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The Good Old Days I’m Not Praising

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Department Of Not For The Reasons You Might Think

As in, the reasons why moiself  likes the 1959 movie, A Summer Place, which I recently re-watched.

Scrolling through summer-themed movie rentals several years back, I recognized the ASP title. I was familiar with the movie’s memorable instrumental theme: composed by the venerable Max Steiner, it was one of the few movie theme songs to spend weeks as #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it is still featured on oldies radio stations. But I’d little idea what the movie was about, only that it was one of the many “classics” I’d never seen, and that it was a big hit for Sandra Dee.  I decided to watch it and, much to my surprise, it caught the interest of my (then) teenage children.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed ASP, despite – or rather because of – its many cringe-worthy depictions of Life Back Then ®.  The movie inadvertently became a teaching/conversational tool, as I tried to describe to my son and daughter the kind of world their grandparents (and even parents, to a degree) grew up in.

 

 

In case y’all are or were ignorant of ASP, here is Amazon’s plot summary:

Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee star as two young lovers whose relationship catalyzes the end of their parents’ marriages during a vacation on a Maine island, aka, A Summer Place. Young, innocent and in love on an idyllic island, Johnny (Donahue) and Molly (Dee) face the anger and guilt unleashed by the dissolution of their parents’ relationships after Molly’s father (Richard Egan) rekindles an affair he had with Johnny’s mother before either was married. Now, can young love survive as Johnny and Molly witness the enmity that has replaced the passion their parents once felt in this classic romance?

To declare that I like ASP could be seen a retro attempt at being hip.  But, it’s so…dated, one of my offspring commented. That’s kinda the point, I said.  Moiself defended the movie as an illustration of the strictures placed upon both young and old alike during the post-WWII/pre-“sexual revolution” era portrayed in the movie, and my children looked at me in disbelief when I said that ASP was actually considered daring for its time, because of its forthright treatment of adolescent budding sexuality, economic and social class prejudice, adultery, hypocrisy, and other “mature” themes.

Son K and daughter Belle were alternately amused and appalled by the “morality” portrayed onscreen – in particular by how Molly’s higher-class aspiring, monstrously prudish mother openly criticizes her teenage daughter’s developing figure and interest in boys.  Fortunately for Molly, her father is a kind, gentle, and rational ally, and assures his daughter that her body and her natural desires are healthy, not shameful.

But her father’s alliance is not enough to protect Molly from moralistic paranoia. Before Molly’s father leaves for a brief business trip he gives Molly and Johnny permission to go sailing around the island. Their boat capsizes in a storm, stranding them on a beach on the far side of the island, where they are rescued by the Coast Guard the next morning. Despite their denials that they were “good,” the islanders gossip.  Molly’s mother accuses the teenagers of being sexually intimate on the beach, and she sends for a doctor who, to Molly’s shock and horror, forcibly examines Molly to make sure she is a virgin.

My kids were outraged by that scene. This is good, I told them.  You should be outraged.  And, yep, that kind of thing used to happen.

 

 

We had a short but interesting conversation…it was difficult for my offspring to imagine the over-riding importance of propriety back then and out there – they tried to write off the movie’s portrayals the of stifling concern with “decency” as being a 1950s and/or East Coast thing. I assured them that although in general people in the South and East Coast tend to be more formal than us Out West ® -erners, people all over the country dealt with (and some still must contend with) the threat of what can happen when, in the eyes of others, you’re not being or doing what is “proper”  [1]   Consequences of alleged impropriety, particularly and especially for women and girls, could be dire, even life-altering. With that in mind, my kids agreed that Molly’s frenzied proclamations to the doctor and her mother that she’d been “a good girl” were the product of realistic fears rather than adolescent hysterics.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 1 in a series

“Florida Man….”

Even if y’all are not familiar with the meme, you’ve occasionally seen the headlines: :

* Florida Man Breaks Into Crocodile Enclosure, Leaves Behind A Pair Of Crocs

* Florida Man Dressed As Fred Flintstone Pulled Over
For “Speeding” In “Footmobile”

* Florida Man Caught In Child Sex Sting Claims He Just Wanted To “See It In Action”

* Florida Man Tells Cops Playing Basketball Naked “Enhances His Skill Level”

* Florida Man Denies Syringes Found In Rectum Are His

* Florida Man Attacks Wife With Taco Bell Lunch
“Causing Some To Go Up Her Nose”

* Florida Man Calls 911 And Demands A Ride Home “To Change His Underwear”

 

“Girls and boys, can you say, ‘I’d bet the farm and Grandma’s gator ranch that Florida Man is a tweaker?’  I knew you could.”

 

* Naked Florida Man Performs ‘Strange Dance’ At McDonald’s
Before ‘Trying To Have Relations With A Railing’

* Florida Man arrested for hanging on traffic light
and defecating on cars passing underneath

* Florida Man Proclaims He’s The First Man Ever To Vape Semen

* Florida Man Finds a WWII Grenade, Places It in His Truck, Drives to Taco Bell

* Florida Man Who Threatens Family with Coldplay Lyrics,
Ends Standoff After SWAT Promises Him Pizza

* Florida Man tries to use taco as ID after his car catches fire at Taco Bell  [2]

So, what’s with Florida Men and Taco Bell?

My favorite FM headline, for its sheer, pathetic, clueless narcissism:

* Florida Man Googles Self to Find Out Which Florida Man He Is

Anyway….

MH warned daughter Belle, a proud Tacoma resident, that Tacoma Woman might just be giving Florida Man a run for his money, after MH saw this headline when we were up visiting Belle last weekend:

“Tacoma Woman Sent To Hospital After Posing With Octopus On Face.”

The story really deserves its own department.

*   *   *

Department Of Trust Us, Lady. No One Is In Any Danger Of Thinking That
That Is Your Motivation

“I’m not here to, you know, try to make myself look good…”

(Tacoma Woman trying to explain why she thought the
“opportunity for an unusual photo”  was worth putting an octopus on her face.
The venomous cephalopod bit her chin,
causing her to be hospitalized with a painful, paralyzing infection.)

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Also Explains #45 Supporters

Aka, Quote Of The Week

Aka, Forget Behavioral Psychology and Neurology – This Explains So Much

“When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. It’s only difficult for others.
It’s the same way when you’re stupid.”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 Forks Over Knives Flavor! by Darshana Thacker.

Recipes:
*Indonesian Peanut Sauce
* Basil Corn Cream

My ratings:

*Indonesian Peanut Sauce

* Basil Corn Cream

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher    [4]

*   *   *

May you appreciate the cultural anthropology opportunity
implicit in movies like
 A Summer Place;
May you never feel compelled to begin an explanation with,
“I’m not here to, you know, try to make myself look good…”;
May you never be the subject of a headline which begins,
“________ (your state of residence) Man/Woman….” ;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] I have always loathed that term and its implications, and tend to have a not-always-appropriate, knee-jerk, negative reaction to situations where it is employed.

[2] After he got his taco order, Florida Man fell asleep with his foot on his car’s accelerator (while he was in park gear), and the car’s engine caught fire.

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

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

The Style Points I’m Not Getting

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Dateline: last Thursday, ~ 7:30pm, Trivia night at MacGregor’s Whiskey Bar, Manzanita. It is round two of three, and my neighbor/friend/trivia partner JK and I are in a fierce battle for first place.

The category is Greek mythology, and the question is, “Who was the wife of Hades, god of the Underworld?” When I call out, “Melania!” a competitor on another team suggests I should get at least two points “for style.”   [1]

*   *   *

Department of SEE – IT’S NOT JUST ME!

From the Chicago Tribune review of, Godzilla, King of the Monsters (my emphases):

“Key non-human players in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” include Godzilla, whose head remains touchingly small for his body…

 

Godzilla, from the original movie.

 

Godzilla Shin,  from the 2016 film.

 

The latest. Why is his head shrinking?

 

*   *   *

Department of Complisults

Last week I hear the word used on a podcast, and it sent me down Memory Lane, so to speak: Complisult.

You know what it is, even if your first thought was that it’s just my spellchecker on vacation. You’ve likely had a complisult flung your way a time or two, by a frenemy [2]  or (more likely) a well-meaning, we-just-want-you-to-be-happy parent or other relative. They start out giving you a compliment, or at least saying something positive…which quickly morphs into critique, or even insult.

 

“So good to see you, my little sweetie! Let’s ask Mommy where your older, prettier, smarter sister is.”

 

Both of my parents, despite their otherwise loving natures, were adept at giving me complisults[3]  Two examples immediately spring to mind, even though these happened decades ago.   [4] 

Example the First

Dateline: unsure (the following conversation happened twice, once in person during a visit with my folks at their home, and once during a phone call.  Dialogue almost identical in both instances).

In answer to my parents’ How-is-it-going/anything new being published? query, I said I was happy to have a story of mine accepted for publication in a journal I’d long admired.

Complisulting parents: “That’s nice! Is it something we can actually find…how can we get a copy?”

Moiself (laughing):You should appreciate this – unlike my last six or seven stories, this journal has a national distribution, so you can go to a local bookstore that carries literary journals and ask….”

Complisulting parents: “Hey, did you that Connie Washington had a story in the Reader’s Digest? It’s so great that she’s writing for Reader’s Digest!”

“Connie Washington,” is the daughter of my parents’ neighbors.  I’ve known Connie since junior high school – she is also a writer, in a different field (journalism/nonfiction; mostly science reporting) from mine.

Like 99% of the pieces which appear in Reader’s Digest, Connie’s was an edited reprint, of an article she’d had previously published in a science journal. This is how RD has worked since its 1920s inception: its founder thought it would be a good idea to collect articles on different subjects from a variety of monthly journals, edit and/or condense them, and combine them into one magazine. The RD staff consists of editors; no writer technically “writes for” Reader’s Digest, as in, pens original material for them. No matter how many times I’d remind my parents of this fact, they never seemed to get it.

Moiself : “It’s great that her article is in there – I hear they pay well!  But, you do know Connie’s not actually writing for Reader’s Digest. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s currently a staff writer for Science Weekly and…”

Complisulting parents: “Well, now people will actually read what she’s written. Have you ever thought of writing for Reader’s Digest?”       

Moiself: “Okay; one more time:  no one writes ‘for’ Reader’s Digest. Also, RD doesn’t accept original short fiction….”

Substitute Saturday Evening Post, or other old timey magazines – or even Time and Newsweek – for Reader’s Digest in Have you ever thought of writing for Reader’s Digest?”

With every publication of a story of mine, my parents would offer congratulations, then find ways to remind me that the venues publishing my works weren’t a part of their world (translation: not important).

Complisulting parents: “You really should consider sending stories to Reader’s Digest. And what’s that big magazine we saw at the market the other day – with the glossy cover pictures – Omni or something? That looked interesting.”

My parents were the last people from whom I’d even consider seeking where-I-should-be-sending-my-work advice: their knowledge of the publishing world was bupkis, and their familiarity with literary fiction even less. Naturally, therefore, they were generous (surprise!) with unsolicited ideas as to where I should send my work, suggesting venues which were always inappropriate (and sometimes, unintentionally, amusing non sequiturs)…forcing me to reply with a never-ending series of reality checks:

“Uh…that magazine went out of business five years ago.”

“That journal no longer publishes fiction.”

“That magazine publishes genre fiction; you know I don’t write ____ (sci-fi; Harlequin Romances; vampire murder mysteries….)

“That journal only publishes staff writers or agented writers – no unsolicited material.”

“Holy crap for not paying attention  [5] – since when, as in, never, has US News and World Report  ever published fiction?!”

 

“Yes, honey, Winnie-the-Pooh is a nice story, but if the author was a real writer he’d have chapters of it in Reader’s Digest.”

 

Example The Second

I was a single adult for a long time (I was 31 when I married MH).  Despite having a couple of mostly great beaus along the way   [6]  I thought being a singleton would be my permanent state, which was fine by moiself.  When my parents observed that my goals in life seemingly did not include finding a partner in life, my father took every opportunity to mention to me that his marriage and children were his greatest joy and achievement.

Although they never directly criticized my remaining single, during our weekly phone calls it became evident that such a status – one I viewed as fitting and natural for moiself – was somehow seen by my parents as a loss (or even aberration).

Complisulting parents: “And what did you do this weekend?”

Moiself: “Saturday I went to the San Antonio Wilderness Preserve, and saw….”

Complisulting parents: “Another hike? That sounds fun. We saw Margaret Denton’s parents in church. Did you hear that Margaret and Tom Crocker are engaged?”

Moiself: “I didn’t; no surprise, though. Congratulations to them.”

Complisulting parents: “Have you thought of doing something different with your hair?  There were so many boys who admired you in high school….  [7]

My parents (of course), saw themselves as nothing but loving and supportive, and well-meaning…and they mostly were – moiself was fortunate in that regard, I know. Still, the doubts/insecurities inherent in complisults managed to lodge in a corner of my brain, and came back to haunt me in later years.

Is it something in the parental DNA, a gene for undermining one’s offspring? I imagine Vincent van Gogh   [8]  showing his parents his Sunflowers paintings:

Oh, Vinnie, how nice – so colorful…have you ever thought of trying this and sending it in – you could get into professional art school!

*   *   *

Department Of Firsts

Dateline: Tuesday 6-14-19, 2:41 pm. I got my first Mandarin (or Cantonese?   [9] ) voicemail on my cellphone.

Can you tell this has been an exciting week for me, or what?

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [10]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Café Paradiso Seasons, By Denis Cotter

Recipe:  Rigatoni with arugula, broad beans, cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh cheese

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher    [11]

*   *   *

 

May strangers offer to give you style points (but leave no Mandarin messages on your phone);
May your head stay in proportion to your body, should you become a monster movie star;
May your complisults be few, but memorable;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] The correct answer was Persephone, which none of the teams got. JK and I took second place, losing by only one point….so those style points would have come in handy.

[2] “Frenemy” is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” – an oxymoron noun meaning a person with whom you remain somewhat friendly, despite said person acting  competitively with you and/or cutting you down, betraying and/or insulting you at  any opportunity.

[3] I can’t speak for my other siblings, but I’m sure they have received at least a few.

[4] Seeing as how both of my parents are deceased, there are no recent examples. But if either were still alive and somewhat cognizant….

[5] Okay, I left that comment out.

[6] And one neurotic headcase… I thought I had escaped that fate which seemed common to so many of my peers, but it seems that there’s always at least one toad you have to kiss….

[7] Those mystery admirers remained unnamed, but I’ve little doubt that, in my parents’ mind, they included the ones who would telephone me in the early evening and have hour long conversations about how they had a crush on one of my friends.

[8] One of the most influential artist the world has seen, who sold only one painting in his life – and since it was his brother who bought it (this was so that van Gogh could honestly say, as per the requirements an art show he was trying to get his works displayed in, that he was a “professional” artist) that doesn’t count.

[9]   Where is my sister-in-law – a native Cantonese speaker – when I need her to translate?

[10] 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.

[11]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin (a character in 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 Commandments I’m Not Keeping

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Department Of What Almost Makes Having Seasonal Allergies Worthwhile

That would be having an excuse not to tackle the enormous dandelions (with the size and temperament  [1]  of a rabid Rottweiler) infesting our yard.

 

I’d love to do some weeding, honey, but (sniff sniff sneeze wheeze….)

*   *   *

Department Of Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Dateline: Monday; morning walk; circa 7:05 am; listening to the latest This American Life podcast. The episode begins with the host listing of the variety of ways “The Ten Commandments” label has been used to brand lists of qualities, suggestions, actions or requirements considered essential to certain professions and/or activities:

* The Ten Commandments for Gold Miners
* The Ten Commandments of Umpiring
* Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety
* The Ten Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette
* The Ten Commandments of…Bilingual Blogs; Working in a Hostile Environment; Communication with People with Disabilities; Being a Math Teacher….

As with all TAL episodes, this intro segues to stories which will be related to the episode’s theme/title. This particular episode’s stories illustrate, as the host says, situations “…where people are grappling with these old, primal rules for life. With that in mind, we’re devoting today’s program to the Ten Commandments, the real ones.”

As soon as I heard the phrase, the real ones, I realized moiself was in for a hair-pulling moment. Is it too much, I wondered, for me to expect the show to at least mention if not genuinely address the fact that there are no “real ones” when it comes to (what people think are) the so-called  Ten Commandments?

 

“Yes, that is expecting too much of a culture which has supported 23 seasons of ‘The Bachelor.'”

 

 

“Now different denominations attach different numbering schemes to the commandments, to which commandment goes with which number, though the commandments are always the same….”
(Ira Glass, narrating This American Life podcast The Ten Commandments)

 

 

WRRRRRRRONG!

Now then.  Ahem.  I realize this particular show’s premise is not The TC per se; rather, the TC is meant to be a unifying theme to the wacky stories presented within.   [2]  Still….

Ira, dude – your show has a staff of writers and investigators. You can do better than this. You could have at least given a nod to accuracy and reality, and said something like…

“There are in fact three different versions of The Ten Commandments found in the scriptures used by both the Jewish and Christian religions – and here they are ( either citing the biblical books and verses or reading them aloud)but for the sake of familiarity, we are going to use this particular set of ten.

…and continued on with your stories.

But, nooooooo.

 

 

There are three versions of the TC in the Jewish scriptures (referred to by Christians as The Old Testament) which are used by both Jews and Christians (all references here use the KJV translation).

It takes time to plow through this, but plowing through this is the point: the point being that almost no one actually plows through this, including religious believers – for how else to account for their ignorance what the TC actually say, or that there are different versions?

Version 1 is found in Deuteronomy 5:6-21

I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image,
or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath….

Etcetera, etcetera. This version is likely somewhat familiar even to those who are neither Jewish nor Christian.

Version 2 is found in Exodus 20:1-17

This differs slightly from the Deut. version, in phraseology and “explanatory text” (most evident in commandments #5 and #6). This difference, however, is ( or should be) highly problematic for those fundamentalists who believe and preach in their scriptures being the literal word of their god, for if that were true, there should be no textual difference at all. 

Then we have the gift to Skeptics, Freethinkers, and Atheists everywhere: Version 3.

 

Version 3, from Exodus 34, begins with the Hebrew god’s instruction to Moses:

Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

Okay; a claim of straight dictation from the Almighty…except that these commandments are vastly – and in some cases, weirdly – different than the first two versions. Although, like the first two versions, the writing claims it is “the LORD” speaking.  Christ almighty, guess “the LORD” forgot what he’d said the other times?

It’s interesting – imperative, even – to note that this version of the TC is never cited when what I think of as the Unholy Trinity of Ps (priests, pastors, politicians) cite The Ten Commandments[3]   And yet this version is the only one referred to in scripture as the “ten commandments.” (my emphases, from the last verse. Have fun with the rest).

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in shearing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.

 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

 The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

 

And some of y’all want to us in the 21st century to heed this Iron Age hog twaddle?

*   *   *

                              Department Of Things I’m Supposed To Like But Don’t                                    

Take, for example, the Hulu series, Shrill.

Here is the show’s website intro:

From Executive Producers Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks comes Shrill, a comedy series starring Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live) as Annie, a fat young woman who wants to change her life — but not her body. Annie is trying to start her career while juggling bad boyfriends, a sick parent, and a perfectionist boss.

It sounded promising to me: three names I associate with quality comedy, and the teasers I saw and read hinted about an amazing premise (for a TV show): a fat heroine who refuses to be fat-shamed…

Except that she doesn’t.

Half way through the first season (episode 3 of 6) I realized I’d been expecting/hoping for just a wee a bit more…empowerment? gumption?…from the protagonist.  And I was surprised by how…sad…it made me feel.  How long do I want to watch her flounder in an emotionally abusive relationship? Oh, yeah, that would be, NOT ONE MORE SECOND.

*   *   *

I may be anthropomorphizing (vego-morphizing?) here, but a cauliflower always looks to me as if it is keeping a secret and can’t wait to tell you about it.

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe: 

The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters

Recipe:  Spicy Cauliflower Soup

My rating:

Recipe Rating Refresher   [5]

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

*   *   *

Department Of Great Moments In Publishing

Dateline: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…  [6]   I am having lunch with a writer friend who is dissing the Twilight  book series, at least one of which she actually has read all the way through. She asks if I am aware of the series; I confess that although moiself is aware of their existence I’ve no idea who the author is nor what the books are about, other than…maybe…teen vampires in the Northwest?

Writer Friend giggles as she begins describing the books’ unbelievable sucky-ness.  She particularly loathes the author’s liberal use of adverbs (” ‘he chuckled darkly ‘ ?!?!?! “). Our ensuing conversation goes something like this:

Moiself“Okay, so they’re poorly written.  But, what are they about?  In a nutshell (which is where they probably belong), what’s the story?”

Writer Friend:  “Teenage girl falls in love with a hundred-plus year old vampire; lots of steamy scenes of longing but no sex before marriage as per the vampire’s wishes, so she marries him when she’s 18, gets pregnant, and gestating the half vampire fetus almost kills her but she refuses to have an abortion….”

Moiself (interrupting with derisive snort): “What is this – Mormon soft core porn?!”

Writer Friend (giving me an incredulous look): “Uh…the author is a Mormon.”

 

*   *   *

May you be aware of how many assumptions you make when you think you and another person are discussing the same thing;   [7]
May you never pretend to like the things you think you are supposed to like
(but which you in fact do not like);
May you anthro- or vego-morphize to your heart’s content;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Yes, dandelions can have a temperament. And if you take issue with this assertion you obviously haven’t spent enough time weeding.

[2] And the first one – about a Jewish boy attending Hebrew school who faces the dilemma of having one of the Jewish god’s alleged 72 names (the boy’s name is Shalom) and thus, according to his Jewish teachers, he cannot write his own name without “taking the Lord’s name in vain” – is quite entertaining.

[3]   You think they wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the phrase, “go a whoring,” or talk about the religion and political ramifications of boiling a kid (baby goat) in its mother’s milk.

[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] Actually, circa 2008.

[7] See part about the ten commandments.

The Goats I’m Not Stealing

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Department Of Stop Giving Women TBI And Calling It A Plot Device

Can you identify the following three movies, each featuring a female in the lead role and each movie released within the past 18 months,   [1]  based on the following sentence fragment pulled from the movies’ respective plot summaries:

(1) Things go from bad to weird when she gets knocked unconscious during a subway mugging and magically wakes up to find herself in an alternate universe….

(2) … she falls off her bike during an exercise class, hitting her head. When she wakes, she believes that her appearance has magically changed…. 

(3) …when she has an accident that knocks her out cold, she wakes up in the hospital with the ability to….”  

Ah, the joys of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), that cognition-altering case of concussion or other forms of acute cranial damage, which the great minds of Hollywood have decided makes for innovative and wacky entertainment value.

 

 

Great – now do it hard enough to knock yourself out and you can star in a movie!

 

 

By the way, the movies are

(1) “Isn’t it Romantic” (released in 2019);

(2) “I Feel Pretty” (released in 2018);

(3) “What Men Want” (released in 2019)

All three movies feature talented and appealing actors (respectively, Rebel Wilson, Amy Schumer, and Taraji P. Henson); aside from a ridiculous, knock-’em-out-wake-’em-up plot device more commonly associated with a soap opera cliché,   [2]  IMHO movies #1 and #2 had a few genuinely funny and/or touching moments. I can’t give a fair review to #3, What Men Want, as I (along with two of the total of five patrons who were in the theater during the showing I attended)  [3]  left before the movie was over – it was pushing too many buttons on my Skanky-does-not-always-equal-funny-meter.

 

 

 

 

I believe all genders/ages/ethnicities were equally guilty involved in the producing/directing/writing of each of those flicks; thus, I cast my net of appeal to all movie moguls:  for your next feature, please, can y’all agree to use another/less stale plot pivot point?   [4]

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Best Antidote For A Bad Movie Is One That Makes You Want To Fly

I sorta/kinda wanted to see the Captain Marvel movie, but thought I’d wait at least ten days before venturing to a movie theater to do so, to avoid the premiere week crowds. Although I’ve seen several of the superhero type movies I’m not fond of the genre. Whether the movie takes place in the Marvel Comics universe or the one with the X-men – those are separate comic book based “universes,” right? I have trouble telling them apart…and don’t care to expend the mental energy necessary to learn to keep them straight – I find them to be too same same.  There has to be the promise of something different to get me to go see those movies – I’ve learned that they never surprise me; I never feel for any particular character being in danger ’cause I know they are somehow going to superhero their way out of it (crash bang boom… yawn).  [5]

The subversive, fourth wall -breaking humor of the two Deadpool movies appealed to me, as son K assured me they would. Other than that I’m disappointed in the genre and have to be heavily lobbied (by MH and/or my offspring) to even consider seeing the latest release…like last year’s Avengers Last Stand Infinity Apocalyse of Mutant XMen’s Endgame . Or whatever.

Exception confession: I did enjoy the first The Avengers movie.

 

The Avengers destroy New York City, then eat shawarma – what’s not to love?

 

So, then, what with lowered expectations and all, how much fun was it for me to find myself really, really enjoying Captain Marvel?  Compelling, multi-dimensional good-and-bad-guy characters and good acting (I’ll cross the street to see Annette Bening in anything), and interesting (and concussion free!) plot twists.  AND…big sigh of right on, sistah! relief: no love interests getting in the way !!!!

Digression: I lack words to describe how refreshing it is to see a movie wherein the female characters get to do what females all over the world – excuse me, make that all over the universe, this being a superhero movie – do every day, which is to lead their lives/make decisions/save the planet without having their romantic interests featured as the most important thing about them.

After the matinee let out I had to make myself sit in my car for several minutes, ignition off. I knew I could not drive normally – read: safely – after seeing that movie. I recognized in moiself the urge to put the pedal to the metal and zip out of the parking lot as fast as I could…which, even had I done so, would have been a poor excuse for what I really wanted to be able to do: fly up into the stratosphere in my special, fire-glowing suit!

 

 

Kinda like this.

 

 

It was difficult to go grocery shopping like a mere mortal, after that.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Am I The Only Person Who Remembers Doing This?
Sub Department Of Perhaps This Is My Own Symptom Of TBI

I’m not sure if it’s a thing anymore – or maybe it was never a thing, and I was the only one who did it (although I’m thinking at least one of my siblings performed a similar ritual).

Scenario: I am a child of indeterminate grade school age; it is a school morning and I am sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, the bowl placed inside a cereal bowl “fort” which I have constructed thusly: a box of cereal directly in front of me, with two other cereal boxes placed on either side of the middle box,  [6] extending outward/toward me at a 45˚ angle. I have constructed this fort in order to read the back of the cereal boxes while I am eating my cereal.

Perhaps this presaged my adult habit of reading the newspaper at breakfast?   [7]

Certainly, the content of the back of the cereal boxes could have been neither compelling nor new to me (I’d “read” the boxes multiple times).  And  I don’t know why I did that – I only remember that I did do it, almost every school morning, during my early elementary years.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Joys Of Belatedly Tuning To The Tonight’s Top Stories Preview
Of A Radio Newscast, At The Moment Where All You Hear Is A Fragment Sentence Like…

“…and someone stealing goats in Fresno.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Feminine Intimacy

Not to worry – what follows is not an endorsement for one of those kind of products.

 

 

Over the years I have received feedback from a few readers regarding the fact that although moiself will write in broad strokes about, say, my political, cultural and even culinary opinions, even though I will sometimes mention what’s going on with family and friends I rarely post anything of a truly personal nature. 

 

So how else is a dame supposed to write, except by using broad strokes?

 

 

To which my honest reply has been something along the lines of how this is Not That Kind Of Blog ®.  But, it is a fair observation.  And, okay, this standoffishness ends today.  [8]

I will reveal something that is deeply personal to moiself:

I am living with EBPOS – Ear Bud Pop Out Syndrome.

 

How can such calamity strike the nicest people?

 

It doesn’t matter the size of the cushion/caps, nor how assiduously I follow proper insertion technique  [9]   advice, the ear-tip thingies simply refuse to stay put. I have come to consider it a good morning when I’m out for a walk and listening to a podcast and have to reinsert the ear bud only two-three times. One day late last week…oy, not so good. I knew the day was getting off to a bad start when I was returning home and thinking to myself, Holy hamster shit, it’s a seven pop-out morning.

 

*   *   *

 

May life spare you from experiencing a seven pop-out morning;
May we all, if only in our dreams, get to fly like Captain Marvel;
May you never think, even for a moment, that I was capable of stealing those goats;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] (and each seen in a movie theater, by moiself).

[2] “Hmm, what can we do with this character and where can we take his storyline – I KNOW, LET’S GIVE HIM AMNESIA!”

[3] The two were sitting a few seats down from me, in the back row. They were clad in saris, possible a mother and her adult daughter, judging from their apparent ages and interactions. They were conversing in Hindi (?) during the previews…and they left a nearly full bucket of popcorn behind when they exited the theater.

[4] And by that I don’t mean time travel.

[5] Isn’t the worst review you can give to an “action” movie is to have been bored by it?

[6] The center or middle box was  the cereal I was actually eating, and the other two were choices set out for other family members. Say, a Cheerios box, a Wheaties box and Cornflakes box trio.

[7] The newspaper my family subscribed to at the time was delivered in the afternoon, not the morning.

[8] If only for today.

[9] Which sounds vaguely sexual…for which I am truly sorry.

The Happiness I’m Not Seeking

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Department Of First Things First

Beware the…you know what.

 

 

 

Happiness is not the station we arrive at but the manner by which we arrive.
(Oliver G. Wilson)

Mary Pipher: …one of the interesting facts about women my age is we’re the happiest demographic in America. In general, people tend to get happier as they age and stay happier right up until the very end. But women tend to be happier than men as they age…

Terry Gross: Why do you think older women are happier when they’re older than they were when they were younger? Is that what you’re saying?

PIPHER: Absolutely. (It’s) statistical fact – I’m not…just hypothesizing.

GROSS: But what accounts for that – ’cause, you know, it seems counterintuitive.

PIPHER: …It really starts with, what do you think the nature of happiness is? And I think happiness is a choice and a set of skills…. After all these years of being a therapist and watching my friends grow and develop and seeing the directions they take and then doing this book where I interviewed so many older women I have a pretty strong sense for what makes people happy. The first part of it is making a choice to be happy – just deciding that that’s a life goal, that I’m going to be happy. I’m going to do everything I can to make my life as good as I can.

And then it’s a set of skills. And one set of skills, for example, is humor and just figuring out how to laugh about things. Another skill is figuring out ways to have meaning and purpose in one’s life. Another skill is the ability to have friends…I call close women friends my mental health insurance policy because they’re so important. Another very important happiness skill is simply having reasonable expectations. My aunt Grace said, I get what I want, but I know what to want.

(excerpts from Fresh Air 2-27-19)

A recent Fresh Air episode, Women and Aging, had host Terry Gross interview clinical psychologist/ author Mary Pipher about Pipher’s new book, Women Rowing NorthWRN expounds on the pluses of changing from middle age to old age. As per the book’s web page, WRN offers “a timely examination of cultural and developmental issues women face as they transition from middle age to old age. In life stage, women contend with ageism, misogyny, and many kinds of loss. Yet, contrary to stereotypes, most older women are deeply happy and filled with gratitude for the gifts of life.”

Moiself is not quite ready to read that book yet, but I enjoyed the podcast. Something said during the interview reminded me of one of the few advantages (other than, not dying) of aging which I have fully embraced:

“At this life stage, women start granting themselves the power of no.”

I see this  – the power to say no –  as related to the fact that I don’t have the proverbial bucket list.  Many a person has regretted asking me what items are on my bucket list because I have (usually) replied honestly:

I don’t have a bucket list; I have a fuck-it list.

My Fuck-it list translates thusly:   I don’t keep any kind of inventory of things I feel I must see and/or accomplish before I die, but as time marches on…

 

Ideally, for me, “time marching on” will include a marching band, with dinosaurs

 

…I find moiself more willing and able to recognize those things/activities which may have been valid, obligatory or called for at one time but which I never want to do again,  and/or those things which, regardless of whether I have done them previously or not, are simply not worthy of wasting the precious resource of dwindling time – time I will never get back – by engaging in them. As Pipher put it, there is the sense that the runway is short, and with what time we have left, we want to deeply savor every experience we have. And I give myself permission to say a graciously but firm No to any invitations to partake in experiences I know I will not savor (committee meetings, anyone?).

The power of no concept was almost a throwaway line, but what Pipher what said about “happiness being a choice” made me almost fall of my Bowflex Max Elliptical trainer.   [1]   I agree with her observations about happiness being more of a choice and a set of skills than an emotional state.  And I have not come by this opinion lightly.

Although I love the REM song I am not a Shiny Happy People person, nor, despite what many people apparently think about moiself, I am not someone who is happy (or even content) all of the time.

 

 

Like Pipher, my extended family tree includes happiness impediments, including mental health/brain disorders, suicide, addiction, chronic disease, tragic deaths and abuse.    [2]  And in thinking about happiness being a life choice and/or skill, I neither ignore nor dismiss nor intend to insult those who might find even the idea of happiness unattainable as they face acute tragedies, or live with chronic contentment-dampening conditions, from clinical depression to progressive illness.  Rather, I was intrigued by Pipher’s interviews and research with older people showing that there is overall tendency over a lifespan to, while facing whatever you have to face, arc toward happiness.

However. I have an issue with her stating happiness as a goal in and of itself.

My view is a little more nuanced in the sense that I think happiness should be a by-product rather than an end-product of life.  I shall try to explain.

 

I’m sure this will be fascinating.

 

When my K and Belle were younger I often heard other parents talking about their hopes and dreams for their own children, which were stated in list format, ending with something along the lines of, “Whatever they do, I just want them to be happy.” I remember thinking to myself – and sometimes vehemently stating out loud – that, au contraire, I don’t just want my kids to be happy.  Because  whenever I pay the slightest attention to Whats Going On Around Me ®  I see a lot of just happy idiots/incompetents/bullies/downright evil people.   [3]

My wish, for both my children and moiself for that matter, is not for us to seek constant and perhaps idealized (and even unreachable) states of happiness. At what I hoped were age-appropriate points in their lives, I engaged K and Belle in conversations about how happiness should be a by-product, not the end-goal, of admirable life choices. I wanted them to lead good lives, question authority,  [4]   use reason and skepticism to evaluate claims, speak truthfully and kindly, and to Do The Right Thing ®.

Lest you think moiself is all serious, do-gooder inclined, I also, of course, want them to have fun. Which involves telling – or at least appreciating – fart jokes whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

As per happiness, living a principled life will, eventually, provide its own gratification, for people with self-knowledge (and an IQ bigger than their belt size).  But when you choose to do the right thing, when you strive to walk lightly and justly in this world, happiness is not always an immediate (nor in some cases, even eventual) byproduct of your actions. And that sucks.

When you stick up for the kid who is  bullied at school you may then yourself become the bullies’ target. When you challenge workplace malfeasance and corruption there will be people, from your bosses to your supposed allies, who will make it their life’s work to make your life miserable –  there’s a reason we have the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Department Of Important Definitions

Pipher does not define happiness as some  state of perpetual joy – more along the lines of contentment, and capacity for appreciation. And she is fully aware of the fact that if you live long enough at some point you will have lost everyone who is important to you.

You know, what frightens me by far the most about aging is losing people I love….(my) brother-in-law of mine died – he was 28 and a soccer player. And he died of brain cancer. And that knocked me out for about a year. And last year, my daughter moved with her family, my two young grandchildren, up to Canada. And it was tremendously difficult for me.

So that is really very difficult for me to think, how will I cope with this continuing string of losses? And the implications of that for me are I need to have my life, which will include a great deal of loss – I mean, at this point in my life, one way or another, I’m going to say goodbye to everybody I know. So the antidote for that, the balancer for that is to have a life as filled with gratitude, fun, appreciation, joy, meaningful work as I can possibly have.

 

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Kids Get The Darndest Jobs  [5]

This week was daughter Belle’s first at a new job. After graduating college last May and having a six month internship in the south, she realized the Pacific Northwest is where she wanted to be. She tot he West Coast, rented an apartment in Tacoma, and took the first job she found, at a place I’d heard about for years, from both her and her brother K,  [6] .  It is a classic hangout: a 1940s-50s inspired diner named, “Shake Shake Shake.”  [7]

I offered to bribe pay Belle if she would put a sign reading “your booty” under the name of the diner, but she didn’t seem to think her bosses would appreciate it. Also, moiself  had to explain the KC & the Sunshine Band song reference to her.

Speaking of which, I think we’re all deserving of a Seventies song break:

 

 

You’re welcome.

*   *   *

Department Of “Classic” Books I’m Having A Hard Time Reading

Currently, that would be Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin’s series of novels involving a plethora of characters living in late 70’s – mid 80’s San Francisco. The books’ many protagonists are friends and lovers and husbands and wives and landlords and tenants and coworkers and bosses (and thinly veiled references to real life public figures) of all sexual orientations, whose lives intersect and overlap.

The novels, whose chapters first appeared as regular installments in the San Francisco Chronicle, were beloved by many San Franciscans, and convey the zeitgeist of that time period.  Moiself, I’m finding it hard to follow. There are too many characters competing for chapter space – and the chapters are long on dialogue and short on descriptive prose.  Although the dialogue is witty, I’m having a difficult time keeping track of which character is which: it’s like they all speak in the same voice, with even the straight characters spouting variations of the archetypal, Sassy Gay Best Friend ® sitcom repartee.    [8]

 

 

Ain’t every bitch a critic?

*   *   *

May you need no excuse to blast Shiny Happy People on a regular basis;
May you remember to cultivate your mental health insurance policy – your friends;
May you strive to do the right thing, and also to just have some fun;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] In that it really caught my attention…I was exercising on said machine while listening to the podcast…in case you were wondering if I just tripped over it.

[2] Including sexual abuse/incest.

[3] I didn’t get invited to a lot of Mommy/Baby play groups…which was just fine by moiself.

[4] Except your mother.

[5] Another Old Person Reference ® I will have to explain to Belle and K, who likely aren’t familiar with Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things.

[6] Who graduated from the same college as his sister, only three years earlier.

[7] It has an extensive milkshake menu.

[8] No footnote here.  You checked for nothing – don’t you feel stupid right now?

The Casting Director I’m Not Thanking

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Department Of Putting It Off Until The Last Moment

Last Thursday I checked my list: only Roma and Vice were remaining. I needed to see those two movies in order to have seen every movie nominated for a major 2019 Academy Award.  [1]    And what, you may ask, are the major awards (and who decides such things?). The parenthetical answer is that moiself decides what is a major award, and they are the awards for:

– writing (best original and adapted screenplays)

– acting (best leading and supporting roles)

– best directing

– best picture

Roma was streaming; I watched it at home  last weekend. I had put off going to see Vice and wasn’t sure, until the very moment I was walking toward the theatre, if I was up for it: I didn’t want to subject myself to the images, memories and history of that gang of incompetents and liars, torturers and thieves (Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, ad nauseum), even if their stories were presented satirically, by actors.  Nevertheless, the theater got my money, and I’d say I got my money’s worth.  [2]

 

 

So, the terrorist coddling wimp actually had the cojones to sit through it?

 

Thus, when it came to our annual Movie Awards Dinner party on Sunday (a tradition I’ve written about previously in this space), I had fun watching the telecast, holding my sample Oscar ballot and commenting oh-so-knowingly on the categories (“Well, Sam Elliot gets my vote for best supporting actor, but I think the Academy will go for Mahershala Ali, even though he was nominated in the wrong category   [3]….”) .

I found most of the awards spot on, was disappointed with a few, and was relieved that Roma didn’t win best picture – a category for which I had no personal pick as I deemed them all (except Roma) more or less worthy of the nomination.  [4]   Right up until Julia Roberts made the Best Picture announcement I feared the Academy would do what they have done in the past – choose an “artier” film to show that we here in America can recognize and appreciate Serious Cinema ®. But while I found Roma to be beautifully shot (it won the cinematography award, and also Best Foreign film), it was too languid and plot-meandering for me. It’s like I made myself watch it because it was nominated for several awards and…because I was supposed to watch it.  You know, the cod liver oil criteria? (drink this stuff watch this movie; it’ll be good for you).

*   *   *

Department Of Not That You Asked….

As for the Oscar telecast itself: Yo, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are you listening?

 

Why, are you someone wealthy or important?

 

 

With the recent unintended [5]-but-successful, host-less telecast, y’all Motion Picture Academians or whatever you are finally appear to be at least trying to get on the right track.  Apparently the show “numbers” you are so concerned about   [6]   improved this year. But you still have some work to do. Like other pressing issues in this world – be they related to human rights, geopolitics, nutrition, [7] space exploration, you name it – things would be so much better if Those In Charge Just Listened To Me ®.

Thus, here are my suggestions to get a watchable (read: well under three hours) presentation:

* This year’s show proved that no host is necessary. Do not return to the Host format.

* However, do have Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler provide the intro to the show. Every. Single. Time. You simply cannot go wrong with those three.

 

 

I would voluntarily undergo and pay for a root canal sans anesthesia if these three writer/comedian/actors would host the procedure.

 

 

*Combine the presentation of awards with similar categories, saving stage entry/exit time for the presenters (you already did this, in at least two categories, during the recent show. Good on you). Have the same presenters announce all the awards for writing (original & adapted screenplays), “short” subjects (Documentary, short film/live action, short film animated), sound (editing and mixing) and the “staging/production” awards (costume; makeup/hairstyling, etc.)….

* Leave the singing to the Grammies and ditch the live performances of the nominated songs!!!  You don’t have other actors read the soliloquies from best acting award nominations, do you? Simply air a film clip of a snippet of each nominated song, showing where and how it fit into the movie – just as you play a brief (~15 sec) portion of each movie/acting performance nominated.

And about those acceptance speeches:

 

Make it stop!!!!

 

There must be a way to attach some cattle prod to the stage microphone – or give the Academy Award orchestra conductor some kind of fart noise-producing device to use – to humiliate encourage the winners to shorten their acceptance speeches.

I suggest the Academy send, via certified mail requiring a signature of confirmation – a contract to all nominees, informing them of the RULES – NOT SUGGESTIONS for their acceptance speeches, and then go over said rules at the banquet or whatever you throw for the nominees prior to the ceremony:

* Absolutely NO thanking of your agents, managers, accountants – no one who makes money off of you. Your $ucce$$ is thank$$$ enough.

* Also, do not thank your film’s casting agent, director, writer, costume designer, etc.  Not only are these thanks boring and gratuitous (your winning of the award validates their choice to work with you), it also comes off as if you are ass-kissing greasing the wheels in hopes of getting future roles. You may indeed be boundlessly grateful to director Spike Lee and his crew for taking a chance on your bony white ass – that’s great! But tell them privately, after the ceremony, when it will seem more sincere and less self-congratulatory.

* Tailor your time on camera for the audience watching the show – you know, the ones buying the tickets that keep the movie business in business? Say something humble and touching about your friends and family, and/or tell an odd/amusing/self-deprecating and BRIEF anecdote about what got you to where you are today ( anyone else remember composer Marvin Hamlisch thanking Maalox during his acceptance for Best Original Dramatic Score[8]  ) and then GET OFFSTAGE.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of And I Mean Every One, As In Every Single Fucking Person…

Dateline: riding the Max (light rail) train to Portland, to see the movie Vice.  After I boarded and the train began moving I noticed that everyone in the car (and once I noticed what I was noticing I craned my neck and turned to look forward/sideways/backwards to try to see every person on the train), including the Hillsboro High School wrestling team (on their way to a tournament),  bowed their heads, in unison. Was it respectful meditation time?

 

Yeah, right!

 

 

Really; it was odd. As soon as the train began to move, all aboard (save for moiself) dropped their gaze to their cell phones and/other other electronic devices they held on their laps. Or, perhaps they found their own crotches to be particularly fascinating? Meanwhile, looking out the window, I espied a majestic great blue heron standing in the middle of the field next to one of the train stops – a beautiful sight, oblivious to the crotch-gazers.

Here are just a few of the sights my fellow train light rail passengers missed:

*  a Canadian geese couple (or a couple of Canadian geese – I shouldn’t assume they were a couple; they may have just been good friends, or on a first date) confronting a squirrel over the squirrel’s cache of goodies at the base of a maple tree;

* the afore-mentioned heron;

* two people hoisting a blanket, which was rolled up into a way that made it look as though they were transporting a body in it;

* a rather disaffected-looking young man vigorously picking his nose in the boarding area at the Sunset Transit Center.

But, nooooo. Ig was if aliens had forced everyone’s head down.  For a moment, when the train approached my stop, I thought of throwing a question into the void: Hey folks, are your crotches really that fascinating?   [9]

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of (Yet Another) Podcast You Should Be Listening To
(And Not Looking At Your Cell Phone While Doing So)

Disclaimer: Moiself is not anti-digital technology; I am pro personal interaction.

Most people are familiar with Alan Alda as an actor, but the self-professed science geek hosted Scientific American Frontiers for 12 years. Alda is presently channeling his lifelong interest in getting people – particularly scientists – to communicate clearly by working with the Center for Communicating Science.   [10]  He also hosts a podcast, Clear + Vivid, in which he and his guests explore how to better connect and communicate with others in every aspect of life.

In a recent episode of Clear + Vivid, “… How We’re Losing Touch With One Another and What We Can Do About It,” Alda speaks with MIT professor/clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle, who has spent the last 30 years studying “…mobile technology, social networks, AI, robots…our relationships with our devices and how our constant connectedness isn’t always the best thing for us — and what we can do to disconnect from our technology to reconnect with our humanity.”

While speaking of her research Dr. Turkel made one of the more profound observations about modern/present communication I’ve ever heard. She nailed it, I thought, when she described about what happens between people who are talking face to face (or backseat to front seat) when they are in the same place with one another – what happens when, for example, someone pulls out their cell phone when they are having lunch with a friend or dinner with their family. Whether or not it is their intention, the phone users have removed themselves from the interaction, without having taken a step out of the room:

“…there is that sense of a shared space…one of the things that has come out so poignantly in my research is that when you go to your phone you’re basically saying, ‘I’m leaving the shared space.’  When you take out a phone, you aggressively leave the common space of the people you’re with.

…It has to do with presence. What the phone does at its worst is take us away from – give us an alternative to – presence.”

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you realize it’s never too early to start honing your
2020 Academy Awards acceptance speech;
May you consciously endeavor not to be one of the crotch-gazers;
May you, when inhabiting the common space, put down your phone
and actually be where you are;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Confession:  I (along with the majority of movie-goers) missed the one about Vincent Van Gogh that had William Dafoe (nominated in the best Actor category) in it. It was not playing in a nearby theatre and not streaming – there was nowhere for moiself to see it.

[2] In other words, thumbs up…if somewhat painfully.

[3] Ali’s performance in Green Book was a leading role, not a supporting role!

[4]My criteria for best picture includes which one(s) would I be willing to see (and pay to see) again?).  

[5] Comedian Kevin Hart was scheduled to host the telecast, but abruptly backed out in December when past homophobic tweets of his came to light, and the show’s producers could not find a replacement host(s).

[6] That would be, the ratings. The “Oscar” show had had years of declining viewing audience, especially among younger (as in, under age 40) viewers.

[7] Go plant-based, everyone!

[8] For The Way We Were, 1974.

[9] Although, in the case of the wrestling team, which was composed of buff teenage males…you could make an argument for a vigorous and sincere YES MA’AM! answer to that question.

[10] A multidisciplinary organization, the Center for Communicating Science is a cross-disciplinary organization founded in 2009 within Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism (Stony Brook, NY), with the goal of helping scientists learn to communicate more effectively with the public.

The Happy New Year I’m Not (Yet) Wishing You

Comments Off on The Happy New Year I’m Not (Yet) Wishing You

Department Of A Year (Almost) Of Seeing Movies

As I’ve probably/previously declared   [1] in this space, I love seeing movies in a movie theater. Dramas are more dramatic, romances more heart-tugging, thrillers more suspenseful and comedies funnier in a large venue, surrounded by gasping and/or weeping and laughing strangers.  Even the turkeys –  is there any category of movie worse than an un-funny comedy? – are made worthwhile during the brief bonding moments when strangers turn to one another, make eye contact in a dark theater, point at the screen and exchange incredulous, Really? Someone thought that would work? looks.

 

This is the time of year for thoughtful or professional critics and amateur ass-snipers alike to trot out their, “best of 2018” lists.  When it comes to judging movies I’m somewhere in the middle of those two categories.  Nevertheless, here is my blog before me, with space to fill; thus, here is my list. Only it isn’t a best of, it’s an all of.

I have moiself’s own criteria for what made it on the list: virtually every (theatrical release) movie I saw. The following movies (listed in random order – not quite alphabetical and not quite by date seen) were all theatrical releases; some of them were late 2017 releases that didn’t make it to our neck of the theater woods until early 2018.  The asterisk * denotes movies I’d intended to see in the theater but which were briefly released in our area, i.e., they played in a Portland theatre for a week (or even less) before disappearing and then reappearing on video and/or streaming.  [2]  Titles in bold are recommended, whether for artistic merit or sheer and mere entertainment value. Titles italicized are…well…not exactly recommended, but not also the worst use of two hours, as I essentially saw them for free (via the once cool but lately lame and much-maligned MoviePass   [3] ).

 

 

 

“That’s your problem; you don’t want to be in love – you want to be in love in a movie.”

 

 

-Pitch Perfect 3
-Ladybird
-I, Tonya
-The Disaster Artist
-Phantom Thread
-The Post
-The Greatest Showman
-Call Me By Your Name
-The Florida Project
-Roman J. Israel
-Mudbound
-Annihilation
-Game Night
Love, Simon
-Jumanji
-7 days in Entebbe
-Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

 

 

-The Leisure Seeker
-A Wrinkle in Time
-Molly’s Game *
-I Feel Pretty
-All The Money in the World *
-Black Panther
-Book Club
-Avengers: Infinity War
-Solo
-A Quiet Place
-Life of the Party
-Tully
-First Reformed
-Deadpool 2
-The Rider   [4]
-Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

 

 

 

-Thoroughbreds *
-The Artemis Hotel
-The Seagull
-Hereditary
-Oceans 8
-Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
-Sorry to Bother You
-Three Identical Strangers
-The Spy Who Dumped Me
-Eighth Grade
-The Meg
-The Miseducation of Cameron Post
-Searching
-BlackKlansman
-Crazy Rich Asians

I haven't seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park.

 

 

-Peppermint
– A Simple Favor
– A Star is Born
-Bad Times at the El Royale
-Bohemian Rhapsody
-Can You Ever Forgive Me?
-The Front Runner
-The Wife
-The Favourite
-Free Solo
That Spiderman spiderverse thing   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Just No Pleasing Some People

Dateline: December 23. MH and I are having the roasted veggie hash at our favorite breakfast place in Manzanita. The background music playing at the café is always eclectic, although on this day they are playing what appears to be a somewhat standard, Christmas-themed mix. I hear a version of “O Christmas Tree“– O Tannenbaum, sung in German, by Nat King Cole (a version hitherto unknown to moiself, but holy fucking phonetically pronounced lyric sheet, I must have heard it 50 times this Yule season!)

Then Oh Holy Night begins wafting over the café’s discretely hidden speakers. I sing along, adding my own lyrical substitutions to the first chorus, not loudly enough to annoy the other patrons   [6]  but so that MH can hear:

(original version)
Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine…

 

(my variation)
Fall on your knees!
O skin your knees for Jesus!
‘Cause Christ loves your scabs…

 

MH eyes me across the table.

“Do you like my version?” I ask him.

“I don’t like either version,” he replies.

 

 

*   *   *

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?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you (mostly) not regret paying for a movie ticket;
May you realize that life is short and you’ll get over the 45 minutes you wasted seeing that !#(? Spiderman movie;
May you always sing the alternative lyrics;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I’m turning into my father, in the repeating-my-stories personality aspect.

[2] So if you want to get technical, like one of those ass-snipers, perhaps those movies don’t “count.”

[3] Which, supposedly, is revamping for 2019, so I’ll wait another month and give it a chance before cancelling my subscription.

[4] I want a movie like the based-on-a-true-story The Rider to get its own category. I’d recommend the movie because I think it was well done and shows a compelling if head-banging-against-the-wall-in-frustration-for-me-to-watch story. Translation: it is very difficult for me to just sit there and watch, for “entertainment” purposes, people do stupid things/make short-sighted or self-defeating life choices.

[5]  Another movie meriting its own category – and one of the few I saw with MH this year – because although I want to not recommend it I didn’t see the entire movie. I left midway, telling MH that he was of course was welcome to stay, but I just didn’t care what happened to the “characters,” and also/mostly, I was aesthetically offended by what was on screen:  I was tired of BEING SHOUTED AT WITH LOUD CONSTANTLY FLASHING AND CHANGING IMAGES AND QUICK CUTS as if I had the attention span of a five year old cocaine addict.

[6] Uh, yeah, that’s disputable.

[7] In our pear tree.

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