Department Of Why Are Some People Still Doing This?
“Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. They may be legal but they are not safe.” (National Safety Council, “Leave Fireworks to the Experts” )
Please don’t purchase or use fireworks. Moiself doesn’t give a roman candle’s flaming buttcrack about how fondly you look back on those childhood July 4th fireworks parties  – such an activity should be considered anachronistic at best.
“*I* can celebrate with a safe and sane fireworks display, I know it!”
I was surprised by my own visceral reaction (barely suppressed rage; an urge to approach the owners and employees and shame them into leaving) when I saw a fireworks stand this year. *WTF are they doing here?* This was before the heat wave that pummeled the Pacific NW (and western Canada). But folks, we’ve known for years about why, even if Some People ® just can’t get it up for Uh-Mur-ica without viewing explosive pyrotechnic devices, fireworks displays should be left to a few professional or civic shows.
Fireworks suck. For fleeting moments of pyrotechnic entertainment, we also get
* extensive air pollution produced in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours (sometimes days) and which find their way into our soil and water systems; 
* fear, acute anxiety and distress, risk of hearing loss (especially for dogs) for our pets; 
* habitat destruction and degradation for wild animals, which is particularly “…energetically costly and physiologically stressful for wild birds, which leave their roost in explosive panic and can smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and smoky chaos (and survivors of the original explosive panic flight remain in danger because these birds are forced to find a safe place to roost in the middle of the night).” 
* over 19,000 fires set – from home roof blazes to wildfire – and over 9,000 people (most often children and teens) sent to emergency rooms due to severe burns and other injuries caused while using consumer fireworks. 
The 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire consumed 50,000 acres of the picturesque Columbia Gorge. Embers of the fire were still smoldering eight months after major containment. Hiking trails and other areas of that scenic wilderness were heavily damaged; U.S. Forest Service and other officials estimate that some trails may remain closed for years. The devastating conflagration was, like so many other wildfires and brushfires, started by fireworks.
Life is all about change, about altering our behavior to accomodate altering circumstances. We didn’t always have firework stands and home fireworks shows; we can survive, thrive, and celebrate without them.
Does this boy represent an ignorant, self-centered, head-in-the-sand danger to the humanity and environment…or is he just another cute dork in a silly costume?
* * *
Department Of The Cinematic Story Strategy Which Annoys MH
That would be time travel. Moiself appreciates (and mostly shares) MH’s aggravation with the over-used, cheap-way-not-to-have-to-deal-with-reality plot device.
Moiself cannot recall the name of the podcast I heard recently, in which the podcast hosts and guests discussed a (non-scientific) survey conducted about time travel. Random bench sitters were asked questions along the lines of,
“If you could travel in time, (1) would you choose to do so? (2) if you said yes to (1), would you choose to travel to the past,
or to the future?”
The surveyors seems to have the idea that time travelers going to the past would do so with the motivation of having the opportunity to change something that they did, or neglected to do – an action which, the time travelers hoped, would right a wrong and/or increase happiness or success in their present lives. (Indeed, some people questioned gave answers supporting that idea.)
There was a bit o’ surprise among the surveyors re the number of people over age 50 who wanted to travel to the future, not the past. Some of the younger folk – even a few children – said there were things in the past they’d like to change (words spoken; actions they wish they could do over). But most of the 50+ folk surveyed expressed little desire to go back in time to change some pivotal event (whether it be in their own/personal lives, or re world history  ). The podcast guests and hosts bantered about why that was so, and the answers of a few of those who were surveyed gave them a clue: older people know, from decades of experience, that there are innumerable incidents large and small which make up a lifetime; thus, going back to change what might seem like a pivotal moment would probably not make much of a difference in one’s long-term outlook and prospects.
I don’t know how the episode ended; I stopped listening midway through, as I was consumed with the thought of what *my* time travel choice would be. Seeing as how traveling to one’s past is Not One Of Those Things That Will Happen At All, Or At Least In My Lifetime ®, I dismissed that option, for a clear-eyed – and ultimately more fulfilling, moiself thinks – embrace of reality: I hold that each of us are, already, “one way” time travelers.
“Please elucidate, in a non-sesquipedalian manner.”
We are time travelers to the future. True, it’s on a smaller scale as compared with sci fi cinematic conceits, but that doesn’t change the fact that today is the future we were envisioning twenty years, ten months, two weeks, one day ago. Right now is yesterday’s future. With every breath and step I take, I travel into the future.
Although…how cool would it be to join Ms. Frizzle and the gang and ride The Magic School Bus back to the time of the dinosaurs?
* * *
Department Of The Best Way To Begin A Podcast
…is with an opening line comparable to this, from a recent episode of Curiosity Daily :
“The butt – way more versatile than you may expect…” ( Curiosity Daily, “Mammals can breathe through their butts,” 6-25-21 )
And why, you may ask, is such a possibility worthy of notation, or research? Researchers are hopeful that this discovery may lead to treatments for humans suffering from severely diminished lung capacity.
Well, of course they are.
As for moiself, although I generally avoid reality TV, I could be persuaded to tune in to see a butt-breathing act on one of those “America’s Got Talent”-type shows.
* * *
Punz For The Day Time Travel Edition
I used to be addicted to time travel, but that’s all in the past now.
If you time travel to the future and get decapitated, you really are a head of your time
If I travel back from the future and carry a bratwurst with me, do I have a link to the past?
I’ve invented a device to harvest herbs from the future: it’s a thyme machine.
“Please, Doc, take us back to before there was this blog.”
* * *
May you enjoy fantasizing about your own Magic School Bus destination; May you help your pulmonary-compromised friends and relatives practice butt-breathing (discretely, please); May you liberate yourself from the desire to buy and/or use fireworks; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I have such memories. For many years now I’ve have realized that that’s just what they should be: memories, as in, in the past.
Department Of The Importance Of Looking At The Warning Sign Head-On
Dateline: Wednesday. Moiself is visiting a Tillamook County campground, to purchase day use passes for the county’s parks and boat launches. While waiting at the campground’s registry building I see a bright yellow sign posted to the right of the registry’s service window. As the camp registry clerk prepares my day use passes, I turn my head to look at the sign, which warns campers of coyote sightings in the vicinity. From where I am standing I can only see the sign from an angle. This slight but significant limit to my field of vision means that I miss two key words in the warning. The clerk looks up from her paperwork and eyes me questioningly when I begin laughing. I point to the sign, and say,
“I don’t know about that requirement – from what I understand, most coyotes are very resistant to leash training.” 
* * *
Department Of All We Religion-Free Folks Ask For Is A Little Perspective
MH’s chuckles as he looked at his phone prepped me for the why-haven’t-I-ever-thought-of-that? moment that was to come. I was not disappointed, as he read me a social media rumination from a prominent atheist activist:
Christians claim Jesus “died for their sin” ( whatever that means  ). However, they also claim that he rose from the dead after three days – crucified on a Friday, alive again on Sunday. So, essentially, Jesus gave up a long weekend for their sins.
“Goddammit! Sooner or later, someone was bound to notice….”
* * *
Department Of The Literary Biography I Definitely Won’t Be Reading
“I have a terrible confession to make—I have nothing to say about any of the talented women who write today…. I do not seem able to read them. Indeed I doubt if there will be a really exciting woman writer until the first whore becomes a call girl and tells her tale.” ( Norman Mailer, Advertisements for Myself )
I was introduced to the “Beat Generation Writers,” in junior high and high school, via recommendations from both teachers and several classmates. The Beats (e.g., Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg) influenced the 20th century writers who followed them, practitioners of the aggrieved-male-viewpoint-dominated school of fiction. Exemplars of the latter, who came to prominence in the 1950s and 60s, included Norman Mailer (credited for spawning the creative non-fiction movement, aka, “New Journalism”) , Philip Roth, John Updikead nauseum et al. These were the writers, I was told, who were influential, and “happening.” And, you know, cool. Because they wrote about the anger and angst of contemporary life (read: sex) and weren’t afraid to tackle controversial issues (more sex).
When I first started reading their works, I thought I must be missing something.  Not wanting to be thought uncool, I mostly kept those thoughts to moiself…then I just stopped pretending I was interested. Other than an amusing passage about his father’s constipation that I remember from Portnoy’s Complaint, I loathed Philip Roth, and Mailer as well. Fairly soon after being introduced to their works (after reading one or two novels, essays, short stories from the authors) I stopped reading them altogether.
I loathed the fact that their alleged “hip contemporary” outlook was a thin veil for their raging misogyny. Yes, they could string together some impressive sentences, but…ick. And I didn’t need to know the biographical facts of those writers – for example,  that Mailer had stabbed his wife (# two in a series that would eventually total six wives) – to figure out that their raging hetero-masculinity  hid – or fed – a simmering hatred and fear of women, and of anything they deemed feminine (including homosexuality  ).
I didn’t have the vocabulary to express it at the time, but I knew what those writers’ works reeked of. The Beats and “New Literature” works were presented to me – to the world – with the implication that to be “literary” (read: not a prude) you have to appreciate them. Yet I found little either neither new nor literary in those men’s work. It was the same old, age old sexism, repackaged in more contemporary (i.e., profane and sexual) language.
Those male authors simply and profoundly didn’t like women. To them, women were a class (or perhaps, caste?), and were lower than men on the intellectual, moral, and consequential totem pole of humanity. If you were a female you were in one of two of their thematic camps. You were either their mothers, whom they resented and blamed, or a girl they wanted to fuck (and, later/eventually, resent and blame). If you didn’t fit into either of those categories you had no use to them.
Thus, my appreciation of a recent essay in The Washington Post, about the controversy behind the release of the latest Philip Roth biography (the biography’s author is accused of sexual assault). The following excerpt is from that article, which is titled, “Philip Roth and the sympathetic biographer: This is how misogyny gets cemented in our culture. Roth’s issues with women are well-documented. One of the prime documenters has been accused of rape.” The essay is by Monica Hesse, and can be read in its entirety here.
“I can’t help thinking about how readers and viewers have been repeatedly presented narratives as the factual observations of great minds rather than as the ax-grinding of men whose judgment on gender relations might be questionable.
Roth, who died in 2018, was not so much a male writer as an archaeologist of maleness, excavating his own concepts of what men desired, needed and hated….’There is in him a dark distaste for women,’ book critic Linda Grant wrote. ‘A repugnance that can only be described by the word misogyny.’ In her essay, a review of his 2001 work, “The Dying Animal,” Grant describes a particular passage, in which a cancer-stricken woman uses her last day before a mastectomy to visit her former professor/lover so that he may fondle her chest and say goodbye. Grant notes that every woman she discussed this passage with burst out laughing at the preposterousness of this idea.”
* * *
Department Of And While We’re On The Subject
If women write about their inner lives it is considered “confessional.” When men do the same it is called “literary.” When men write about their lives and feelings, they are said to be writing for and about the human condition, while women doing the same are accused of navel-gazing.
A recent example of this age-old literary hypocrisy can be found in the New York Times article about the writer Kate Baer, aka “The Mommy Poems author.” The article deals in part with the criticism that because much (not all) of Baer’s subject matter involves motherhood, her work is not considered serious enough…at least, to some (envious, in my opinion ) literary critics.
A subject that all of humanity experiences is not universal or relevant or serious enough (to the entrenched bastion of male-lens literary criticism) to write about? Almost half of the human race will be mothers, at some point in our lives, and *all * of us, no matter our class, nationality, religion, ethnicity, political viewpoints, or gender, have mothers. But how dare a poet write about it – and, even worse, be successful (my emphases)!
“Since the pandemic, the 35-year-old mother of four (Kate Baer) has been working from the Panera parking lot, sitting in her Honda minivan with her laptop propped against the steering wheel, attempting to catch a Wi-Fi signal….
It was there that she wrote “What Kind of Woman,” a poetry collection that topped the New York Times best-seller list for paperback trade fiction….
( “Kate Baer Is Speaking Truth. From Her Minivan. Who says motherhood can’t be literary, even poetic?” NY Times 3-13-21 )
The title of Baer’s collection came from the last line of an Instagram message she received from a (male) freelance book reviewer:
“Hi, my name is ___ …and I’d love to pick your brain about being a mommy writer. …my questions are on content. I find your work well written, but the subject matter was not necessarily what I want to read about. Not unbearable, but also not universal. I’m wondering if studying some of the classic writers (Poe, Hardy, Thoreau) would help hone in (sic) your work to be more relatable. Also the way we have allowed poetry in any space concerns me. How can we determine what is good from otherwise? I’d love to take at least an hour on the interview…. Afterward we can shape the piece to include excerpts of your work and perhaps explain what kind of woman you are! ”
* * *
Department Of Getting COVID Vaccination #2
Which moiself did, yesterday. Oh, I feel like dancing. 
* * *
Puns For The Day
(male) Authors’ Edition
The author of Webster’s dictionary committed suicide with the book he wrote. At least he died on his own terms.
Why did the author suffer writers’ block after rectal surgery? He was left with only a semicolon.
“I’m begging you, make it stop.”
* * *
May you rejoice in getting completely vaccinated; May you trust your own judgement in deciding what kind of literature is truly cool; May you beware of unleashed coyotes; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The words I could not see were “All pets” (preceding ” MUST be kept on leash….”).
 Yeah, I know what it’s supposed to mean, but it’s so bizarre and primitive – an appeasement of an angry deity through blood sacrifice…it’s nice to watch believers squirm when they try to explain such antiquated theology in 21st century terms.
 And for those writers, I was. I was missing male anatomy, which to them, was everything.
 I did not know this at the time I first read anything by Mailer. Mailer stabbed wife #2 at a party wherein he’d intended to announce his candidacy for New York City Mayor. “Mailer appeared the next day (after the stabbing) in a scheduled interview on The Mike Wallace Show, where he spoke of the knife as a symbol of manhood and continued to plug his mayoral bid.” (Wikipedia, quoting the article, “Norman Mailer: Stabbing Your Wife as an Existential Experiment.” )
 In the case of Roth and Mailer. Updike’s sexism was a more laid-back, suburbanite version.
Mailer and Updike were particularly known for their homophobic sentiments and comments, even book reviews.
 I mean, a best-selling book of poetry? That just doesn’t happen.
 Even if I am having the not-uncommon reaction of feeling a bit punkish afterwards. My immune system is working; good to know.
Moiself, too. So, why do we act as if we think are not?
I highly recommend the latest edition of the podcast Clear + Vivid. In a moving and candid conversation – frequently seasoned by laughter (which might be surprising to some, given the subject matter) – podcast host Alan Alda talks with his guest, author and Rabbi Steve Leder, about the inevitability of death, and grief. These are subjects people usually avoid, which, Leder says, only adds to the losses people inevitably face in life.
At one point in their conversation, as Alda and Leder discussed the importance of acknowledging our mortality, Alda said, “Talk some more about this. ‘Cause you still haven’t convinced me to die.” Leder’s response, which prompted laughter from both men, was, “Well, I don’t have to.”
I love it when Someone With Experience And Authority ® confirms a suspicion I’ve had for years. Thus, thank gawd (sez the atheist) that Leder disagrees with the “Five  Stages of Grief” mythology. Leder says we have “been done a terrible disservice” with this idea that there are stages or phases of grief, which implies that grief is a linear process (“First you will deal with Stage A, then you will feel Stage B…”).
Grief is non-liner; Leder declares. It is much more analogous to waves:
“They come very close together and are very large at first. They do spread out, and sometimes you even get beautiful, calm seas for a day, a week, a month, a year…. And then sometimes, when your back is turned, there can be a massive wave of grief that takes you down. And that is not ‘stages.’
Before my father died, what I used to say to people is, ‘Look, the most honest and helpful think I can say to you right now is that it won’t always hurt so much.’ And I don’t say that anymore. Now I say, ‘It won’t always hurt so *often.*’ Because when it hurts, it hurts every bit as much.”
* It’s whowe have, not what we have, that matters.
*The beauty of the flower is that it fades.
*The meaning of life is that it ends.
* Understanding the ephemeral nature of life – choosing to acknowledge that we don’t have forever – makes things great and small (our children and friends; a hot fudge sundae) more precious, not less.
These and other observations which Leder shares and expounds upon are no less profound for their relative simplicity. Check out the entire interview: “Make the End a Beginning” Clear + Vivid.
Alda and Leder also have an interesting chat about what is revealed by what people put on their gravestones.
* * *
Department Of Reality Checks
As in, my attempt to provide one. No doubt I will need one as well, if moiself thinks that my feedback will either get a response (I doubt it/am not expecting it) or make a difference (I hope it will).
The following feedback was sent by moiself, earlier this week, to Shankar Vedantam, the science journalist and host of one of my favorite podcasts, Hidden Brain.
Dear Mr. Vedantam,
Love your show; regular listener here. As per your interview on “Useful Delusions,” re your upcoming book of the same name, I cringed to hear you give credence, even in the context of how people respond to stress, to that “…old proverb, ‘There are no atheists in the foxhole’….”
Yes, it is an old proverb. Old, insulting, and lousy – as in, inaccurate.
I wish you’d do a story on that.
An atheist-themed festival drew hundreds of people to an Army post in North Carolina on Saturday for what was believed to be the first-ever event held on a U.S. military base for service members who do not have religious beliefs. Signs in support of atheism are seen during the “Rock Beyond Belief” festival at Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina March 31, 2012. The atheist-themed festival drew hundreds of people to Fort Bragg on Saturday for what was believed to be the first-ever event held on a U.S. military base for service members who do not have religious beliefs. Organizers said they hoped the “Rock Beyond Belief” event at Fort Bragg would spur equal treatment toward nonbelievers in the armed forces and help lift the stigma for approximately 295,000 active duty personnel who consider themselves atheist, agnostic or without a religious preference. Defense Department policy holds that all service members have the right to believe in any or no religion. But those gathered at the event described being ostracized and harassed in the military community for not believing in God and worried about getting passed over for promotions if their secularist stances were widely known. ( “Military nonbelievers’ event shows there are atheists in foxholes.” (Reuters)
Not only have there *always* been atheists in foxholes, the FFRF periodically bestows an award, “Atheists in Foxhole,” to commemorate that fact:
“This award was suggested by Vietnam War vet…Steve Trunk, to combat the ridiculous myth that there are no “atheists in foxholes,” and, in particular, to recognize activism to defend the constitutional principle of separation between state and church which every soldier takes an oath to uphold.”
To repeat: there are and have always been “atheists in foxholes;” however, they often have compelling reasons to remain in the foxhole/closet while they serve in the military. Religion-free soldiers can feel that they face an equal or greater danger from their fellow soldiers and commanding officers than from enemy fire, if their religious comrades discover that they are not religious believers.
“When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending. But minutes into the talk, the officer…began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism…. Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them…. Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. (Specialist Hall) was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers. ( “Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats,” NY Times )
Staff Sgt. Richlin Chan, who served in Afghanistan, is an “Atheist in Foxhole” who was profiled in the FFRF’s newsletter, Freethought Today (June/July 2010). Chan told this story:
In 2007, a soldier named Jeremy Hall was threatened and persecuted by fellow soldiers and a higher-ranking officer for holding an atheist meeting in Iraq. After a firefight in which a protective screen deflected enemy fire, his commander later asked him if he believed in god. Jeremy responded, “No, but I believe in plexiglass.”
If you’re interested, other resources include the MAAF (Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers); “I was An Atheist in a Foxhole,” (American Humanist Association) ; “The US Military Has a Problem With Atheists,” (The Week); “Military atheists seeking the rights and benefits offered to religious groups”(Stars and Stripes).
Yours in the never-ending battle to temper inaccurate proverbs with reality checks,
* * *
Lest you think my picking that certain nit  spoiled the podcast for me, it did not. I found the (rest of the) episode (Hidden Brain: Useful Delusions) quite enjoyable. Of particular interest to moiself was Shankar’s exposition on the adaptive or “useful” effects that delusional thinking can have, as well as the phenomenon of “naive realism.”
Naive realism allows us to judge others for engaging in what we’d call delusional thinking, while we convince ourselves that we, even in the same position as a desperate person, would never, say, vote for a demagogue or buy a snake oil potion/miracle cure, etc. Vedantam illustrates this with a personal story of his own. Several months ago, while travelling several hours from his home, Vedantam suffered a retinal detachment. He had to seek emergency medical care, without having time to check reviews or get recommendations for a doctor or weighs pros and cons of treatment options. He found a doctor who was willing to open his practice up at 9 pm and see him. The doctor said Vedantam had to have emergency surgery ASAP or he would lose his eyesight. And so, Vedantan did….
“…what all of us do, in positions of great vulnerability: I put all my faith and trust in this doctor. Now, as it turned out, he was a brilliant surgeon and he ended up saving my eye, for which I am profoundly grateful. But imagine for a moment that he had not been a brilliant doctor; let’s imagine if he had been a charlatan. Would it have been any less likely for me to put my faith in him? And I would argue the answer is no, because my faith in him did not arise because of what *he* did, my faith arose because of what *I* was going through.
I was going through a period of great vulnerability, a period of great fear. Trusting him made me feel better…. Expand this in all kinds of ways, and you can see why people sometimes gravitate to beliefs that are false, to demagogues and false prophets. It’s not so much because of the demagogues and false prophets, it’s because of their own vulnerabilities.”
* * *
Department Of My Favorite Euphemisms
Dateline: last weekend, listening to a podcast in which anthropologists discussed the DNA sequences found from human bodies in caves in Siberia, Spain, and Croatia.
What the anthropologists found shows evidence of human-Neanderthal interbreeding as far back as 100,000 years ago. What I found was a delightful, heretofore-unknown-to-moiself, synonym…genteelism…rewording.
According to scientists, early humans and Neanderthals engaged in
“gene flow events.”
This substitute term should be a relief to teens everywhere. Despite their legendary taking of delight in shocking their elders by singing along to salacious pop song lyrics, teens are notoriously squeamish, to the point of disgust, when it comes to even thinking about the fact that their parents might have hooked up with one another in order to produce their offspring. Chill, Ethan and Emma: your mother and father didn’t get it on. They merely engaged in a gene flow event.
* * *
Department of, Bingo!
But when Abby and I announced our relationship, the first article…said, “Abby Wambach in love with Christian mommy blogger.”…So the rest of the world picked up that one — and now on my tombstone, no matter what else I do, it’ll say Christian mommy blogger…. I feel like it’s the most misogynistic, ridiculous title ever. Because no male activist or New York Times bestseller is described as a daddy…or by his religion. ( Glennon Doyle, from the podcast, Sway, 2-25-21)
I’m somewhat new to Sway, but after listening to a few episodes I’m impressed with the variety of guests and topics. Hosted by Kara Swisher, “Silicon Valley’s most feared and well-liked journalist,” the podcast’s focus is “power: who has it, who’s been denied it, and who dares to defy it.” In the episode whence the above quote, Swisher interviews Glennon Doyle, best-selling author and activist previously best known – or rather, labeled – as a Christian-LGBTQ-friendly blogger and “confessional” writer, and most recently getting (unwanted) tabloid-type attention in the past few years for divorcing her (cheating) husband and marrying US soccer star Abby Wambach.
The reason for Doyle’s interview On Sway was Doyle having been named by many of Joe Biden’s campaign strategists as the person whose campaign endorsement, they believed, would influence women the most. The part of the interview that interested me the most was when Doyle shared her reactions to the male-values-dominated worlds of publishing and book reviews and publicity.  Doyle rejects the labels that have been put upon her, including “self-help expert” and “mommy blogger,” as reductive and misogynistic.
Doyle: “…I think that it’s very often the case that when a man puts work out into the world, the world looks at the work and says, ‘Is this work worthy?’ And I think that when a woman puts work out into the world, the world looks at the woman and says, ‘Is this woman worthy of putting out work?’
For example, the first big article that was put out about (her new memoir) in a big newspaper, the headline was, ‘Glennon Doyle writes third memoir?’ Question mark, question mark.”
Kara Swisher: “As if you shouldn’t have many memoirs in you. That’s the suggestion.”
“Like, ‘Jesus Christ, this woman is going to say a *third* thing? We already let her say two things. She said two things, and then she’s going to come back and say a third thing. Who does this person think she is.’ Right?’ Sedaris came out with his new book, and it was like, ‘David Sedaris releases 158th memoir.’ Not, question mark, question mark.”
* * *
Department Of It’s Not My Fault; My Mind Just Goes To These Places
Apropos of nothing I can think of, while coming back from a walk the other day I mused about ways to get junior high school aged students interested in “classic” works of literature. I’ve heard many a teacher say that engaging that age group (particularly for the boys) will determine whether reluctant readers will show interest in, for example, the plays of William Shakespeare.
So, considering the age group, I humbly suggest this approach:
֍ Shakespearean Gas Theater ֍
English, literature, and drama teachers can search the internet databases for well-known Shakespearean lines which can be altered and/or…uh, illustrated…as per the theme.
From Twelfth Night, the name of character Sir Toby Belch fits right in with those certain enhancements which tween actors could give to the delivery of Sir Toby’s classic lines:
”Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous,
there shall be no more cakes and….Baaaaaaaarrrrrrraaasaaaapppp…ale?
And, let’s face it, few 12-year-old boys want to play the lead male role of Romeo and Juliet‘s 14th century lovestruck Italian teen. But when the line Romeo calls out to Juliet (in the famous balcony scene) is transformed, boys will be jostling for the opportunity to raise their arms in supplication and cut the cheese with romantic gusto while reciting,
“What wind thorough yonder window breaks.”
Then again, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t pursue a career as an Arts in Education consultant.
* * *
Pun For The Day
When a road construction worker farts, don’t blame him – it’s his asphalt.
“I want no part of this juvenile humor.”
* * *
May you write as many memoirs as you have in you; 
May you appreciate the beauty of that which will fade;
May you be lucky enough to have an atheist beside you in the foxhole;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Or nine…or seven…or twelve. Different self-appointed grief experts have different numbers, but most people are familiar with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross‘s five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
 The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit founded in 1978, is the nation’s largest association of Atheists, Agnostic, Freethinkers, Humanists and Skeptics .
 This particular issue is more the size of a glacier than a nit, as the number of the non-religiously affiliated and atheists – and thus the number of people insulted and mischaracterized by such inaccurate adages – continues to grow/be revealed.
 A subject about which I have both opinions and experiences, as regular and/or long time readers of this blog may know.
THE ABSOLUTELY GRIPPING AND TOTALLY HEART-RENDING, PAGE-TURNING STORY OF SHOOTING MYSELF IN THE FOOT
Sub Department of, From The Publisher’s POV,
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…”
Admission: technically, I’m not shooting moiself in the foot by writing what follows, as my foot is not in this particular door (although it’s soooootempting to try to jam it there). Also, it’s just not an apt use of that idiom. But such a hyperbolic statement is apropos, here. The door I’m referring to is submitting a manuscript to a certain publisher.
In December, after a hiatus of ~ four years (which I may return to), I started re-researching publishers and sending out feelers re some of my unpublished fiction.  Researching, querying, and submitting material has reaffirmed the reasons why I stopped doing so in the first place,  with one major exception. I received a stunningly personal note from a publisher who is one of the few of his ilk who “got” what I was doing with the narrative structure of my manuscript. Even though what I suspected when I queried him was true – that his imprint’s audience is more avant garde than what my story’s audience would be – ’twas highly gratifying to get his feedback (read: insightful praise).
Little did moiself know, the best – if by bestImean most unintentionally entertaining, and apparently I do – was yet to come.
I discovered a new-to-me outlet, a successful, worldwide digital publisher that had been recently acquired by one of the world’s largest traditional publishers. This publisher, which I’ll call *PubliGush* for reasons that shall soon become clear, was hitherto unknown to me because they specialize in genre works. As I researched them further I also saw that they are something called a Bespoke Publisher,  which, depending in your POV, is one step up from self-publishing or merely a new(er) label for hybrid publishing. 
Obviously, PubliGush is not for me. For the heck of it, I decided to peruse their titles on internet book selling sites, which confirmed that they are strictly genre. However, even knowing that my work wasn’t right for them, moiself was tempted to query anyway, just for the chance that, if I fooled ’em for a moment, they might try to offer me a deal with their services of (as per their website):
“quality of editing, packaging and marketing….
Their services, as I examined their books’ listings on Amazon, translate thusly:
PubliGush will give you adjectives! And, adverbs!
I couldn’t help but wonder, what hyperactive modifiers might they offer to moiself?
It appears that one of their marketing strategies is to hyperbolize their book blurbs to the max. I refer to the vocabulary employed to do so, which turns out to be rather manic and somewhat, er, repetitive. Their “jacket” blurbs run the gamut from…well, from:
* An absolutely jaw-dropping…
* A real page-turner…
* A gripping emotional page turner!
* An Absolutely Heartbreaking tale of ____! * Gripping and heartbreaking!
* Beautiful and gripping…
* An absolutely gripping and suspenseful…
* An absolutely gripping and emotional…
* A completely gripping and emotional…
* An utterly heart-wrenching and gripping…
* A gripping emotional page turner…
* An absolutely heartbreaking and gripping emotional page-turner…
* An unputdownable and absolutely gripping psychological thriller…
The Dowager Countesss does not approve of all these commoners and their gripping.
And, lest there be doubt about the amount of gripping and heartbreak involved:
* A totally gripping and absolutely heartbreaking…
Also, asthmatics be forewarned re this title:
* A gripping emotional page turner with a twist
that will take your breath away…
It was all so amped-up – moiself felt in need of a sedative after merely perusing these title descriptions. My pulse was actually racing; I guess you could say I needed to get a grip (absolutely, completely, utterly….).
Moiself’s favorite description of any book, even from publishers and reviewers less prone to hyperbole, is that it is “a page-turner.” Now, by definition, isn’t every book a page-turner? Whether you loved a book from intro to index or stopped somewhere in the middle with a, “Meh; I’ve read better,” the prose didn’t just present itself to you all at once. You had to…ahem…Turn. The. Page. (even with ebooks) to get there.
“Are you sure that’s how this thing works?”
* * *
Department Of What We Talk About When We Talk About Grief And Loss
” ‘Sometimes I’ve heard people talk about losing a child and people say it’s like losing a limb. And as someone who’s lost both things, I just want to say, the realities are very different.’
Musician and writer Christa Couture has experienced way too much of people trying to convey sympathy and instead expressing their discomfort about disability and death.” (The Allusionist, intro to 3-12-21 episode )
Grief; loss. I’ve tried to be as direct about the subjects as I can in my own life (no doubt failing spectacularly in certain instances). Thus, I’ve had my share of trouble using the societal conventions some folks prefer. For example, when someone asks me about my parents, I use the terms death or dead to impart the reality of the situation, rather than euphemize with phrases such as, “My mother is no longer with us.” 
I had an odd conversation several years ago, with a fellow parent at a meet-‘n greet event at my son K’s college. We got to talking about our respective families; she said that her son had recently “lost” his beloved grandfather, then asked about K’s grandparents – were they still living? Only she phrased it as, had any of his grandparents “passed.” I answered that my mother was alive but in precarious health, which began “when my father died…” She interrupted with, “Oh, when your father passed….”
At least twice more, while eliciting information about what happened to my family after my father died, she steered back to the term, passed. She seemed uncomfortable with any of the D-word triumvirate (died/dead/death); of course, it was fine for her to use other terms. Meanwhile, I was deriving petty amusement from her passive-aggressive attempt to steer the speech of a person she’d just met – that would be moiself– toward using a word that *she* preferred, regarding another person (my dead dad) she’d never met. I remember suppressing the urge to say something along the lines of,
“When my father passed? – Oh yes, that’s right, when he passed the LSAT we were so proud! No wait, he wasn’t even studying for that. Anyway, we were thrilled when he passed the AP English exam, but when he passed gas, well, that’s another story….”
I told you Captain Picard, I *suppressed* the urge to respond in that manner.
Couture might be described as an expert on grief and loss, considering her life experiences, which include:
* developing bone cancer in her leg when she was 11 years old
* the amputation of her leg after two years of grueling chemo treatments
*her first child’s death on the day he was born
* her second child’s death at age 14 months, not long after he had a heart transplant
* her divorce “born of grief”
* undergoing surgery which endangered her career as a professional musician
However, I gathered from the interview that the good-natured, intelligent, and subtly self-deprecating author wouldn’t describe herself as an expert on anything, except that of her own feelings.
Couture admitted to experiencing both sides of the uneasiness which comes from being either the receiver, or the giver, of comfort after death and loss. She and the podcast host mused about those face-palming moments when we, as flawed human beings, employ certain well-meaning if ham-fisted strategies in our attempts to relate to or express sympathy for someone’s tragedy. One of the more common is, “Scrolling through a Rolodex of doom,” which I found to be a wonderful term for the situation we’ve all either been in or witnessed (e.g., while visiting her friend who is hospitalized after a car crash, well-intentioned Debbie blurts out, “I know what this is like – my uncle Joe died in a car crash, and my college roommate Freda had her arm amputated after her Toyota was t-boned by a drunk driver….“).
Couture, who identifies as Indigenous, queer, and disabled, talks about person-first versus identity-firstlanguage. It is a subject about which she has clear opinions, even as she notes that her thoughts on this and other matters are not shared by everyone, and that she is not “the ambassador for the disabled.” She’s no language cop – she doesn’t insist that everyone must stop using terms that “the disabled community” finds offensive.  She does have some good suggestions for certain word usage and choices, all presented with her calm, generous, good-humored perspective. She’d prefer if you don’t use terms she finds “silly” in that they are euphemistic – e. g., “differently-abled” and “handi-capable”  instead of “handicapped.”
She and podcast host Helen Zaltzman acknowledged the difficulty of knowing what to say:
HZ: “…the shiftingness  is one of the things that makes people struggle with it…’I don’t know what to say now, because ten years ago I was told to say this other thing that I’m now not allowed to say. So I’m terrified to say this thing, and now I’ve made this conversation very awkward, and the wrong word has escaped my mouth because I’m so stressed.’ “
Couture: “Right. And I’ve been that stressed out person, who’s gone, ‘Oh wait, I said the thing and I know or I didn’t know…’ ” Yeah…that speaks to the power of language as well…the impact that it’s having on people or, you know, where people have asked us not to use those words, and then us being afraid of being shamed by them.”
The most poignant part of the interview for me was when Couture spoke of an existential crisis for her, one which arises almost daily and which she still has not fully resolved: how to truthfully yet self-protectively respond to the questions which naturally arise when people want to hear about your life.
For most people, “Do you have any children?” is a basic inquiry. But, two of Couture’s three children died. And when people who don’t know about the deaths of her two sons see her with her daughter, they often ask, “Do you have any other children?”
She still struggles with those questions. She still doesn’t have a pat response…
“…because it depends on the context, who’s asking. But I don’t feel guilty in the way that I used to about saying, ‘No,’ or, ‘I just don’t want to get into it.’
Sometimes I’ve had to go back and be like, ‘Remember that time I said I don’t have other kids? I now actually want to tell you: I have two sons that died.’ You know, from becoming friends with someone or something, a colleague or something like that. But it’s an interesting choice, when it’s a colleague or at work, because it’ll come up or they’ll hear about it somewhere else, and then I sort of wish that *I* had been the one to tell them….
So, yes or no, do I have children? It’s a loaded question. I try to never, ever, ever ask it, and not because someone else might have lost a child – maybe they have, but maybe they wanted children and didn’t get to, and that sucks. Or maybe they never wanted kids and they’re so tired of having to justify their decision.
Whatever it is, there’s all of these complexities around kids. And I just feel that’s a question that we shouldn’t ask. It’s a conversation to have with people who want to have it. But…I try to follow other people’s lead on that.”
Also useful to hear is Couture’s take on why she and (most) other disabled people do not view themselves as “an inspiration,” and why you shouldn’t, either (ever heard the term, inspiration porn ?). But, don’t take it from moiself– listen to the interview and/or get her book…or at least appreciate the picture of her prosthetic leg, which is, as the host noted, the most “glorious” prosthesis you might ever see.
* * *
Department Of Nomination For Arguably The Worst Lyrics Ever
One of the perks of having one of my car radio’s auto select stations set to the local FM oldies station is getting to occasionally hear the amazingly-cringe-worthy crap so-called classics I’d long forgotten. Prime example: “Music To Watch Girls By,” which, apparently and inexplicably, was a hit in 1967 for that favorite of your grandparents, the whiter-than-mayonnaise crooner, Andy Williams.
♫ The boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene
Which is the name of the game, watch a guy watch a dame on any street in town Up and down and over and across, romance is boss… ♫
Yeah, I know.
Imagine the poet laureate who was drugged and bribed to come up with,
“♫… they solemnly convene to make the scene. ♫”
If the lyrics themselves aren’t enough to send you running to the regurgitron, try scalding your cornea with these images. It was 1967, but the leering, camera-on-the-female-ass fixation would give the most booty-obsessed rapper a run for his raunchy money:
* * *
And Now, From Bad Songs To Bad Puns About Songs
My husband hates songs by Britney Spears and asked me not to sing them. But oops, I did it again.
I’m writing a song about how much I adore seesaws. It’s called 50 Ways to Love your Lever.
* * *
May you never be viewed as “an inspiration” for anyone…but if you are… May the inspiration you provide be Utterly, Completely, and Totally Gripping; May you not find yourself waking up at 4 am with the earworm, “Music To Watch Girls By” infesting your brain; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 My second and third short story collections and second novel.
 Nutshell summary: the publishing business sucks.
 Bespoke Publishers use POD (print-on-demand) technology to adapt an existing title to create a “bespoke book” marketed toward specific readership and uses. This is more common in nonfiction but is also used in fiction, to change, say, the book’s foreword, cover artwork, even some content, to target certain audiences.
 Aka author-assisted publishing, indie publishing, partnership publishing, co-publishing, hybrid publishing involve the author paying for some or all services (usually in return for higher royalty rates). Translated, “Hybrid publishing,” is another a form of self-publishing, wherein the author pays for the publication of their book. However, unlike self-publishing and vanity publishing, a hybrid publisher will not accept *every* manuscript presented to them – they do have editorial standards.
Traditional publishing is where the publisher assumes the entire financial burden of bringing a book to market, from editing to cover design to marketing, promotion, distribution…for which they (rightfully, considering their investment) receive the majority of the profits. Traditional publishers pay authors an advance (usually; this varies with the contract), then royalties after the advance has been earned back, in exchange for the exclusive right to publish their work.
 Which always makes me think things like, “But hopefully she’ll be back in 45 minutes, with pizza!”
 She does use term disabled community, a term which implies a commonality of experience, but not necessarily of not thought and opinion…which reminds me of what I’ve read and heard from members of “the black community” and “the LGBTQ community,” many of whom object to the groupthink implied by such broad labels.
 I didn’t even know that was a thing. I’d be cringing, too. ” Handi-capable”…sheesh.
 I love that word – it’s another term the world needs. I hope it makes it into the OED.
Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
Department Of Nomination For Lyrical Couplet Of The Year
My nomination hails from the musical-comedy “The Prom,” the Netflix-streamed movie, adapted from the 2018 Broadway show of the same name. The story revolves around the political, cultural and social shenanigans which ensue when a small town Indiana High School PTA announces their intention to cancel the school’s prom because a female student wants to take her girlfriend to the dance. 
The couplet moiself refers to is sung by an archetypal cheerleader/popular/hot/girl, who is quite pleased with her perceptions of her own “hotness” as she arrives at her much-anticipated high school prom:
♫ …You have to hand it to me I mean even I would do me ♫
(lyric from “Tonight Belongs To You”)
* * *
Department Of Good News For Office Party Nerds
Speaking of sexual/physical desirability, a recent episode of the Curiosity Daily podcast, “Why Birds Wore Funny Hats for Science,” dealt with scientific experiments in avian mate preference and selection.
“A female finch was given a choice between two males. One was just a regular guy, but the other had an upgrade. He was wearing a tiny hat with a giant white feather sticking straight up. …Imagine being uncontrollable attracted to him, because that’s what happened in the trials. Females went wild for the guys in funny hats….”
* * *
Department Of The Doctor Will See You Now… So Turn Our Head And Cough
“Many Ph.D. holders are fine with reserving the title for medical doctors in common parlance, viewing insistence on the title as arrogant and elitist, and do not use their titles even in a scholarly setting. But for women and people of color, an academic title can be a tool to remind others of their expertise in a world that often undermines it.”
( “Should all Ph.D’s be called ‘Doctor’ ” KQED )
“…female engineers with Ph.D.s who said they are under-represented in their field, and feel like they need to put doctor in front of their names to get the same respect that male engineers get. …researchers found that male doctors introduce their male colleagues as “Dr.” around 70 percent of the time, but introduce their female colleagues as doctor a little less than half the time.”
( “Who Gets To Be Called ‘Doctor” And Why It Matters,” WHYY )
Yep, moiself just has to put my two cents’ in re The Dr. Jill Biden Thing ® .
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (UC Davis, circa 1979), most of my college professors had Ph.D.s in their respective fields. When it came to their professional titles, I can’t recall how most of them preferred to be addressed (“Professor,” “Dr.” “Ms. ___” or “Mr. ___”), nor what I or the other students called them…with one notable exception.
I took a class from Robert Miller,  who had a Ph.D. in literature and taught a class on film/cinema (the name of which escapes me). From day one of the class Miller made it clear as to how he preferred to be addressed. In-class questions and discussions were encouraged, but when any student raised their hand and began their remarks with, “Dr. Miller…? Miller would interrupt with, “Yes, nurse?”
Most of the students caught on rather quickly. One particularly obsequious toady with artistic pretensions (he wore all black attire, no matter the weather, including black turtleneck shirt AND, I kid you not, a black beret) did not. After the fifth or six occasion of him hearing, “Yes, nurse?” he got up the nerve to ask Miller some deferential version of, whaz up wit dat?
Miller took that opportunity to tell the entire class that, yes, he had a doctorate degree, but he preferred to be addressed by the title, “Professor,” because that was his profession. He went on to tell an entertaining story of the history of academic titles. According to Miller, the title “professor “fell out of favor during the mid-late 19th century, when traveling snake oil salesman referred to themselves thusly, to add a cloak of respectability re the noxious potions they peddled. Thus, the term “professor” became associated with charlatans, and actual professors who held doctorate degrees began calling themselves “Dr.,” a title which had heretofore been reserved for physicians.
Professor Miller briefly expressed his opinion that academics in any field who insisted on being called “Dr.” were either insecure with or overly impressed by their own credentials. For clarity, Miller thought that “Dr.” should refer to a practicing M.D.
Until recently, I shared Professor Miller’s antipathy toward the use of Dr. referring to anyone other than a physician. I am also loath to address physicians, when they are not on duty, as Doctor, and in social settings I am suspicious of medical doctors who insist on being introduced that way. If you are a medical doctor, off-duty at the grocery store or at your spouse’s office party or any other situation wherein I can expect that you will *not* be putting a tongue depressor into my mouth, what is the point – other than for your own self-aggrandizement – to introduce yourself to me as a doctor?
Years ago, in social situations where there were enough people unfamiliar with each other so as to require name tags, I encountered that situation frequently, enough so that I was inspired to Do Something About It ®. I’d noticed that some (not all) of the party attendees added, either before their first name or after their surname, their professional titles and/or initials in situations which clearly did not require the identification of one’s profession. Think, “Rev. Blowschlock” at a non-religious gathering, or “Elmer Turnblatter, M.D.,” at a New Year’s Eve party or other, non-medical setting. In anticipation of the next such event, I made moiself a name tag which I could proudly wear on Those Special Occasions. 
Being proud of your accomplishments is one thing; unconsciously or otherwise hoping for special notice/treatment because of the letters after your name is another. Cynical moiself usually assumed the latter reasoning, when it came to people who insisted that others know or use their professional letters and titles in non-professional situations.
Which brings us to Joseph Epstein, BFD.
In case you’ve spent the last two weeks in a drunken stupor/hiding under a rock/binge-watching”Grey’s Anatomy paying attention to more weighty matters, you may not know about the column that journalist Joseph not-a-doctor Epstein wrote for the Wall Street Journal. In the column, Epstein offered unsolicited advice to Jill Biden, who has a doctorate degree in education, as to how people should address her and how she should refer to herself. His column…I shall not link to it here. Not to worry, you can easily find it, as the odor from his festering turd of deprecating sexism disguised as an op/ed can be detected across the country. The stench begins with the first paragraph.
“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what might seem like a small but I think is not an unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels a touch fraudulent, not to mention comical.”
Yep. He wrote that.
Epstein has heretofore *not* offered such advice to other Ph.D. holders in the public eye.  Nor did No-doc Epstein voice any complaints when his newspaper identified non-medical doctor Henry Kissinger as Dr. Kissinger. Epstein is taking some well-deserved heat for his comments, and is responding to this blowback by clutching his proverbial pearls and hiding behind the whiny, entitled skirts of crying, “Cancel culture!!” instead of taking this criticism as an opportunity to examine his own myopia when it comes to equal respect for and treatment of professional titles.
“As supporting evidence for his reasoning (that “no one should call himself Dr. unless he has delivered a child.” ), Epstein cites his own refusal to be called “Dr.” when he taught courses at Northwestern University — which would, in fact, have been fraudulent and comical because Epstein’s highest degree is a bachelor’s. It seems he would like Jill Biden to deny herself what she earned, because he denied himself what he did not.”
Doctor? What doctor? Epstein’s “advice” ends as malodorously as it begins.
“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”
“the small thrill of being Dr. Jill….”
Got that, folks? Regardless of how you or I think about what professional titles any person should or should not use, Epstein reveals his closeted (perhaps even to himself) sexism in his finale: Jill Biden’s own hard work and achievements should not be as important as those “larger thrills” which society may bestow upon her by virtue of the man she married, and that she should accept this marital title and the perks (best public housing, ever, yee haw!) and refrain from claiming her personal identity and accomplishments.
It may be possible that (doctor-less) Epstein truly doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. The mere fact that he could pen such a condescending column indicates he has had his head up his ass in the sand of entitlement for the past X decades, when it comes realizing how women have had to fight for respect, to have their professional accomplishments acknowledged – and even attributed, what with the history of males claiming credit for their female colleagues’ accomplishments….
*The Art of Claiming Credit: Why women in particular have to be strategic with our suggestions and insights, plus advice on calling out credit stealers.
* When Teamwork Doesn’t Work For Women: …new evidence suggests that the underrepresentation of women reflects a systemic bias in that marketplace: a failure to give women full credit for collaborative work done with men.
All else being equal, I would hold with my original discomfort with non-medical-docs using the Dr. title. But we do not live on planet All Else Being Equal.
Also, my college film professor was not entirely correct regarding his take on the doctor v. professor issue. Ph.D.’s, not M.D.s, were the original “doctors.”
“The term doctor can be traced back to the late 1200s, and it stems from a Latin word meaning “to teach.” It wasn’t used to describe a licensed medical practitioner until about 1400, and it wasn’t used as such with regularity until the late 1600s.”
(““M.D.” vs. “Ph.D.” vs. “Dr.,” dictionary.com )
“The premise that only medical doctors should get to hold the Dr. title is etymologically specious because, as Merriam-Webster dictionary pointed out on Twitter, “doctor” comes from the Latin word for “teacher”; it was scholars and theologians who, back in the 14th century, used the title well before medical practitioners.”
(Monica Hessee, Washington Post op cit )
* * *
Department Of Save That Poop – It May Save your Life
So happy to have yet another excuse to mention Murder Hornets before this year is consigned to the dumpster fire of history.
“To ward off giant hornet attacks, honeybees in Vietnam will adorn the entrances to their nests with other animals’ feces, a defensive behavior called fecal spotting…. The odious ornamentation seems to repel the wasps — or at least seriously wig them out…. Decorating one’s home with dung might sound indecorous….But the scat-based strategy appears to capitalize on a relatable trend: Most creatures aren’t keen on muddying their meals with someone else’s waste.” ( “When Murder Hornets Menace Their Hive, Bees Decorate It With Animal Feces,”
(NY Times, Sciences, 12-9-20 )
A house completely made of dung. Notice the lack of murder hornets…or people, within a 50 yard radius.
A dung beetle spent an entire day rolling a ball of dung up a hill, only to have it fall into a ravine on the other side. Needless to say, he lost his shit.
Make. It. Stop.
* * *
May your title denigration be equal opportunity, if you feel the need to discount someone’s adacemic achievements; May you always choose the guy (or girl) with the funny hat; May you do whatever you have to do-do when the Murder Hornets arrive; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Although “The Prom” is fictional, it is based on the true story of what happened in 2010 at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, where school officials, objecting to a lesbian student who wanted to bring her date to the prom, decided that, rather than face lawsuits of discrimination against that student they would cancel the entire prom, for all students, rather than allow gay couples to attend.
Is today still considered Black Friday, what with the COVID crisis limiting the for some white trash who look forward to the traditional shoving match at Walmart customary, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy?  Using the post-holiday letdown as an excuse inspiration, moiself has decided that this will a lighter, less filling, politics-free post.
* * *
Department Of Someone Is Not Understanding The Concept
Our city’s curbside recycling services recently (within the past year) added food waste recycling to their yard waste recycling service. Each household was issued a small (~ 1 gallon) tan container for the house, to be kept on your kitchen counter, under the sink, wherever, for your potato and apple peels, squash rinds – all of your plant food waste. When that container is full you empty it into your large (60 gallon) brown yard waste bin which you keep outside a foot or so over the property line, so as to annoy your neighbors next to your other garbage and recycling bins. the smaller container goes back inside the house. You wheel the big brown bin to the curb when it is your street’s garbage/recycling pickup day. Pretty basic stuff.
house food waste container on the front/left, which you empty into the yard waste bin on the right.
Our city, like most cities these days, has a fleet of garbage/recycling vehicles which are automated side load trucks. The trucks have a crew of one – the driver, who operates a mechanical arm which grabs and lifts the recycling bin and dumps it.
Here is what moiself observed on Monday morning, when I was walking in a neighborhood ~ 1 mile from my house, on that neighborhood’s recycling day.
* * *
Dept Of Avoiding Politics To Keep The Peace For Just One Day, But Of Course She Found Something Else to Tantalize Offend Some of Y’all
There are so many, many, many examples I could use, but I’ll settle on this one: Why do religious folk still engage, and/or seem to believe in, the efficacy of intercessory prayer, considering what happened to Elizabeth Smart?
Jesus Lied About Prayer (excerpts from “Lies Jesus Told,” from the blog, “EvilBible.com – fighting Against Immorality In Religion” )
“Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it. He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it. This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer. Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away. Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house. He could make a lot of converts that way. If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on my web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass. If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt. Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:”
(moiself’scomment: the following is number three of nine demonstrably claims, from the New Testament, attributed to Jesus, that the author of this blog lists): (3) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)”
Remember the Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint when she was fourteen years old? She was held captive for nine months by her abductor.  The man, an excommunicated Mormon, claimed to be a prophet and an angel, and told Smart that she was …”the first of many virgin brides he planned to kidnap, each of whom would accompany him as he battled the Antichrist.” He repeatedly raped Smart, “…sometimes multiple times a day, forced her to look at pornographic magazines, and regularly threatened to kill her.”
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
If the human interest stories about the case that I read were correct – if what we know about human nature is correct – there were definitely more than two or three people praying, in Jesus’ name, from day one when news of Smart’s abduction broke. For nine months people prayed alone, and in groups, Mormons and Christians alike,  as well as believers of other faiths, for that poor girl to be found and returned to her family.
And Jesus was…where, during all of this?
If what Jesus said was trustworthy – and Christians claim that their scriptures are reliable in its narration of Jesus’ words and deeds – when those people were praying he was in their midst doing…just what, exactly? Listening to them, hearing their earnest supplications, discussing it with his supposed father/god/himself ,  and ultimately, apparently, saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’ll let them find her, but not now. We’ll allow her to get sexually assaulted for several more months, like the Congolese women who also keep praying to us as they are raped in the refugee camps.”
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Department Of This Is In The Running For Best (Verbal) Curse Ever
The visual version of this curse would be having to look at this picture.
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Department Of What The World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love…. Or, Failing That, A New Game
Dateline: Thursday morning. My thoughts while walking past the Manzanita Links golf course, where moiself espied at least six people prepping for a round of golf before halving to attend to Thanksgiving dinner or whatever.
As I passed the end of the course – the ninth hole – moiself had a sudden realization: while I have no interest in golf such as it is, I am intrigued by the idea of playing it backwards. How about instead of playing golf, we play Flog ® ?
“Only a stupid infidel would use a nine iron off the tee!”
No no no; not *that* kind of flog.
Here’s how to Flog: Using a specialty club –golf putters may need to be repurposed for flogging – players “hit” (or somehow coax) their flog balls out of the ninth hole, with the aim of getting the balls up to and atop the ninth hole tee. Repeat with each hole after (before?) that, until you end up at the first tee.
Just imagine the skill set involved! I mean, anyone can (eventually) hit a golf ball off of a tee, but the precision, tenacity, and dexterity in getting one *on* to it? Flogging will require an abundance of Zen-like focus and patience.
Flogging will be a high-scoring game – probably no two- or even three-par holes, and the odds against any player shooting a hole in one (tee in one?) will be astronomical.
What do you think – could this attract a whole new generation of players? Or, are the logistics insurmountable ? Obviously, you couldn’t have people golfing and flogging at the same time, as you’d end up with weird traffic jams,  so an existing course would have to decide, day by day, to be either for golfing, or for flogging.
So, when moiself wins the lottery  I will rent out an entire course golf course for moiself and some thrill-seeking friends, and we shall Flog.
Community Service/Making The World A Better Place ® Bonus: We floggers will be a better-dressed bunch than golfers. That’s almost too easy to guarantee.
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Department Of Partridge Of The Week
Our neighborhood knows the holiday season is in full swing when the lights go up on the pear tree in our front yard (the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stay up until early January. Each week, the tree hosts a Special Guest Star ®. This week’s Partridge in our pear tree is, as always, the lead-off:
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Pun For The Day
The cook couldn’t bother to season the thanksgving Turkey – she didn’t have the thyme.
“Yeah, sure lady – you’re a vegan, like we believe that!
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Department Of False Advertising
Although I promoted today’s post as being politics-free, moiself can’t resist mentioning this. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, listening to a podcast, wherein a physician/scientist was being interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine options. ‘Twas music to my ears to hear, more than once, the interviewer ask the scientist what he would be expecting and/or hoping from “…The Biden Administration.”
For the first time in four years, I could hear the word “administration,” referring to the federal government, and not feel the, nauseating, gut-twisting, I-told-you-not-to-eat-those-oysters sensation in the pit of my abdomen, as was the case when the word “administration” was precede by the name of #45.
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May you intrigue your mind with thoughts of other games which might be played backwards; May your soul be soothed by phrases like, The Biden Administration; May all your shits have antlers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.
 And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.
Department Of Even Yoga Teachers Need To Be Careful What They Ask For
Backstory: A couple of months ago, when we were all new to this streaming business, my 9 am yoga class teacher held a pre-class video chat for us streamers. She told us a “yoga joke,” then said that if anyone else knew any yoga jokes, she’d love to hear them.
Dateline: Monday; circa 9:30 am; doing a vinyasa (yoga) class via streaming. The regular teacher is on vacation. As the substitute yoga teacher leads the class into Triangle Pose, my mind wanders – which *not* the point of a yoga class, I realize…
…my mind wanders to ponder the many different yoga pose names, both their English “nickname” and the Sanskrit names and translations, and as I do this, a joke begins to develop in moiself’sun-mindfulness-practicing mine. There are a few twisting yoga poses which are notorious for producing, in certain people, a certain bodily response – in fact, the Sanskrit name for one such pose translates as:
My joke is a play on the Sanskrit name for Triangle Pose, which is Trikonasa (TREE- kone-ah-sauna). I will ask my yoga teacher if there is a yoga pose known for inducing bladder leakage, and if so, would that pose be called, Trickle-asana?
My guess is that Trickleasana would look something like this
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Department Of Extending The Metaphor
Yeah, hipster, since you obviously don’t care about trashing your own lungs, go right ahead and give no thought to trashing your small portion of the planet, which happens to be shared by everyone else. That’s the true American Spirit. 
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Actually, not. Not something *completely* different, that is.
Instead, a smooth segue into….
Department Of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes… And Nowhere Else, If You’re Lucky.
MH and I have two fireplaces in our house. One has never been used; the other has been used once, not long after we moved in (~ 26 years ago), and never since. This is because of moiself’skilljoy spirit high livability standards.
I have been the family spoilsport when it comes to wood fires, be they fireplace fires or beach bonfires or campfires. When on vacation, burning wood is “permissible” only if necessary – e.g., if your accommodations have a wood-fire stove as the only heating source. You see, I am one of those annoyingI-can’t-pretend-to-not-know-something-once-I-know-it kinda people, and cannot justify sitting around a pollution source sans a more compelling reason than my personal entertainment.
And yes, I have fun, sitting-around-the-campfire memories from childhood. And yes, I have been pooh-poohed for my anti-wood fire attitude (“Oh, c’mon, it’s not really that bad…“). And yes, I am thanking someone else for doing the legwork on the It Really Is That Bad ® statistics I once knew but have forgotten and was too lazy to look up.
That info via Someone Else ® was provided in yesterday’s Ask Amy column, wherein Amy dealt with a woman’s am-I-right-to-be-disturbed-by-this question. This (nonsmoking) woman has been accused by her (non-smoking) husband’s “big smoker” sisters of over-reacting because of the woman’s concerns about the fact that when she and hubby go for “chats and s’mores” to the sisters’ place, the sisters toss their butts and partially smoked cigarettes into the fire pit:
“…since we don’t smell any cigarette smoke as the fire burns, (the sisters claim that) second-hand smoke isn’t an issue.
I feel this is second-hand smoke and a very real health concern.”
Amy lays it on the line (my emphases):
Cigarettes aside, the backyard fire pit itself presents risks to lung health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov), “In addition to particle pollution, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants, including: benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).”
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, which is a finely spun plastic (not cotton, as I had always assumed). Burning plastic sends off toxic fumes. The leftover tobacco on the spent cigarettes will also release “second-hand” smoke.
So yes – this bonfire is basically a flaming pit of toxins.
The Scoutmaster says we’re only two requirements shy of earning our Flaming Pit of Toxins merit badges!
Are you lost in the forest in the dead of winter? Ok; build a fire. You and your friends just wanna sit beside a pile of wood and watch it burn for…oh, that warm, glowy-feeling, or whatever? There are other ways to enjoy each other’s company that don’t involve needless production of toxic waste. How about playing charades, or that game where you find clever ways to trash your hypocritical friends who make you feel guilty about, say, things like polluting for your own pleasure?
Or how about this: re-purpose some old holiday lights, and if you put them on twinkly-mode you can pretend it’s flickering flames. Imagination is good for the body and spirit.
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Department Of Could The Editor Have Cut The Movie To Give You All At Least Five Minutes Before Contradicting Yourselves?
Dateline: a week ago, this evening; watching The Go-Go’s documentary with MH. One of the Go-Gos was doing a voice over about the early 1980s Los Angeles punk scene (from whence the Go-Gos was spawned); specifically, about how accepting the punks were: it didn’t matter if you were gay or straight, white or black, male or female etc. you were welcomed for however you were/whatever you were.
This kumbaya declaration was made literally seconds before the band went on to recall how the other Go-Gos demanded that their new drummer, Gina Schock, an import LA from Baltimore, undergo a makeover when she arrived – they cut and dyed her frizzy blonde hair to short and dark, to be more suitable to the punk scene.
Confession: the picture of Gina’s “Baltimore” hairstyle that flashed onscreen during that recollection…it *was* really, clownishy, wretched, even by 1980’s hair standards.  Open and accepting only goes so far; I guess even punk rockers have standards.
Yep; it was worse than this.
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Department Of Stopping Moiself In The Nick Of Time
Dateline: Tuesday, circa 7 am, walking north along the beach at Manzanita. There are few people on the misty beach. About 200 yards ahead of me I see three creatures walking south – a man, a woman, and their dog. The man and the woman each hold a large takeout coffee cup in their respective right hands. The dog, walking between the two, is looking up at the man. Dog pays the woman no attention; dog’s eyes stare up at the man.
As the trio gets closer I notice that the dog’s laser focus is on the man’s left arm, which the man has tightly clenched to his left side, and I get a glimpse of the halves of two brightly colored orbs the man is carrying between his upper arm and armpit/chest.
As our two groups (well, moiself is a group of one) we both do the polite, COVID-appropriate thing, moving to the side and smiling in acknowledgement and greeting. The woman says a few words to the dog, which gives no indication it has heard her – it never tears its gaze from the man and the toys he has “hidden” under his arm…and the woman sees that I have noticed this. As she gives me a “What am I – chopped liver?” look and shrug of her shoulders, I stop myself at the last minute from pointing to the dog and to the man and saying to the man,
“Oh, I get it – you’re the one with the balls!”
“In a just world, I’m the one with *all* the balls.”
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Pun For The Day
I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory – all I did was take a day off!
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May you enjoy the simple pleasure of wasting precious brain wattage on composing a bad joke about your favorite form of exercise; May you be the coveted one with the…uh…balls; May we all hope that the nostalgia for pre-pandemic times does not presage a return to 1980s hair; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 No no no – not *that* kind. A yogi is anyone who practices yoga.
 Can you make out the cigarette carton brand? Do ya get it, huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?
 I can provide no still picture of that hair, from the documentary – I think it would have burned the camera lens to even attempt it.
Here’s the description of the activity, from the brilliant  industrial engineer living in San Francisco who started it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started going on near-daily walks to help combat the monotony of being cooped up indoors all day. To spice things up a bit, I decided to plan my walking routes such that the paths I took formed letters and words. I call this activity SpellWalking. I live in San Francisco, a city favorable to SpellWalking due to the multiple intersecting gridiron street patterns to choose from.
( From the SpellWalking website Yes, it has I website; it’s a *thing,* y’all)
Check out the grid patterns – they are delightful, and mostly feature San Francisco neighborhood names.
Moiself’sfavorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.
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Department Of Say What? Sub-Department Of What Is The Emoji For Your Ears Doing A Double Take? Division Of Unfortunate Government Employee Names
Dateline: Tuesday; circa 11 am; listening to the car radio while running an errand. I tuned into the Oregon Public Broadcasting channel, to the end of a story announcing the appointment of the man who will be Oregon State University’s 15th president. Current OSU president Ed Ray will step down, to be replaced by F. King Alexander.
Yep, that’s what I heard – followed by those voices coming from the radio in my own mind, speculating about what form the complaints he (the new OSU president) will receive from those who are unhappy with his leadership:
“That F** King Alexander….”
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Department Of Speaking Of How My Brain Works…
I have layperson’s/”hobby” interest in neurology and neuropsychology – in how (scientists think) the brain works. In my If-I-Had-To-Do-It-All-Over-Again ® mode, I might have pursued neuroscience and/or cognitive psychology-related fields, instead of following the highly lucrative and emotionally satisfying and rewarding batshit crazy “creative” path.
But I have this one problem  when it comes to reading articles about neuroscience and behavior and basic cognition. Whenever I read about a certain part of the brain, a part located deep in the temporal lobe and most strongly associated with memory, ’tis difficult for me to get past the name of said brain region. I’ve learned that moiselfcannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, everyF. King Alexander time – comes to mind.
Here’s what happens: I picture a college campus setting – a university whose student body is comprised solely of herbivorous, semiaquatic ungulate mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. And I face that image, appreciate it, and set it aside…until I come to the part in the article which says, in essence, “Let’s explore what we know about the hippocampus…” and I am immediately transported back to that same setting, with moiselfbeing led on a campus tour by a student guide…
“And over on the left is our renowned fine arts center….”
One might think that, with the interest in/reading about this neuro-stuff (excuse the fancy-pants, science jargon) I claim to do, moiselfmight have figured out why my brain does this. Nah; not gonna go there. I suppose I enjoy it enough that the why doesn’t matter. It’s not something I would want to “fix.”
Fraternity rush season at the Hippocampus is intense.
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Department Of Not All Of The Oldies Are Goodies
Dateline: same as my first lame story highly entertaining anecdote. I switched my car’s radio from the OPB channel to KQRZ, a local station which plays music from the past (aka “oldies”), and I heard a song moiselfhadn’t thought about in years.
Wildfire was popular when I was a certain age. The song had always seemed melodically anemic to me, and I’d never paid much attention to it when it somehow got regular airplay. This time I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, and….wow.
“Is that a good wow, or a bad wow?”
Wowas in, this dull ditty was a hit song?
The song’s narrator tells the brief tale of a young woman who supposedly died during a blizzard while searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire.” The song’s narrator is in his cabin or somewhere – we don’t really know – in an early winter storm; an owl has perched outside of his window, which he takes as a sign that Ghostly Dead Girl is calling for him to join her and spend eternity riding her stupid horse lacking the horse sense to NOT run off into a blizzard pony with her.
Wowas in, there’s not much to the story, is there? It’s too insipid to be tragic.
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Department Of An Oldie Who Was One Of The Best Of The Goodies
“Mel comes over most every night. We’ll have dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” After dinner, we’ll watch a movie, if anything good is playing that night. We once said, “Any movie that has the line, ‘Secure the perimeter,’ you know it’s good.” (” Carl Reiner: Why Van Dyke is the best, Trump the worst and Mel Brooks is a savvy movie critic. ” USA Today, 5-1-19 )
Who is left among that generation of influential entertainers? Mel Brooks; Betty White; Norman Lear; Dick Van Dyke?
Reiner leaves behind an impressive body of work and a loving family, but here’s what makes me “grieve” the most, when I think about it: now that Carl Reiner is gone, who will Mel Brooks have dinner with?
My favorite Carl Reiner-directed movie is “All of Me,” which features wonderful work by actors Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Frail, condescending, wealthy socialite Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) engages the help of a guru to “transmigrate” her soul upon her death to the body of a healthy young woman. Edwina enlists lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) to change her will to leave her entire estate to the young woman. Edwina dies within minutes of signing the updated will, but via an ill-timed accident she ends up inhabiting Roger’s body, sharing it with him and controlling his body’s right side. Edwina and Roger are forced to work together to find a way to get her soul out his body, as well as to navigate mundane but essential tasks, as in this scene below, when Roger desperately needs to use the bathroom.
Enjoy…better yet, watch the entire movie, which is surprisingly sweet and sentimental despite its I-am-SO-sure premise.
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Department Of Even Harder To Comprehend Than Cosmic String Theory Is The “Success” Of Certain Attention Whores Celebrities
Carl Reiner, he of the multiple “slash” talents (comedian slash actor slash writer slash director slash producer….), was more than deserving of the fame and acclaim – and arguably, most importantly, the respect – which he received over a lifetime (his career spanned seventy-three years!), from both his audience and his show business peers.
And then, we have…oh, shit. I have to type this surname, don’t I, if I’m going to pursue this bizarre reflection? Let’s just say the name rhymes with lard-ashian.
“For F. King Alexander’s sake, just type, ‘Kardashian,’ you big baby.”
Moiself has never seen the Kardashian show. Of course, living in the culture, doing crossword puzzles, standing in line at the grocery store where there’s nothing to look at but the tabloid headlines or the ill-fitting clothing of the guy in front of me and I need to avert my eyes sideways lest they be further assaulted by the worst case of plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen…I can’t really avoid having a rudimentary knowledge of their existence.
And rudimentary will do, because there’s not much to know. They are famous, for…for what? For wanting to be famous.
Maybe there’s more to the show than that. Yeah…and maybe Chief Little Bunker-Bitch will join the Black Lives Matter movement and lead protesters in replacing statues of Robert E. Lee with gold-plated vaults containing the entire Spike Lee filmography.
I feel fully comfortable in judging this Show-That-I-Have-Not-Seen, and here is why. The Kardashians actively and openly seek celebrity, and in my opinion and that of many others who are Smarter And More Educated Than Moiself, ® that in and of itself is the sign of an unbalanced personality and bloated ego.
Kardashians and those like them pursue fame, as opposed to merely tolerating (or even grudgingly accepting) celebrity status as a by-product of something they’ve done, which is the “normal” or usual way fame attaches itself to a person.
Despite my being someone friends and family would describe as being outgoing or extroverted, fame or celebrity – being recognized by strangers – is something I have studiously avoided all my life (my former editors, pushing for me to do more publicity, might snarkily add that avoiding fame was the one aspect of my fiction writing career at which I excelled ). Thus, I am somewhat bemused and mostly appalled by those who actively seek to be in the proverbial glare of the spotlight.
Fame or celebrity comes to you, in most cases, if you do something notable and/or something which brings you to the public’s attention (e.g. in the performing arts). Not to be confused with the infamy accorded a mass murderer, you may become famous if, for example, you’ve acted in acclaimed movies. Yet, even then, the amount of fame coming your way cannot be determined by a cut and dried formula. It’s interesting to consider the variables, some having to do with the life a celeb leads, whether they actively sought the limelight outside of their professional lives or desperately tried to avoid it (and thus got more attention for that avoidance), and other factors seemingly random. Why did the paparazzi ignore a young(er) Sally Field, but pursue Angelina Jolie? (That answer seems obvious on the surface, but maybe Ms. Field had some really juicy hidden details of her life that a dedicated celebrity snoop could have unearthed). Why have talented, award-winning actors Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand not been subjected to the kind of tabloid attention that talented, award-winning actors Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence received?
However those actors may have played on it or downplayed it, their respective fame is due to actions or accomplishments on their part. Their celebrity is a consequence, not an predecessor, of their careers.
And then you have the reality TV stars – yep, I picked the low hanging fruit that is the Kardashian family – who want celebrity (but will settle for notoriety) first, before they’ve done anything to “merit” it. It’s back-asswards: once they have fame…for seeking fame…in order to keep their fame they need to figure out how to do something attention-worthy other than to be seeking attention. The LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage they should’ve outgrown by age eight becomes a thing in itself. You get fame and celebrity for wanting fame and celebrity, and in order to keep up the public’s interest in your fame and celebrity you must continually pursue it in extreme and tasteless ways.
But thanks to the advent of Reality TV, which has brought us our first Reality TV president, the whole concept of tasteful may have gone out the window…
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Department Of See This Movie, Right Now
Unless you’re on your way to the COVID ward of the hospital.
Otherwise, at one point in your life you’ve either been a frightened yet determined 17-year-old, or you’ve known one or (hopefully) have been a compassionate and loyal friend to one, as this movie so matter-of-factly and movingly depicts.
I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.
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May you enjoy your own variation of a classic curse phrase ( F. King Alexander! ); May you think twice before approaching a “famous” person when they are not in the process of actively seeking fame; May your sense of propriety pass The Tasteful Lady‘s scrutiny; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.
 Yes, those who know me well might interject here that moiself has a lot more than just one problem… but how’s about if y’all control your intrusive thoughts on the matter and we can get back to the subject?
Another Fact Abscess Feminist Ruins A Family Outing Enlightens A Grateful Grandpa
My offspring, K and Belle, successfully fledged several years ago. When they were young (ages 1-5), their respective daycare/preschool teachers knew that, rain or shine, they wouldn’t be in class on Wednesdays, as that was our zoo/museum outing day. Nine out of ten times, we’d go to the Oregon Zoo.
Those zoo trips were before the massive, community bond-supported revamping, updating, and expansion of the zoo and its animal habitats. There weren’t many visitors then – particularly on windy/rainy days, which were our favorites, because it often seemed if we had the zoo all to ourselves.  Several of the zookeepers got to recognize us, and we them. The staff were impressed and amused by K’s and Belle’s flourishing interest in animals and wildlife conservation and liked that we always greeted the keepers by name and asked (or tried to ask) interesting questions about the animals.
That the zookeepers took the time to speak with us (often quite extensively, and when it was obvious they had *real* work to do) is one of several factors moiselfcredits for both K and Belle going on to be in the Zoo Teens program while in high school and then majoring in the Biological Sciences in college.
I’d also like to think that I “modeled” or that K and Belle inherited (nature? nurture?) that interest from me. Moiselfwas quite the animal nerd growing up, particularly in grade school. My parents recognized and encouraged that interest, and for years I always received at least one nature-themed/animal facts book for my birthday and Christmas presents. Thus, informed and armed, I was able to spoil the fun of many a prepubescent boy – who was trying to be naughty by teasing his female classmates about this AMAZING animal he’d come across – by explaining that a titmouse was in fact *not* a well-endowed rodent, but a petite North American songbird.
As always, I digress.
One of my interests at the zoo was not only watching my kids watch the animals, but watching the other zoo visitors. In that older version of the zoo, near the Penguin House, there was a habitat wherein dwelt a solitary, enormous, beautiful, Alaskan Brown bear named Marcia (Marsha? Or Martha? Don’t know the spelling; her name was not on the information card on the habitat; we’d learned about her from the zookeepers  ).
On days when there were many other zoo visitors and we stopped by Marcia’s habitat, inevitably – I mean, without fail – other adults would “mis-identify” the bear. Always the male visitors (and also quite a few of the females) would remark, to themselves or to the kids who were with them, something along the lines of,
“Wow, get a load of that bear, he’s so big! Look at his paws…”
I would then take the opportunity to say, “Actually, her name is Marcia.” My comment/correction would oftentimes lead to brief but interesting, personal-connection type conversations about the zoo and the animals, and sometimes my kids and I would learn something new, from a visitor who had talked with a zookeeper at another exhibit and had an interesting animal fact/behavior tidbit to share. If the person seemed receptive, I would sneak in a factoid about how a zookeeper told me that the majority of the zoo’s resident animals were female…and how another zookeeper, and more than one biologist I’d met, told me that the majority of the world’s biomass is female but that an individual animal’s gender is usually misidentified by non-biologists when they use a pronoun other than “it” to refer to the animal. For example, if you espy a wild animal when you’re out and about – say, a garter snake when you’re hiking the Wildwood trail in Forest Park – it is most likely a “she snake,” even though you or your hiking companion(s) will probably call it, or think of it as, a “he.”
With two exceptions moiselfcan recall, these interactions at Marcia’s habitat were always positive (which is why I kept engaging in them). In exception #2, an older dude got his grandpa tighty-whities in a knot when I spoke up after he’d pointed out the bear to (what I assumed were) his two grandkids, as well as to moiself and my two kids, and exclaimed, “Look at that HUGE bear – can you guess how strong he is?”
“She sure is something – she’s one of our favorite animals at the zoo!” I cheerfully chirped. “And, actually, her name is Marcia.”
The man’s face slowly but surely morphed into Grumpy Old Man, get-offa-my-lawn! territory, as his granddaughter waved to the bear and called out, “Marcia – she’s Marcia! Hi, Marcia!”
“Why does that matter?” he said to me.
“What do you mean?”I asked, not knowing if the “matter” he was wondering about was the bear’s name or its sex.
“Why does it matter?” he repeated, now looking full-blown irritated, as if he thought I were trying to show him up in front of his grandkids (neither of whom were paying any attention to the adults, but were standing with my kids, waving to the bear). “Does it matter if it’s a he or a she?”
Moiself donned my best, well-practiced, kill him with kindness visage, raised my voice to a perky, non-threatening octave above my usual tone, and delivered my reply with bared teeth pretending to be a smile a friendly grin:
“Well, obviously it does, or you wouldn’t object to being corrected about a simple fact.”
He muttered under his breath and herded his grandkids away from the exhibit. The little girl turned back and called out, “Marcia! Marcia! Bye, Marcia!”
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Department Of Telling Grandpa Why It Matters
If Grumpy Gramps had stuck around and showed an ounce of amiable interest in the subject, I might have told him that I also would have offered a corrective comment had he misidentified the bear’s species, or its coloration or predation habits or dietary needs (“Look at that black bear/purple grizzly bear/orange sun bear – you know, in the wild, polar bears climb trees to hunt penguins….”), or any other basic fact about it. An animal’s sex or gender  is just another one of those basic facts.
The most obvious “proof” as to how important this is, Gramps, is that when I pointed out this particular, simple, factual error, did you notice how many of your feathers got ruffled?
I have taken it upon moiselfto be a “Squirt Gun Ambassador” re the natural world, hoping to incorporate the playfulness/good humor that this childhood summer toy brings to mind, when dealing with this particular issue, which is of importance TO THE ENTIRE WORLD (whether the entire world realizes it or not).
The SQUIRT gun issue to which I refer is my Sex Question Identification Reparations Therapy ® crusade, regarding peoples’ tendency to apply male pronouns to all animals they see, unless the animal is obviously female (e.g., nursing its young). I go the other direction, and use “she” instead of “it” (which I used to always do, and which I’ll get back to doing some day, when people stop defaulting to using “he”) to refer to an animal whose gender is unknown. My crusade is somewhat analogous to, and in part inspired by, actor Geena Davis’ campaign on gender inequity in entertainment media.
Media is one of the most important factors influencing our values. Women and girls are 51% of the population, but entertainment media is bereft of female characters, with a ratio of approximately 3:1 male characters to female characters since the 1940s. (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media )
……When her…daughter was a toddler, and (Davis) started watching movies with her, she realised how woeful the depictions of women in family movies really were. She was particularly struck by just how few speaking characters in these films were female. She took this point to industry colleagues, but most denied it. Well-meaning and sincere, they couldn’t see a problem. Davis pressed on – she wanted to see the numbers….she sponsored the largest study carried out on gender depictions in family-rated films and children’s television…and found that for every female speaking-character, there were 2.5 or three male characters – a figure unchanged since 1946. Furthermore, the vast majority of those female characters were stereotypical or highly sexualised, with ambitions largely related to romance. Even crowd scenes were only made up of 17% women….
Hollywood thinks women just don’t like to “gather,” or flee from monsters….
“What if we are inculcating generation after generation to believe that low representation of women is the norm?” (Davis) asked her audience. So her institute commissioned more research: this time, a global study of gender in film in the 10 biggest film markets in the world. The findings were “bleak”: of those characters seen to be holding a job, 77.5% were male and 22.5% were female. Women in leadership and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM fields were dramatically underrepresented in film, she said, and of the 127 characters that held political office, only 12 were women. This lack of onscreen depiction contributes to symbolic annihilation, Davis said, by which those that don’t see themselves reflected on screen believe they are unimportant. She quoted damning statistics that show the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.
Can we agree to get rid of those dreadful feminizing/diminishing suffixes appended to people, animals, and professions?
If you come to a party at my house, I am your host, not your hostess.
And I won’t be serving these, BTW.
Your doctor, if she is a woman, is your doctor, not your doctress. Lions are male and female; there is no need for “lioness” as an identifier. If you name your Aunt Erva in your will as the person who will manage your estate, she should be called your executor, not your executrix.
Still with me, Grumpy Gramps? Since you asked it’s important, to know the animal’s correct gender because girls need to know that what is female is present, in the world, everywhere. Girls often grow up into women who lack the confidence to move through the world as easily and powerfully as men do, because they don’t think that the world belongs to them. Unintentionally and sometimes deliberately, girls get presented with skewed perceptions of their “place” – even of simply how many of them there are  – in the world. In the images and examples girls *and* boys are shown, the default for everything is male, especially if the thing in question is perceived as being big and powerful.
It’s important because a person will want to care for the world and that which is in the world, to seek education and take action – from studying to be a geologist to learning to do their own basic auto maintenance and repairs – if they think these things are truly and equally theirs. If it belongs to you, then you feel a sense of responsibility for it. Despite the progress made in the past few decades, girls (and boys) still look at the world, at the images and descriptions presented to them, and see it as primarily belonging to, and inhabited and ruled by, boys and men.
* * *
Department Of Remember That Which Will Eventually Kill Those Of Us Who Survive The Rest Of This Ca-Ca?
Global warming/climate change – the human-induced warming of the planet – has been getting our attention span short shrift these days, what with the pandemic, poor policing of POC and other parts of the panoply of poop parading past. 
After my pitch for gender label inclusivity, I’ve not much energy left for another harangue.
I’ll leave y’all with this analogy on the subject. At many a dinner party discussion, I’ve listened while friends have lamented the conundrum of how and why otherwise rational-seeming people can ignore the evidence of climate change and/or that some “aware” people tacitly admit that the evidence is real, but find ways to avoid thinking about it and/or don’t want to act on this evidence because they view any such actions as impeding their current lifestyle, or that they believe that individuals cannot make any significant changes to the problem.
I’ve had to bite my tongue when well-meaning people whom I admire and even love have sincerely claimed not to understand such willful ignorance…because they do the same thing, with regards to the same issue. They are all willing and enthusiastic participators in the environment-razing, carnivore fodder industry.
They all eat (factory-farm grown and processed) meat.
I’ve decided to be silent no more. I will try my Girl Scout Best  to *not* be of those self-righteous scolds, but the next time someone starts with the, “How can those people ignore the evidence ?!?!?” wail I will gently point out that their lament is not only rhetorical, but disingenuous. They know, or *should* know, exactly why “those people” want to ignore the evidence of climate change because they themselves use the same rationale for ignoring the evidence on meat consumption:
* because they don’t want to alter their current way of life;
* because they don’t want to make the necessary changes, which they view as making sacrifices and being inconvenienced;
* because they just don’t want to be bothered.
Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality…. Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming…. We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism….cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.” Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.
( “The End of Meat Is Here: If you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals,” Jonathan Safran Foer, NY Times 5-21-20 )
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Pun For The Day
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May you carefully consider which evidence you are choosing to ignore; May you remember that I’m a writer, not a writress; May you enjoy an adolescent’s misunderstanding of “titmouse;” …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I remember at least two occasions where we saw no other human beings, with the exception of the zookeepers and other zoo employees.
 And two keepers told me two different names for that bear: “Martha” and “Marcia.”
 Despite all the cute cartoons you may have seen, polar bears and penguins never interact. Polar bears are northern pole denizens while penguin species all live south of the equator. And neither of them climb trees.
 I realize these are loaded terms, used interchangeably and not always in the same manner, by humans.
 The world human population male/female ratio consistently hovers around 50-50, but you wouldn’t know that if your only statistic in this matter came from your consumption of popular media, where the male characters consistently and overwhelmingly outnumber the female.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.