas,” and also by the fact that they “…had no idea why they were fighting and dying for tiny patches of ground so far from home,” and thus did not feel much like hoisting a pint during a temporary holiday truce and singing the treacly old songs.

Although the soldiers’ transformative lyrics can be seen as “…a profoundly nihilistic song written about the modernist hell of repetition,” a writer friend of Green’s who was to die of cancer would sometimes, during public appearances, ask her audience to sing those very lyrics with her, because she saw it as a statement of hope:

“It became a statement that we are here–meaning that we are together, and not alone. And it’s also a statement that we are, that we exist, and it’s a statement that we are here, that a series of astonishing unlikelihoods has made us possible and here possible.
We might never know why we are here, but we can still proclaim in hope that we are here. I don’t think such hope is foolish or idealistic or misguided. I believe that hope is, for lack of a better word, true.
We live in hope–that life will get better, and more importantly that it will go on, that love will survive even though we will not.”

 

 

I had heard the We’re Here Because We’re Here version of Auld Lang Syne before the podcast; I knew of its origins and had always appreciated (what *I* saw as) the lyrics’ amalgam of cynically detached optimism…but this time, Green’s simple yet eloquently narrative helped me to realize how fittingly and succinctly those lines illuminate moiself’s philosophy of life (if moiself can be said to have one, and I guess moiself just did).

The past year in particular, with its legacy of devastating losses for beloved friends,  [1]  has further increased my desire to be more mindful of the present – to celebrate and appreciate what we have in the simple and random fact of our existence in this phase of life. And what is remembered and what goes on, even after we are gone, is the love we have for others, and theirs for us. 

The various fictions the priests and philosophers have cobbled together over the centuries can hold no candle to the only “for sure” we know: the reality that, for whatever reason, we’re here because…we’re here, and that Life Itself ® is the meaning of life.   [2]

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Spam Of The Week

Sometimes it pays to actually read the subject matter in the spam box before I select delete all, because every now and then there is a gem like this:

“Your Prostate Is The Size Of A Lemon.”

 

Uh…make that, a lady lemon?

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Recipe:  Black Pepper Tofu

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

Dateline: early afternoon, December 31 (aka New Year’s Eve,); a small grocery store on the Oregon Coast. The clerk recognizes me and smiles.

Clerk: Did you find everything you needed?

Moiself (pointing to the one pound sack of dried beans, among the other items in my cart): Yes.  I’m *so* happy you have black-eyed peas!

Unbeknownst to the clerk, I had searched at the town’s other (bigger) grocery store, and they had no black-eyed peas of any kind – dried, canned, or frozen.

Clerk (looking at me quizzically): “You’re the second person today who was looking for black-eyed peas.  Something about the new year, right?”

Moiself“Yep. It’s a tradition in parts of the South: eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.”

Clerk: “You’re from the south?”

Moiself“Not me. My father was from Tennessee; it was his family tradition, so I do it to honor him. His family was poor, we’re talking dirt poor…I always thought it was kinda funny, that, after all those years, neither he nor any of his siblings ever looked at the pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and said, ‘Another year went  by; we’re still poor and unlucky. Do we have to eat this?’

Clerk: “Exactly!”  (her laughter chimes with mine as she finishes bagging my items): “A friend of mine – she thinks I’m Asian, but I’m not  [5] – tells me stories about all the luck rituals her Asian grandmother followed.  Her grandmother would sprinkle coconut milk around the outside of her home’s entry door, every Monday, so that she would have good luck.”

Moiself“And did her grandmother have good luck?”

Clerk (snorting with laughter): “No!  Of course not!  She had ants!”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [6]  Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

This little one doesn’t get much attention – neither on the show when it aired, nor later, as per the fans’ ratings.  It’s as if the show’s producers cast the youngest two Partridge family members and then didn’t know what to do with them. At least this little tambourine-wielding waif  [7]   gets a spot on our tree (which is more than moiself can say for the two different boys who played the family’s youngest son/drummer – we just didn’t think it qualified for a spot, what with two different boys playing the same do-nothing character).

 

*   *   *

 

May you appreciate that you’re here because you’re here;
May the size of your girl or boy parts never be described in terms of citrus fruit;
May you have fun (and not ants) with food superstitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And, Happy New Year, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Losses I have previously written about in this space, losses which are in the “children are supposed to bury their parents, and not the other way around,” category.

[2] A nod to Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, and, of course, Monty Python.

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

[4]

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

[5] I’ve heard the clerk’s name before, but could not recall it…her surname is Filipino, I think.

[6] In our pear tree.

[7] That was her job, in the band – tambourine; that’s it. And she obviously couldn’t even shake it on beat, or off beat….

The Sun Salutations I’m Not Counting

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Department of Just Wondering, Winter Edition

Dateline: Boxing Day (December 26), 2 pm, downtown Portland’s Keller Auditorium with MH and Belle, to see the last 2019 performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Watching the impressively limber members of The Oregon Ballet Theater as they do their pirouettes, I can’t help but wonder:  when ballets are performed at locales south of the equator, do the dancers spin counterclockwise?

 

 

Added cultural bonus: Belle pointed out that one of the OBT’s principal male dancers looked like Seth Meyers.

Wished-for cultural highlight: to see The Nutcracker, or any ballet, performed by Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If My Hamstring Muscles Are Still Sore After 36 Hours
Have I Reached Enlightenment?

Yoga Class:
“Why 108 Sun Salutations?”

Yoga Teacher:
“It’s an auspicious number in yoga; I know 108 sounds like a lot…”

Moiself:
“That’s because it is.”

Last Sunday (12/22), to celebrate the winter solstice, my yoga studio held an “Om-a-thon,” which is what Someone In Charge Of Marketing ®  called an hour and a half class consisting of 108 Sun Salutations.  A sun salutation, for you non-yogis, is a yoga exercise incorporating a sequence of nine or more linked asanas, or yoga poses/postures. The asanas are linked by the breath – inhaling and exhaling with each movement, and Sun Salutations involve moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, with many variations.

Why 108? It’s apparently an auspicious number (in the parts of the world where yoga originated), for many reasons.  Non-“woo” reasons include the fact that the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter and ditto for the ratio of the moon’s diameter and the distance between the moon and earth – scientific realities not likely surmised when the originators of yoga decided 108 was a magic special number.

There are plenty of “woo” reasons for venerating the number 108, and the teacher leading the class mentioned a few of them: there are 108 Upanishads (a series of Hindu treatises ca. 800–200 BCE); there are 108 beads in a mala (a meditation tool, an idea early Christian/Catholic missionaries stole “adapted”  from the Hinduism & Buddhism, and morphed into the Catholic rosary beads    [1]  ); there are nine planets and twelve astrological signs…9 x 12 = 108  [2]….

Oh, and most significantly of all, a Uno deck contains 108 cards. That’s gotta be a sign.

 

 

People who’d participated in previous year’s OM-a-thons told me it was a lot of fun, so I decided to try it this year.  Indeed, it was fun. And I only spent about five seconds of the class resting in Child’s pose.

*   *   *

Department Of Serves Me Right

Dateline: December 24, 10:30 am; in a Kaiser Hospital pharmacy waiting to pick up a prescription for a friend, for whom I am acting as “surgery buddy” for her outpatient hand surgery.  The pharmacy is surprisingly (to moiself) hopping for a Sunday morning, and I have plenty of time for people watching while waiting for the Rx to be filled.

Moiself is noticing how casually most people, especially the men, are dressed. Read: the average Joe is a Sloppy McSlob Face.  [3]   This is not an original observation;  it most likely came to my mind due to a recent rant well-thought out opinion piece I read, written by a European writer who bemoaned the tendencies of Americans to dress “down ” (e.g. as if they are sprawled in front of their TV at home) in public spaces.  As I look around at my fellow Specimens of Humanity ®, I must admit that complaining dude has a point.

Then, a very dapper older gentleman takes a seat about 12 feet in front of me.

 

 

He is wearing a grey tweed suit, vest and tie, nice (but not overly fussy) black herringbone shoes, and a gray short brimmed fedora. Dapper Gent’s posture is dignified as he leans over to pick up a magazine from the end table next to his chair. This same magazine had been recently perused by one of the previously mentioned Specimens of Humanity who’d schlumped passed by the table  – a Specimen whose plumber-inspired butt crack was on generous display atop his pathetic, pajama-bottoms-substituting-for-pants when he leaned over to glance at said magazine.

I admire Dapper Gent’s contribution to Public Space beautification, and allow myself a moment of smugness as I recall Complaining European Writer’s observations.  I look up at the line of pharmacy clerks kiosks and wonder when my number will be called.  I return my gaze to Dapper Gent, just in time to see him ever-so-slowly guide his index finger into his left nostril and dig deep, deep, and deeper, as if he is mining for precious ores.

*   *   *

Department Of Petty Pleasures
Number 387 In The Series.

Daetline: Christmas Day, Powell’s Bookstore, ~ 2 pm, for our traditional Shopping-at-Powell’s-after-Christmas-Day-lunch-at-Jake’s outing. I love it, I absolutely love it, when I espy a long of patrons waiting outside the men’s, but not the women’s, restroom.

 

*   *   *

Family friend LAH is an artist, and it shows in every aspect of her life. Come the Yule season she is known for exquisitely wrapping the presents she bestows, which are so beautifully adorned with artfully tied and arranged ribbons and bows and other accessories that Belle and K, even as young children, would stare at their respective gifts from LAH and declare, “It’s too pretty to open.”

No such declaration has ever been thought, much less uttered aloud, about any gift wrapped by moiself. The presents I give, which are chosen in all love, care, enthusiasm, and sincerity, end up looking as if they’d been wrapped by an orangutan with ADHD.  It’s not that I don’t try to do better…let’s just say that my family has long joked about how you don’t need a gift tag to know if the present is from Robyn.

This Christmas morning, when MH, son K, daughter Belle, and moiself were reaching the end of our opening-presents session, I picked one of the two remaining gifts from my pile – one whose tag read “to Robyn from Santa.”   [4]   I turned the gift upside down, flashing a smug “See, I’m not the only person who does this” smile to my (now young adult) offspring, to show them how the wrapping paper didn’t fully cover the back of the gift package.  Belle’s indignant/kneejerk reaction:

 “Mom, did you wrap a present for yourself!?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stop Asking Me That

“Oh, yeah, so you all liked that Elf on a Shelf thing?”
(Misinformed persons who feel compelled to ask about all the elves
in our house during this time of year)

Much of moiself’s holiday décor, in all its tacky seasonal glory, is in homage to my mother, who died three years ago on Christmas eve. Marion Parnell loved Christmas and especially her Christmas decorations, which included the “tradition” (which her family started and mine continues) of placing certain kind of elves – the kind with small plastic, doll-like faces and bendable, felt costume clothes bodies,   [5]  all around the house.

 

Like this one, a (rare) yellow/green costumed variant.

 

The idea was that from any vantage point, whether you are sitting in the living room or getting a drink from the kitchen sink, an elf is casting a friendly eye upon you.  Some of our elves indeed are on a shelf, but most perch atop curtains, peek out from bookcases, lurk behind candlesticks, nestle behind dishes and clocks and art and….

But, this “Elf on a Shelf” thing? Never heard of it, until recently. It is, apparently, a picture book about…honestly, I don’t know or care what it’s about. I looked it up:  the book has a 2005 publication date.  Neither I nor MH knew about it, nor had our two children (DOBs 1993 and 1996) grown up with EOAS as part of their kiddie lit repertoire.  My extended family on my mother’s side has been putting up elves since the early 1920s, so none of this EOAS shit fruitcake feces references applies to elves on MY shelves, okay?

Y’all must excuse moiself  if (read: when) I respond with a most yuletide inappropriate profanity should you mention that book to me. Actually, moiself  finds it funny how much it irritates moiself  when someone, after seeing or hearing about our houses elves, makes a reference to the book: such as the antique store owner last week who, when I asked if her store had any elves and began to describe what I was looking for, said, “Oh, you mean, like that book?”   My customary cheerful/holiday visage darkened, and I answered her with utmost solemnity.

No.
Nothing.
Like. That. Book.

Which might not be entirely accurate, seeing as how I’ve never read nor even seen the book…which may indeed be about something akin to *our* family tradition.  I just want…oh, I don’t know…attribution, I suppose.  WE THOUGHT OF IT FIRST, OKAY?  So, stick that Elf-on-a-shelf in your Santa Hat and – I mean of course, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Cookbook , by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Lentil and Walnut Salad
My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [7]  

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [8] Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

*   *   *

Department Of Simple Pleasures

Having both Belle and  K home for Christmas reminds me of an old adage.  Passed down by amateur philosophers over the ages, the saying endures because it is true:

SIMPLE PLEASURES 

( e.g., knitting;
sitting over the bathtub drain when the water runs out;
listening to the lamentation of your neighbor’s children when they discover that
someone (ahem) has stolen their front yard’s inflatable Santa decoration and replaced it
with a snowman made from 10,000 laminated oral care pamphlets
from the Pediatrics Dental Association )

ARE THE BEST.

And so it is with all sincerity that I wish y’all the simple pleasures of Happy New Year.

*   *   *

May your present-wrapping skills bring you wide acclaim;
May we appreciate our fellow Specimens of Humanity in all our sartorial glory;
May your simple pleasures by simply maaaahvelous;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi! 

Jusqu’à l’année prochaine!

*   *   *

 

[1] Although the Catholics halved the number to 59 beads, in perhaps an effort to claim originality or refute charges of plagiarism.

[2] Except of course/again the originators of such superstitions did not know there were nine planets…and now we all know (though some of us refuse to accept the fact) that there are not nine planets, but eight.

[3] Although, with my idea that I’m dressed up when my tie dye shirt doesn’t have any mustard stains on it, who am I to talk? 

[4] Yes, that would be MH.

[5] Many of the oldest ones have a tiny Made in Japan sticker on them and date from the 1950s, or so I was told by one antique shop dealer.

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

[7]

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

[8] In our pear tree.

The Murder Mystery I’m Not Solving

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Department Of Why Not All Dreams Should Become Reality

Dateline: last Friday (early Saturday); a dream from which I woke moiself up at 5:30 AM. In that early morning reverie, I was the lead detective on a murder case.   [1]    No one was mourning the victim, “XY,” a well-known serial rapist and sexual harasser whose money and political connections had kept him from prosecution for years.   [2]   XY had been found dead in his mansion, lying on a floor in the proverbial Pool of Blood ®. He had been beaten to death with an as-of-yet unidentified, blunt, mallet-like object, then castrated postmortem with an instrument which, according to the coroner, was likely a pair of pinking shears.

Bear with me for a moment.  Do you remember the song, Who Let The Dogs Out, the highly annoying festering turd of a song one-hit wonder by The Baha Men? 

 

Yes, and I’d been trying to forget it for years, thank you SO MUCH for reminding me….

 

Well, then, imagine hearing the song’s chorus over and over and over again, in a dream – you’d try to wake yourself up from that, wouldn’t you?

 

Only the version (of the song’s chorus) in my dream was much, much…stranger.

Detective moiself had, using false pretenses and in true Movie Murder Mystery ® fashion, gathered a group of likely suspects – XY’s known or suspected sexual assault victims – in the drawing room of XY’s mansion.   For the kind of reason that can only make sense in a dream, my Professional Detective Strategy ® strategy was to have all the room’s exits blocked after the suspects had been seated and get a confession by repeatedly playing a recording of Who Let The Dogs Out, wherein the chorus had been altered thusly:

Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?

I managed to wake up/escape from the dream before any of the suspects confessed.

 

My guess is Ms. Scarlett, in the kitchen, with a meat tenderizer.  [3]

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Thank You For Sharing That Previous Story,
Which Was, Truly, The Epitome Of The Holiday Spirit

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh Yeah, Solve This Too, While You’re At It
Sub Department of the Fleeting Dreams Of Youth

In last week’s post, moiself asked (not entirely rhetorically, but certainly wishfully) for the proverbial Someone to solve the problem of redesigning life to accommodate humanity’s lengthening lifespans.  According to Major News Sources,   [4]  the problem remains unsolved.

C’mon, folks, you can do better. If that particular dilemma doesn’t spur your imagination, how’s about the ongoing issue of cleaning up, or at least detoxifying, our environment – starting with the big one: the air we breathe.  We can go a couple of days without water and a couple of weeks without food, but a couple of minutes without breathable air and we are toast.

A major unpleasant memory from my childhood (in late 1960’s – early 1970’s So Cal) was dealing with Smog Alerts.  Activities were curtailed; recess and PE classes cancelled….  Flash forward to the present, and whenever we have had “low quality” air alerts – as when the smoke from recent year’s wildfires drifted south or north to the Portland metro area – my watery eyes and that distinctive“catch” I feel in my chest/bronchial tubes takes me back to those wretched Smog Alert days.

 

And the yoga teacher says, “Remember to breathe deeply…oh, never mind.”

 

In the late 1960s through the early 1980s California’s enactment of innovative, first-in-the-nation, vehicle emission control strategies and standards actually worked, and although the state’s population continued to rise its air quality improved…for a few decades, at least  [5].  But while politicians and scientists joined forces to cobble together stop-gap measures, a grade school girl dreamed of a fantastical invention which would solve the problem forever.

During an interval of several months when I was 11 or 12 years old, I had dreams wherein I invented colossal fan/vacuum type devices which, when placed in strategic locations across the state, sucked in air and ran the air through a series of filters, which strained out the polluting particulate matter and compacted the pollutants into bricks, particle boards, and other (non-toxic) building materials. Not only would our air be clean, this invention also protected trees and forests, as the need for lumber was greatly curtailed.

Yep, it seemed realistic to me at the time. The decades passed, and the Scientist/Engineer Who Saved The World…well, it very obviously didn’t turn out to be moiself.  So,I know it’s the Holiday Season ® and we’ve all got things to do, but can y’all get to work on this, maybe next year?

 

Yeah, okay…but smoky bands of filthy air encircle the globe, and my imagination in all its glory isn’t fixing that….

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:  Never mind.  EE was preempted this week by my annual ladies’ lefse Party. 

 

Lars the Luscious Lefse man was a late but welcome addition to the party.

 

And how do the ladies feel about lefse and Lars?

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [7]   Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

May you solve murder mysteries and more in your sleep;
May your imagination and your knowledge be complementary;
May Lars the Luscious Lefse man grace  at least one of your holiday parties;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] I am attributing my having recently seen “Knives Out” for that dream occupation.

[2] Imagine that!?!  Only in a dream, right?

[3] If you don’t get the reference to the board game Clue, I sentence you to repeated listening sessions featuring “Who Let The Dogs Out” until you publicly confess your cultural illiteracy.

[4] Read: the tabloids whose headlines I scan while standing in line at the grocery story.

[5] So Cal air  pollution is rising again.  Rising numbers of people and vehicles outnumber good intentions and inventions. Waaaah.

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

[7] In our pear tree.

The War I’m (Still) Not Declaring

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Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 2 in a series

“The idea of a “War on Christmas” has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” as (liberal) insults to Christianity….
“Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from?…
“The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible….”
(“How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created,” NY Times, 12-19-16)

*   *   *

Department Of If Something Seems Familiar, That’s Because It’s Time For
My Annual Holiday Traditions Explained ® Post

What do vegetarians, vegans, non-meat and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving?

( Other than, according to  Aunt Erva, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE. )

The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and a chocolate swirl  [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them

A week from today will be the day after feasting, for many of us. It sometimes seems as though just when you’re recovering from your last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.

This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, sincere, family-friendly,

Heathens Declare War on Christmas © post.

 

Department Of Did You Know…

…that the Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that, “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”   [2]  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.   [3]

 

 

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

We Heretics/apostates non-Christians Happy Heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

Who doesn’t like a party, for any reason? And we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

Early Roman Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with  missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs.  But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and effectively, simply renamed most of them.  [4]

Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry.  This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the Church.  Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that, instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.

( Easter is the one/odd exception – the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name change. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas” tradition that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism.  [5]  A celebration in the depths of winter – at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north – is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season”?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked; actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all seasons.

 

And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.   [6]  My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

Now, go fetch me the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden's Day!

“Now, go fetch me the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.  [7]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  [8] included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.)  The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.  [9]

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas” [10]   when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

*   *   *

Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.

May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else;
May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset;
May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia;
…and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Damn right I’m proud of that one.

[2] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[3] Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.

[4] “Paganism in Christianity.”

[5] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[6] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.)

[7] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[8] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[9] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[10] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

 

The 4th Of July Parade I’m Not Recovering From

2 Comments

Best Compliment Ever
Aka, My Work Here Is Done

“You’re my spirit animal!”
(Absolutely adorable/soon to be handsome 13 year old boy, to moiself,
after Manzanita’s July 4 July parade)  [1]

I think it was the Dali Lama – or was it Dolly Parton?  [2]  – who advised, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Thus, the impetus for my participation in Manzanita’s July 4 Parade.

Manzanita’s annual parade is small town enough that individuals can just show up at the parade assembly grounds and participate. I’m a smartass cynic when it comes to such events, and this year I decided to force myself to join in. Okay, but…how?

When notorious parade loather moiself thought of parades in general and July 4th parades in particular, I decided I wanted to see something else among the usual procession of star-spangled, flag-waving

* kids on tricycles

*adults on bicycles

* politicians in convertibles

* golden retrievers on leashes

* T-Rex-costumed teens on roller stakes

* Civil War re-enactors on foot

*muscle car drivers on methamphetamines….

Not that there’s anything wrong with all the red white and blue on July 4….but it’s been done, you know? I knew there were people who would do the flag-waving thing far better than moiself; I also knew it was likely that no one would be willing to take on the role of Goodwill Ambassador to the Planet ® in the form of Orange Hat Women With Spatulas.

My outfit and participation had the effect I’d intended: smiles, laughter and shout-outs all around. I mean, really – who doesn’t appreciate a spatula?  It’s a humble kitchen utensil which unites everyone on the political spectrum (as I explained to some parade watchers who wanted to know, why spatulas?). 

Some folks looked bewildered at first, until they figured out what I was (the signboard I wore was easier for some parade watchers to read from behind; i.e., just after I’d passed them). You never heard so many calls of “Spatulas!  Yay!” in your life.  [3]   There was nothing to “get” – no greater, existential meaning. Just truth in advertising, so to speak.

One of my favorite reactions came from two elderly women – sisters, I like to think – who were sitting side by side in beach chairs on the sidewalk in front of the Manzanita Post Office.  As I passed by, one of them read my sign aloud, and her sister responded (both women’s piercing vocal volume indicated they were probably hard of hearing):

Sister #1:
” ‘ Orange Hat Woman With…uh…Spatulas?’  What does it mean?”

Sister #2 (slapping sister #1, then pointing toward moiself, who was wearing an orange hat with spatulas dangling from the hat rim, and waving two spatulas in each hand):
“What do you THINK it means ?!”

 

 

You made my day!
Spatulas, yee haw – I Love Spatulas, too!
You should win best costume!
You’re my favorite parade entry of all time!
Spatulas rock!
God Bless America, and spatulas!
(a sampling of the comments Orange Hat Woman With Spatula ® received, 7-4-19)

It is truly difficult to convey how enjoyable it was to be on the receiving (and producing) end of so much good will.

And so, I did it:  I’ve marched in a parade, and I don’t ever have to do it again.  Except that my neighbor and a few other folks afterwards urged me to consider an encore performance next year, with “more” of what they assumed was my theme…

You can add to your banner – tape a sign at the bottom which says, ‘AND WHISKS’ and then sew some whisks onto your hat, or hold some whisks along with the spatulas….OH OH OH – and then the year after that, you can add slotted spoons! And then….

*   *   *

Department Of A Good Story That Gets Even Better

Dateline: Wednesday a.m. Over breakfast, MH reads aloud a headline from the NY Times sports section (print edition):

“Olympic Swimmer Rescues Drowning Man”

“In record time,” moiself adds.

MH chuckles and continues to read. It appears that the swimmer came to the aid of a man on his honeymoon…

who had fallen off an inflatable swan.”

Say no more, I insisted. It just can’t get any better.

 

No man – don’t risk it!

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

David’s Vegan Home Cooking, by David A. Gabbe

Recipes:

* Miso Tahini Salad Dressing
* Millet Cornbread Muffins
*”Creamy” Cauliflower Soup

My ratings:

* Miso Tahini Salad Dressing

* Millet Cornbread Muffins

*”Creamy” Cauliflower Soup

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

           Department Of Testing The Goodwill Of Strangers

Dateline Monday, July 8, circa 5:30 pm. Moiself is parked in a grocery store parking lot, sitting in my car’s driver’s seat, texting to MH and son K re our dinner options (ants have invaded our kitchen counters; no one’s in a cooking mood). I am just about to exit the vehicle when I am startled by an Out Of Nowhere ® rap on my car’s door.

I open the door, exit the car, and behold a Very Large And Friendly-If-Sheepish Looking Man holding a cell phone and gesturing toward my car’s rear bumper.

I was just talking a picture of one of your bumper stickers, VLAFISLM says, and thought I should let you know.

I reply that I don’t mind, and that he’s not the first person to do that – in fact, from what I’ve seen, it’s a frequent occurrence, in parking lots.

Oh, then can I take a picture of the others, too?

I laugh and tell him he can take as many pictures as he wants, as long as he doesn’t slash my tires.   [6]

Oh Yeah, ha ha thanks!  I just wanted you to know – I mean, I didn’t want you to, like, look in your mirror and think that there was some crazy guy taking pictures of your car.

But that’s actually what’s happening, isn’t it? I say, as I head toward the store’s entrance.

 

He told me his favorite was the one in the upper right corner (hard to make out in this picture), which reads:
National Sarcasm Society
like we need your support

*   *   *

May you be patient with the Crazy Guy In The Parking Lot ® ;
May you consider that whatever romantic or aphrodisiac properties may be obtained by riding an inflatable swan just might not be worth the inherent risk;
May you one day experience the indescribably joy of being a non sequitur parade participant;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] He then asked if he could take his picture with me, and I gave him a spatula.

[2]  It was a dolly/dali of some sort.

[3] Or, most likely, it was the first (and possibly last) time you’d hear such a call.

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

[5] * Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

[6] Several of the stickers poke fun at religion and certain political views…you never know who has a sense of humor about what, although I’ve yet to receive an in-person negative reaction.

The Next Year I’m Not Waiting For

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Belated Happy 4th of July/Independence Day wishes to y’all.

As I  threatened promised last year, I walked in Manzanita’s July 4th parade yesterday.  Here’s what I wrote about the parade in last year‘s log post:

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  [1]  and try to be deliberately silly – anyone seen Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade?   [2]  – 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-town 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 need to leave town afterward), should I be a participant, wearing and doing…whatever it was I would wear and do.

Moiself got herself to 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!

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”.

I tried to clarify the parade registration form information. The city clerk told me she thought that the requirement to dress as per the theme might be only for entrants “who want to be judged.”

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

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:

Flash forward, 2019: I confirmed with City Hall that parade entrants need not dress as per the parade’s theme unless they are “official” entrants – non-officials may simply show up at the parade’s starting area and be assigned a marching spot. Which I did.

As my blog deadline is actually the night before publication (when friends and I were doing our 4th of July celebrating), I shall have a brief recount plus Photographic Evidence ® of my public shame parade participation in next week’s blog.

*   *   *

Department Of Secret Identities Revealed

As per last week’s review of the first of the Democratic candidates’ debates:

…there was just one candidate (whom I shall not name) who disappointed me: it was the guy who, although an experienced and seasoned politician, when the camera was first turned on him looked as if he were trying to remain calm despite knowing that a weasel was crawling up his pant leg.

It was Rep. Tim Ryan.  Doubt me? Watch the debate again, and look at Ryan’s face, the first time a question is posed to him – this was long before he got schooled on Taliban v. Al-Qaeda by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

She let the damn weasels in; I just know it.

*   *   *

Department Of Pathetic Justifications
Aka, That’s My Story And I’m Sticking To It

“Welcome to Walmart!”

No one greeted me thusly. Nevertheless, I kept my sunglasses on when I entered in the store, as if I were afraid of being recognized:

“That’s her – the woman who swore she’d never set foot inside a Walmart!”

Indeed, it was my first time, ever, in a Walmart. I’ve boycotted them because of their history of sexism and discriminatory employment practices, and decimating small town retail businesses … But no other local business had what I needed.  I knew I could order it online, but if Walmart had it, at least that would keep a bit of the money locally (I was on the Oregon coast) vs. putting more dollars in Amazon’s pocket.… Yeah, that’s the ticket.

*   *   *

Department Of Apparently This Also Happens In Other Artistic Professions

“Would you please donate _______ (your mentoring time; your expertise; a photo shoot, pottery lessons, original oil painting; five copies of your book)  to our worthy cause?  We can’t pay you, but you’ll get plenty of exposure….”
(Requests heard and loathed by every artist/artisan, ever)

I saw a posting on Facebook from a photographer who, fed up with people asking for free photo shoots, decided to turn the tables, so to speak, by composing his own ad seeking free services from professionals. Like others working in a “creative” field, I am all-too familiar with the situation he lampooned, to the point that, many years ago, I had composed (but never sent to anyone, or posted) my own “employment ad.” Inspired by the FB post, I searched my files and dug up my fantasy employment ad. With all attribution/apologies to the photographer:

Writer Seeks Professionals Willing To Do Their Jobs For Free

I am a writer. All kinds of people ask me for my products and services, for free. They request that I:

* provide them or their group free copies of my books

* travel to their school or community group to speak about writing, and/or /give writing workshops, sans remuneration

* edit their or their children’s resumes, job applications, term papers….

I therefore assume that all kinds of people must also do their jobs and offer their services without expecting payment.

I need all kinds of people to provide all kinds of services for me.  Doctors; dentists, yard maintenance; grocery shopping and deliver; massage; auto repair; computer chip design; tax preparation; restaurant chefs and waitstaff; plumbers; college professors to educate my children – I will gladly and gratefully accept these and other services as long as I don’t have to pay for them.

What’s in it for you, you may ask?  Why, you’ll gain even more experience in your chosen field, and although you can’t take gratitude to the bank, you can bank on my gratitude: I’ll tell everyone I know how appreciative I am and what wonderful work you do. That’s, like, free publicity! This will likely bring you innumerable offers for unpaid work but also plenty of goodwill, and who can put a price on exposure?

So, if you have a job or service you provide, and will do it for free, let me know and I’ll gladly hire you!

 

(Don’t read The Oatmeal? You should.)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Honey, You *So* Did Not Have To Do That To Make Me Feel Better

MH texted me with the picture he took for his passport renewal, with the message:

“Here’s the guy that will accompany you on international trips.”

Moiself‘s response:

“We are so going to get pulled out of line for additional screening.”

This is highly unusual. Moiself is the one who takes the atrocious pictures, from family snapshots to passport, Costco, and other ID cards.  You know how at the DMV, when you go to the line for your driver’s license picture they hurry you through and you get one shot only because there are six people in line behind you? The last time I had my license renewed the DMV employee who took my picture looked at her camera screen, frowned, and called her supervisor over. The supervisor looked at the screen, then at me, back at the screen again, then said to me, “Oh, you really don’t want this one.” And they redid my photo. TWICE.

But, really, this passport photo of MH’s is…uh….oh, dear.  [3]

MH’s tresses are shoulder length, and he has a beard – both are dark and were apparently having a Bad Hair Day ® when the picture was taken.  He’s a friendly-looking guy, but they don’t want you to smile in a passport photo, and you can tell he wants to…but the overall effect…  Well, he looks like he’s about to scream, “Death to America!”

Also, I think the choice to wear a bistro napkin on his head was a poor one.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni.

Recipes: Muttakos Sambaar (Hearty Blue Mountain Cabbage and Tomato Stew), and
Pachadi Vallerika  (Zucchini and Yogurt Salad)

My rating: for the Muttakos Sambaar:

for the Pachadi Vallerika

 

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]     

*   *   *

May your most hideous ID photo not cause you to get additional screening;
May you think twice, and twice again, before asking someone to “donate” their services;
May you never run for political office if you can’t control your weasel face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] A 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.

[2] 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
* 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.

[3] On the bright side, seeing it made me realize it is way past time for me to get my own shaggy hair trimmed.

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

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

The Reefer I’m Not Mad At

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Department Of This Is Not Reefer Madness…

But obfuscation is always maddening. I refer to those organizations and individuals who seem determined to obscure or conceal…well, moiself can’t put it better than NY Times reporter Alex Berenson, in this excerpt from his recent op/ed piece (my emphases):

Those groups (marijuana legalization advocates and for-profit cannabis companies) have shrewdly recast marijuana as a medicine rather than an intoxicant. Some have even claimed that marijuana can help slow the opioid epidemic, though studies show that people who use cannabis are more likely to start using opioids later….

legalization advocates have squelched discussion of the serious mental health risks of marijuana and THC…. With large studies in peer-reviewed journals showing that marijuana increases the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, the scientific literature around the drug is far more negative than it was 20 years ago. …The  National Academy of Medicine report released in 2017 concluded that : “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”

(excerpts from “What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know – the wave toward legalization ignores the serious health risks of marijuana,” NY Times, 1-4-19)

 

 

 

 

It seems that anyone who points this out (the health risks of marijuana) runs the risk of being labeled as a Reefer Madness hysteric.  [1]     If you’re one those kneejerk labelers, stop reading this blog right now and get yourself one toke over the line, or whatever floats your boat (just don’t toke and boat at the same time, okay?).

While I have long favored the legalization/decriminalization of marijuana, that doesn’t mean I think recreational use of hallucinogens is a good thing.  [2]   Related, salient point: today’s weed is not your grandmama’s maryjane.  Like any human-cultivated “crop,” marijuana has been bred over the years to enhance certain qualities; thus, the THC level of recreational marijuana a user may purchase at a legal dispensary (or from a dealer, legal or otherwise) is as much as five times higher than that of the cannabis produced in the late 1970’s, when I was in college – which was also when I came to the opinion…how can I put this delicately?   [3]

When I observed the effects of weed useage – whether by people I liked and respected, or people I disliked and/or just basically ignored, or those folks in between – it seemed to me that smoking/ingesting weed made otherwise disparate people have one significant thing in common:

it made them stupid.

It was the dumbing down of humor that bothered me the most.   [4]  People who were otherwise quick and clever, articulate, intelligent, motivated and capable of flinging topical  [5]  witticisms at lightning speed turned into boring slackers while high, capable of producing only in-jokes with fellow stoners, with whom they would self-segregate off in a corner and giggle about the graphics on the cover of a matchbox or whatever.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am So Not Making This Up…

Oh, but I wish that I had.

In case you’re too young to remember (or don’t listen to Oldies stations), the song moiself previously referred to, One Toke Over the Line, was folk rock duo Brewer & Shipleys’ greatest hit. The 1971 song was banned by more than one radio station due to its obvious drug references – references which apparently weren’t so obvious to the producers of The Lawrence Welk Show.  The show’s so-wholesome-you-could-puke-pure-sugar-after-merely-looking-at-them singing duo, Gail and Dale, performed it straight (so to speak).  The song was described, sans any indication of irony by the eponymous host himself, Lawrence Welk, as a “modern spiritual.”

 

 

 

 

 

Songwriter/performer Michael Brewer’s comment re the incident:

The Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, named us personally as a subversive to American youth, but at exactly the same time Lawrence Welk performed the crazy thing and introduced it as a gospel song. That shows how absurd it really is. Of course, we got more publicity than we could have paid for.

My parents were diehard Lawrence Welk fans and never missed a show, which means their children were exposed to it as well. I would sometimes sit with them and watch it, which made Mamma and Papa Parnell feel those Family Moment Warm Fuzzies ®…until they realized that I was “enjoying” it on an entirely different level than they were (read: a teenager’s barely disguised mockery).

I don’t remember the particular LW episode featuring Gail and Dale’s dubious rendition of the ode to doobies, but I would *not* have forgotten witnessing such a spectacle, trust moiself. Still, I get a kick surpassing any chemically-induced high just thinking of my parents, in all of their enthusiastic cluelessness, watching that performance.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling Anonymous

Whatever happened to that hactivist group, Anonymous? Perhaps it’s just moiself not Keeping Up With Things ®, but it seems like we haven’t heard from them recently.

Depending on your POV, Anonymous is composed of “freedom fighters” and “digital Robin Hoods,” or they are “a cyber lynch-mob.”  This could be yet another case of Perhaps it’s just moiself not Keeping Up With Things ®, but it seems to me that the power Anonymous wielded was used – I’m sorry, but I have to say it – for good rather than evil. That is, their pranks and hacks targeted notorious bad actors such as Scientology, ISIS, child porn sites, and hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

 

 

 

 

So I’m wondering, where is Anonymous when it comes to saving western civilization (hell, the effin’ world, at this point) from ourselves? In other words –  HINT HINT HINT, ANONYMOUS –   why aren’t they doing something to…uh…”neutralize” The Current Occupant   [6]  of the White House?   [7]  He was threatened by the group via tweets on his inauguration day, but since then…?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Don’t Quote “That Part”
Unless You Also Quote “Those Other Parts”

Happy New Year, and….

 

 

 

A Well-Meaning Person ® posted the following on her Facebook page, obviously meant as a dig to #45 and his Christian conservative followers, re building his “wall.”

 

 

 

The thing is, a Well-Meaning Person ®  who would appeal to scriptures of Iron Age mythologies to address 21st century issues needs to take the lot.  Note, in the picture of the passage posted from Leviticus Chapter 19, verse 37:  “Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord.”

So, you WMPs want us to pay attention to one particular scripture passage (“that part,” about treating foreigners well), but despite the decree from your deity to keep all of its decrees, moiself never sees you posting/hears you quoting those other of your god’s decrees and laws from the very same book in your very same scriptures, including:

* Men must not have sexual relations with other men (Leviticus 18:22)

* Anyone who says “God dammit!” or the like shall be put to death by the entire town. (Leviticus 24: 15-16)

* You mustn’t eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10)

* You may possess slaves from neighboring nations, including those trying to immigrate (so much for *that part* about treating foreigners well).  (Leviticus 25: 44-45)

* Do not eat – or even touch the carcass of – an animal which walks on all fours and has paws (aka I Leviticus 11: 27)

* Don’t Wear Clothes Made of a Linen and Wool Blend (Leviticus 19:19)

* Don’t sit where a menstruating woman has sat, or even touch her, because you will be “unclean,” as she is (Leviticus 15:19-21)

* Don’t eat owls (or swans or pelicans) (Leviticus 11:13-19)

 

 

Praaaaaise de Lawd for this wise proscription!

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [8]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

Excuse moiself; make that,

Department Of Elvis Has Left The Building

Which means that, at our building house, the Partridges have left our pear tree.

 

 

The kids and I will be back next holiday season!

 

 

*   *   *

May you apply 21st century solutions to 21st century problems;
May you use your powers for good;
May you find the fortitude to watch Lawrence Welk reruns while sober;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] BTW, I have seen the movie, have you? It’s an unintentionally funny 1930s propaganda/morality tale film, wherein drug dealers lure innocent teenagers into using marijuana, which leads to the teens into madness and instant addiction, manslaughter and (attempted) sexual assault and suicide…. 

[2] Unless of course we’re talking about using it in survival situations, such as being forced to listen to Grateful Dead records and/or Republican State of the Union speeches.

[3] Or why should I even try?

[4] Yes, this from someone who has (almost) never heard a fart joke she didn’t like.

[5] Or tropical humor – nothing like a good Hawaiian pun.

[6] Aka The Cheetos Hitler, Mandarin Mussolini, #45…he who is not deserving of proper name status in this or any other civilized forum.

[7] Perhaps they are working on it, and if that is the case I thank them, but hope they do something soon….

[8] In our pear tree.

The New Year I’m Not (Yet) Reflecting Upon

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Department Of New Year, Same Old Mouth

Dateline: January 1: MH and I did a First Day Hike. Never heard of the FDH program?  Put it on your calendar for 2020. A lovely way to start the New Year:

On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors….
(from the “First Day Hikes” website)

We signed up for the Elk Flats Trail hike, in Oswald West State Park.  We hiked on a frozen mud trail down down to the Devil’s Cauldron overlook where, on behalf of himself and his fellow rangers, our guide, Ranger “Jeff,” respectfully requested that we stay on the designated trails and not fall into the Devil’s Cauldron – which has happened before, most recently last year (and body retrieval is not one of Ranger Jeff’s favorite duties.). We then backtracked to the main Elk Flats trail which eventually led down to Short Sands Beach, where we got to see many more surfers than I’d anticipated, given the weather (sunny, but brrrrrrrrr).    The surfers were doing their own First Day Surf event, or so I liked to presume.

Ranger Jeff met MH, moiself, and ten other First Day hikers at the trailhead just before 8 am. It was very brisk, and as we waited for the departure time I was teasing Ranger Jeff about his (seeming) lack of preparation: The temp is just above freezing; where was his hat?!  Where were his gloves?! Ranger Jeff showed me his gloves and then his hat, which he had with him but had not yet donned. When he’d decided to wait no longer for stragglers (33 people had signed up for the hike; 12 of us showed up), he began fiddling with the Oregon State Park badge which was pinned to the front of his hat, just above the brim. He told the hikers gathered around him that a fellow ranger had told him to “Move the badge higher on the hat, because it makes you look dorky.”

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them:  [1]

“Do you think just moving the badge is enough?”

 

 

 

I wonder, did the surfers get a pin?

 

 

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Department Of It Seems To Be A Thing

People announcing (on Facebook of course) that they are quitting Facebook, that is.

Perhaps it is a New Year’s Resolution of sorts, for some folks. Reasons given include personal schedule management issues (aka, “the time suck”) but mostly seem to involve the Cambridge Analytical scandal and concerns about the way FB handles one’s (supposedly) private data, and also/primarily FB’s complicity in fake ads and other political manipulations by Trump supporters.

All of which I most certainly understand.  Moiself has also been… disturbed, to put it mildly, by the privacy breaches, political scandals, ad nauseum.  So far, the people (I know of) who have either announced their intention to quit FB (and/or other forms of social media) or who have already done so are all intelligent, empathetic, socially aware and generally Working-To-Make-The-World-A-Better-Place ® kind of folks. Which gets me to wondering….

 

 

Nyet, is never good thing, when dis comrade wonders.

 

 

Fucking Russian blog hackers.

Um…yeah. As I was wondering: what will that mean, for Facebook and its ilk, if those kind of people all (or mostly…eventually) leave? What will be left – the voices of Orwellian nightmares (War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength”) exchanging such “dialogue” with one another?

Will Facebook become another Fox “News”, where the fact that people who have intelligence/rational thinking/social awareness/compassion quotients larger than their shoe sizes generally boycott Fox News doesn’t matter to those who listen to Fox News, and thus Fox News listeners receive little input outside of that venue, and the Voices of Sanity have little influence re Fox News content and procedures?

I don’t have an answer here. Just another thing to wonder about in the new year.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another New Year’s Day Thing

As I have noted several times before in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  [2] to the tradition which told them that, by eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you assure good luck in the year to come.

 

 

 

This year I made a kinda-curried Hoppin’ John variation. I found moiself wishing I could invite The Ramones over to sample my version, which I was certain they would enjoy,  [3]  because as any Ramones fan knows,

There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’

Make that, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from eatin’ their hoppin’ (John).

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Cranial Effluence  [4]   Which Should’ve Stayed In 2018

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread[5]

Hold on to that bone-grinder, kiddies: dead is a perfect rhyme for bread, but “fum” does not rhyme with “man.”  Why isn’t it, Englishbum, or mum or rum or…a word appropriate for a mere mortal who is stupid enough to mess with a giant:

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishdum-dum….

I know; none of this matters. But why, when a noise awakens me at 3 am,  [6]  is this question regarding a fairy tale rhyme fail on my mind?  ‘Tis hardly a matter of international, national, local, or even personal security, although it seemed compelling at the time.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge  [7]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

Yes, this is a trick question.  Alert readers may note that this is the same Partridge as last week.  In respect to the one Partridge player who has passed from this mortal realm,   [8]   I thought he deserved a repeat week of hanging on our pear tree until we take down the rest of the Yule decorations.

*   *   *

May you never lose sleep over a fairy tale rhyme fail;
May you appreciate our dedicated and cute (and never dorky) state and federal rangers;
May you rest assured that in the coming year, as luck may come and go, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’…
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To my chagrin, but to the obvious delight of my fellow hikers and, fortunately (for moiself), Ranger Jeff.

[2] They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good luck meal thing failed, year after year.

[3] Three of the original four Ramones are dead, but for the purposes of this fantasy…just bear with me.

[4] That’s brain farts, for you delicate flowers.

[5] From the English fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.

[6] A noise which might be the loud muffler of the paper delivery car, or a snoring spouse (just a random snoring spouse in the neighborhood – not necessarily mine), or ….

[7] In our pear tree.

[8] David Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge, died a couple of years ago.

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