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The Karma I’m Not Accruing

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Department Ah, Morning, With The Delicate Aroma
Of Horseshit Wafting Through The Air
Sub Department Of Yet Another Reason Not To Check Facebook Before Breakfast

A wise and witty friend recently posted this on her FB site:

 

 

Right on!, moiself  thought. I began to read one of the comments on her post, one which started with a teensy provocative sentence, and then, there was that blue more

I should have left it at that, but, noooooooo.  I had to click on more, and there was more. And more, and more, and more – and did I mention, *more*?

*More* turned out to be a multi-paragraph treatise of Buddhist proselytizing, starting with how we should remember that there are also poor and downtrodden white people  [1]   who don’t feel particularly privileged (which should have clued me in – it’s the, “But, all lives matter!” equivalent of deflection from the issue), and how people’s choices and actions in life lead to their circumstances, plus many other Buddhist tenets….  [2] 

 

At least it wasn’t pimply-faced kids half your age showing up on your front porch, calling themselves, “Elder.”

 

I thought about privately messaging Wise and Witty Friend, something along the lines of, Hey, WWF, would you allow someone to post a fundamentalist Christian tract on your page, because some Karma fundamentalist has just done the equivalent.   It turns out WWF was way ahead of me, and deleted the comment soon after it was posted.  Dang. Now I have to slag it from memory.

BTW, be it the Christian version, or Buddhist/Hindu/Karmic fundamentalism, I call BS on all of ’em. So, let the specific slagging begin.

The Buddhist Evangelical Fundamentalist Commenter (BEFC) quoted a Buddhist adage:

 

 

Sweet, and harmless, right?

Wrong.  Especially as per the issues of privilege and systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing to the fore…as well as a host of other life situations.

As I read BEFC’s proselytizing prose I flashed back to a bar conversation I’d had many years ago,   [3]  with a friend who’d emigrated to the USA (with his parents) from India when he was an adolescent.  We were  [4]   talking religion; specifically, his refutation of his religious background (although, in part to please his family, he kept up with a few of what he considered to be non-religious, cultural practices).  He simply could not overlook the damage done by the concepts of karma and reincarnation (central to both Hinduism and Buddhism).

Karma…though its specifics are different depending on the religion… generally denotes the cycle of cause and effect — each action a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future. This rule also applies to a person’s thoughts and words….
With karma, like causes produce like effects: a good deed will lead to a future beneficial effect, while a bad deed will lead to a future harmful effect….
Importantly, karma is wrapped up with the concept of reincarnation or rebirth, in which a person is born in a new human (or nonhuman) body after death. The effects of an action can therefore be visited upon a person in a future life, and the good or bad fortune someone experiences may be the result of actions performed in past lives.
What’s more, a person’s karmic sum will decide the form he or she takes in the next life.
(LiveScience, “What is Karma?”)

To summarize an hour-long discourse, the gist of my friend’s opinion: Besides being superstitious nonsense physically and intellectually unsubstantiated, karma essentially credits people for their successes and blames them for their failures. Your success is justified because it is either something you have achieved yourself in the here and now or it is the result of your good deeds in your previous life – the fact that you happened to be born in a powerful class/caste/gender/time period can be conveniently ignored.  As for that poor Dalit (aka, “Untouchable“) man you sometimes run across, who does your laundry, sweeps your streets, unblocks your sewers with this bare hands and does other “unclean” work out of economic necessity? Yeah, that’s unfortunate for him, but who are you to interfere with his experience of cause and effect? It’s his karma; obviously, he did something bad in his previous life and/or has something to work out in this one….

There are so many Life Factors we humans don’t – or don’t wish to – understand (or even acknowledge), including those of luck and circumstance.  In particular, people who are happy and successful are often hesitant to attribute their well-off circumstances, even in part, to the happenstance of their birth into the “right” (or at least more opportunity-providing) society/class/ethnicity/gender. People can be reluctant, even nervous, to admit that not everything is in their own control. This reluctance paves the way for religion/supernaturalism to step in with, “Don’t worry – here’s the answer!” or, “Sure, there *is* an answer, but it’s too much for mere mortal minds to comprehend so just trust in what we tell you and one day in the future/heaven/your next life you’ll get it….”

As to BEFC’s presentation, certainly the attitude embodied in the Buddhist saying (about the journey from blaming others, yourself, and then no one), has some merit, in the positive mindset/know thyself realm.  But to avoid the fact that some things are mostly or even entirely out of your hand, and that sometimes other people and/or social frameworks and institutions *are* to blame – ignoring reality is not how we combat injustice.

The karma concept has always reminded me of a much-loathed – by moiself , at least – allegedly inspirational phrase from my own culture, which states that it is admirable and possible to Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  The thing is, in order to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, you have to have a pair of boots in the first place – you either can afford a pair of boots, or someone has given you boots. With straps.

 

Although I’m onboard with RuPaul pulling up any boot with any kind of strap.

 

A Black American family, working and saving diligently to be first-time home owners, can have the most positive attitude in the world, but when their mortgage application is denied, their “blaming no one” will not help them “arrive” on their journey to financial security when that loan denial is due to reasons out of their control.    [5]   “Blaming no one” will not alleviate the injustice when the family has been redlined, due to their skin color and/or the neighborhood in which they currently live and/or the neighborhood where the house they wish to purchase is located.

The concept of karma arose and survived because, like all religious philosophies, it tries to explain the unexplainable, and many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Life is complex; there is much we don’t understand, about the physical world around us and the inner world of people’s thoughts motivations, and humans evolved to see and seek patterns even where none exist.  But worldviews which admit to this reality – “Hey, this stuff is complicated and no one has all the answers” – don’t get many followers (and even fewer collection plate donations and tax credits).

Ah, karma. “What goes around comes around“…if only.  Don’t we all know too many people whose actions merit shit pie, yet Life keeps serving them Crème Brûlée?

 

“For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”

Karma and other religious principles are sometimes quoted as if they were one of Newton’s Laws of Motion, yet they are not even close to qualifying as laws of physics, let alone testable hypotheses.  The karmic premises of cause and effect –

“each action  (as well as a person’s thoughts and words) a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future,” and
“like causes produce like effects”

– are

(1) presumptuous;
(2) not borne out by objective data, and often refuted by experience;
(3) antithetical to the reality of injustice and systemic bigotry;
(4) aren’t the first three reasons enough?

Most abhorrent of all, whether you call it karma or one of those other, “You can do whatever you dream/You make your own reality” philosophies, such concepts lay the foundation for victim-blaming.

 

“… the accused had entered the West Delhi residence of the minor with the intent to ransack, but attacked (a 12-year-old girl) after she spotted him….
Besides the sexual assault, the girl was hit on the face and head with a sharp object. She was found lying in a pool of blood by her neighbours….
The girl has multiple head fractures and bite marks all over her body. She has been brutally assaulted to the extent that there are injury marks on every part of her body….”
(“Two days after 12-year-old beaten, sexually assaulted, one held
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who visited the hospital, said the brutality inflicted on the girl has “shaken is soul” and the government will hire the best lawyers to bring the guilty to justice.”
Indianexpress.com)

Two disturbing facts of life are that (1) sometimes people chose to do bad things and good people can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time;  and (2) cultural/gender privilege and systemic bias exist.  But people won’t try to change that which they won’t acknowledge as existing…or which can be explained away by concepts like karma.

The white 16-year-old by pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic infraction (then let go with a warning) has the privilege of escaping violent stereotypes associated with his race, in a way that his 16-year-old Black classmate – pulled over for the same infraction yet subjected to an unwarranted drug test/vehicle and body search by the suspicious cop – does not.  Neither boy is experiencing the “karma” – or “cause and effect” –  of their own relatively short lives; rather, their immediate circumstances are determined by the biases of others who hold power over them.

Nothing that 12-year-old girl (in the above news story) did or could ever do is responsible for or related to the brutality which was done to her. Anyone who would even entertain a mindset which would allow for that possibility needs to wash out their mind with soap.

*   *   *

Departments Of Exceptions To The Rule

Moiself  is, however, grateful for whomever dreamed up the concept of karma, if only for the fact that it (eventually) led to one of the best “The Far Side” cartoons, ever.

I wasn’t able to find the cartoon itself, so use your imagination.  First, picture the silhouette of a classic Far Side Woman. ®  

 

 

The cartoon consists of a single panel: two flies are on a refrigerator door. Looming over and behind them we see the shadow of Far Side Woman ®, her upraised arm holding a fly swatter.  One fly says to the other,

“I guess I should have been nicer to my wife when I was alive;
this is the third time I’ve been reincarnated as a fly in her kitchen.”

*   *   *

Department Of Idiocy Makes My Brain Hurt
Sub-Department Of Let’s Just Cancel those Pesky Qualities of Imagination And Empathy, Part 102.7 In A Contemptibly Long Series
Adjunct to the Sub-Sub Division Of Why My Own Profession
Has Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth For Years

 

One of the worst things for writers is not to be censored, but to self-censor in fear of crossing the sensibilities and preferences of others.

 

 

I’ve written before of my frustration with and loathing for the “cultural appropriation” tribalism/mob mentality that has infected the world of literary fiction…and I’ll doubtless have cause to lament about it again.  The latest instigation was a Fresh Air interview (a rerun, which I heard for the first time, this week) with actor/producer Kerry Washington.

Washington has been nominated for Emmy awards for acting in and co-producing the series, “Little Fires Everywhere,” which was adapted from the bestselling novel by Celeste Ng.  Washington is Black; in the novel, the ethnicity of Mia, the character Washington plays, is never mentioned.  Podcast host Terry Gross asked Washington how changing the character’s race changed the story and the story’s subtext. Washington said that casting herself in the role was the idea of her producing partners.

Washington (my emphases):

“…They had the idea to call me up and send me the book and ask me if I wanted to do it. And I thought it was an amazing idea. Of course, when I read it, I was reading it through the lens of Mia being Black because I’m Black. I think the novel is so much about identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world. So we knew that adding this layer of race would add to that complexity in an exciting way.
Then when I met Celeste Ng, the writer, for the first time, she actually admitted to me that she had always thought of Mia as a woman of color and that she had been drawn to the idea of writing Mia as a Black woman. But she didn’t feel like she had the authoritative voice to do that in the right way.”

I felt sucker-punched to hear that…yet I was hardly surprised.  I’ve little doubt that author Ng’s hesitation about her “authoritative voice” was due to her anticipating charges of cultural appropriation (and the very real possibility of being boycotted by publishers, who would fear such a backlash): as in, how dare Ng think that she, an Asian (read: non-Black) writer, could create a full-blooded, multi-faceted, Black character?

So:

* Although the Asian-American author imagined a Black woman as this lead character, she couldn’t bring herself to actually write her as such;

* Nevertheless, this Asian/non-Black writer was so successful in creating a compelling story about “identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world” that a Black actor could identify with this lead character as Black;

* And it was acceptable for the series’ casting director and other lead actor and producers to suggest casting the character as Black, and the Black actor allowed herself to take the role (“an amazing idea”), which was created by an Asian, non-Black writer….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worst First (and last) Date Ever

Dateline: an early morning walk, listening to a Curiosity Daily (“a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news”). One of the podcast’s topics was how male angler fish fuse with their mates without risking immune system rejection.

Narration: “… (the) male angler fish latches on, and begins to dissolve. As his tissues and circulatory system meld with the female’s, eventually most of his body parts and organs disintegrate, leaving his girl with only a pair of reproductive organs to remember him by. This is called sexual parasitism, and it’s totally unique to the anglerfish…”

Moiself” ‘Sexual parasitism is unique to the angler fish’ ” – really? ‘Cause I’ve heard stories from friends that would curl your hair (or dissolve your organs)….”

 

 

I’m thinking, is there a Barry White song which could possibly make this kind of coupling bearable?  Nope; nada.  Gotta be something more post-punk….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of News Stories Like This Make Moiself  Struggle With My Humanity…
Because I Am *So* On The Side Of The First Victim

This post, earlier this week on Facebook, from an Oregon Coast news bulletin board:

HUNTER KILLED BY ELK
” (Man, name; age, residence) was archery hunting on private property…. Man  wounded a 5X5 bull elk but was unable to locate it before dark.
Man and the landowner attempted to find the wounded bull on the morning of (the next day) at approximately 9:15 A.M., Man located the bull and attempted to kill it with his bow. The elk charged Man and gored him in the neck with its antlers. The landowner attempted to help Man but he sustained fatal injuries and died.
The elk was killed and the meat was donated to the Tillamook County Jail….”

The lead sentence (which I omitted) in the post was, “Please send prayers for the family!”  Moiself’s  instinctive (if admittedly unsympathetic) reaction was, “F*** no; he got what he deserved!  The elk was tortured, wandering for over 12 hours with a grievous wound….”

It was nice (? perhaps moiself  should seek another word) to realize, as per several comments on the article, that I was not the only heartless judgmental bastard person concerned with the issue behind the issue:

* for the elk, this was literally a matter of life and death

* for the hunter, it was sport, and maybe some tasty elk steaks for the freezer   [6]

Along with the posts saying, “Prayers to the deceased and his family”, I spotted several comments along the lines of, “Prayers for the poor elk’s family & friends.”

 

Whaddya think – would I look just as majestic decapitated and mounted above someone’s fireplace?

*   *   *

May you enjoy the exceptions to the rules;
May you cherish the simple windfalls of life, like not having an angler fish for a mate;
May you never give an elk (or any other animal) cause to think, “It’s him or me!”;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Nothing about the concept of white privilege claims or implies that there are no poor/struggling white folk….arrrrrrgh.

[2] With which I was mostly familiar, although there are several streams of Buddhist thought, and without the original post I cannot say for sure if the post-er was referencing Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, or modern variants and “branches” of the those streams.

[3] As in, Wine and Deep Thoughts ® were involved.

[4] Part of our conversation included the fact that, by even acknowledging the Indian caste system, he might be creating “bad karma” for himself, as many higher-caste Indians who now live in America – and if they have the means to come here they are from the higher castes – surprise! – would rather pretend, in front of non-Indian Americans, that such a thing goes not exist. The social stratification of Indian society – including the emphasis of skin color and the bias against dark skin – is seen as an embarrassing cultural relic, yet, since it benefits them…why work to change it?

[5] Reasons which will be couched in other terms – the real reason will *never* be admitted to by the loan officers because although redlining is technically illegal, it is still practiced

[6] With the emphasis on sport.  Subsistence hunters don’t go for elk with bows and arrows on their landowner friend’s private acreage, and don’t care if it the animal they hunt, out of absolute necessity, is a “5×5″( a ranking system which refers to the points in each side of the antler rack).

The Speech I’m Not Policing

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Department Of The Optimism I Wish I Held

“His recent book Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, could hardly be more timely.
And it has a fascinating twist, seeking links between how individuals deal with crises – with insights from his clinical psychologist wife – to how nations succeed or fail when confronted with a crisis.”

That blurb is from the description of “How It Can All Fall Apart,” a recent episode of Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid podcast.  Professor, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning popular science author Jared Diamond (“Guns, Germs and Steel“) was Alda’s guest.

As with many podcast guests, Diamond had a new work to promote (the above-mentioned book, which just may join the ever-expanding pile of *read-this-and-you’ll-be-a-better-or-at-least-smarter-person* tomes by my nightstand).  What I found most captivating about the interviews Diamond has been giving is the cautious optimism he expresses about what positive awakening may arise from the COVID-19 crisis:

…if there is a solution found, a majority of people may finally realize that *global problems require global solutions,* which could result in the setting aside of political differences and working together to find solutions to problems from which  no artificial barriers of borders or international politics can shield us  (read: Global Warming/Climate Change.

I wish I could believe Diamond is right.  The USA should, of course, be a leader in this and other issues.  Instead, it may take our country many months – how long until the election? – to be able to fully get on board in this matter.  Chief Little Bunker-Bitch [1] I mean, that festering gallstone of a human being – okay; remember, we’re going for the spirit of cooperation – our pathetic excuse of a leader…  I’m sorry, world, but the truth is….

 

 

Ok.  How shall moiself  put this? If you know even a smidgen of #45’s personal, business and political history, you also know that the one comment any teacher would *not* write in the report card of his life is, “Plays well with others.”

*   *   *

Department Of Since You’ve Asked

Inquiring Minds:
“What is your diagnosis of the greatest problem facing humanity?”

 

 

All-righty then, to rephrase:

“What would you say is humanity’s biggest mistake, or weakness?”

Moiself:
Humanity’s *blunder grande* is our misplaced faith in certitude, vis-à-vis both our factual knowledge and our sense of ethics.   [2] 

Giving the probabilistic nature of our world (including our very existence as a species), strength and resilience lies in people who are able to see and act on the grays in life, instead of labeling everything either black or white.

Fly your gray banner; keep open to the possibility that you may be wrong, but don’t let this entangle you in the morass of uncertainty that some use as an excuse for inaction (“Since we can’t know for certain then we can’t know at all”).

Wow. That’s a lot of profundity for one keyboard to spew.  I need a beer.

 

“Don’t waste it on her; she doesn’t even drink beer.”

 

*   *   *

 Department Of Terms Worth Picking A Few Nits Over

I’ve written in the past (and given our current “cancel culture”   [3]  and the unfortunate, seemingly liberal-led trend of looking under every verbal rock for aggrievements, I will likely have cause to write again) of my disdain for people who criticize/judge/assume they know the opinions of other people who don’t use the “proper” or “accepted” terms in discussing social issues.

Moiself  deplores the censoring of ideas and the alienating of allies which results from when you focus on *how* someone says something, versus paying attention to *what* they are trying to say (i.e., confusing style with substance).  But, language is tricky. None of us can accurately claim to be an expert of verbal and written communications, which are the conduit between our forming ideas and our expression of them.

 

 

The choices we make matter, as do our words, which both express and influence our ideas and worldviews. I try to view each case separately recently, I’ve learned of a couple of centuries-old terms which moiself  thinks are very much worth changing, for the important reason of the terms’ subtexts.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project at The New York Times, which tracks the legacy of slavery.  In Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with journalist Hannah-Jones, (which I referred to in a recent blog post as influencing my opinions about reparations for slavery), TG asked Hannah-Jones about why she uses the term “enslaved person” and not “slave” in her writing (my emphases):

“It was very important in the 1619 Project and whenever I write about this, to not use language that further dehumanizes people who every system and structure was designed to dehumanize.

I think when we hear the word “slave,” we think of slavery as being the essence of that person. But if you call someone an enslaved person, then it speaks to a condition. These people were not slaves. Someone chose to force them into the condition of slavery, and that language to me is very important, as is using the word “enslaver” over slave owner because these people didn’t have a moral right to own another human being, even though the society allowed it, and I think it needs to be active, that this was an active system of people choosing to treat other human beings as property.”

 

I think this change in terminology is adoption-worthy and will henceforth try to consistently to use those words.  If someone comments on it (“I’ve noticed you say, ‘enslaved person’ and ‘enslaver’ instead of ‘slave,’ and ‘slaveowner’ “),  then there is an opportunity for dialogue.

However, I will not turn into a member of the Speech Police, and hope that other Well-Meaning People ® act accordingly.  Joe Dude who seems open to the idea of reparations for enslaved persons is a potential ally; don’t turn him off if he starts to say, “I realize there is validity in reparations for descendants of slaves…” by jumping in with a correction, no matter how well-meaning: “Whoa, Joe – the proper term is, ‘enslaved persons….’ “

In these Twitter Mob Times ® it so easy to criticize *how* someone is expressing an idea that we often neglect to listen to *what* they are trying to say.  When it comes to style vs. substance, go for substance. Every Time.

 

“There’s the guy who said ‘disabled’ instead of “person with a disability’ – let’s get ’em!”

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Things We Leave Behind For Others

One day in 1961, the famous physicist Richard Feynman stepped in front of a Caltech lecture hall and posed this question to a group of undergraduate students:
“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”

….we posed Feynman’s cataclysm question to some of our favorite writers, artists, historians, futurists – all kinds of great thinkers. We asked them, “What’s the one sentence you would want to pass on to the next generation that would contain the most information in the fewest words?”

(Radiolab, The Cataclysm Sentence,)

 

One of my favorite Feynman quotes. If you want to know what his “cataclysm sentence” was, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

 

I thought about that question for several weeks after hearing that podcast.The answers given, by Feynman and others, could be rephrased as, What would you leave behind for others?  My cataclysm sentence, which needs some serious editing, would have something to do with embracing embrace curiosity; try to understand reality and do not be satisfied with stories that purport to assuage your fears about what you don’t know….

One day during one of my early morning walks, I put those What would you leave behind for others? thoughts on hold, and have yet to return to them.  I was crossing a residential street, mulling those profound thoughts, and I noticed two brown plops, and a brownish line of…ick…stretching from the center of the street to the gutter, and then up on the sidewalk, for a total plop-streak of about 20 feet.   Moiself  realized it was a series of feces droppings, from a doggie which was evidently on the move.

 

 

Not wanting to fall into the trap I just wrote about – making up stories for that what you don’t understand – moiself  nevertheless used my powers of deductive reasoning to come up with the most likely scenario: dogs, when they’re on their own or are being led by a human on a walk or run, stop to squat when they defecate.  Why was this dog in such a hurry that it could not do so?  It was either being chased by something…or being pulled by someone.  I realized that the speedy early morning jogger I’d passed earlier, on that very street, her leashed dog trotting a good ten feet behind her, was the likely source.

And it made me wonder about how many of the countless dog-accompanied joggers and cyclists I’ve seen consider themselves to be responsible owners and the kind of people who always pick up after their dog… Except, when you’re moving at those speeds, essentially forcing your dog to run with you, it has to “go” on the run,  [4]  and since it is trailing behind you, you don’t see what is happening….  And you run or cycle merrily along, blissfully ignorant of the shit trail you have left behind, for others to deal with.

 

Book ’em, Danno.

*   *   *

Whaddya think, is there some kind of life metaphor in all that crap?

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

You shouldn’t fart in an Apple store; they don’t have Windows.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just One More And Then I’ll Stop, I Promise

My dad burst into my room and said, “Wanna hear a joke?”
He proceeded to fart for a whole minute, then said,
“Sorry; that was a long-winded story.”

Okay; make that, just two more.

After letting out a trumpet of a fart the toddler stopped, gasped,
looked up at her mother and said, “Did you just hear that elephant?”
She’s going to be a great dad someday.

 

 

*   *   *

May you be mindful of what you leave behind;
May you recognize and celebrate life’s gray areas;  [5]

May you have the optimism to believe that a world which produces fart-dad joke combos
can come up with a cure for a pandemic ;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] For those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it, this is one of the milder monikers we use.

[2] Aka, “right” and “wrong.”

[3]  As per dictionary.com, cancel culture refers to “…the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”

[4] I have seen  more than one dog, running alongside its jogging/cycling owner, stop to squat and then get jerked/dragged along by its leash, while its owner kept on going.

[5] Except for those involving dreadful novels with “shades of” in the title.

The Reality Show I’m Not Watching

Comments Off on The Reality Show I’m Not Watching

Department Of Peculiar State Mottos

 

 

I love my state, despite its having these three flaws:

(1) the 46th ugliest  [1]  state flag in the USA (it violates at least one of the Five Basic Principles of Flag Design, as per the North American Vexillological Association,  [2]

(2) as well as one of the more perplexing state mottos.

(3) There is no third flaw.

Who was the person who first decreed, “States must have slogans – oh, wait, let’s call them, ‘mottoes!’ ” ? Who convinced others in the government that, with all the to-dos which come with qualifying for statehood,  motto-composing is a good use of time?  That person is lost to history.

Moiself  (motto: “It’s my blog, so there.”) decrees that there are four states vying for Worst State Motto award.  Besides Oregon, they are:

* Connecticut (“He who transplanted sustains.”)

Oh, yeah. That goes without saying.

* New Mexico (“It grows as it goes.”)

Imagine what the NM motto committee was smoking when they thought up that one.

* Maryland (“Manly deeds, womanly words.”)

 

 

Oregon’s state motto is in Latin, because the same doofus who sent out the, “Every state must have a motto” memo also apparently added, “…and if you can’t think of anything profound or at least plausible to say, say it in Latin.”

Thus, Oregon’s motto: Alis volat propriis. Which translates as…

She flies with her own wings.

 

 

Many Oregonians do not know what our state’s motto is. And when they find out, their reaction is not what moiself  imagines was the goal of the motto committee:

WTF does that even MEAN ?!?!?

The general consensus of historians and People Who Try To Care About Such Things ® is that the motto is meant to convey a sense of Oregon’s “tradition of independence and innovation” (e.g., the nation’s first bottle bill, the public beach access bill).  [3]  So yeah; there’s that. But, couldn’t it have been phrased in a more accessible way (“Oregon: pick up your trash and get off our lawn beach.“)?

On the other hand, it could be seen as reassuring to residents of other states: if you meet an Oregonian and she looks like she’s about to takeoff, don’t worry – she has too much pride and self-reliance to steal *your * wings.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the air show.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Best Song Couplets, V. 2

♫  The weeks went by and spring turned to summer and summer faded into fall/
And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all.  ♫

( from “Goodbye Earl,” the [band formerly known as the] Dixie Chick’s
ode to taking revenge on an abusive husband )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Seriously, You Need A List For This?

On Monday, an ad with this headline appeared on my FB feed:

“Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup.”

The ad’s headline accompanied a picture of an attractive Woman Of A Certain Age ®, which made me think the ad’s content could be along the lines of the standard advice that women who wear makeup should tone it down as they age…or perhaps the ad was related to the COVID shelter-in era, with people not wanting to deal with their usual routines?

I didn’t click on the ad, but instead of just scrolling by, I stared at the inane headline which had caught my eye, and repeated to moiself   the Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup I would give, gratis, to anyone who asked:

1. Wear less makeup. 2. Wear less makeup. 3. Wear less makeup.
4. Wear less makeup.
5. Set your smartphone’s alarm reminder: Wear less makeup.

*   *   *

Department Of, Once Again, Reality Outdoes Fiction

You cannot make up a line this…rich.

Context:  MH and I, watching a Netflix show, Indian Matchmaking:

“Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era.”

I thought at first the show was fiction, then, a documentary, then, after two episodes, I said to MH, “This is a reality show, right?”  (Translation: “We can’t watch it anymore. We don’t watch Those Kind of Shows. ® “)

The line in question came from an Indian-American woman, who spoke with snort-worthy distain about rejecting a man who wasn’t as travel-knowledgeable as she:

“He didn’t know that Bolivia had salt flats.”

 

 

 

That particular woman was one of the matchmaker’s clients featured in the two episodes we watched. She was in her mid-30s, a lawyer, very busy, a world traveler when not working.  Once she’d agreed to matchmaking services ( via evident pressure from her mother and sister ) she began noticing how her married female friends actually spent a significant amount of time with their husbands – an idea which seemed to disgust her. And she found excuse after excuse to object to any matches the matchmaker suggested.

Her predicament led to this tender exchange between me and my life match:

Moiself: “Why is she doing this?  She so obviously doesn’t want to be married.”

MH: “She doesn’t need a husband, she just needs a vibrator.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Convoluted Path Of Memories

Dateline: last Saturday.  I posted on Facebook a list my Swenadian   [4]  friend had sent me: five anecdotes with the theme of memorable, embarrassing misstatements. I actually remember reading (in a newspaper) about the fifth one:

What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any? We had a female news anchor, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, who turned to the weatherman and asked,
“So, Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?”

 

 

One of the main reasons I tell my stories or share the stories of others is because of what I call the 99% reaction motivation: ala the *I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours* approach to life, sharing a story almost always prompts others to share their similar stories. Whether it’s an anecdote of a major parental fail I pulled, or imparting someone else’s  *yes-she-really-said-to-the-handsome-golf-pro-that-she-liked-playing-with-men’s-balls* tale, I know that I will soon hear from a buddy about her worst mothering incident (which makes me feel better about mine), or a face-palming moment of their own which will make me laugh harder than the original story.

It’s what I live for.   [5]

Given the number of writers and reporters I know, I was certain that the last of the Five Embarrassing Misstatements stories would generate   [6]  a story in response.  What with newspaper editors asking for copy in terms of inches of print space (“I need six inches for the op-ed….”) I knew my journalism buddies would have similar stories. Sure enough, SDH, a comrade since our junior high school days, posted a doozy.

The next morning at breakfast, MH mentioned SDH’s story, which sent me on a memory flashback. I think about my high school journalism friends often – even posted about them six years ago. Since it’s summertime, I’ll indulge moiself  with a bit of a rerun:

(5-16-2014, excerpts from The Tattoo I’m Not Explaining )

I am currently reading Weedland by Peter HechtSubtitled Inside America’s Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit, the book, as per one blurb, is “essential reading for anyone who is a fan of California’s most lucrative agricultural product.”  Which, I am not.  However, I am a fan of Peter Hecht.

I’ve known (and admired and adored) Pete since junior high school.  He was one of my buddies from a group of friends and acquaintances I still think of as the high school journalism gang.

The Write Stuff

Neither K nor Belle have ever brought home (nor even mentioned, sans my prompting) their high school’s newspaper. They both know I’d written for my school paper.   [7]  They know it was a “real” newspaper, with separate pages (and editors and reporters) devoted to news stories, editorial/opinion pieces, entertainment/feature and sports writing. They know that when The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning biweekly newspaper, was distributed in the school’s classrooms, the teachers and students stopped what they were doing and read it, cover to cover.  They know that students’ parents also read the high school newspaper, and that The Generator ran stories with enough substance to garner parental interest… and complaints.

(“I can’t believe what your reporter/ smart aleck columnist ____ wrote about! That’s no subject fit for a high school newspaper!”)   [8]

 

 

They know all of this because of the stories I’d told them.  And they could not bear to disappoint me when it came to their own school’s pitiful excuse for fishwrap newspaper.

Son K, ever the diplomat, laid it out for me after my third or fourth Why-don’t-you-ever-bring-your-school-newspaper-home? whine petition.

“Mom, our school’s newspaper sucks.
It’s embarrassing…nothing in it but rah-rah stories…
No one reads it and no one cares.”

Think back to your high school history, chemistry, English, or PE classes:  how many of those classmates went on to become historians or chemists or English teachers or pro athletes?  It still amazes me to think of how many of my peers who wrote for The Generator went on to pursue careers in journalism in one form or another. Along with Peter Hecht, there are:

* Scott Harris, former Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury reporter/columnist, Scott is currently one of “The Expat Files” contributors, living in/freelancing from Hanoi;

* Janis Carr, longtime Orange County Register sportswriter;

* Tim Ferguson, – Wall St. Journal reporter and current Forbes editor;

* Victor Cota, reporter for the Orange County Register 

* Phil Blauer, So-Cal area news anchor;

* Deborah Franklin, “my” editor,  [9]  whom I greatly admire for finding a way to combine her two loves, science and journalism.  Instead of (as the dubious voices advised) dumping one to concentrate on the other, Franklin became a science and medical reporter. Her works appear in a variety of venues, from VIA to NPR to Scientific American.

…and oodles of others I’m probably forgetting.  [10]

 

Three of those previously mentioned: Back row: the striped shirt and boyish-grin belong to Tim Ferguson; front row: L, Pete get-a-load-of-that-1974-hair Hecht; R Scott Harris, who was engaged in a campaign to get me to leave student government (“The BOC”) and join The Generator staff, which almost excuses his scribbled commentary;
second from R, Janis Carr.

 

Back to the breakfast table of the present: After MH told me about reading SDH’s story, I told him how delighted I was that SDH had shared it, then repeated two observations I’d made many a time: (1) I am amazed at how so many of my high school peers went on to have long careers in “actual” journalism, and, (2) of all the different sub-groups I was involved with in high school – the “gifted’ academic program; athletics; student government; the school newspaper – it is the journalism group I think of most frequently, and most fondly.

I got a good-natured, well-of-course-and-duh-you-are-all-writers reaction from MH the first time I told him that.  This time, his expression was open and interested, beyond mere tolerance mode to an actual, tell-me-more-of-what-you-mean way.

 

Yes, almost exactly like this.

 

And so, I did.

What was so great about that group was that, although they were all different, unique students, definitely not cut from the same “cloth,” politically or personally or socially or emotionally, they were all really…. *smart.*

They were intelligent, if not necessarily in the academically-gifted-program way (most of them were not enrolled in our school’s ‘s gifted program)…but it was more than that.  They were informed and inquisitive; they were both interesting, and interested – attentive to people and events and ideas outside of themselves…which was a refreshing change from the ubiquitous high school, *it’s-all-about-me* mentality.  Even those who “just” reported on sports (sorry, guys) were also conversant on politics and culture – they had a wide variety of interests, beyond their personal (and later, professional) specializations.

And they were, almost without exception, *wicked* funny.

 

 

Trading barbs, making wittily snarky observations of our fellow students – you had to have a thick hide to survive that group, and be able to take it as well as dish it out.  We were fast on the draw, quick to mine any seemingly innocent comment for innuendo potential.  Speaking of which, how convenient of moiself  to provide a segue to this apropos example:  One afternoon during my senior year, I was in our newspaper’s office, shooting the breeze with one of our newspaper’s reporter’s as he had a late lunch. He told me that someone had asked him for a clarification for the usage of the word, * innuendo,* then spat out part of his sandwich when I told him that “innuendo” was Italian for “anal sex.”

*   *   *

Department Of, It’s Her, Again? But She Won Last Month….

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

When you get a bladder infection you know urine trouble.

 

 

*   *   *

May you visit Oregon, but remember to bring your own wings;
May you have fond memories of at least one of your high school “groups;”
May you never reject a potential romantic partner because they
don’t know obscure geographic facts about Bolivia;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Beating it in ugliness are the state flags of Hawaii (A union jack? Seriously? With all the gorgeous Hawaiian colors to choose from, you steal from the Brits?) and the flags of Georgia and Mississippi, which incorporate part of the Confederate flag, tackily celebrating one of the ugliest chapters in American History.

[2] Vexillology is the study of flag history and symbolism.   Yes, Virginia, there’s an organization for everything.

[3] Oregon was the first state to enact a container-deposit bill (1971);  Oregon’s landmark beach bill  (1967) declares that all “wet sand” within sixteen vertical feet of the low tide line belongs to the state of Oregon, and recognizes public easements of all beach areas up to the line of vegetation, regardless of underlying property rights, so that the public has “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches,” and property owners are required to seek state permits for building and other uses of the ocean shore.   Wikipedia, Oregon Beach Bill

[4] A Canadian married to a Swede.

[5] Well, that and Grey’s Anatomy reruns. And world peace.

[6] Only a select few of my readers will get that reference: My high school’s student newspaper, where I met most of these fine folk,s was named The Generator.

[7] Primarily Parnal Knowledge, my regular op-ed column, plus miscellaneous reporting, ranging from “hard” news to satire to cultural reviews to sports.

[8] The Generator’s faculty advisor (English teacher Ted Clucas), was never happier than when he’d received a parental complaint.  “It proves they’re paying attention – you made somebody think about something!”

[9] Franklin, The Generator’s Editor-in Chief my senior year, displayed support and discretion above and beyond the call of journalistic duty by allowing me free (mostly) range in writing my op-ed column, Parnal Knowledge.

[10] I have not updated this list; some of the members have retired/moved on. One of the “oodles” I forgot to mention was the venerable Peter Schmuck (all together now: yep, that’s his real name), who recently retired from over 30 years of sports reporting for The Baltimore Sun.

The Dinner With Mel Brooks I’m Not Having

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Department Of SpellWalking is Spellbinding

What, you may ask, is this “SpellWalking” thing you’ve been hearing so much about?  And if you haven’t heard about it….

Spellwalking Spellwalking Spellwalking Spellwalking
Spellwalking Spellwalking

…there. Now you have.

You Must Check This Out ®.

Here’s the description of the activity, from the  brilliant   [1]   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’s favorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.

 

 

*   *   *

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….”

 

 

*   *   *

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   [2]  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 moiself cannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, every F. 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 moiself  being 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, moiself might 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.

 

*   *   *

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 moiself  hadn’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?”

 

Wow as 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.

The End.

Wow  as in, there’s not much to the story, is there?  It’s too insipid to be tragic.

*   *   *

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 )

Goodbye, Carl Reiner.

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.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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…

 

*   *   *

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.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.

 

*   *   *

 

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!

*   *   *

 

[1] Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.

[2] 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?

The Letters I’m Not Transposing

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Department Of Visual Double-Take

I got this bottle of tequila for a friend, because of the label…which I misread. Boys and girls, can you guess which two letters my mind transposed with another two, which caused me at that initial, mistaken glance, to blurt out, to the store clerk,

“Four *hundred*?  That’s the manliest tequila ever!”

 

 

*   *   *

Several days ago, apropos of a prompt moiself   cannot exactly recall (something I read which mentioned cyber-bullying) I listened, once again, to Monica Lewinsky’s acclaimed TED talk on the subject…which led me to read for the first time an article she wrote for Vanity Fair magazine several years ago – an article which preceded the TED presentation.  If you listen to the first, which I strongly advise you (and all those who think they have an opinion on the Clinton-Lewinsky “scandal”) do, I also advise you read the second.  After reading the article I wanted to send feedback to her personally but had no way to contact her (other than by cyber-stalking), so I am sending this out via the blog-o-sphere.  May the cosmos have mercy upon me.

 

Good luck with that, you impudent b***h.

 

Dear Ms. Lewinsky,

I re-listened to your TED talk the other day ( apropos of a prompt I cannot now recall, but the subject was cyber-bullying ) and so, once again, I found the link to “The Price of Shame,”  which I believe to be one of the best TED talks ever. If there were an awards ceremony for excellence in TED talks (“The Teddies?”   [1] ), yours would get my nomination in the Best Issue category.

I’ve listened to it several times, and each time come away (re)impressed with your insightful analysis of the links between the evolution of “shame culture” via the concurrent rise of the 24 hour news cycles, social media, and online harassment. Most of all, I admire, how you have taken your personal experiences with persecution and worked to turn humiliation into advocacy.

Searching for a link to the TED talk led me to a link to “Shame and Survival,” the article you wrote for Vanity Fair magazine in 2014, where you dealt with the issues which you would later incorporate in your TED talk, and also went into more detail about your experiences.  I found myself cheering your determination to take back your narrative and give a purpose to your past (and present). However, there was one cringe-worthy (to me) statement you made therein, one which I hope the passage of time has given you cause to reconsider. 

“I still have deep respect for feminism and am thankful for the great strides the movement has made in advancing women’s rights over the past few decades. But, given my experience of being passed around like gender-politics cocktail food, I don’t identify myself as a Feminist, capital F.”

The context of your statement – your relating the “humiliation derby” that several prominent women joined in, which illustrated ” …a perplexing aspect of the culture of humiliation…that women themselves are not immune to certain kinds of misogyny “–  makes your sentiment fully understandable, and arguably inevitable.  After being on the receiving end of such cruel treatment, the fact that you are not bitter and vindictive – it is a testament to your strength of character, maturity and grace (and I question whether I be capable of displaying or developing those qualities, were I in similar circumstances).

Still, that was six years ago, and I hope that now you could identify yourself with the F word (maybe not in all caps).  Perhaps you have already done so, and my point is moot.  Proceeding on the assumption that you haven’t, my concern with you still holding that sentiment is related to your crusade regarding online bullying, in which you want people to view other people as unique human beings and not stereotypes, and not hold an entire category of people responsible for the cruel actions or snide comments of a few individuals.

Feminism, the simple yet profound philosophy of advocating for women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes, did not let you down. Certain “celebrity feminist” individuals –  who were, unfortunately, prominent enough that their short-sighted, narrow-minded, unkind and snarky comments about you were deemed worthy of recording – let you down.

Along with short-sighted and narrow-minded, snarky and unkind, I would add fearful to characterize the comments made about you by those feminist personalities.  They were fearful – with good reason, it turns out – of what would happen if “the other side” used the Clinton scandal to gain (even more) power for themselves.  The other side both explicitly and implicitly avowed to undermine and overturn the principles feminism stood for and the civil rights for which feminists strove, and as we see today, their retrograde view of what constitutes equal rights is unfortunately and alarmingly persistent.

Yes, the gap between the personal and the political vis-à-vis President Clinton’s behavior – which includes how you were scapegoated and the resulting political/cognitive dissonance it evoked in too many of Clinton’s female supporters – was alarming. Unfortunately, no matter how regressive his treatment of an individual woman was, Clinton’s political stances, policies and agendas were far more progressive and pro-women than what the Republicans stood for. Thus, the shameful loyalty of those vocal feminists who slid down the old slippery slope of immediate political self-interest:

“He may be a SOB, but he’s *our* SOB…and sadly, what are our alternatives?”

I’m sorry if this seems overly didactic; you are obviously intelligent, thoughtful, and historically literate, and these are points which you have already likely considered. Still, as a lifelong supporter of equal rights, I hope that you would someday be able to reevaluate and embrace the term feminist, to know that you can disagree with others who may claim that mantle just as you continue to support Democratic policies and ideals despite the injustices done to and said about you by many of your fellow Democrats.

Thank you again for the important causes and issues you continue to illuminate and advocate, and for your bravery and example to all women and men for rising above adversity and calling out the “culture of shame.”  Wishing you all the best, I am,

Sincerely yours,

*   *   *

Blog Department Of Classic How-To-Live-A-Good-Life Advice ® Tweaked

Your life’s journey is not to discover who you are,
but rather who you want to be.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Deep Thoughts Continue, aka
What I Thought About When I Overheard An Older Person
Denigrate Young(er) People’s Lack Of Perspective Re The Passage Of Time

The fact that nothing lasts is the reason that things matter. Our ephemeral, mortal nature gives meaning to every day.  The realization that we will never pass this way can make us treasure the here and now, and make the most of the time we have.

This is not a novel idea.  When I’ve read similar sentiments it is at this point that the typical Life Advice Giver® writes about how this ephemeral-ity is understood by the old and not so much by the young….  And moiself doesn’t think that’s necessarily the case.   [2]

I’ve known plenty of older people who gave no indication that their advanced years had brought them any advanced wisdom – they seemed just as stuck in the minutia of life as the Gen X, Y, or Z-ers whom they were so critical of for “not seeing the bigger picture.”  These same Oldsters® were/are not stepping back to look at *their* bigger picture, for fear of what it contains. Their resulting lack of introspection and/or denial of obvious realities (My body is changing; Time waits for no one) is perhaps the opposite side of the coin of the stereotype of hedonistic youth (Live for the moment; Who cares about tomorrow …Hey, hold my beer while I do this…).

 

“Do you know what she’s talking about?” “Nope – hold my beer while I ask her.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The Heavy Metal Edition

Specifically, the prototypes of what became known as Heavy Metal music (such as the bands Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), guitar-driven rock characterized by amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and maximum concert decibel intensity (translation: LOUD)..

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

Communication Breakdown
Dazed And Confused
Good Times Bad Times
Hey Hey What Can I Do
How Many More Times

In My Time Of Dying
Night Flight
No Quarter
Sick Again
Stairway To Heaven

Trampled Underfoot
Wearing And Tearing
What Is And What Should Never Be
Your Time Is Gonna Come

A Touch Away
Bad Attitude
Don’t Hold Your Breath
I’m Alone
Into The Fire

Might Just Take Your Life
Never Before
Slow Train
Smoke On The Water
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

A Hard Road
Buried Alive
Crazy Train
Dying For Love
Electric Funeral

Get A Grip
Killing Yourself To Live
Slipping Away
Warning
What’s The Use?
When Death Calls
Wicked World
Wishing Well

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [3]

 

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

Featuring this week’s Theme Day (Wednesday Wraps) and recipe:
Whole wheat calzones with pistachio basil pesto and asparagus

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you not judge the notorious until you’ve walked a mile in their scandals;
May your label letter transpositions bring you a good belly laugh;
May you live as long as you want to, and want to as long as you live;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!

 *   *   *

[1] Just think of the cute design possibilities for the teddy bear statues that would be presented to the winners.
[2] What’s with the lack of footnotes?
[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.
[4]

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

 

The Cookbook I’m Not Writing

Comments Off on The Cookbook I’m Not Writing

Department Of You Need This Laugh

And apparently, you may need a toilet plunger if you go to –
or have to go when you’re in [sorry] – Merry Olde England.

You gotta love a travelogue/essay which contains the phrase (referring to the British), “It’s an open question whether they’re better at plumbing or cooking,” soon followed by, “There’s no polite way to begin my testimony. It all started when I took a shit.”  This magnificent piece of potty-permeated prose, written by Lewis Lee, for The Good Men Project, describes the difficulties Lee faced when he tried to acquire a toilet plunger in the UK.

I received this link from observant, well-traveled friend DC, in response to my comment on a picture of a topiary he posted on FB:  I’d compared one of the elaborately pruned hedges in the photograph to a toilet plunger.  After reading this essay, I felt I could skip my core/abs workout of the day, and my sides are still sore from the after-laughter effects. Moiself  is forever in his debt.

My United Kingdom for a Plunger

 

Certainly there must be a plunger for the Royal Loo.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Simple Pleasures
# 3892 in a series

My reading list stretches to infinity. Thus, I am thankful to a certain author for not adding to that (admittedly delightful) burden.  She did so by titling her memoir – think along the lines of, “Love’s Labour, Like, Totally Lost: I Was Runner-up on ‘The Bachelor’ ” – the kind of title which relieves me of the responsibility of giving her book a second glance:

“Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Today’s Blog Title

Indeed, moiself  is *not* writing a cookbook.

 

There, there. Life is full of disappointments; calm yourselves.

 

I do, however, have a title for one.

This is not the only cookbook I haven’t written.  The first one was titled, “Shut Up And Eat This: Cooking For Your Relatives And Your Children.” Literary agents did not leap at the chance to represent that work, imagine that.

The cookbook I am now not writing will be called, Jump to Recipe.

 

 

Yeah; they get it.

A brief explanation…

 

” ‘Briefs’ are a type of short, snug, men’s underwear, aka ‘tighty whities,’ in contrast opposed to looser styles like “boxer shorts’…”

 

Sister, please.

I’ll try again.

A brief explanation, for y’all who perhaps are unfamiliar with food blogs.   [1]  If you search online  for recipes, you will increasingly/more than likely see, under the recipe/blog title (or somewhere near the top of the post), the option, Jump to Recipe  [2].   

It’s an option I appreciate, as in the past few years it seems that every recipe posted online must be accompanied by a certain number of paragraphs of self-indulgent blah blah blahexposition

The verbiage include stories about how the Food Blogger Person ® came up with the recipe, how FBP’s recipe has evolved, how FBP has evolved to be able to even imagine such a combination of ingredients and/or techniques and/or cuisine traditions, followed by what seems to be the obligatory bullet-point list of exclamatory statements re why this is such a great recipe:

* It’s simple!
* It’s tasty!

* It’s like Summer vacation on a sheet pan!
* It uses less than ten ingredients!
* It uses ingredients you will likely have around the house!   [3]

* It won’t give ____ ( your in-laws an excuse to order pizza; your children a reason to make that yucky vegetable face; your pee that weird asparagus smell ) !
* Your ____  (friends; cellmates; boss ) will never guess that this dish is  ____ ( heart-healthy; vegan; plagiarized from a Martha Stewart cookbook ) !

Yep, I’m having some fun with you food bloggers, even as I hope ’tis obvious that moiself is a fan of (some) of y’alls’ works.  That said, as much as there are times when I can appreciate the stellar story behind your stupendous Stavanger Stew, other days, I just want to make a chunky Norwegian soup.  I have my ideas and I want to compare them to yours; I want proportions of ingredients, not a six paragraph saga about how everyone you know (or are related to, or sleeping with, or owe money to…) raves about this recipe, or how by making *your* variation on tahini and avocado toast I will be saving the planet….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Don’t Try This At Home

Dateline: last Thursday; plenty of time on my hands, as we seem to have These Days ®.  I decided to clean out/reorganize the freezer, and in doing so got a nasty cut on my left index finger, from a hitherto unseen but very sharp part of the freezer’s drain panel.  Now that I can’t fully use it, I’ve been discovering just how many things I do with my left hand, either solo or in comradeship with my (dominant) right hand.

Moiself is not a true ambidext.  [4]  Still, I’ve always done certain things with my left hand, a fact that, for reasons that are not fully understood by moiself, seems to have annoyed certain other people, who’ve then in turn annoyed moiself  by pointing it out:

“Hey, I thought you were right-handed?”

“I am.”

“Then why are you ______ with your *left* hand, huh ?!?!?
 (dealing cards; dialing the phone; picking your nose;
reaching for a second helping of asparagus….)

It was a nasty cut, requiring butterfly bandages. The amount of blood in one’s fingers is impressive.  And it never would have happened had I not had time on my hands, which led to blood all over my hands…

THE  CORONA  VIRUS  IS  TRYING  TO  KILL  ME.

*   *   *

Department Of Right Is Wrong About Left

“Speaking” of left hands….

* a left-handed compliment is not one you want to receive;

* “out of left field” means unexpected, odd, or strange;

* The French word for “left,” gauche, in English means, “lacking social grace;”

* The code of Muslim hygienical jurisprudence – yep, it exists   [5] – decrees that  “the anus must be washed with water using the left hand after defecating.”
( from Islamic Toilet Etiquette, – yes, the subject gets its own Wikipedia entry,) 

* The association of the directional left with evil is likely attributed to the dominance of right-handed people within a population…. Left-handed people comprise only 10 percent of the population, and the preference for the left hand…was attributed to demonic possession, leading to accusations of witchcraft….
The Ancient Celts worshiped the left side, associating it with femininity and the fertile womb. But beginning with the appearance of Eve on Adam’s left side in accounts of Genesis, the Christian tradition finds instances of the left side being pinned to immorality….
Sinister, today meaning evil or malevolent in some way, comes from a Latin word simply meaning “on the left side.” …biblical texts describe God dividing people into groups on Judgement Day, saving those on the right while those on the left are “cursed into everlasting fire.”   [6]

 In the 20th century, anthropologists and psychologists identified left-handedness as a biological anomaly, one associated with deviancy but that could be corrected away with behavioral reinforcement.
(The Left Hand of (Supposed) Darkness, Merriam-Webster )

* In the Middle Ages, lefties were associated with the devil and often accused of witchcraft, and even as recently as the 20th century, left-handed students were forced to learn to use their right hand.
( “21 Things You Didn’t Know About Left-Handed People” )

 

My father was once considered to be one of those biological anomalous deviants – a natural born lefty, he was forced to write “right.”

From a very young age I noticed that, besides his distinctive (read: hard to decipher) script, there was something unusual about my father’s handwriting; specifically, the process. He would never casually grab a notepad and pen and get right to it:  from a personal letter to simply adding an item to a grocery list, writing seemed to involve much more concentration for him than for everyone else.  I’d watch him as he would pick up a pen or pencil and  grasp it carefully, using an extra second of effort that was probably undetectable to most people; then he’d adjust his grip and make small, almost imperceptible circle with the writing implement before setting it on the paper.  He wrote very carefully and laboriously, as if some Higher Authority had given him A Very Important Task – ala transcribing the Dead Sea Scrolls – and he’d be punished if he made one mistake. Turns out, the latter was likely his (subconscious) fear.

I heard the explanation from his older sister Marie, on her one and only trip West to see her brother’s family (I happened to be visiting my folks during a college break).  My aunt and I got to chatting privately, with moiself  wanting to hear stories of my father as a child. She obliged with tales of his “naughtiness,” some of which I’d heard from him (e.g., ditching the school bus to go skinny-dipping in the river with his friends), but I was riveted by one that was new to me:  from infancy, as soon as he could move his quavering hands, little Chester Bryan Parnell would reach for objects with his left hand. That was “wrong,” of course, Marie said; thus; their parents would take the object from Chet’s left hand, put it in his right hand, slap his left hand ( so he would know it was the “bad side”), and admonish his siblings to do likewise. She said between the vigilance of his parents and his three older siblings, Chet had mostly been broken him of that “bad habit’ by the time he went to grade school – then the teachers took over and helped him to write “properly.”  [7

I was gobsmacked by this, but hid my astonishment – and disgust at the ignorance and superstition involved – from my aunt…as  well as her story, from my father, until I’d confirmed it with another of his sisters, Lucille.  Lucille admitted it, adding that in these modern times we all understand how some people are just natural left-handers, but folks didn’t know that back then, and Chet’s family and the teachers were just trying to help him do “the right thing.”

When I spoke to my father about his leftist tendencies he said he had only vague memories of being forced to do things right-handed.  To my surprise, he also said he’d become aware, later in life, about with the fact that forcing someone to use their non-dominant hand can have negative effects on brain development….but that it was too late for him to change “back,” after a lifetime of having his “cross-wiring” reinforced.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Wait, I’m Almost Serious

I put this out on Facebook this week.  I’m still waiting for offers from directors (and cinematographers, and actors, and….):

I’m looking for a film student and/or budding director to turn my fantasy into cinematic reality. Here’s my pitch:

“They whine; they pout; they never go out… It’s every parent’s nightmare – stuck in isolation with a QuaranTEEN .”

* “So, like, you stood in line for three hours to get TP but you forgot to stock up on Mountain Dew?! Thanks so much for raising me.”

* “You can’t limit my screen time – the CDC says it helps with, like, physical isolation…what are you, my parents or my parole officers?”

* “All my friends’ parents are letting them drive to Taco Bell because they trust them to like, help out with the family for food supplies and stuff. You’re the worst parents ever.”

* “I’m supposed to care about all the old people but we’re, you know, like, the future of the nation, and there is no grad night, no prom, no senior ditch day for us, and those grandpas and grandmas got to have that when they were our age and so now they think they’re suffering?”

* “Oh yeah, like, thanks *so much* for picking up the stuff in my room, but you put the remotes so far from my bed…”

* ” Only a fucktard would wear a mask like that, and you can’t make me….”

* “Dad threw away my Axe body spray and said I can’t use it until this shelter inside thing is over – he *wants* me to get PTSD!”

 

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The “Shock Rock” Edition

Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson and are acts associated with the rock/heavy metal genre Shock Rock, which combines music with over-the-top live performances borrowing staging elements from horror movies, including special effects, fake blood, masks and body paint, and sometimes provocative behavior from the groups and/or lead singer.

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

Brutal Planet
Freedom
Breaking All The Rules
He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask
Hey Stoopid
I Love the Dead

The Dope Show
Coma White
Disposable Teens
Overneath the Path of Misery
Astonishing Panorama of the End Times

Bark At The Moon
If I Close My Eyes Forever
Paranoid
Schools’ Out
Welcome to My Nightmare

*   *  *

Pun For The Day

Billy:
“So, you saw a group of cats so numerous it stretched
all the way to the horizon?”

Sally:
“Yes, as fur as the eye can see.”

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [8]

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

Featuring this week’s chosen Theme Day (Mushroom/Miso/Mustard Monday) and recipe:

* Mushroom gravy over millet
(chaperoned by Roasted garnet yam, scallions and cider vinegar salad; Mojo de ajo asparagus; whole wheat naan.)

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]    

*   *   *

May you know your left from your right;
May you fantasize your own quarantine movie;
May you carefully judge a book, even an unwritten one, by its title;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] The authors of which, IMHO, are not-so-secretly hoping that they  too can experience the 15 minutes of fame experienced by the food blogger who was the co-subject of the movie, Julie & Julia,

[2] Which, of course, makes moiself wonder how that came about? If food bloggers somehow realized readers left after a paragraph or ten describing how they really weren’t interested in how your variation on hummus came your fantasizing about a trip to Morocco….or a critical mass of readers left comments saying, “Look, I’ll come back if you’ll just let me get to the recipe, please?”  If you’re curious as to whence its (the JTR option’s) origin, here’s the take from one food blogger, who added the JTR option (although she initially opposed it).

[3] I always think, “Oh,  like…dust?”

[4] Is that a word – if you’re ambidextrous, you are an ambidext? I’ve decided it is, and that the world needs this word. You’re welcome, world.

[5] It’s the Qadaa’ al-Haajah.

[6] Matthew 25:32

[7] Teachers would use a ruler or worse to smack the knuckles of any child who tried to write left-handed.

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

[9]

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

 

The Cheese I’m Not Cutting

1 Comment

Department Of The Problem With Legalization

While I am oh-so-glad that smokers of the Stupid Sticks  [1]   no longer face criminal penalties, moiself is less-than-enthusiastic about the fact that so many of them feel free to share their rank-smelling exhalations in public.  Read: yet another beautiful stroll by the beach, tainted by an redolence that can only be described as festering skunk piss.

 

Just wait until *I* start inhaling.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only The Cows Could Talk

Dateline: a rainy Saturday afternoon; Tillamook Creamery.  MH and I are on the self-guided tour…  I’m not all that keen on it, but he says he hasn’t been in years… And I find moiself looking at one of the exhibits and thinking, It’s enough to turn a mostly plant-eating person like me into a full-fledged vegan (I can’t quite get moiself to give up Tillamook’s pepper jack cheese…yet).   I’m also somewhat surprised that animal rights activists haven’t defaced this audacious claim:

 

 

I know enough about the company and its history to respect Tillamook as a co-op business that strives to listen to both its customers and member farmers. But those “Good Start” fiction propaganda claims elide over the facts of what is done to dairy cows in order to get them to produce the massive amounts of milk (it takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheddar) needed for cheese production.  And it’s not as if cows sign up at the creamery due to the above minimum wage salary and awesome health benefits package. They are forced into an unnatural life;  cows evolved to make and suckle other little cows, not to provide humans with dairy and meat products.

This Good Start exhibit, the first stop on the self-guided tour, makes it sound like Man In His Infinite Wisdom® has improved upon Mother Nature – that heartless bitch who was stupid enough to evolve cows to live in groups, which is oh-so-risky for baby cows as they are in constant danger from “injuries from older, larger cows” which – what, suddenly topple over and crush the calves?  When has that ever been a thing?

Anyway, so they take un-weaned calves away from their mothers and bottle feed – y’all read that correctly, they BOTTLE FEED MILK TO A (non-orphaned) CALF, whose mother and her milk are like, right there? Somehow, in moiself’s mind, that doesn’t add up to making sure the calves are “well cared for.”

I find it sobering   [2]  to consider that those (admittedly delicious) cheeses they make come at quite a cost to the animals (humans included; we are animals, too) which provide the cheese base material.  Costs to human animals include the fact that cheese is loaded (saturated?) with saturated fat; also, consider the resources spent on raising and feeding these animals   [3]  and then trying to protect our remaining wildlands and water supply and atmosphere from the resulting methane and fertilizer and feces runoff pollution, and the dairy industry’s over-sized contribution to global warming: “In the U.S., every gallon of milk (produced) results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17. 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.…”  [4]

 

 

OK; off of my soapbox (milk crate?)…. For now.

Confession: the eleven-year-old in me loved looking through the creamery’s floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the cheese packaging assembly lines.   In my grade school, when the teachers had report card prep or whatever else arose (or maybe when they didn’t want to teach), they put us 5th and 6th graders in the school auditorium and showed us factory documentaries, wherein the wonders of the Wonder Bread (or other mass-produced and packaged) product assembly line were revealed.

Something about the assembly line process – all the machines doing one specialized thing (“I’m the bottle filler!” “I’m the bottle capper!”  “I’m the bottle label applier!”), and the factory employees in hairnets watching the machines, working together to assemble massive amounts of…stuff….  It was mesmerizing.

 

And much better than taking another boring spelling test.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gratuitous Fart Jokes Can Be Found Anywhere

Particularly, in a cheese factory.

 

 

I hope they’ve invested in a heavy-duty ventilation system to protect their workers.

*   *   *

Department Of Privilege, Celebrity Edition

Diane Keaton is one of my favorite actors. She’s also a good writer. I enjoyed her two memoirs (“Then Again,” and “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”) for her life and acting observations in general, and also for her specific recollections of decades-ago So Cal life that only someone growing up in Santa Ana (as moiself and Keaton both did) can appreciate.

I just finished her latest book, Brother & Sister.  The book revolves around how her relationship with her brother devolved from childhood best buddies to somewhat estranged adults, with she and her sisters trying to be caretaker to their artistically-inclined, poetry-writing, alcoholic, mentally ill brother.  B & S has been…problematic, I’ll say.  Keaton writes with heartfelt simplicity, self-deprecating humor and candor, but this book is…missing something.  It’s lightweight in  ways that have nothing to do with its slim page count.  

Here’s my problem.  Keaton’s brother is alive today (although dying of dementia as I type this) because of a liver transplant he received 20+ years ago. It’s a problem I know about because Keaton is honest enough to include this detail in her book: she grapples (very briefly) with the fact that her name and credentials and connections (read: Hollywood movie $tar) – including a substantial financial donation to a foundation run by the hospital which did the surgery – enabled her brother to get the life-saving transplant he very likely would not otherwise have received.

 

 

Yep.  Her brother was/is a schizophrenic? /bipolar? (he received many mental health diagnoses over the years) and an alcoholic. His mental illness(es) meant he would be unable to follow the stringent, life-long, after-care routines of transplant patients (ability to do so is one of the primary factors used to calculate a patient’s position on the transplant waiting list).  He also was quite upfront about the fact that he did not intend to give up the prodigious alcohol consumption which caused his liver to fail in the first place.  And yet this man got a liver transplant, ahead of others who had been on the list before him.

David Crosby, déjà vu?  Musician Crosby’s drug and alcohol excesses were legendary, even among his hard-partying peers.   Moiself recalls being surprised when I read of his receiving a liver transplant (“He’s still alive?”), then disgusted to hear how other transplant hopefuls remained on the list while a druggie celebrity vaulted ahead of them.

Crosby’s transplant raised a number of questions including: (1) did he receive a donor liver so “quickly” because he was rich and famous, i.e. is the system fair? (2) should someone whose organ has failed because of a previous “abusive lifestyle” even be eligible to receive a transplant in light of the current donor shortage? (3) just how does the system work anyway?
(“David Crosby liver transplant sparks vigorous debate on fairness of allocation system,” Transplant News, 11-30-94)

Keaton was upfront in her book (but quickly moved on) about the fact that the preferential treatment allotted to her brother was unfair, but, after all, she was just a loving sister doing what she could for her brother.  Moiself, The Suspicious Writer Who’s Had Experience In Such Matters, ®  can’t help but think that Keaton’s brother getting an organ transplant due to Keaton’s connections is somewhat parallel to the fact that Brother & Sister, a slim rumination on family relations, would not have been published if it had been written by another (non-celebrity) author.

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Writers;
Sub-Department Of Yet Another Southern Border Crisis?

English novelist Anna Sewell, who was not a horse, wrote Black Beauty, a groundbreaking, “first person” narrative memoir of the titular stallion’s life as a London cab horse.  Beloved by millions over the years, BB was influential in inspiring nineteenth century England’s animal welfare movement.

John Steinbeck was an educated, financially comfortable, native Californian, not an illiterate, dirt-poor “Okie.”  Steinbeck penned Grapes of Wrath, arguably one of the masterpieces of American literature, his novel about desperate, impoverished Midwestern tenant farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and economic hardship.

John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American dramatist and husband and father. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck, creating Loretta Castorini, a childless, female, widowed Italian-American bookkeeper, as its memorable protagonist.

Ursula LeGuin was neither a dark-skinned androgynous denizen of an alien planet nor a Roman princess in Trojan war times, yet this American heterosexual white Earthling, managed to convincingly create the lives of these beings and more in books like The Left Hand Of Darkness, the Earthsea series, and Lavinia

Stephen King, who was not  [5]   a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl raised by a fanatical, hyper-religious single mother, somehow managed to authentically bring to life that character and more in his first published novel, Carrie.

Boys and girls, can you guess which of the latest writing-outside-your-tribe literary controversies I am not-so-obliquely referring to?

American Dirt, in case you haven’t heard, is a novel about a Mexican woman and her son, the only survivors of their family’s murder by a drug cartel, who flee for their lives and head for the USA-Mexico border.  AD was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection (which almost guarantees a bajillion copies sold, plus movie options) and received glowing reviews, including from Latina authors and actors such as Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez and Salma Hayek.…until someone pointed out that the novel about Mexican immigrants was written by a non-Mexican, and the cultural identity police dog-piled on.

The book’s author identifies as white and Latina and has a Puerto Rican grandmother, but that’s not Latina enough for some.  Seemingly overnight the book went being reviewed as a captivating story that could “change hearts and transform policies” (Alvarez) to being “racist” and “filled with stereotypes.”  Just as quickly, the author went from to literary prodigy to pariah…her publisher even cancelled book tour appearances because of “specific threats to the booksellers and the author.”

 

 

Education and history professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote about how reaction to the book is emblematic of our cultural “shaming” and “mob mentality” phenomena. There are people attacking the book who don’t know anything about it except that it’s been declared “problematic” and that’s enough to get them to revile the author on social media platforms:

Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek admitted that she hadn’t read American Dirt before she hailed Oprah Winfrey for recommending it and for “giving voice to the voiceless.” But then Hayek heard a different voice — also known as a Twitter mob — and she changed her tune.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight,” Hayek posted the following day, “and I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Do you think Hayek read the book in the intervening 24 hours and came to a new judgment of it? Think again. Her “research” was of the social media variety, confirming that a lot of people were very offended by American Dirt. And that was all she needed to know.

A writer for the celebrity website Hola! congratulated Hayek for backtracking. “It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong,” wrote Robert Peterpaul, “but Salma Hayek is gutsy.” Really? How much courage is required to put your finger in the air, figure out which way the Instagram winds are blowing, and adjust your opinions accordingly?

( “ ‘American Dirt’ controversy scores another win for mob mentality,”
Philadelphia Inquirer 2-3-20)

 

 

Can a book be “good” or “bad” because of/in spite of what you think about the author’s personal characteristics, or their “qualifications” to write it in the first place?  I’m not talking about textbooks, instruction manuals, or nonfiction – not talking about how, yes, you’d want a rocket scientist and not a manicurist to write a rocket science manual. But the qualifications for a fiction writer to write on any subject are a bit more subjective, and include interest, imagination, and empathy.

There are legitimate beefs being brought up in the AD brouhaha, having to do with the historical marginalization of “non-mainstream” voices.  From talk show gag writing to movie directing, arts and literature are (still) fields rigged by and designed to favor white males.  Many of these men are sincere allies of female/non-white artists; nevertheless, it is sadly apparent that they don’t understand that the playing field is (still) not level, as indicated by comments such as, that when it comes to voting for awards they “…would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”   [6]

 

 

There are *so many* conversations to be had about the historic and ongoing dominance of the while/male perspective in the arts in general and literature in particular, including who gets to decide what is “quality” and who’s perspectives are publishable or award-worthy…and who gets a million dollar advance for their book.

Novelist Ann Patchett, pointing out that the AD author had received a seven-figure advance for her novel:

“I read the book and I loved it…There’s a level of viciousness that comes from a woman getting a big advance and a lot of attention….  If it had been a small advance with a small review in the back of the book section, I don’t think we’d be seeing the same level of outrage.”
( “Cultural appropriation, say critics. Sexism, defenders say of the criticism. How ‘American Dirt’ launched a publishing firestorm,” The Oregonian, 1-27-20)

The thing is, now that the caca has hit the fan, no one, from layperson reader to professional literary critic, will be able to read or review the book objectively without their reactions and opinions being viewed through the warped lens of identity politics.  As I have written before and will doubtless write again, my main concern in these literary skirmishes is my concern for censorship (and worse yet, IMHO, self-censorship), in that a writer’s personal characteristics are deemed more important than their capacity for imagination, research, and empathy.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’ve watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.

The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.

In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

(“The Comments I’m Not Making,” 9-27-19)

 

 

Yep, I’m quoting moiself.  Because…I can.

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

Recipes:
* Mahogany Eggplant
* Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

My rating for both recipes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8] 

*   *   *

May you “play fair” in matters of life and death and organ transplants;
May you realize when the playing fields are and are not level;
May you eat less cheese (but tell more cutting-the-cheese jokes);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] My old nickname for joints, because of the effect it had on those who, unlike Bill Clinton,* did* inhale.

[2] And it was the early afternoon and I was already sober.

[3] More farmland in the USA is devoted to raising meat-animal feed than food for human animals.

[4] “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?”

[5] Although, with a Stephen King book, anything could happen….

[6] Author Stephen King made that Tweet, regarding the 2020 “Oscars-So-White-male” controversy. King, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gets to vote in certain Oscar award categories.

[7] 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.

[8]

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

 

The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Comments Off on The Sample I’m Not Accepting

Department Of Is This The First Bad Pun Of The New Year
Or The Worst Bad Pun Of The New Year?

 

 

So, if you identify as pansexual, would the above be an acceptable threesome?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Just Walk On By
While Looking Down At Your Cellphone
(You Know, Like Everyone Else Does These Days)

Dateline: earlier this week. Moiself had time to kill before an appointment, so I went to a nearby, large indoor mall.  It used to be *the* mall in our county, and I hadn’t been there in a couple of years… Wow. I can actually say that.

Anyway.  I am walking as I usually do in a mall: expeditiously, as if I have an Important Destination ® in mind.  I am passing a series of – what are they called, those mini-merchants, those booths in the walkways between the main stores on either side?  Kiosks? You know the ones, they hawk sunglasses and calling cards and everything in-between and upside down….

Anyway #2:  As I pass one of those kiosks an overdressed, hipster-ishy young man steps from behind the kiosk’s counter, holds out some kind of…sample, and says, [1]

“Something for your face, ma’am?”

 

 

Now then. If you are a young (-er than me) male, unless your name is Tex and/or you are wearing a cowboy hat and spurs, please don’t call me Ma’am.  Yep, that preference of mine makes it difficult for a stranger to address me (and if you are a stranger, why are you trying to address me?), but there you have it.

Anyway #3: “Something for your face, ma’am?”  My first instinct is to blurt out, “Are you implying that my face needs ‘something’?

I somehow manage to quash that instinct. I learned years ago that most people should think twice about asking a question if they don’t want to hear the answer.  Keeping in mind the time-tested wisdom about which Dionne Warwick sang, I just walk on by.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sports Team Names That Have Got To Go

Dateline: Later that same day, 1:45 pm, having a late lunch at a McMenamins Pub. I am seated in a corner booth almost directly under a wide screen TV mounted on the wall; the TV is at an awkward angle for viewing if you are seated where I am seated, and the server apologizes for this.  I don’t mind – I came to eat, not to watch a hockey game or whatever.

Near the end of my meal I glance up at the TV and see a headline on the bottom of the screen –a sentence moiself’s brain doesn’t register as being related to sports news:

Predators Hire John Hynes As Head Coach

PREDATORS have their own team ?!?!?!

I don’t follow hockey and have never heard of a sports team with that most unfortunate (IMHO) moniker, so for one gloriously short and moronic moment, I’m thinking that a group of priest pedophiles has hired a high profile lawyer…and what’s with those guys wearing ice skates in the background, and…oh…never mind…

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of “Best ____” End-Of-The-Year Lists

You can’t avoid reading about them, or even listening to them, if you are a radio or podcast listener. What with the changing-of-the-decade aspect to the year 2020, list-makers – from news pundits to music critics to podcasts hosts – have the chance to not only compile their best/favorite episodes of the year, but also of the decade. 

I recently listened to a Best Of TED Radio Hour podcast.  The Source of Creativity, which originally aired in 2014, poses a – if not *the* – prime question about creativity:

Is creativity something we are born with or can we learn it?

Questions like that make my brain hurt.

 

 

The episode featured excerpts from three different TED talks by three different speakers, on the subject of creativity.  “How do you get over writer’s block?” by musician Sting, gave way to Charles Limb, a doctor studying the way the brain creates and perceives music, who spoke on “What does a creative brain look like?”  By the time the third speaker, British education specialist Sir Kenneth Robinson, ruminated re “How do schools kill creativity?”   [2]  I found my mind wandering (this happens to us Creative Folks ® , you know) in the direction of contemplating my current/ongoing creative excursion: culinary pursuits.

I once heard cooking described as performance art. Those of you who know moiself, either personally or through this humble high tech scribble fest,  [3]   may recall that performance art is something I have totally trashed for which I have a little respect (“Oh, I see…you can’t actually do anything or make art, and aren’t willing to put in the discipline to acquire artistic talent and skills, but you can ‘perform’ a facsimile of it.”)  

Cooking as art?  Certainly, it can be.

 

 

Apart from the glut of television/streaming cooking shows, which can range from entertaining and motivating illuminations of craft/technique to dreadful, self-aggrandizing platforms for the host chef’s expansive and a blustering ego, I’ve never considered cooking, and the creation of meals and edible   [4]  delights, as a *performance* art. However, with my self-imposed sabbatical from fiction-for-publication-writing, I’ve come to see cooking and meal planning as a major creative outlet.

What I like about this particular art form is that it is recyclable and consumable.  When I experiment with a new curry combination I am not crafting an object  –  e.g., a painting or sculpture – to be a representation or an abstraction of a separate object or concept.   I am making the curry itself.  The dish will either be consumed and hopefully enjoyed, or ignored/disliked /discarded into the compost pile or garbage disposal…unlike the painting which may hang on someone’s wall until it migrates to the landfill (or the curry-themed short story collection which ends up on the remainders table at the bookstore).

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [5]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook, by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Nada.

Really. Flipping through the book’s pages, which I hadn’t done in years, I realized there was nothing I wanted to make.  Butter butter butter butter, and did I mention butter?

I keep this cookbook because a dear friend gave it to me and MH, along with the other Silver Palate cookbook, as a wedding present. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I would have – and did – make some of the recipes from the SP books.  But I don’t cook with those ingredients anymore. And didn’t feel like going through all the modifications to make the recipes palatable to my taste and health and sense of ethics….

About the latter: the SP cookbook recipes are dairy-and-meat-heavy, and this homey don’t play that game. It’s hard to address this issue without getting up on the you-know-what,

 

See?

 

…But please, watch the National Pork Producers Council’s chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom squirm, during her interview on the latest 60 Minutes segment, “Is overuse of antibiotics on farms worsening the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?”

The episode focuses on how and why public health officials investigating a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak were thwarted from visiting farms that provided pigs to contaminated slaughterhouses. Watch the veterinarian squirm on camera; try to imagine the idealistic young person interested in science and animals that she likely once was, now reduced to alternately shilling like a snake-oil salesman (she’s a veterinarian working for a pork lobbying group, for fuck’s sake) – and deflecting like a politician, for the unethical and barbaric factory meat industry.  Watch, and for the 659th time (if you’ve been paying attention) ask yourself, Do I really want to support the cruel and corrupt system that is industrial farm meat production?

Once again, I digress.

I keep these SP cookbooks in my collection, and always will.  They still make me happy, just to see them up on the shelf, and think of the good times with the person who gave them to us.  So, I appreciate the books and the people they remind me of…and I move on to the next cookbook in the list:

Tahini & Turmeric, by Vicky Cohen & Ruth Fox

Recipe: Saffron-infused Cauliflower Soup with Sumac Oil

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6] 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

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

 

 

Of course you can.

We’ve come full circle: say goodbye to the Partridges in my pear tree until later this year.

*   *   *

May your new year be filled with good puns (that is not an oxymoron)
and bad puns (that is not a redundancy);
May your musings on the source of creativity not stifle your imagination;
May you hold gentle thoughts for young men whose job it is to approach older women with
something for your face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Presumable to moiself as there is no one else in the vicinity.

[2] This talk had a rather provocative title, as it starts with an assumption, not a fact, as a given – that schools *do* kill creativity, and thus the issue is *how* schools do that, not if they do or don’t.

[3] Aka, blog.

[4] ‘Tis unfortunate, IMHO, that because the term edible has come to be associated with cannabis use (at least in this weed-legal state), I feel compelled to add a disclaimer: my edibles are not “edibles.”

[5] 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.

[6]

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

[7] In our pear tree.

The New Word I’m Not Defining

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Department Of This Is All I’m Gonna Say About That…

…for now.

About that treacherous excuse for a president calling the whistleblower a traitor.

yeahright

When it comes to running this country into the ground, devising his various schemes which pass for governance which then inevitably lead to him to try and cover his ginormous behind, #45 seems to have been channeling the mindset of an 11-year-old boy. Thus, my advice to him and his equally conspiratorial minions: remember in fifth grade, the kid who was always the first one to raise his nose in the air, make exaggerated sniffing noises and then loudly ask/proclaim, WHO FARTED?

All together now:

He who smelt it, dealt it.

 

fart

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Dreamed I Made Up A Word…

…and the Other People ® in my dream seemed very enthusiastic about it, but I woke up before I could dream its meaning. The word was embolitigious.

bee

No way that’s a real word…but…may I have the definition please?

 

*   *   *

Department Of You’re Not Fooling Anybody

You may have seen the posts from actor Chris Pratt which have been creeping around on social media outlets, in which Pratt shares the festering turd of an  inspirational poem he allegedly “found,” titled Indivisible.

DING- DONGS.
Ding to the left.
Dong to the right.
The reverberations swell.

 

smell

 

Yep; that’s how it begins.

Oh…equating left and right as both acting like “ding-dongs” – I get it!  For a moment there I thought Mr. Pratt was leaving us all some cheeky clues as to the ultimate, Inquiring Minds Want To Know ® manhood question, Which way do you hang? (“dong to the right”).   [1]

Yet again, I digress.

 Indivisible presents itself as a plea for unity via criticizing “both”  [2]   political sides (“the media plays them like a fiddle/drowning out the healthy middle…”).  Reality check: a disguise this thin would gag an anorexic.  Indivisible is religious shilling at its most blatant (and poetically cringe-worthy):

Ding-dongs from the far left squad
Fixed on answers outside God.

 I winced in sympathetic embarrassment, just typing that. 

The poetic (retch) preaching is not surprising, given the source.  Pratt has been open about his evangelical Christian beliefs, and has been quick to defend – if not successfully refute – charges of anti-LGBTQ bias re the celebrity-ridden Hillsong Church franchise he belongs to and $upport$.

Pratt – EXCUSE ME, I of course mean, whoever wrote the poem Pratt “found” – recycles some valid if hackneyed, yes-everyone-knows-to-do-this talking points about keeping calm/checking the facts, old trust-and-verify, because, no matter whether we identify left or right, we can be easily manipulated….

DUH

Moiself – and other religion-free folks, I’d bet – found those bits o’ advice mildly amusing and butt-frostingly ironic, given the not-quite-under-the-radar proselytizing prose woven throughout the religious tract  poem   (“…burdened by a sinful heart and hiding in some form of shame…We’re His Children….Under God we’re indivisible…”).

The source of penultimate manipulation and suppression of rational thought inspires someone to tell you to check your facts and consider the sources?  Hello, Religion, we did just that!  Which is why we’re now Freethinkers, Brights, Atheists, Humanists, Skeptics….

Yo, Mr. Pratt, did you ever re-read what you wrote, and was it perchance originally intended for The Onion?     

*   *   *

Department Of Make Up Your Minds: Is It Fast, Or Is It Slow…
(  ♫ Should I Stay Or Should I Go ♫ )

Something I wrote about last week sparked a memory re the many reasons I’ve never paid attention/given credence to book reviews, be they of my works or anyone else’s.

(“…a pointless and confusing story.”
Publisher’s Weekly, 1963, re Where The Wild Things Are.)

 

From two reviews of one of moiself’s books, The Mighty Quinn (my emphases):

“Bullying, competition, hot and cold friendships, male and female peer role models, and comic relief are just a few of the issues presented in the fun and fast moving plot pages for this humorous….
(from The Midwest Book Review review of TMQ)

 Although the story suffers from a slow pace and drawn-out conversations, Parnell neatly weaves ideas about social justice and acceptance…
(from the Publisher’s Weekly review of TMQ)

 

   *   *   *

Department Of Some Really Substantial Food For Thought
(But Remember To Chew Slowly If You’re Over 65)

The brilliant psychoanalyst Erik Erikson coined the term “identity crisis” over 60 years ago to describe the profound psychological challenge faced by adolescents and emerging adults who must figure out who they are, what they’re going to do with their lives and who they’re going to do it with.

Thus begins a compelling article by psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and Forbes magazine contributor Prudy Gourguechon,  who “advises leaders in business and finance on the underlying psychology of critical decisions.”  Gourgeuchon makes the case that the thousands of people from the “Baby Boom” generation boomers who turn 65 every day are facing a second identity crisis, one which did not exist for previous generations.  [3]

I’ve little commentary…

REALLY

…yes, really, except to provide some excerpts which just might tantalize you enough to read the article yourself, and then tell me what *you* think about it.

 These are the questions that come into play, either consciously or unconsciously: Who am I anyway, after all this? What kind of work do I want to do now? Who do I want to spend my time with and where? What is the point of my life now? What kind of stimulation do I need, and what kind do I want to avoid? What have I had enough of and what do I still yearn for?…

 The process of confronting these questions –and finding the answers–has all the disruptive hallmarks of an identity crisis….

 The person in an identity crisis suffers…from a “diffusion of roles.” “I knew what it was to be a doctor (lawyer, teacher, trader, etc.) but if I don’t do that anymore what am I, what shapes my day, what do I want, what should I do.”…

The need to search out new roles and structures –role diffusion—is accompanied by a subjective, psychological feeling of diffusion. Despite its inherent positive potential this feeling state is disorienting and risky. Diffusion feels smoky, undefined, vague and uncomfortable. There’s an amorphous fuzzing out of previously held certainties. “Unmoored” captures the state pretty well. A bit of what psychiatrists call “depersonalization” may be there—you’re not quite inside yourself.
(Excerpts from “The Second Identity Crisis: How To Deal In A Smart Way With A New Phase Of Life,” by Prudy Gourguechon, Forbes )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Isa Does It, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Recipe:  Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes and Smoky Chickpeas

My rating:

Twiddle

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

May you admit you dealt it when you smelt it;
May you remember that even if you never start over, one day you’ll start older;
May you be mindful which way your dong dings;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Now *I’m* channeling my inner 11 year old.

[2] There’s a lot more political nuances to be found than just “left” and “right,” but that takes more sophistication than an internet social media poem can handle.

[3] Due to many factors, including the lengthening of the life span after retirement.

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

[5]

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

The Comments I’m Not Making

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Department Of Raising Them Right

Dateline: last Friday; circa 4 pm; a Manzanita (OR) grocery store. Three towheaded children watch their equally blond parents taste the Syrah that is offered at the store’s weekly wine tasting. The parents speak softly to each other, in lightly accented English which makes me think they’re originally from Germany, or possibly the Netherlands…maybe North Dakota. 

Spicy,” Mom says, sipping her wine sample. The middle child, a boy who looks maybe five years old, grins up at the store’s wine tasting host and says, “Expensive.”  [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Goes The Neighborhood
Chapter 391

The latest salvo in my never-ending battle against tasteful lawn décor:  [2]

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

An Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

Recipe:  Moong Dal

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

   *   *   *

Department Of Naming Your Kid After A Leafy Green Is Child Abuse, IMHO

Dateline: Tuesday evening, circa 7:30pm, our local Costco.  Leaving the store with MH, I do something moiself has never done before. 

 

 

No, not that.  (Holy farting Jesus H. Buddha on a raft – nuns have the dirtiest minds).

There are two female employees at the store’s exit door. What I do is that I look at the nametag/ID badge of the Costco employee whose job moiself had hitherto thought of as Receipt Swiper (the employee who looks at the goods in your cart and then uses their Sharpie Pen ® to make a loopy mark across your receipt).   [5]  Beneath the employee’s name is her work title, which, for some reason, startles me: Front End.

Moiself: “Oh, my!

Receipt Swiper: (looking at me quizzically) “Yes?”

Moiself: “Sorry – I’m just wondering, is there another person in the back of the store with the title, ‘Rear End’ ?”

Receipt Swiper laughs and makes her sharpie mark on our receipt.  The other employee standing by RS’s side also laughs, and I look at her ID badge, which has no title, just her name.  I somehow manage to refrain from commenting with the first thing that comes to mind; instead, I do a double take to make sure that, yep, according to her Official Costco Badge, ®  this young woman’s name is Kale.

(The comment moiself does not make):
“Right on, Sister!”  [6]   My name is Arugula, and this is my husband Radicchio, and our two children are Romaine and Endive.”

 

Why do all the dickheads come to my line?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Go Read This Man’s Essay Right Now

Moiself refers to American writer Walter Mosley’s compelling essay, Why I Quit The Writer’s Room, wherein he describes how he came to quit a new job writing for a network television series after receiving an (anonymous) complaint about his use of language.

I’d been (in the new writers room) for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.”

I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.”

He said, very nicely, that I could not use that word except in a script. I could write it but I could not say it. Me. A man whose people in America have been, among other things, slandered by many words. But I could no longer use that particular word to describe the environs of my experience.

Someone else in the writer’s room – HR would not reveal the identity to Mosley – had called HR about Mosley’s use of the N-word (which Mosley had used in sharing an encounter which had happened to him; he didn’t call anyone that word). Mosley’s concern about being censored – “…if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job.” –   led him to resign from that show.

 

 

Some of my most cherished beliefs and opinions I hold and espouse,  [7]  both as a Mere Mortal ® and A Writer ®, have developed over the years because I have been able to hear and read ideas and words that made someone feel uncomfortable – even threatened.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’v watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.  The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.  In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

Had I listened to that flaming and festuring turd of suppression advice, the protagonist (and other crucial characters) of my book The Mighty Quinn  could not have existed. Because who was I, a 50-something female, to write about the travails of a bullied fifth grade boy?   [8]

In the ideal A & A regime, moiself, as an able-bodied, politically left-of-center, plant-based-eating-and-cooking, yoga-practicing,  religion-free, English-speaking, healthy, heterosexual, middle-aged, native born American woman primarily of European descent residing in the Pacific Northwest, could only “authentically” write about my tribe.  No 30-something, ALS-stricken, bi-curious, computer programming and ESL-student, cricket-playing, Indonesian immigrant son of Baptist missionary parents living in Utah could – or should – escape the confines of my mind and onto the pages in that stifled world.

 

 

I do not believe that it should be the object of our political culture to silence those things said that make some people uncomfortable…. if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job. And furthermore I do not believe that it is the province of H.R. to make the decision to keep my accusers’ identities secret. If I’ve said or done something bad enough to cause people to fear me, they should call the police.

I’m a fortunate guy. Not everyone can quit their job. But beyond that, we cannot be expected to thrive in a culture where our every word is monitored. If my words physically threaten or bully someone, something must be done about it. But if you tell me that you feel uncomfortable at some word I utter, let me say this:

There was a time in America when so-called white people were uncomfortable to have a black person sitting next to them. There was a time when people felt uncomfortable when women demanded the right to vote. There was a time when sexual orientation had only one meaning and everything else was a crime.

(excerpt from Walter Mosley’s Why I Quit The Writers’ Room)

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Telling Your Parents To Shut Up   [9]

The pleasures of walking alone on the beach early in the morning are legion, but the dangers are very real, as per a recent 6:30 am-ish stroll I took along the shoreline near Nehalem Bay State Park. A vigorous and obsessive dog dashed by me, chasing gulls it would never catch; 30 seconds later I made a friendly/offhand comment to the only other person I saw on the beach at that time, whom I assumed was the dog’s owner.  [10]   She turned out to be a wild-eyed, animated, proud ex-Marine determined to engage me in conversation.  In less than 90 seconds she’d managed to turn my dog comment into an opportunity for her to go to LaLa Land – specifically, to speechify about the fact that although she was born and raised in SoCal (as was moiself) you couldn’t pay her to live there anymore (ditto for moiself)…which somehow led to her impassioned defense of California’s Proposition 13….   [11]

He (Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Holmes) did not have a curmudgeon’s feelings about his own taxes. A secretary who exclaimed ‘Don’t you hate to pay taxes!’ was rebuked with the hot response, ‘No, young feller. I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.’
(Felix Frankfurter, “Mr. Justice Holmes and the Supreme Court”,
as cited in Quote Investigator)

I managed to extricate myself from the political harangue chat, but not the memory it invoked. Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away, moiself and MH were in Santa Ana (CA), visiting my parents at a time when they’d just happened to have recently received their property tax bill. My folks were proud beneficiaries of Prop 13   [12]  and they were practically gloating when they waved the bill in front of MH and I and asked us how much we were paying in property tax for our house in Hillsboro (OR).

Strike “ practically gloating” – it was up front, out of the closet gloating. They gleefully pointed out that moiself and MH (who found an excuse to leave the room when he realized where the conversation was headed) were paying over ten times what they were in property taxes.  Although my parents were usually Nice People ® , they mentioned this disparity repeatedly.

I told my folks, sure, like most people I don’t particularly enjoy paying taxes, but I do enjoy the numerable services I receive in exchange for doing so.  I make it a point to look at the entire property tax bill when it arrives…

At this point I was interrupted by my parents, who made the comparison, yet again, of how little they paid and how much MH and I paid  –  with the implication that we were somehow schmucks for paying more.

As I was saying…I look at the entire property tax bill, not just the number we have to remit. I pay attention to how the  tax total is broken out into categories – primary, secondary and community college education; parks and recreation; police and fire and rescue services; enhanced sheriff patrols; clean water services, urban road maintenance….  I think about all the services I get for my $$ and thus am grateful, both for those vital, life-and-community-enhancing services and for the opportunity to share their cost with my fellow citizens…

And so, Mom and Dad, CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP ABOUT THIS?

 

 

They were momentarily shocked into silence, which allowed me to explain the reasons for my umbrage.  During that past year, my parents had had several grandchildren in CA public schools…and my folks had also received at least one visit from the fire department and two from the paramedics (due to various “old people” incidents, which included my father accidentally starting a fire in their oven and my mother having two falls requiring emergency medical attention).  Given the publicly-funded services they had directly benefited from, they were not paying anywhere near their fair share of the cost of living in a civilized society. Instead of gloating, how about even a modicum of gratitude? If that’s too much to ask, how’s about just saying nothing at all about your taxes, particularly nothing about how we are paying 10x what you are?

My parents mounted a lame defense of their tax gloating, then quickly changed the subject. Earlier I had noted the ubiquitous stack of Billy Graham Association literature on their coffee table; I remember thinking at one point during the tax talk,

What would your Jesus say about your tax burden? As I recall, according to y’alls scriptures, not only did JC *not* have anything nice to say about the desire for nor the accumulation of wealth, he famously admonished his followers to “render unto Caesar” … Oh yes, but the modern prosperity gospel gives y’all entitlement to make sure you feel fine about rendering the least while others render more.

 

*   *   *

May you be judicious in discerning when to tell your parents to “shut up;”
May you carefully consider what causes you to attempt to censor other people;
May your yard ornamentation be celebrated in your neighborhood…or not;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The Syrah was $46/bottle. How did the little smartass know?

[2] And who is anyone to argue against such an obvious homage to diversity?

[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] Which indicates…what?…their initials, methinks, signifying you are not walking out with an unpaid for HDTV or a 50 pound sack of Kirkland Signature Pirate Booty Puffs.

[6] Does anyone say Right on! anymore?

[7]  And continually revise, as new information comes to light.

[8]  and Quinn’s friends and antagonists, who are a mix of male and female, English, Russian- and Bantu-speaking, religious and religion-free, emotionally stable and physically abused….

[9] And, BTW, why do we tell someone to shut “up,” and not down?

[10] She was not;  she was walking the dog for a friend who was out of town.

[11] In 1978 California voters enacted a “tax payer’s revolt” measure, which amended their state constitution to both limit property taxes and make it extremely difficult to raise them in the future.

[12] Which limited property taxes to 1976 assessed values and allowed very strictly limited increases, the assessment of which, for older folks, could be carried to a new home when they relocated.

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