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The Magazine Future I’m Not Imagining

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Department Of Giving One’s Imagination An Exhaustive Workout

Monday morning, in my New York Times app’s “Top Stories,” I spy with my little eye an article with the following headline:

Imagining Vogue Without Anna Wintour

Done.

Next challenge, please.

 

 

anna

How many years has it been – have I had fun yet?

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The Wild Wacky ® Streets Of Hillsboro, Oregon

I think it’s so touching that someone in My fair City ® decided to turn a portion of their front yard into a tribute to musician Herb Albert.   [1]

 

 

 

 

lonelybull

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Things That Make Them Look Across The Table At Me And Say,
“Stop. Just Stop.”

Dateline: a week ago Friday, dinner time. I told MH and son K that I was considering ending my fiction writing sabbatical – I had an idea for a series of historical novels! The protagonists will be a poor but loving and close-knit, 19th century pioneer family, struggling to carve out a life as fruit farmers in the Oregon wilderness as they confront a recurring plague of small, parasitic insects which threaten to decimate their currant crop. I’m going to call it, “Little Louse on the Berry.”

 

 

facepalm

 

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different

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The Argument For Acquiring A Basic Scientific Literacy

You may be saying to yourself, I didn’t know there was an argument *against* having a basic scientific literacy.  [2]   Aside from the mission statements and curriculum listings I’ve encountered on the websites of fundamentalist religious “educational” institutions, I’m not sure that there is such an overt argument.  Nevertheless,  [3]  all you have to do is wade through a few Facebook shares (sadly, often from people who Should Know Better ® ) to realize that an appreciation for scientific thinking – that is, a basic understanding and application of critical inquiry and “factual claims” analysis – is sorely lacking in our culture.

 

 

Randiquote

 

 

 

There are soooooooooooo many reasons why we should all be on a lifelong quest to “think like a scientist” – but you really need just one: thinking like a scientist will give you a lifelong, reliable ca-ca detector.

It’s not that having a basic knowledge of science and/or the scientific method will give you all the answers  [4]   – it’s that if you have the former, you don’t need the latter.  You don’t need to know all the answers when you know the kind of questions to ask of those who allege to have The Answers.

All claims, from supernatural (“The stories in the Christian scriptures are true but those in the Muslim scriptures are false”) to economic (“Anarchocommunism is the most efficient political/economic form of socialism“) to medical (“The Chiropractic theory of subluxation is a valid diagnostic tool for identifying and treating human diseas “) to historical (“The moon landings were staged on a movie backlot by NASA”), can be understood and/or evaluated if you have a basic grasp of scientific thinking.  Doesn’t even matter if it’s the first time you’ve heard of the “healing crystals” your friend is touting – you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to take your friend’s enthusiasm at face value.

That ambassador of science literacy himself, American astrophysicist and author, Neil deGrasse Tyson, puts it this way (my emphases):

To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know
when someone else is full of shit…

You have an understanding of the properties of the laws of physics, so when someone comes up to you to sell you crystals and they say, “Rub these together and you’ll be healed,” you say, “Well, what are they made out of? And how many people have they healed? And what aliments do they heal? And what’s the mechanism? How much do they cost? And where are they from? And what’s their molecular structure?…and the person runs away in tears.

Science literacy is not knowing the answer – you might know the answer, but that’s not what’s fundamental. What’s fundamental is the capacity to inquire about what is true and what is not in this world. And that is the empowerment. The power of inquiry.

( Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Nerdist Podcast)

 

 

neil

 

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Department Of But It Might Have Made The Checkout Clerk’s Day

Entering the grocery store, I counted my freshly-laundered, reusable produce sacks, which I’d grabbed fresh from the dryer before leaving for the store. Fortunately, I found the “hitchhiker” before I absent-mindedly used it to bag the kiwi….

 

 

 

oopsJPG

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

       May you always check for hitchhikers;
May you realize why knowing some of the questions
is better than thinking you have all of the answers;
May you, at least once in your life, place something in your front yard to make your neighbors smile;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Get it?  Huh huh huh…get it?

[2] Maybe you should stop talking to yourself.

[3] Why does no one ever say, Neverthemore….

[4] And, of course, there is no All The Answers.

The New Rules I’m Not Explaining

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Departments of Youtoo and Which Lives Matter

I recently overheard snippets of a conversation between two (white) guys about the horrible burden placed upon them during the past couple of years. Alas, it seems that that they can no longer sling sexist and racist slurs with impunity “even joke” about “some stuff –  not only that, White Guy #1’s ____ (wife? girlfriend?)  [1]  objected when WG#1 defended a friend who’d publicly commented about the body of a female co-worker. White Guy #2 made some kind of commiseration grunt, and said he wished someone would explain the “new rules” (of such discourse, I assume) to him.

 

 

pickme

 

 

It was so difficult to restrain moiself, lemme tellya.

But it was dinner time, and there was a long line behind me in the 15 items or less checkout line, so I took WG#2’s rhetorical plea for explanation in the spirit it was likely intended, and held my tongue. However, if I’d had the time (and didn’t care if I were to be banned from shopping in that store, ever again), I might have said something like the following.

 

 

PSA

 

 

The key thing of it – the “it” here referring to that wonderful/prickly path we trod along with our comrade human beings, – is that to walk through this world as a decent friend, partner, citizen, or even bystander, you have to hold, and act on, two seemingly disparate or incongruous hypotheses:

(1) If you are male and your friend is female, *she* is the expert on what it’s like to be a woman in your culture. Your job is to listen to her when and if she feels comfortable enough to give an account and/or an analysis of her experiences, not to explain to her why it wasn’t really sexism or misogyny, either personal or systemic, when she tells you how

* she (as well as the only other woman who serves on the company advisory board) is repeatedly interrupted and “talked over” by male colleagues during meetings;

* her engineering project lab partner ridiculed and downplayed her ideas to their professor and then later presented them as his own;

* despite her reporting him to their manager, a fellow waiter persists in grabbing her ass when he sees her balancing a beverage tray on each hand;  [2]

*  she was not nominated for her party’s candidacy for County Commissioner, despite the fact that she was the most experienced potential candidate, and when she commented aloud on the historical disparity of women in said office a party fundraiser took her aside and told her that he could not effectively raise money for women candidates…

If you are a man and your friend/partner/neighbor/co-worker is a woman, she is the expert on being a woman. Not you.  If you want to be an ally – if you want to be One Of The Good Guys, ®  [3]  listen to her when she conveys her experiences. Then, hopefully and deliberately, you will strategize on How Not To Be Those Kinds Of Men, and  how to influence and support fellow menfolk to do likewise.

(2) Here is where the (perhaps greater) challenge comes in: although your woman friend is her own expert on being a woman, she is not The President of All Women. ®  Nor does she speak for all women. She may have hold diametrically opposed positions on certain personal and personal positions and have very different life experiences than, say, her female cousin, or the woman who cashiers at the supermarket. Still, all three of them – your friend, her cousin, and the cashier – are their own “experts” re navigating this world as a woman, while you are not.

 

 

understand

Ignore this cranky Italian writer and keep on trying.

 

 

 

The same goes for your black co-worker, who is an expert on being black. Your job as a white friend or acquaintance or neighbor or co-worker is not to whitesplain to him –

when he relates his experience of being terrified, and later enraged, when, while driving his new BMW and committing no traffic infractions, he was pulled over and interrogated by a police officer who wondered why he was driving through that particular neighborhood

–  re why he saw prejudice where it didn’t exist, and how difficult it is to be a cop…

Your job is to listen, and to learn, if possible. He is the expert on what it means to be black in America, not you – even though, as per (2) above

*  your black co-worker does not speak for the mythical “Black Community,” and

* he may hold political opinions and have had experiences that are vastly different from those of, say, his uncle, who is a rabid Clarence Thomas supporter.

Ditto for your LGBTQ friends, if you are straight, for your atheist/humanist/religion-free friends if you are a religious believer, or for any other “oppressed” or “minority” group.  [4]

Whiteness/straightness/maleness/religiosity has controlled the microphone for a long, long time.  You may feel the pendulum is swinging too far to the other side.  Tough titties.  If it truly is, pendulums being what they are, it will eventually swing back.

Your task between swings is to listen and (fingers crossed) learn. You can disagree, of course, but try reflecting on what was said, maybe even overnight or – gasp, in this world where a six second gif of your brain exploding seems to long – for a few days or longer, before you share your disagreement. Try the proverbial walking in another person’s shoes; wait for a long…long…long time before responding. And consider whether any response (other than a change of heart and/or action) is actually necessary. Will your feedback truly be helpful?

 

 

 

shutupjpg

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Department of Disclaimers

The previous harangue thoughtful exposition of compelling social issues was is in no way meant to be supportive two other controversial topics: (1) for fiction writers, the hideous admonition to, “write what you know,  and (2) the  warnings against so-called cultural appropriation.  I find both concepts, however “well-meaning” their champions may be,  [5] to be despicable – inaccurate at best and intellectually suppressive at worst – and moiself has commented  on such previously in this space.

 

 

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Department Of I Am So Not Making This Up

Wonder Bible ™ Audio Player…the incredible bible that speaks! … Contains the  entire Old and New Testaments of the Bible in the King James Version.

 

 

 

Yet another commercial that I assumed was a Saturday Night Live parody, but which turned out to be deliciously real.

Simply turn on the Wonder Bible, and a pleasant voice reads the book to you.

The product description  material says that the Wonder Bible Audio Player contains skip and fast forward functions – tasks which comes in handy for any religion. For generations the “skip function” has been widely and successfully used by clerics (as well as their parishioners), who prefer to ignore the passages of their scriptures which champion violence,  genocide  misogyny, racism, sexual abuse, child abuse and other abominable/just plain bat shit crazy edicts and stories  [6] that populate the collection of bronze and iron age mythologies which have come to be known as the Old and New Testaments.  [7]

The road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover.
 ( Andrew Seidel, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law attorney,
Freedom From Religion Foundation )

Those of us happy heretics who know the bible better than most bible-believers can’t help but wonder how the “pleasant voice” narrating “the entire” Wonder Bible will handle such passages as

* “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:1)

* “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

* “Behold with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.” (II Chronicles 21:14-15)*

* “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

* ” And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying…Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish…shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD…. ‘” (Leviticus 21:16-21)

 

 

wtfbible

Can’t wait to hear the pleasant voice tackle this one.

 

 

 

* “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” (Hosea 13:16 )

* “…Judah’s firstborn was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.  And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.”  (Genesis 38:7-9)

* “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

* “…they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males….and took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones….And they brought the captives…unto Moses….Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?  Behold, these caused the children of Israel…to commit trespass against the LORD….Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”  (Numbers 31:7-18)

* “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.” (Ezekiel 23:20)

 

confused lady

 

 

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May you judiciously monitor your own skip function;
May you save your pleasant voice for deserving stories;
May we all be One of The Good Guys ® ;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  I don’t know the relationship, only that the person was female.

[2] And if you use any variation of the dreadful boys will be boys excuse to downplay such incidents, she will be within her rights as a sentient being to Gorilla Glue a hornet’s nest to  your boys will be parts.

[3] And if you don’t, then please speak with Eion Musk‘s SpaceX team (or The Hemlock Society)  to arrange your earliest possible trip off of this planet.

[4] Even if you may have legitimate disagreements with those labels.

[5] Oh, how I shudder to hear that term, for when it’s applied it almost always is used to excuse some kind of verbal or procedural disaster (“She means well….”).

[6] (All supposedly “inspired” by their god(s) .

[7] Or, The Hebrew Scriptures, as the OT is sometimes referred to.

The Dead Man I’m Not Praising

Comments Off on The Dead Man I’m Not Praising

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

barfsock

 

 

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Department Of Inadequate Obituary Headlines

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

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

 

 

circusmonkey

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

EVIL

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep.

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

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

 

 

 

americanjesus

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

billydick

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

WWJD

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

And then, you’ll be in need of this:

 

 

 

 

banghead

 

 

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

 

 

anti

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flu I’m Not Catching

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Department Of No (Further) Comment On This

Dateline: February 14 (Valentine’s Day), driving home from an errand. Before embarking on said errand I’d just heard about the latest   [1]  brave citizen exercising his second amendment rights  opportunity for the R & Rs (Republicans and the Religious)  [2]  to offer their oh-so effective, Our prayers are with the citizens of  _______ (insert location of mass shooting).  I turn on the radio, and tune in to the middle of a feature about children affected by war. When I hear the story’s narrator declare that “…one in six children worldwide live in or near a conflict zone,” my first thought is, “like, they live near an American high school?”

 

*   *   *

 

Dateline: early Monday morning. It came on with a rapidity that woke me from a solid sleep – cough, body aches, extreme me fatigue, chills and shaking so strongly I thought I was going to wake up MH. When I was able to get control of the shaking (2:20 am) I made my way to the bathroom and took my temperature: 102.2.˚  My first thought….

 

 

cursing

 

 

Never mind. My second thought was, Am I going to be one of those people who catches the flu despite having received a flu shot?

Although my seasonal allergies make me prone to year-round sniffles, I can’t remember the last time I was actually sick.  I’d forgotten…what am I supposed to do? Oh, yeah: bring down the folding TV tray from the attic and camp out on the downstairs couch, with a big glass of water and the TV remote control on the tray.

My advice to those who have the misfortune to be sick: if you have to be under the weather, try to do so when the Olympics are on.

And a day later, seemingly as quickly as it came on, my affliction eased up and I was on the proverbial Road to….(all together now)

 

 

recovery

 

 

I’ll never know if what I’d caught was one of the flu viruses which are going around. The symptoms fit; my relatively rapid recovery might be attributable to the fact that having had the vaccination will make the virus milder if you do catch it.

One bright moment in feeling miserable: it is reassuring to see one’s immune system going through its paces. I visualized my fever as a friend, torching the invading virus particles….

 

 

immune

*   *   *

Department Of Ick

The opening lines of a recent article The Hillsboro Tribune on a local independent butcher shop, The Meating Place  (my emphases),

Pushing open the door to The Meating Place in Hillsboro, the first thing customers see is a gleaming display case with nary a smudge or smear on the glass.
Row upon row of neatly stacked sausages, pepperoni sticks, pepper steaks and stuffed pork chops — among dozens of other delicacies — meet their eyes and tempt their palates.
Those same eyes soon light on David Quinn, the gregarious guardian of the cold case, who sports an epic red beard and colorful tattoos up and down both forearms.

I’m all for supporting local businesses, especially those which might be termed, artisanal   [3] (and these days, isn’t everything?).  And BTW, should you ever find any typos or grammatical and/or factual boo-boos in this space, it is not because I am sloppy/lazy/careless. It is because I am an artist, and this is an artisanal blog.

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

Although I have friends who shop at The Meating Place and have used (and praised) TMP‘s butchering services, the photos accompanying the newspaper article were…poorly chosen and/or composed, to put it mildly. Frankly, IMHO they were yet another unintentional but effective advertisement for going vegetarian.

Seemingly ignoring current health preparation guidelines, the afore-mentioned gregarious guardian’s epic red beard was unrestrained by any kind of hairnet or other protective/cover device, in photos that showed the prodigious hirsuteness cozying up to a meat slicer filled with bacon, and also going cheek to cheek with a tray of steaks.

(The print article featured those particular pictures. The online version has a slide show of many more photos – the ones I refer to here are captioned, David Quinn slices bacon for a custom order…” and “David Quinn holds a tray of bacon-wrapped ribeyes…”)

 

 

hairburger

 

 

 

Another excerpt from the Tribune article (my emphases):

The company’s products — all cut, dried, smoked or otherwise prepared on-site — practically sell themselves, Quinn says, adding that appearances count. “I’m the aesthetics guy,” he notes.

That is so true: appearances count.  The gut reactions of moiself   [4] and then MH,  [5] when I showed him the article’s pictures, were along the lines of,

DUUUDE – why are your bacon-wrapped ribeyes sprinkled with short & curlies?!?

There’s no way I want anyone’s “epic” (read: bushy on steroids and free-range to the max) facial adornment near my food. Any self-described aesthetics guy – and every person in the food industries, artisanal or otherwise  – should know that unrestrained hair is both an aesthetic turn off as well as a food preparation and handling no-no.

 

 

mia

 

 

 

Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s a sample of the info out there (my emphases):    [6]

 

“Men are six times more likely to shed hair from their faces rather than the top of their heads, and that has some food service advocates worried. The good news is that many workplaces already have hair restraint policies in effect, and governmental regulators like the FDA have required both hair and beard nets for years.”
(Which Of Your Workers Should Wear Hair Nets…Or Beard Nets?, Solus Group Material Handling Depot)

“Facial hair ‘is the fashion of the time, and I’m sure the health department is not happy about this fashion,’ said (an owner of an eating establishment, where more than half of the male kitchen staff sport beards). ….
The…health code stipulates that ‘all food handlers engaged in the preparation of food” use “effective hair restraints to confine hair.’ That goes for beard hair, however bushy or trimmed it may be (said a spokeswoman for the Chicago Dept.of Public Health.)….
beards are dirty — as dirty as a toilet seat, a New Mexico TV station reported last week. The station swabbed the beards of a group of men and had the samples tested by a microbiology lab that returned the surprising results.”
(from, “Your Cool Bearded Chef Should Be Wearing A Beard Net, Health Officials Say

Sec. 110.10 Personnel.

…. (b) Cleanliness: All persons working in direct contact with food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials shall conform to hygienic practices while on duty to the extent necessary to protect against contamination of food. The methods for maintaining cleanliness include, but are not limited to:
(6) Wearing, where appropriate, in an effective manner, hair nets, headbands, caps, beard covers, or other effective hair restraints.

( from  CURRENT GOOD MANUFACTURING PRACTICE IN MANUFACTURING, PACKING, OR HOLDING HUMAN FOOD
Subpart A-General Provisions Title 21, Food And Drug Administration, Department Of Health And Human Services)

 

 

 

 

thanksforlistening

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you remain healthy and fever-free during this worst in years flu season;
May you have your comfy rituals to soothe yourself, should you fall ill;
May you never have to contemplate whether kissing a bearded man is,
microbiologically speaking, akin to kissing a toilet seat;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Only In America ® does the phrase the latest precede mass shooting and/or school shooting….

[2] Not that members of either group may offer that sentiment insincerely…but holy crap, folks, have you figured out that your prayers don’t have a flying fuck’s worth of efficacy?

[3] Definition: relating to or characteristic of an artisan (“artisanal skills”); a product (especially food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way (e.g., “artisanal cheeses”).

[4] a former (but currently  non-) meat eater.

[5] An enthusiastic omnivore.

[6] And if I came upon a dead horse and did not want to waste the carcass, I’d make sure the butcher shop I took it too adhered to basic hygienic food processing standards.

The Connections I’m Not Calling

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

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

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

 

 

insight

Yeah, kinda like this.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

 

 

bonespurjpg

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of On Second Thought

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

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

 

 

 

picard

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

 

 

slothpeekaboo

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Movies I’m Not Critiquing

Except of course, when I am.

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

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

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

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

 

 

andtheoscar

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

windriverjpg

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

theatre

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

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] How many ways can you spell none?

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

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

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

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

[6] Or however the stuff is measured.

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

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

The S*** I’m Not Explaining

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trueamerican

 

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

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

 

 

DUH

 

 

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

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

 

 

usbudget

 

Any questions?

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Rose By Any Other Name

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

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

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

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

These are the good times.

 

 

 

sharewine

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Different Points Of View

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

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

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

 

 

peanuts

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

generalBFN

 

 

 

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

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

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

Once again, I digress.

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

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of One More Shot Before I Move On

 

explain this shit

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

can you hear yourself when you speak

Can you hear yourself when you speak?

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

 

“So, what’s with Manitoba?”

 

canuck

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of One More Thing About Literalism Vs Metaphor

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

Teen high on LSD starts fight with a mailbox

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

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

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

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

The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

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

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

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

 

 

#5

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Department of Existential Crisis

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

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

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

 

 

itonya

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

two thumbs

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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

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

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

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

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

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