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The Style Points I’m Not Getting

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

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

*   *   *

Department of SEE – IT’S NOT JUST ME!

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

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

 

Godzilla, from the original movie.

 

Godzilla Shin,  from the 2016 film.

 

The latest. Why is his head shrinking?

 

*   *   *

Department of Complisults

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

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

 

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

 

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

Example the First

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That journal no longer publishes fiction.”

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

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

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

 

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

 

Example The Second

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

Department Of Firsts

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

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

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [10]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Café Paradiso Seasons, By Denis Cotter

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

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher    [11]

*   *   *

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

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

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

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

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

[5] Okay, I left that comment out.

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

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

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

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

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

[11]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

The After-Life I’m Not Discounting

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Dateline: Sunday, May 5. A gusty but magnificent spring afternoon in the Bay Area, on the grounds of the stunning Filoli Gardens . In a gathering which mutual friend MM as so accurately described as “heartbreakingly beautiful,” friends, family, and colleagues gathered to pay tribute Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Hawley.

Heartbreakingly beautifuljust like our memories of Sarah, I thought later.

Sarah is whom I wrote about earlier this year – the “…remarkable young woman whose life was recently and unexpectedly cut short .”   [1]   Iin several posts (including here, here, and here) I mentioned the horror, grief, overwhelming shock, and gob-smacked confusion felt by her friends and family when Sarah was murdered on January 27.

As is my usual policy re this blog, I do not use the full names of people who have not chosen to live their lives in the public eye (e.g., politicians or celebrities).  In previous posts I referred to Sarah using her initials. I will use her name now, because her name and her life – the way Sarah lived, not the way (or the fact that) she died –  deserve to be known.

Filoli Gardens near Woodside, CA

It was difficult to find the right words to compliment Sarah’s family on the memorial gathering they organized for her. Certainly, one’s ability to host any kind of funeral/celebration of life gathering for your loved one is a skill no one wants to employ. Still, it was gracious and lovely event, and a moving tribute to Sarah (as well as, I imagine, an emotionally exhausting – and yet necessary – milestone for her family to have passed).

We gathered to honor and remember Sarah’s life.  The tributes to her, from childhood buddies to medical school friends and colleagues (even the Dean of admissions of her medical school!) were articulate, heartfelt, inspiring, filled with warmth and good humor…and also mind-boggling (for moiself at least), in that they made me consider how Sarah, in her way-too-short lifespan, managed to amass such a large and brilliant group of people who cared so much about her.

Sarah, like her family and mine,   [2] was inspired to do good and walk joyously in this life because of life itself – her worldview was humanity/humanely-based, and religion-free. Sarah believed in living and loving and doing what you can to make life better for others in the here and now, and few people have done it better.  Whether or not you hold ideas/beliefs “going to heaven” or other mythological/supernatural/post-mortality destinations which no one has seen or proved to exist, there is one afterlife we’ve all experienced, whether or not we recognize it as such: how we remember those we know, after they die.

For someone as spirited and beloved as Sarah was – as she IS – her words and deeds live on to impress, refresh, and inspire our lives, and will continue to do so.  Welcome to the after-life, Sarah.

As Sarah herself might have said, with the heel-clicking, jump-in-the-air enthusiasm she was known for…

 

  

Dr. Sarah Hawley was a strong supporter of women’s rights, particularly with regard to health care and reproductive choices. If you’d like to honor Sarah’s life and legacy please consider donating in her memory to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, here.

The University of Utah, home of Sarah’s medical residency, has established a memorial fund focusing on Sarah’s interests of women’s health, pediatric care, and wilderness medicine. Donations to the Dr. Sarah Hawley Memorial Fund can be made here.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Artisan Vegan Cheese, by Miyoko Skinner

 Recipes:

* Meltable Mozzarella
* Eggplant Parmesan (with homemade vegan mozzarella)

Interesting in having to first make a key ingredient (the plant-based mozzarella, to use for the second recipe) several days ahead. 

My rating(s):

For the cheese: taste was good, but texture…(it never quite “jelled.”).  I had to substitute for a main ingredient, which may have been the bugagoo.

 

For the main dish:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

           *   *   *

Department Of Way Too Cool

Dateline: Tacoma, Wednesday and Thursday, visiting daughter Belle, who works at the newly opened McMenamin’s Elk’s Temple. A whirlwind, last minute visit (Wed-Thurs are Belle’s “weekend”), but after the weekend’s memorial trip…I just wanted to see my daughter, you know?

Trust me, y’all gotta get y’alls selves up/down/over/under, whatever direction works for you, and visit this place.  As with all McMenamin’s hotels it is a beautifully restored historical property with the McM magic touch, including at this location a Spanish tapas bar and cafe, a “secret” vault bar, a game room (with pinball!), an amazing ballroom (for concerts – there is music nightly), a doc’s bar, and…wait for it…a tiki bar to die for.  [5]

A much classier venue than the Disney attraction, and you won’t leave it singing
that damned song (unless, of course, you’ve had too many mai tais).

 

*   *   *

May you, again and always, remember to love ’em while you got ’em;
May you persist in making the fun recipe even after you’ve mucked up a key ingredient;
May you remember that there are (arguably) never “too many” mai tais;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] She was twenty-seven when she died.

[2] As in, the “immediate” family consisting of moiself, MH, Belle and K.  My and MH’s our extended families have religious believers  as well as and those who are religion-free among their numbers.

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

 [4]

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

[5] Just ask the bar’s stuffed cobra and mongoose and hyena, who apparently did so.

The Beauty Pageant I’m Not Entering

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Although the current events of the past two weeks have been almost unbearably rant-worthy, y’all may notice I haven’t posted much on “politics.” At this what-could-be-pivotal-but-may-only-be-a-blip-in-obtaining-justice-and-reining-in-misogyny-and-privilege moment in history, I’m a bit…pessimistic…re my fellow citizens’ ability to Do The Right Thing. ® 

To employ – actually, create – a WTF? metaphor, let me just say that were I to be a contestant in the Ms. Human Nature Beauty Pageant – I mean of course, Scholarship Pageant – the judges would likely throw me out after the first round…and the other contestants would unanimously vote me, Miss Anthropic.   [1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of “What’s That Bitch Sayin’—what’s a Igneous —Fish Loggin’?’

It’s odd, sometimes, what sparks a memory.

From ages 18 through 28, I ran in the morning, every morning, for my primary form of exercise. When I was in college I would set my alarm to get up and going while it was still dark but approaching dawn;  [2]  I found it… aesthetically pleasing, would be the best way to describe it, to finish my run with the rising sun.  ‘Twas a nice way to start the day.

There was a grassy field near my (freshman year) dorm, and every day during the late winter through spring early mornings I’d run past a dozen or so rabbits which were out in the field, nibbling on whatever munchies they could find.  The first few mornings they fled at my approach, but as the weeks went by their little bunny brains apparently got used to the sight of a lone biped loping past – not at – them.  Once they realized I posed no threat they’d stand their ground, heads up, chins bobbing sideways with chewing, acknowledging me (or so I liked to think) as I passed by.  I often wondered what they thought – if they thought, at all – about what I was doing or where I was going. Perhaps, they figured, I was on my way to my own field of greens.

 

 

bunnies

It’s her again. Everybody act normal.

 

 

 

I would not keep that particular schedule now. Translation: I would not run or do any form of exercise outside alone, at night or in the early morning darkness, without carrying some kind of personal protection device. [3]   Never-you-mind-how-many years ago, it never occurred to me to feel unsafe on campus. I was never hassled by anyone when I was running (but then, I almost never encountered anyone, during those early hours).  That changed after graduation

My morning routine did not change: I still got up early to do my run/exercise/shower routine, only now it was to do these things before work instead of before classes. And instead of running on campus I was now running on the sidewalks and streets in areas surrounding whatever apartment/rental house I was occupying.  Thus, I became privy to the phenomenon of men (mostly plural, but the occasional lone male), usually in passing cars (some on bicycles, on foot, or in nearby buildings), who feel compelled to “comment” on women they pass by.

By comment I mean, as almost every female above the age of eight knows, spew a series of masturbatory grunts, groans and whistles. Their auditory emissions occasionally contained an intelligible world or two, typically of the hey baby woo-hoo ilk.

 

 

manboobss

I can run outdoors every day, dressed like this, and nobody yells about my boobs!

 

 

 

I never said anything in reply – although there were times….oh, lawdy, there were times…when my middle fingers practically begged for extension. My only reaction to the comments was to momentarily heighten my alert level – for example, I’d make sure that the car from which came the cretinous comments had indeed kept on going in its original direction and was not turning around to follow me.

It happened All. The. Time. As in, on an almost daily basis. It was so frequent that I noted the “aberration” of those days when my run was harassment-free. This is not an exaggeration.

One Saturday I allowed moiself the luxury of sleeping in, and went for a run at (what for me was) a later time, around 8 am. I decided to do a new route, and went downtown, where I approached…a construction site. For a moment, I considered changing my route:  nah, it’s early on a Saturday, and I don’t see any construction crews on site, and shame on me for holding that stereotype.  Then, as if out of nowhere, there they were: three men in hardhats standing around bright orange construction cones surrounding a manhole.  Sure enough, they produced the commentary as I ran past them.  I kept going for a few seconds, then thought, Nope, not today.

I did an about face and strode, slowly, deliberately, back to where the manhole-assholes stood. They eyed me suspiciously as I approached them; the smirks so evident in their voices a mere five seconds earlier had morphed into wary silence.  I stopped when I was about 10 feet away from them.

Do you realize, I said, when you say things like that to women, you perpetuate the stereotype that male construction workers are ignorant misogynists?

Although I didn’t have the acronym back then, their facial expressions were classic WTF?… and became even WTF?-er when I chuckled aloud at my silent realization: Holy thesaurus, they need a translator – they have no idea what those words mean.

I resumed my run.

 

 

ava

Say there big fella, my girlfriends and I find it oh-so-sexy when men comment on our bodies as we’re walking in public…said no woman ever.

 

*   *   *

Department Of High Praise, Indeed

Dateline: last Saturday, MH and I discussing ways to make the drive to the coast less boring for the two cats  [4]  we take with us when we go for the weekend.  We put them in their respective carriers and lock the carriers into the back seatbelts; they are safe that way,  [5]  but of course confined, and have not much to do, or even look at.

MH, wondering aloud:   “There should be a way for them to look out the window, like you see dogs doing.”

Moiself, responding even aloud-er: “Yeah, there should be a…cat-traption, for that.”

MH: “Cat-traption – I like that word. It should be in a crossword puzzle.”

My work here is done.

 

hatcat

This is not the cat-traption to which I refer.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why All Sports Announcers Should Be British

Should you doubt that proclamation, listen to the Freakonomics podcast How Sports Became Us. Not the whole thing (unless you’re interested, of course), but just the archival tape of the announcement from the 1954 radio broadcast when middle distance runner Roger Bannister had broken what had been thought to be an unbreakable record for track athletes: the sub four minute mile. The announcement comes at 3 minutes 25 seconds into the program, when the British announcer declares Bannister’s feat to be:

“…the Everest of athletic achievement.”

Really; you have to listen to it – perhaps not the way I’ve been doing it, over and over and over. It’s just so succinctly British – I’ve no idea what the announcer was wearing, but you know it had to be upper class twit tweed.  And the way he crisply enunciates each syllable – The Ev-er-est of ath-let-ic-achieve-ment – you can practically smell the tea and crumpets.

 

 

 

twit2

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

“Never accept a ride from a strange man, and remember, all men are strange.”  [6]

 

remember

 

*   *   *

May you attain your own personal Ev-er-est of achieve-ment;
May you know “what those words mean” when you are being confronted;
May you smell the tea and crumpets;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Regular or even sporadic readers of the blog will correctly surmise that I hold all the classic feminist/humanist objections to meat market parades “beauty contests.” But for the purposes of this blog and the horrible mixing of yet another metaphor, a gal can always fantasize….

[2] Wouldn’t you have loved to have been my roommate? Although, I did warn them in advance of my early rising habits.

[3]  A can of mace? A strobe light/alarm/pepper spray device?  Or the ultimate “feminine protection” – an extra strength tampon which transforms into a 9mm Glock?

[4] We are currently a four-cat household.  I know…I know.

[5] Or as relatively safe as any creature is in an automobile.

[6] Second wave feminist quote; source disputed.

The Routines I’m Not Going Back To

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There is something different for me this year, about this time of the year – this particular end of August. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized that Belle’s graduation from college in May means that for the first time in twenty years, there is no Back to School ® component to my life. The end of summer/resumption of school, the preparation and routine and rhythm of such, it was not so all-encompassing – for both my personal and the family’s schedules – when the kids were in college.  Still, it was…there.   [1]

 

 

 

parents.schooljpg

 

 

 

I’ve noticed how “out of it” I’ve sometimes felt, during the past four years, with regards to schedules of other families – including even the approaching of holidays – by not having at least one child with a public school schedule. There was no compelling reason for me to keep track of certain things, and so I didn’t…and then I found myself frequently (and sometimes sheepishly) surprised by the mundane.

Why is there less traffic these past couple of morning? Why are there so many kids wandering around in the early afternoon…oh..yeah….it’s probably a teacher conference/grading/”staff development day” off for the schools….”

 

 

DUH

 

 

 

Friends would ask MH and I what we were doing for, say, Spring Break or the President’s Day holiday weekend, and we’d be caught by the question...uh, just when is spring break this year? Did we miss it?

And what’s with all the aisles of boxes of crayons and notebooks and Transformers backpacks front and center at Fred Meyer stores – it’s only August!?  Ahem, you mean, it’s already the end of August, and school starts the day after Labor Day, remember?

 

 

teachers

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Yet Another Podcast Promo

Arguably my favorite podcast of the past week was the Hidden Brain episode Originals, in which the show’s host, NPR’s social scientist correspondent host Shankar Vedantam interviewed Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant. Grant’s book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,  “investigates who comes up with great ideas, how, and what we can do to have more of them.”

In the latter portion of the interview the host asked Grant about “who gets the chance to be original and how parents can foster this quality in their kids.” This led to a brief discussion between host and guest about a parenting-style dichotomy which has always fascinated moiself: those who parent by emphasizing values-based advice vs. those who instill rules-based behavior.

 

 

newrule

 

 

 

Vedantam: Why is it that rules-based behavior doesn’t produce the same thing as values-based advice?

Grant: When you focus on rules in the family a lot of times kids learn to follow it, which means accepting the status quo and essentially becoming an excellent sheep. When you go to values, kids actually have to think for themselves.

Grant admitted that as a parent it’s easy to find yourself barking, “new rule” every time your children misbehave, when instead you should be talking about the value behind the rule. When asked for an example, he provided a scenario familiar to most families:

We’re sitting at dinner, and one of our family values is respect, so we (the parents)  like for them (the children) not to get up from the dinner table until every is done eating. And they start to get up and it’s, “No, you must sit in your seat.” And then I realize what I need to say is why this is important to us.  It’s not about having the rule, it’s about – look, the reason we all like to sit at our seats is we like to have a family meal and it’s a great way to show respect for each other.

 

 

 

dinnertable

And who wouldn’t want to extend such heart-warming family moments?

 

 

 

K and Belle, MH’s and my two children, are young adults now.  The vast majority of our “active parenting” opportunities, re trying to influence their developing values and behavior, are in the past.  Back when MH and I were doing the heavy lifting in that department, we didn’t didn’t have a name for it – i.e., the particular label the differing parenting styles was given in the podcast – but I’m fairly certain MH and I followed the values-based advice model. As per author/educator/philanthropist Dale McGowan’s excellent series of books, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, we thought that teaching our children (and, hopefully, modeling for them) values-based advice seemed the best way to enable their moral, emotional and intellectual development based on reason, vs. unquestioning acquiescence to authority.  [2]

 

 

pbbjpg

 

RF

 

 

 

In the past few days, since listening to that podcast, I’ve found moiself thinking back to my own upbringing, and in particular, where my parents would have fallen on the values-based advice vs. rules-based behavior spectrum.  I think my parents, like most of their peers, employed (deliberately and sometimes unintentionally) a combination of the two styles. However, my memories  [3] reinforce my notion that, given many factors, including my parents’ generation, their adherence to religious doctrine, their own respective upbringings and temperaments – the latter which included an almost total lack of introspection and valuing consideration of “big” and/or existential questions of Life ® –  their parenting methods tilted most heavily to the rules-based behavior end of the scale.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Happy To Have Slept Through It, Thank You Very Much

An earthquake and aftershock have been reported off the coast of south-central Oregon.
The United States Geological Survey says an initial quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck just after 1:30 a.m., more than 170 miles (264 kilometers) west of Coos Bay, about 220 miles southwest of Portland.
Robert Sanders of the USGS says there is no tsunami threat associated with the quake. He says people as far away as Portland reported feeling the temblor.
(8-22-18 Oregon Public Broadcasting)

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of More Musings Sparked By Podcast Listening
Sub-Department Of Morning Walks Are Time For Reflection…
Or Sometimes Just Snickering

Dateline: yesterday, 7 am. Listening to a Freakonomics podcast, Two (Totally Opposite) Ways To Save The Planet (episode 346) , in which the host (Stephen Dubner) interviews Charles Mann, a journalist who “…writes big books about the history of science.” Mann speaks about the decades-old debate between environmentalists (“we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption”) and  technologists (“human ingenuity can solve just about any problem”). Mann titled his latest book The Wizard and the Prophet, which are his embodiments of those two respective worldviews. The book’s subtitle is Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World.

It was a misty morning at the coast. My mind was wandering as I walked on the pathway heading toward Nehalem Bay State Park; I was thinking more of blackberry-picking than the “prophets vs. wizards” presentation coming through my earbuds,  [4] and wasn’t paying the closest of attention to Mann’s comments about “the prophet” of his book, WilliamVogt, “the progenitor of the modern environmental movement,”  and Vogt’s influential (in 1948) but now largely forgotten book, The Road to Survival:

MANN: “Much of (The Road to Survival) is a passionate screed for population control, sometimes written in language that makes you cringe….”

DUBNER: “So when you say that his discussion about population growth makes you cringe, was it from a classist perspective…or racist — how would you describe it?”

MANN: “… it’s hard to avoid noticing that although he was very, very hard on rich, white people being wasteful and destructive and so forth…the brunt of the population-reduction stuff he’s talking about are on poor, brown people…And he sometimes described them in language that is really kind of appalling — he talks about Indians breeding with the irresponsibility of codfish….”

That certainly got my attention.  Codfish – any cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate, for that matter – have never come to my mind as exemplars of anything other than being codfish., and certainly not as examples of human traits, particularly those related to responsibility.

Are not codfish merely yet profoundly the gold standard for being codfish? And why shouldn’t codfish breed prolifically? Considering that they are a highly-preyed-upon species, it would be irresponsible of them not to breed like…codfish.

 

 

codfish

It’s none of your business what we’re doing. Besides, it’s not like we can get a room.

 

 

 

 

I thought about this for a lot longer than perhaps I should have. Then I thought about my thinking about it: is this an example of my propensities for both being easily amused (read: distracted)  and easily stimulated to ponder the existential questions of life? And what would a codfish think of such drawn out deliberations  – would she consider them to be a responsible use of my intellect? Or would she use me as an exemplar to her fellow codfish of how warm-blooded, land-going bipedal vertebrates waste valuable mental energy that could be used to devise strategies to convince people to eat less codfish?

 

*   *   *

 

 

May you rarely cast metaphors of irresponsibility upon species other than your own;
May you find ways to value the routines you may one day forget to miss;
May you treasure those incidents you are Happy To Have Slept Through;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Son K graduated three years earlier.

[2] Sure, we had rules, but it was never, “Because this is a family rule, that’s why, and we are the parents/authority and you therefore must respect us and obey our rules.” We explained the “whys” behind the “rules” – the values behind the guidelines.

[3] Which include years of fruitless attempts to get them to engage in healthy discussions (or so I viewed them, as an optimistic if not yet out-of-the-closet freethinker teenager and young adult) about the basis for living ethically in this world.

[4] The prophet (environmentalist) sounds the alarm and wants us to reduce consumption, population growth, and habitat destruction. The wizard (technologist) pushes for us to keep going and invent/use even more, believing that history shows us that technology will solve our problems.

The Movie I’m Not Reviewing

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“The Library” was chosen by a Red Ribbon panel comprising representatives from Coca-Cola, Regal, EFILM Digital Laboratories and others in the entertainment industry based on the creativity, creative fit and entertainment value of the film, the media release stated….
“I couldn’t even believe it,” said (one of the students). “It’s a dream come true. It means so much to us as aspiring filmmakers.”
(” Two Ithaca College students…win Coca-Cola and Regal Films competition“)

 

 

bored-in-movie-theater

Let the excitement begin.

 

 

 

 

As previously noted in this space, I’ve been seeing a lot of movies this summer. As previously complained about noted in this space, a downside to seeing a lot of movies is having to sit through the same advertisements/promotions/previews that run before the main feature. Of particular annoyance to moiself has been the short “films,” produced as part of a contest, by a pair of (alleged) aspiring filmmakers. These spots run around a minute, and are introduced by the students.

Hi I’m Clara!
I’m Eva!
Enjoy our movie!
(Intro to The Library,” winner of The Coca-Cola and Regal Films Program)

 

I’m sorry, Clara and Eva, but I can’t enjoy your movie. Because.

* Because it’s not a movie, it’s a fucking Coca-Cola commercial.

* Because it’s an embarrassing waste of any talents you may have had.

* Because, Holy you-may-not-have-drunk-the-Koolaid-but-you-did-guzzle-the-carbonated soft drink, you haven’t even “made it” yet, and you’ve already sold out.

 

 

your movie

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Miss Roger Ebert   [1]

 

I’m just sayin.’

 

 

 

 

hatedthismovie

 

 

 

hate2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Unsung Heroes

In this belated July 4th post, I would like to briefly celebrate those folks who are, IMHO, some of the truest if most unappreciated Americans: journalists.

 

 

tomi

“I’m thrilled and honored to receive this thrilling honor….”

 

 

 

Uh, no. I’m not referring television talking heads with little to no actual training and/or experience in actual journalism but who get a gig spewing commentary and eventually claim the title of “reporter.”   [2]

 I am referring to professional journalists, who came up through the ranks/paid their dues/continue to hone their craft – those about whom Thomas Jefferson was likely thinking, when he had this to say regarding the value of “the fourth estate” to a democracy:

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

I thought about this last month, when I wrote about journalist Ronan Farrow and his Pulitzer Prize-winning reportage on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And I think about this whenever I begin to read   [3]  certain Facebook posts from a friend of mine, SDH, who posts frequently on political issues.

An expat   [4]American journalist, SDH has always been an insightful observer, and living abroad has, IMHO, honed his observations on American culture and politics.[5]  SDH, along with another reporter friend, PH – the latter less active on FB but just as dedicated to journalistic integrity – have seemingly made it their mission to point out the missteps and misstatements, from the silly to the egregious, of our elected officials.  It may sound corny but it’s true: they are promoting truth and justice, and shining the light of free inquiry on the powerful.

 

 

clark

 

 

 

 

I admire SDH and PH more than I can say, because they do what I cannot bear to (or perhaps have given up on, as I cynically think of the venture – any social media commentary  [6] – as pissing in the wind): they consistently, coolly and firmly respond to paranoia and outright bullshit, and (try to) steer the conversation back to facts. In the face of persistent ad hominem attacks, they respond with rationality, and maintain a discourse with friends, whether longtime or vague high school acquaintances, despite the latter’s often overwhelming juvenile rantings.

I observe these interchanges from afar as it were, with an attitude that sometimes reveals that part of my human nature that impels me to crane my neck as I pass the three-vehicle accident on the highway and hope I get a glimpse of something…interesting.  Many of these Juvenile Rantings People ® are known to me, and their articulation (I use the term oh-so-broadly, here) of their political opinions makes me embarrassed on behalf of them, in that, Jezuz H. Christ on a logical fallacy raft, do they actuall ythink that way? manner.

 

 

batman

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the truism – thank you, unfortunately accurate observer and manipulator of human nature, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebels, that “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I hope that the (kinda) opposite is also true: that if you repeat the truth often enough, it will eventually sink in. I do know people who have changed and/or expanded their opinions/beliefs/understandings over the years (including moiself) – people who were motivated to do so, in part, due to respectful, and sometimes challenging, exchange of ideas with others.

Fewer ventures are more stimulating and rewarding than a challenging tête-à-tête between thoughtful, passionate and perceptive people who hold differing points of view.   [7]   However, moiself’s experience makes me lean toward the opinion that it is futile to engage those whose rhetoric indicates…how you say…brains not working right.

 

 

pigsing

 

 

Yet, SDH and PH (and others like them) persist, consistently avoiding the hyperbole-bait and steering the discussion(s) back to discovering and recognizing what are the facts – not “alternative facts” – that can be determined by evidence. And they manage to do this while seemingly remaining undistracted by the inevitable slavering responses of the #45 supporters, which typically  [8]   are the intellectual discourse equivalent of a feces-hurling chimp chattering,

 

 

poopfling

“But, Hillary’s emails !!!!”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you remember to “make it” before you sell out;
May you take time to appreciate your own unsung heroes;
May you, at least once in your life, try to teach a pig to sing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] But you can access the archives of his film reviews here.

[2] Oh, and as to the title of your program, Ms. Lahren, Final Thoughts implies that you have actually had some others (thoughts) at some point in your life.

[3] And usually/quickly devolve to merely skimming, as my psyche can’t take the rampant anti-intellectualism of the conservative illogic disguised as dialogue.

[4] Temporarily, I hope.

[5] Read: that toddler-tempered, egocentric, lying, cheating, racist, misogynist sack of corruption that is #45. Aka The Mandarin Mussolini or The Cheetos Hitler, in this space.

[6] Including ultimately, this blog?

[7] Other ventures, like sitting on the drain when the water runs out of the bathtub, run a close second.

[8] There was going to be another footnote here, but I was late for my teaching-pigs-to-sing lesson.

The College Graduate I’m Not Embarrassing

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As Belle prepares to graduate from college this weekend my brain has been pelting me with random memories, such as the following story (which Belle might categorize as you’re never too mature or academically successful to have your parents embarrass you.)

 

 

SadieMay15rugby

Belle, at her team’s “Rugby formal.”

 

 

 

Dateline: two years ago. MHN I have traveled to a small Southern Oregon college to attend one of Belle’s rugby games.  [1]   During the halftime break MH and I are tossing a rugby ball back-and-forth with Belle, who is showing us one of the team’s ball-handling drills. I make an errant throw to MH, who chases the ball downfield. One of the young women from a group of Belle’s teammates sitting by the side of the field looks at Belle, then at MH and moiself, and the proverbial light bulb appears above her head.

 

 

lightbulb

 

 

She calls out to me.

Young Rugby Woman: Hey, are you…you’re Belle’s parents?

Moiself: Indeed, we are.

YRW: Oh, I love Belle!  Thank you so much for making her!

Moiself: It was our pleasure.  Literally.

Belle:  Moooooooom !!

 

 

prom rugby

Prom Rugby game. Yep, it’s self-explanatory.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Would Never Happen At New Seasons

I ran over to the market closest to our house ( let’s call it Albertson’s  [2]   ), to pick up a couple of last minute items. There were two young men working in the produce department, standing beside carts loaded with boxes of lettuce and other veggies – items they were trimming and setting out on the various produce display shelves. One of the Produce Guys looked up at me, noticed the looking-for-something expression on my face, and asked me if he could be of any assistance.

I thanked him, and asked where I could find the organic basil. He pointed behind himself, toward the tomatoes stand, then asked me if there was anything else he could help me find. Why yes, as a matter of fact. I’d noticed there were a plethora of golden beets on display, but I needed three bunches of red beets, and there was only one.  Mighty there be more red beets in the back?

“Yeah,” Produce Guy grinned, “there’s another box of red beets in the back.” He continued to trim the lettuce from his cart. “But as you can see,” he glanced over at the Other Produce Guy, “We are in the middle of a pallet right now, so it’s going to be a while before we can get to it.”

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Yes, really.

I could see that he was busy, but why ask me if he could help me find something if he had no intention of leaving his precious pallet?  My kneejerk thought was, Yeah, right – this would never happen at New Seasons[3]

A rare kneejerk reaction that was spot-on. Any NS employee you ask for help will drop what they are doing to lead you to the proper aisle, or let you sample a new produce item you’re not sure about, even if they are doing something else or what you are asking about isn’t in their department.

 

 

 

NEemployee

That’s why she’s happy to spend the bulk of her shopping $$ here.

 

*    *    *

Addendum To The Previous Story

It is entirely possible that Produce Guy’s customer service fail was due to him being shocked by a heretofore unimaginable situation: someone wanted more beets.

 

 

skeptical

She said she needed three bunches of beets?  Nobody needs three bunches of beets.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Previews Of Coming Attractions

 

 

 

 

dragonboat

Here be dragons!

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Versed Mouth, aka

Department Of Things They Say You Said When You Were Under The Influence
Of Versed After Your Routine/Screening   [4] Colonoscopy…
And How Do You Know They Aren’t Lying To You?

 

* I have lazy mouth

* I like hummus, too (when asked by the nurse if I’d like saltine crackers)

* Why are there little dogs in the hospital?  [5]

* Where do we keep the shovels?

 

 

 

 

colonprepjpg

Be afraid; be very afraid.

 

*   *   *

 

 

May you never be too old to embarrass – or take pride in – your
soon-to-be college graduate;
May you experience nothing but the finest in beet-finding customer service;
May there be dragon boats in your future;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] She was on the team for ~ two years – we have the ER/Urgent care bills to prove it – until injuries sidelined her.

[2] Because, it is.

[3] Where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping…for many reasons, including their awesome staff.

[4] Yeah, they call it that. I don’t know about you, it’s just not part of my “routine” to have someone, even Qualified Medical Professionals ®  stick a tube up your butt and watch pictures of it on a monitor.

[5] Well, yes, a totally legitimate question, IMHO. And don’t tell me they were emotional support animals.

The Privacy I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Weighing In On The Privacy Thing

Re the Facebook data scandal, and the reality – apparently astonishing, to some people – that social media and other websites are compromising and/or selling the data they collect on their users and visitors.  Some of these astonished some people are throwing fits of indignation, demanding that Congress “do something.” When it comes to the idea of doing something, others of the some people have been expressing their sense of futility by employing that old English proverb, trotting it out before, during and after FB co-founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress:

It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Gee, ya think?

Not only has the horse bolted, that high-spirited steed done high tailed it to Louisville where it placed in the Kentucky Derby and was last seen headed for Lubbock to join the Professional Rodeo circuit.

*   *   *

I have no solutions for the problem and even less hope for its abatement, based in part on the existence of Amazon and Netflix recommendations. Y’all may know what I mean.

 

 

recommend

 

 

 

My recent purchases from Amazon include spatulas, two Kindle books (one on Buddhist meditation, the other a rock star’s memoir), and a tava. [1]  Thus, in the coming weeks I will see ads for such items not only on Amazon[2]  but on other sites I visit, along with “recommendations” for future purchases, such as books on the “uncensored oral history of punk” and “Vodka is Vegan,” and cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and a ten pound sack of chickpea flour, and….

We are living in a world wherein seemingly/otherwise intelligent people do not  apply their time and (presumably) hard-earned  mathematics/computer skills in ways which might be used to, say, reverse global warming or otherwise improve The Human Condition. ®  Instead, those with coding and other such skills are rewarded for devising algorithms to enable Netflix to offer me “Top Picks for Robyn” and “Because you watched….” categories. Based on the fact that in the past month I have watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The Great British Baking Show, a documentary on endangered snow leopards, and a Ricky Gervais standup comedy special, the great minds in charge of such things have used their highly sophisticated calculations to try to convince me that I’d love to watch….50 First Dates?  [3]

There is little hope, in such a world.

 

 

 

horse

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I remember listening to an interview with a “computer/Internet/privacy expert” – a hacker who got caught, and as penance/punishment was hired by the corporation he’d hacked, to try to make their systems as un-hackable as possible. Former Hacker Guy went on to do independent consulting work for various corporations in areas related to internet privacy. I can’t remember all the details of the interview,   [4]  but what got seared into my brain were the two pieces of incongruous advice Former Hacker Guy gave, when asked by the interviewer to tell The Average Citizen ® what they can do to protect their information:

(1) When it comes to data about yourself – personal, employment, financial, recreational, you name it – fiercely guard your privacy and fight for laws to protect such information.

(2) There is *no* privacy, not anymore. Get used to it.

 

privacy

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

After finishing   [5]   the (afore-mentioned) book on the efficacy of Buddhist-style meditation – about seeing life for how it really is, detaching your illusions and gaining perspective – why did I then, while standing in a concert entry line with MH, note the faces of the young, attractive females standing in front of and behind me, and think petty comments to myself (along the lines of, I wonder how long it’ll be before she looks like…well, like me.)?

 

buddha

Not a verbatim quotation.

 

 

*   *   *

Privacy, Schrivacy – Department Of The Last Word On The Subject

Some of us realized long ago – or at least after we adopted our first feline – that there can be no privacy where a cat is involved.

 

 

catpawdoor

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Word After The Last Word

I was wondering: Can a Buddhist monk feel it is appropriate to use email?

My guess:  Sure, as long as there are no attachments.

 

 

squirelbuddha

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you realize that when you shut the bathroom door your cat thinks you’re doing something incredible enthralling;
May your barn doors  [6]  stay open so horses can come and go as they please;
May you share your squirrel-and-buddha jokes with an appreciative audience;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A large flat frying pan used for cooking chapattis and a variety of Indian and south Asian flatbreads.

[2] I don’t get it – continuing to advertise, say, the spatula to me when their records would clearly show that I have already purchased it.

[3] They are so, so wrong, to recommend to moiself any movie with Adam Sandler in it.

[4] Nor even what show ran the interview…I’m thinking something NPR-ish.

[5] Isn’t it time for another footnote?

[6] Not that one.

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