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The Middle I’m Not Meeting In

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Department Of This Is Way Too Existential Of A Question To Tackle Before Breakfast

Sub-Department of Could This Be Another Variant of Male Directile Dysfunction?

Dateline: Sunday morning, circa 7 am; Bay Area town, visiting friends who live in a hilly neighborhood with many winding roads.  MH and I are out for a morning walk. A car slowly approaches us from behind, and slows even more but doesn’t quite stop, as the driver, an older Asian man, rolls down the window and in lightly accented English, asks, “Do you know where I am going?”

 

 

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Department Of I’m A Middle Child, But Sometimes You Gotta Choose Sides

“There’s nothing in the middle of the road
but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.”
( Jim Hightower, Texan, progressive political activist, former Agriculture commissioner,
author of There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion      [1] )

 

Time to revisit a brief but wise meditation of the myth of the morality of middle ground. Excerpts from There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground, by Tayari Jones,  Emory university professor and author  (my emphases ) :

“…we are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf. I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground. People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space. This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.”

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon….”

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic….

The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant
than the issues over which we are sparring.

Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values? Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families?… Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist?

The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms. Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.

Compromise is not valuable in its own right,
and justice seldom dwells in the middle.”

Check out this essay in its entirety, originally published last year (11-5-18) in Time.

 

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Minimalists Cooks at Home, by Mark Bittman
Recipe:   Piquillo Peppers with Shitakes and Spinach

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [3]           

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Department Of Explaining Blog Brevity

Moiself is recently returned from a trip to Bay Area, to help longtime friends memorialize their 27-year-old son, who died unexpectedly in August.  MH and I also visited friends who graciously offered us accommodations during the trip — the same dear friends whose 27-year-old daughter was murdered in January.

The lingering trauma of losing a child of any age, and especially in violent circumstances, cannot be underestimated…nor fully comprehended.

 

 

*   *   *

May you be patient with those of us trying to comprehend the incomprehensible;
May you be wary of “meeting in the middle”;
May you continue to remember to  love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em;

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which is snort-laughing funny; moiself recommends y’all read it.

[2] 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.

[3]

* 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 Dream I’m Not Forgetting

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Department Of Some Things Are Worth The Wait

The tag on the gift bag, written in son K’s distinctive script, read, “The incredibly late Xmas present.” And I remembered what I had long forgotten:  a promise, in the form of a preliminary drawing, of a creature-type mask or object K would make for me, as a Christmas present, to go on The Wall of Faces. ®

Lest that not seem self-explanatory to y’all, The Wall of Faces ® is a wall, in our home, upon which hang numerous objects d’art. Many are masks, but not all; in order to get a coveted spot on TWOF the art must be 3-D (e.g., not a painting) and must have something which (loosely or otherwise) can be construed as a face.

Welcome to the wall, creature of mystery.

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Department Of Separating The Art From The Artist

In November 2000, Jim DeRogatis, then music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, received an anonymous fax in response to a review of he’d written of R&B star R. Kelly….The fax read:
“I’ve known Robert [R. Kelly] for many years and I’ve tried to get him to get help, but he just won’t do it. So I’m telling you about it hoping that you or someone at your newspaper will write an article and then Robert will have no choice but to get help. … Robert’s problem — … that goes back many years — is young girls.
DeRogatis began investigating the allegations and…published a story…alleging that Kelly had engaged in sex with teenage girls…. DeRogatis expected the response to the story to be explosive, but instead it was muted….  In February 2002, DeRogatis received another anonymous tip, this time in the form a videotape purportedly showed Kelly having sex with and urinating on an underage girl. “It was horrifying,” DeRogatis says of the tape. “The worst thing I’ve ever had to witness in my life.

(From the Fresh Air, June 4 2019 interview with reporter Jim DeRogatis, who has covered the R. Kelly sexual abuse story for 19 years, “Reporter Who Broke R. Kelly Story: Abuse Was In ‘Full View Of The World’ ” )

Daughter Belle & I have had several talks over the years about the conundrum of separating the art from the artist; specifically, continuing to read/view/purchase superb (however you define that) art which, some argue, is  justified by the art itself, when the artist is known (or later revealed) to be a monster…or maybe just a deeply flawed human being whom you’d rather not throw your money at.

In our most recent conversation about the issue, which took place a couple of months ago, I remember that Belle thought it important to note that for some people even the mention of the “monster” artist’s name can be a trigger…while moiself thought it important to note that for some other people, the mention of someone having a “trigger” [1]  is a trigger for anti-trigger  lectures (“If you need a trigger warning, you need PTSD treatment.”)

 

And for some more of us, any mention of “trigger warning” has us visualizing the oncoming approach of a Roy Rogers movie.

I can’t say where or how every person should draw the line in every instance of Good Art/Bad Artist. I’m in favor of people drawing their own lines; mine are circumstantial and context-dependent. To wit: Woody Allen.  I loved much of his work in the 1970 -80s, even as I also found parts of it disturbing – e.g., the relationship between Allen’s character and the teenager played by Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan curdled my tummy way before I’d ever heard the name, Soon Yi .  My once well-worn DVDs of Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters were consigned to the Goodwill pile several years ago. I just can’t go there, anymore.

Moiself is not a fan of judging the people of the past with the knowledge and standards of the present. If given the chance to see the Pyramids of Egypt I may do so, even as my appreciation of their majesty would be tempered by knowing that it was slave labor which produced them.

I do fully support (and hopefully/consistently practice) holding the contemporary art and artist to the ethical standards of the here and now. If the artist is active now and their art is obviously supportive of or relates to their “crimes” (e.g., racism, sexual assault, misogyny, plain bone-headed idiocy….), then no ick money from moiself.

For fans who are conflicted about the R. Kelly case: if you are too lazy (or fearful of what you’ll learn) to read the documented, two decades trail of R, Kelly assault allegations and their coverup, just listen to the Fresh Air interview (excerpted above) with the reporter who followed the story.  Listen to the reporter’s voice, and note how it breaks when he describes knowing what he knows, what he found out, about what happened to those girls, and how Kelly was protected because of his “art” – because of the money he made for everyone in his inner circle and record label.  You may not have known about this before; now you do, and there can be no excuses, no denying that your purchases of any R. Kelly product is buying into the protection of a deeply disturbed, serial sexual predator.

Or, on a related if definitely less gut-churning scale, consider my warning, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, to a college dorm buddy who was into Donny Osmond as an anti-cool/retro thing:

Do you realize 10% of your Donny & Marie album $$ goes to the Mormon church?

 

“I’m leavin’ it all up to you/you decide my tithe….”

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Department Of July 20, 1969

I’ve been reading a lot of Where were you/do you remember what you were doing? stories as we approach the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.  My memories include serving my parents, my older sister and moiself little sherry glasses of Manischewitz Concord Grape – the only wine my parents had in the house (it was used for communion at the church the we attended; I think it was the only wine my parents knew about)  to toast humanity’s amazing achievement. I also remember walking outside, alone, later that evening, looking up into the darkness with a full and aching heart.

 

If it’s good enough for Lutherans’ blood-of-Christ stand in, it’s good enough for the moon landing

 

A part of me remembers it so vividly: the excitement…as well as the beginning of a kind of mourning for that which would not be – a feeling of bereavement which lingered long after I and the world began to take space travel for granted. Because up until that time and for years afterwards, my do you remember what you were doing? stories involved remembering how I was lying to adults, including my parents.

My parents watched every televised Project Mercury, Project Gemini, and Apollo Program space launch, and they’d wake my older sister and moiself up early for the former launches, so that we could witness the historic events. A day or so prior the launches, Dad would go to a local appliance store and procure a refrigerator packing box. He’d set up the box in the living room, about fifteen feet from our black and white TV set, and cut out “viewing screen” windows in the box’s’ front and side panels.  We’d watched the massive rockets launch, my parents sitting on the floor, softly talking to one another, while my sister and I piloted our cardboard spacecraft.

To be an astronaut was my secret ambition – my career wish that I kept hidden from everyone, including and especially my parents – from grade school through high school. The only way I can explain my obsessive secrecy about that ambition is the fact that I took the classic (if mistaken) birthday advice, re making a wish and blowing out the candles in your birthday cake, to heart:

If you tell someone your wish, it won’t come true.

So whenever I was asked the What do you want to be when you grow up question, I told my parents and the grups   [2]  who asked – and it was only grups who asked that question – my cover story: that I wanted to be a veterinarian. Which was not true.  [3]  But it was an accepted and even respected answer, so I stuck to it over the years.

My excitement at the moon launch was tempered with the fear and disappointment of the reality that stared me in the face with every news story about astronauts and every new spacecraft launch: a reality populated by men.  Space flight was a men-only club – and not just any men, but military pilot men.  As much as I dared to hope for the slim chance that women might be allowed to try out for the astronaut corps in the future, by the time I entered high school it seemed obvious that civilians of either gender could not be astronauts, as NASA was (at that time) wedded to the military. While in grade school I told myself I’d do anything to be an astronaut, but as the years went by (and the Vietnam War dragged on), I had to be honest with myself: joining the military, any branch, was the one thing I knew I could not bring moiself to do.

Decades after I’d given up my (still secret) astronaut dream, I raised another glass to toast Sally Ride, the Stanford-educated physicist who was the first (American) woman in space. It was groovy to the max when some radio DJs began playing the old Wilson Pickett song in her honor – Mustang Sally, with its beyond cool chorus, Ride Sally, ride!

 

 

I continued to cheer for Ride and other civilian crew members of those Space Shuttle missions, even as I kicked myself for my lack of foresight.  It. Never. Occurred. To. Me. to imagine, back in my school days when all evidence was to the contrary, that anyone who was non-military could be considered for space travel. I’d no idea that one day civilian scientists (“mission specialists”) would be not only “allowed” but recruited to try out for the USA astronaut corps.

DAMN.

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India’s favorite Street Food,
by  Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub.

Recipes:  *Classic Dosa batter; * Onion and Chile Dosa Pancake; * Green Chutney

My ratings:

For Classic Dosa batter:

 

For Onion and Chile Dosa Pancake:

 

For  Green Chutney:

 

Recipe Rating Refresher    [5]

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

May you carefully weigh your own good art/bad artist dilemmas;
May you appreciate the sublimity of a piquant green chutney;
May you get your groove on to Mustang Sally and consider, for fond memories
or for regret, your own misplaced ambitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] “something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” (Psych Central, “What is a trigger?“)

[2] Grown-ups. As every Star Trek fan knows.

[3] I loved my pets, always liked learning about animals, and obsessively read every wild animal/nature book I could get my hands on. But, to be a veterinarian involved working with people as much as their pets – I figured that out from a young age – and to me, people were often stupid and boring…but veterinarian seemed one of the few animal-related professions that adults approved of, which I also figured out at a young age.

[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 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 Name I’m Not Misspelling

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Department Of What Got Me A Free Meal + Glass Of Wine On My Flight Home

Dateline: Tuesday afternoon; returning from a trip to SoCal.   [1]   I am on an Alaska Airlines flight, seated in aisle seat of one of the two exit rows (a “privilege/responsibility” for which I willingly pay extra).   [2]  The flight attendant assigned to our section of the plane stands next to me in the aisle and begins her responsibilities-of-sitting-in-an-exit-row spiel.  When she gets to the part about how we should all should remove and read the safety pamphlet in the seat pocket in front of us, she glances down to indicate the seat pocket closest to her, which is mine, and notices that my safety pamphlet is already opened and in my lap.

Alaska Flight Attendant, pointing at me: “Wow – look at her!
Someone is prepared; I’m impressed!”
Moiself: Hey, this isn’t my first exit row rodeo.

 

Pay attention to the flotation device instructions or I’ll have to hog-tie y’all.

 

 

AFA (along with my fellow exit row seat occupiers) burst out laughing. It was a nice way to begin a flight, if I do say so moiself (and I just did).

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Department Of More Fun With Flight Attendants

After said round of laughter quieted down and the AFA finished her spiel, she asked my name, and seemed both surprised and pleased with my response. “We have the same name!” she gushed.   [3]   I scanned her uniform; she was not wearing a (visible to me) nametag. I asked how she spelled her version of our name.

“I bet you spell it the “wrong” way,” I teased.
“Well, how do you spell it?” she countered.
“With a Y,” I said. “R-o-b-y-n.”
“Me too,” she said, “only with more: R-o-b-y-n-e.”
“Oh, that’s even wrong-er,” I laughed.

When it came time for the first beverage service and she gave me a cup of water, I said, oozing with solicitousness, “Thank you, Robyne,” followed by, “Oh, how I love saying that.”  She responded with, “You’re so welcome, Robyn.” For the remainder of the flight we exchanged rounds of Thank you Robyne/You’re welcome Robyn at every opportunity.

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Department Of One More This About That

On my section of the exit row (seats A, B & C) I was in the aisle seat; the middle seat was unoccupied, and there was a gentleman in his mid-late 60s occupying the window seat. Near the end of the flight Aisle Seat Gentleman and I engaged in some chitchat, and he asked, in a way that made me assume he expected a positive answer, if I worked for Alaska (Airlines).  [4]  I told him no, and asked  what made him that think I might?  He said it was the “kind and confident banter” I exchanged with the flight attendant and other passengers.

I thanked him (“I’ll take that as a compliment”) and added, “I figure, we’re all stuck on what is essentially a big bus with wings, so why not make it easy on everyone?”

 

 

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Department Of What The TSA Missed

On the return flight from SoCal to Portland I fully expected to have my carryon bag searched. During my visit I had purchased a small piece of art, from a Laguna Beach gallery featuring artist Rodney “Rodrigo” McCoubrey who works with reclaimed/recycled materials (www.rodrigosrecycledart.com ).  Buoy Fish was indeed made with parts of a buoy, but also metal plates and screws and had protruding nails….

 

 

 

 

I packed it right on top of my carry-on bag, so it would be easy to remove and show the TSA folks when they detected the potential shrapnel metal in the scanner.  Nope; nada. The TSA dude operating the scanner was practically yawning as my bag and Buoy Fish sailed on through. Which kinda fit in with my theory of how the TSA was working during the government shutdown.

Even though I have TSA precheck (I signed up for the Global Entry program last year, and thus always get the precheck line), on my flight down to SoCal I was concerned about how the security lines might be because of the shutdown. TSA employees are in the category of federal employees deemed “essential,” and must show up to work despite not getting paid. Rumor had it that they might take out their frustration by calling in sick, etc., but on both the flight out of PDX and the one back from SNA I carefully watched both “my” line (precheck) and the regular TSA line, and there seemed to be the usual number of staff.

However…

When I fly I always watch both of the TSA lines, to pass the time  and also because it’s entertaining: guaranteed, there’ll be one guy from Texas   [5]   who apparently is the only guy in the US of A who has not flown in the past 20 years – also, he has also not paid attention to the instructions of the TSA agents, nor the many signs he has passed while in line, nor the actions of the people shuffling in the line with him…so he gets to the front of the line to go through the metal detector/scanner and spends five minutes struggling to remove his cowboy boots and his dinner plate-sized, brass American eagle, you’re-supposed-to-think-I-won-this-at-a-rodeo belt buckle.

 

Not the least big gaudy, no ma’am.

 

 

However, these recent two times in the TSA lines I saw how everyone and everything just breezed on through security (I even heard one passenger comment to another about how they’d neglected to fully empty their water bottle, but “nobody caught it.”). Basically, it seemed to I that unless you were wearing a vest made of 20 sticks of dynamite attached to a ticking timer on your chest and chanting Allahu Akbar,   [6]   the TSA dudes   [7] were like, Move along folks, nothing here to see, it’s all good.

 

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Department Of How To Sound Like Your Parents

Are we headed for the last week in January, already?

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you never sound like your parents…
even though sounding like someone else’s parents is totally fine;
May you enjoy an exit row rodeo before you die;     [8]
May you find ways to make it easy on everyone, including yourself;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To attend a niece’s baby shower. Moiself cannot remember the last time I attended a baby shower…I managed to (mostly) behave moiself.

[2] I enjoy the extra legroom, and frankly, have y’all take a good luck at your fellow passengers when you travel by air? I trust moiself to get people out of the plane.

[3] We Robyn/Robins tend to get quite attached to one another when we meet, as we have usually grown up being the only one in our classrooms/jobs with that name.

[4] I found out his wife had retired from Alaska and their daughter currently works for the airline.

[5] In actuality or in spirit.

[6] A once rather benign phrase in Arabic ( translation: “God is Great”) hijacked (sorry) by suicide bombers and other Islamic terrorists who shout it right before they are about to kill or maim.

[7] Dudes used in the equal opportunity sense – there were both male and female dudes.

[8] But not, like, right before you die. I mean, don’t enjoy it, and then die….

The Songs I’m Not Defending

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Department Of Seasonal Surprises

Is there anything as incongruently optimistic as the appearance of a yellow rose in winter?

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Just Wondering

Regarding the Baby It’s Cold Outside controversy I’ve a confession to make: up until this year, Baby It’s Cold Outside was just one of those background holiday songs for me. I knew it existed, but I’ve never seen any of the films within which it had appeared, nor had I ever even heard the original or any of the cover versions in their entirety.  I just plain hadn’t paid attention; it was, to moiself, an earlier generation’s “classic,” of which I caught snippets every now and then on radio or TV.   [1]

What with all the brouhaha about the song, I finally listen to it the other day, and found moiself thinking, Is this really what I’m hearing? And so I googled the lyrics.

I simply must go (but baby, it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it’s cold outside)…

The neighbors might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)

Yep. I heard what I thought I heard.

 

 

“I don’t know about you, darlin,’ but nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like a retro duet about impending date rape….”

 

 

 

It was a different time;

it’s a relic of our heritage;

back then it was all in fun….

Many are the defenders trotting out these (and more) defenses for the song’s lyrics – about which, BTW, I am not horribly offended (nevertheless…ick).

And I do understand the complexities of judging the art of the past by the standards of the present. Still, I wonder about such things, and how we judge what is OK, and what needs to be relegated to the trash pile of cultural history.

It has long seemed to moiself that far too many people, especially certain Well-Meaning Liberals ®, give sexism a “cultural” pass in situations where they do not do the same for racism:

* The segregation and subjugation of black Africans – e.g. Apartheid –  is wrong and there are no excuses for it!  [2]

* The segregation and subjugation of women and girls in Muslim countries…well, it’s their culture, so hold on a minute, don’t be an anti-Muslim bigot!

I know, I know, it drives me crazy, too.

 

Coon Songs,  a genre of music that presented stereotyped images of black people, were wildly popular in the United States circa 1880 to 1920, so much so that the 1905 song “If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon“, sold three million copies (which would be the equivalent of 11 million copies today). Some of Tin Pan Alley’s greatest composers, including Irving Berlin, were enlisted to write coon songs with such cringe-worthy titles as, “All Coons Look Alike to Me”, “Old Black Joe”, and “Pickaninny Paradise.”  These songs are an undeniable part of our past, and most of them had quite catchy, sing-along melodies.  Would such a defense – It was a different time; it’s a relic of our heritage and back then it was all in fun –  survive if someone should try to revive, say, coon songs as a remembrance or acknowledgement of our legacy?

Coon, coon, coon
I wish my color would fade
Coon, coon, coon
I’d like a different shade
Coon, coon, coon
Both morning, night or noon
I’d rather be a white man
Instead of bein’ a coon
(chorus to “Coon, Coon, Coon,” Max Hunter Folk song collection)

 

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Department Of Yes, I Want It All

While I’m on the subject of art from the past… Category: Christmas movies. I really like It’s A Wonderful Life ,   [3]  but not for the reasons so many people heap praise upon it – praise I believe to be…well, predictable and even/ultimately shallow.  Because if you think IAWL is the “ultimate life-affirming, feel good holiday classic,” you are missing the point.

The idea that the love and support of one’s family and friends ultimately trumps any financial woes  [4]  is manifested in the movie’s heart-wedgying end scene, by the arrival of war hero Harry Bailey, who toasts his big brother George: “…the richest man in town…”  And I weep like a bitch baby, every time, at that line.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that the movie is dark.

Sure, IAWL is filled with some memorable characters and great dramatic and comic lines – and dreadful/sexist trope or two  [5] – but the darkness permeates it, IMHO, and, despite the Happy Holiday Ending ® George Bailey’s existential gloom is never fully resolved.

 

 

 

 

George Bailey is filled with the frustration of a lifetime of unrealized desires and seemingly unattainable goals, compounded by the guilt that comes from that over arcing/underlying message from your society/culture/religion that whatever you have should be enough to make you happy [6]  or at least content with your lot in life.  And it usually is….but what if you also want something more?

The protagonist’s dilemma was presented as a choice between two conflicting destinies:

(1) George Bailey can have a happy domestic life; or
(2) He can shake off the dust of his one-horse town, hop on a cattle boat and see the world.

It was either/or, not and – to choose one path would be to negate or even erase the other.

But, every time I watch that movie, after that joyous, cinematic denouement, I want an addendum. Just give me one scene, as the credits roll, showing George and Mary hitching a ride on that cattle boat, or rafting down the Zambezi river, or sipping espressos at a Parisian sidewalk café….

 

 

 

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Blog Department Of Isn’t It Funny, The Things You Miss

My first official  [7]   Happy Birthday wish came from a friend on the East Coast, ~ 6:30 AM. I was already up to feed the cats, and was delighted, while getting dressed, to see the message.  [8]  I thought of how my parents (back when they were both alive…which probably goes without saying but oops, too late) used to call me way way way early in the morning on my birthday – we’re talking around 5:15 am – and sing the Happy Birthday Song ® to me.

They started doing that when I was in college, and kept doing it for years afterward. Once upon a lifetime I would go running in the mornings, before college classes and then before going off to work, which provided my parents with justification (in their minds) for the early intrusion wakeup calls, which they said were my “fault” in that they wanted to call me before I was up and gone out for the day (yes, kiddies, those were pre-cellphone days).

Sometimes I would pretend to be grouchy about the timing of the calls, such as when my birthday fell on a weekend and, for just once, sleeping in (until 7 am – is that too much to ask?) on my birthday might be nice… And although I always/ultimately loved and appreciated the birthday calls, I also have always loathed that damn tedious birthday song.

On more than one occasion I asked my parents to please sing me something else – how about The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song? Ah, but what I’d give today, to be able to complain about having them sing me that damn song again….

 

 

           

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Department Of The Partridge [9]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you be serenaded with the song of your choice on your birthday;
May you be surprised by your equivalent of a yellow rose in winter;
May you judge the art of the past by the past, present, and future;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Even though a portion of it was used in a scene in Grey’s Anatomy, which is Must-See-TV for moiself.

[2] It was indeed the culture of the white/Afrikaners to discriminate against black south Africans…but the world ultimately did not allow them that excuse.

[3] I like it in spite of the ridiculous Clarence The Angel angle, not because of it.

[4] A sentiment I think is usually – but not always – true.

[5] In an alternate reality, Mary is revealed to have…gasp…suffered the worst fate for a woman – without George, she never married, and became an OLD MAID LIBRARIAN!

[6] A Buddhist message from early Hollywood?

[7] As in, on the day itself. There is a committee to certify such things – but , you knew that, didn’t you?

[8] Via Facebook messenger. No Russian hacking involved that I could see.

[9] In our pear tree.

The Pop-Up Ad I’m Not Expecting

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Department Of Authenticity

Next week I am hosting my annual Ladies Lefse Party. Well, once upon a time it was an annual event. After a hiatus of two years, following my mother’s death, I’m ready to get back in the saddle – or lefse griddle, that is.

 

 

This versatile appliance can also makes an adequate alien landing pad and/or satellite dish substitute.

 

 

After my paternal grandfather, a full-blooded Norski-American married to a full-blooded Irish-American,  [1]  died (ca. 1963), my grandmother no longer felt up to making the lefse her husband had so adored and that she’d come to love as well.  [2]  My mother’s eldest sister, my late Aunt Erva, lived in Spokane, and after her husband died  [3]  Erva would drive down south every year in autumn, ahead of the first Spokane snowfall, to spend the winter with her mother in Santa Ana. Thus, Erva assumed the mantle of lefse maker in our family. She made meatcakes (Norwegian-spiced meatballs, a traditional lefse accompaniment) as well.

Like many traditional ethnic dishes, lefse has foundational ingredients, and also variants in composition, preparation and serving. Evey family I’ve met who also “do the lefse thing” have their own favorite recipe which, of course, they consider the “most authentic” way to make and eat lefse.

I’ve been making lefse for longer than I can remember. I took Erva’s recipe and evolved it over the years (or made it “kooky,” as Erva would likely say  [4] ).  The lefse is still delicious, if dairy-free, and the “meat”cakes I make are now sans meat (a plant-based version, main ingredient tempeh).  Back when I did eat (some) meat I used ground turkey when I made meatcakes, instead of Erva’s more traditional pork-beef blend, but what with my using the distinctive/traditional spices  [5] my parents said, when they were  guest at my Christmas Eve table, that they couldn’t taste the difference. Still, moiself always felt my version was missing that certain tinge of maternal family authenticity, which, I came to realize, had nothing to do with the kind of ground meat used.  Here is the “flavoring” my versions of meatcakes have always lacked:

(1)  an overly crisp exterior (read: I didn’t burn them, which Erva did without fail);   [6]

(2)  the ash from Erva’s cigarette.    [7]

 

 

What other key ingredients am I missing? One tablespoon repression, ¼ cup disillusionment with life choices….

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Look Who’s Talking, Considering What’s On The Back Of My Car….

Dateline: Monday morning, on my way to yoga class. I’m driving behind a big ass truck that has three bumper stickers, which I read when I’m stopped at a traffic light and which get me to wondering about what goes through someone’s mind when they purchase and then apply to their vehicle stickers which proclaim,

My grandson is a Marine

and

Gulf War Veteran

My car’s stickers are a combination of puns/whimsy and opinionating, meant to make a few salient or silly points or in a (hopefully) humorous manner.

 

 

 

 

 

The truck’s third bumper sticker was some variation on the Gun Control Means Using Both Hands rant, and while I disagree with those stickers’ inherent pro-firearms sentiments, I appreciate the jests of the message. As for the previous two stickers I mentioned, I’m curious: why does the person driving that truck think it’s important for moiself, the person stuck behind them in traffic, to know that their grandson is a marine, or that they (the truck’s driver) are a veteran of the Gulf – or any – War? Is it because, as son K has opined, [8]  they want, blatantly or slyly, to brag (ala, My Child Is An Honors Student At Schlemfarght Junior High School   [9] ),  or have people think highly of them and/or give them receive special treatment because they’ve been in the military?

Perhaps a more generous interpretation would be to ask questions re their motivation along the lines of, Is it that they take pride in their family’s history of military service and/or they wish to raise awareness of such in a society where such service is not mandatory?

Of course, it’s much more petty (read: fun) to impugn their motives using the scant evidence available.

Anyway…just curious.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of ‘Tis The Season For Surprises

Dateline: Wednesday am, 12/5. After posting a Happy Krampusnacht message on Facebook I went to my yoga class. After class, when I turned my cellphone on, I saw this message from daughter Belle:

MOM
You gotta change that link you posted on fb about krampus
The very first thing you see when you open it is a huge picture
of someone’s VERY spread open butthole
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

 

 

 

 

Before I could panic, the message continued:

Wait I just clicked on it again and it wasn’t there????
I’m sorry I don’t know what’s going on haha
I think I might have gotten a very terrible pop-up ad?

I quickly checked link I’d posted on FB – as intended, it merely led to the Wikipedia article on Krampusnacht. I haven’t heard any other OOPS feedback, so if any of y’all followed the link and got the…unexpected pop up…Happy Holidays!

 

 

Well, maybe some of us prefer the other picture.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [10]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, I will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

           

*   *   *

 

 

May you evolve your own holiday culinary traditions;
May you have patience with those of us who don’t give a flying fart
where your child is an honor student;
May you enjoy the petty thrill of impugning the motives of strangers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That was considered somewhat of a mixed marriage in Northern Minnesota;however,  “Bapa” (my Irish grandma) told me that her husband’s parents would have considered it “worse” if he “had married a Swede.”

[2] No great surprise that an Irishwoman took to loving something which is essentially a potato tortilla.

[3] In the later 1960s.

[4] “Kooky” was Erva’s catch-all descriptor for things of which she did not approve, which could range from one’s choice of life partner to haircut or clothing to your career or political opinions. Deciding to open a boutique, which the wife of one of my cousins did, was, according to Erva, “a kooky thing to do.”

[5] Nutmeg; allspice;, white pepper.

[6] She swore that’s the only way you could tell if they were “done.”

[7] More than once I “caught” Erva in grandma’s kitchen frying the meatcakes, a cigarette clenched between her lips, the cigarette’s inch long ash column precipitously dangling over the frying pan.

[8] K is very, very, “unfond” of such announcement-type bumper stickers.

[9] I love those immodest stickers for one really great reason: they led to the plethora of “response” or parody stickers which read, e.g., “My golden retriever is smarter than your honor student.”

[10] In our pear tree.

The Meaningful Lessons I’m Not Learning

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Department Of I Moiself  Apparently Have A Very Different Standard
For Usage Of The Word, “Meaningful”

Copy from an ad in Thursday’s  New York Times Arts section,  [1] by Penguin Publishing, to promote their new book, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life :

“Meaningful lessons from supermodel and philanthropist Gisele Bündchen.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Answering Your Most Pressing Questions About
Post-Thanksgiving Dinner Personal Hygiene…    [2]

As the holiday season continues, many people would like to find an easy way to remove the noxious body odor which seems to linger after Thanksgiving. This tang du corpus can best be described as the effluence of a combination of bitter disappointments stemming from:

(a) the invading caravan of potato rolls lined up on your dinner plate, which you meant to stop at the border of your mouth when you realized it was headed for your waist line,

(b) despite having promised not to get into “such subjects” at the holiday dinner table, both your grandfather and uncle derided your political beliefs, then asked when you were going to get a real job…

 

 

 

 

…and you feel if you could just rest in the stress-soothing, steamy torrent of a hot shower, all would be well.

Think again.

Long, hot showers can combat the skin’s natural functions as a protective barrier and deplete natural oils from the surface while also stripping hair of its own protective oils and weaken your complexion altogether. Hot showers adversely affect the skin’s most outer layer, the epidermis, full of substances that provide a tough defense against outside conditions while retaining moisture.
Heat from hot water combined with soap will soften your skin and slowly strip away its natural, oily protective barriers. Some of this can good like removing dirt, sweat, or body odor. However, we want to keep in the skin’s natural moisture where possible and prevent dry or irritated, itchy skin.
Basically, the longer and hotter the shower, the worse it is for your skin’s health.
(“Why Long Hot Showers Are Bad For Your Skin,” metrin.com

 

 

“And I need to know this because…?”

 

 

 

Most dermatologists caution that even shorter daily showers are not only unnecessary but “bad” for you, in that daily bathing recudes skin hydration and strips the skin of its natural oils, which can disrupt the ‘good’ bacteria that supports people’s immune systems. According to infectious-disease expert Dr Elaine Larson from Columbia University, “most people bathe in the belief it will reduce their risk of illness, however, it actually does little more than remove body odor.”

But there is that pesky odor issue, which we (read: Americans) tend to be overconcerned with. Chill out; if it’s been a day since you showered, even if you’ve done a moderate aerobic workout you probably don’t smell as badly as you think you do  (unless the workout included doing your triathalon training lap swimming in a pool of dead herring).

 

 

 

So, what to do if you’re concerned about body odor (as young adults especially tend to be) after, say, a trip to the gym, and you don’t like the thought of skipping your shower? You need to learn how to give yourself a mini-sponge bath. If the term sponge-bath stirs up too much semi-comatose-person-in-a-convalescent-hospital imagery for you, just think of it as what I have for many years, after having being introduced to the term by an elderly friend: a whore bath.

 

This image may seem like a non sequitur, but do you really a want a picture illustrating the previous paragraph?

 

 

How to give yourself a whore mini-sponge bath: you need one clean towel for drying and three clean washcloths. Moisten each washcloth with warm water and use them to wipe down three key body areas, using a clean washcloth for each area. You’ll sponge-wash the three parts of the body that have the highest concentration of sweat glands per surface area:

(1) the under arms, (2) the chest, (3), and the groin.

Hmmm, now what was it that I was supposed to wash? Make it easy to remember by using the following jingle, which immediately came to moiself’s mind when I first read the whore mini-sponge bath instructions  [3]  :

“Pits, tits, and naughty bits.“

 

 

“Can you say that, boys and girls? I knew you could.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of My Nominee For The Nobel Peace Prize

Once again, the folks at Poo-pourri have outdone themselves with their new product advertisement, this time for what they call the “Assistant“.

Not only do I think Poo-pourri should win the Nobel Peace Prize,  [4] I also and hereby nominate them for a Clio Award for Best Advertisement Ever – in a tie, with their original product ad:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Still Shaking My Head Over The Sublime Juxtaposition

Supermodel and philanthropist

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A You Know What In A You Know What

A neighbor out for a walk, stopping on our sidewalk, pointing at the laminated picture hanging, along with colored lights, from the fruit tree in our front yard:

“Is that who I think it is, and is this tree…oh, please tell me it’s a pear tree?!?!”

After a hiatus of a couple of years, MH and I decided it was time to return to putting up outdoor Christmas lights, and the “bonus” hidden within, to our pear tree.  MH surprised me by going four better than my original setup: he returned from a trip to Office Depot depot with five laminated pictures of The Partridge Family members: Mom Partridge, plus all the kids except for the little drummer boy (there were two actors who played the part, and nobody really liked them, so, meh).  We decided Laurie could start out the week.

 

 

We’ve decided to do a rotation – a different Partridge, every week. Pictures will be posted here, for your viewing enjoyment.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Wishing I’d Been Kinder To A Partridge

The anecdote I am going to relate took place in the summer of (most likely) either 1971-1972, when The Partridge Family was new enough that its cast members were doing promotional appearances during the show’s summer hiatus.

For many years, my family’s summer vacation followed the same pattern: my father took no vacation days until summer, and then took ’em all at once: we hitched up our trailer  [5]   to our station wagon and headed north from SoCal.  Sequoia; Yosemite; The Redwoods; Crater Lake; Bryce; Zion; Yellowstone; The Grand Tetons – depending on the year, we alternated between visiting many of the West’s National Parks or just going up through Oregon and Washington, staying for a week or so at favorite campsites along the Rogue River, etc., on our way to visit to my mother’s older sister and her husband, who lived in Spokane (WA).

On one of the latter such itineraries we stopped in Seattle, because my parents wanted to see the Space Needle. Their kids, not so much…but we weren’t the ones setting the itinerary. It was a slow day; not many visitors, and the Space Needle employee who boarded us onto the elevator announced that the top deck (of the SN) was closed due to a private event. After the elevator door shut I think I pressed the button for that floor anyway – somehow, we ended up being able to go to that floor.

When we got off the elevator the floor was empty of tourists or other people, except for three adults and one adolescent who were milling about in the center of the floor, near a counter-bar setup of some sort. My parents and siblings wandered about the perimeter, trying to find a way to get out to the SN’s observation deck, while I sulked as only a 13 year old can (this is boring…can we go now).  I wasn’t interested in any stupid Space Needle, wanted to get back on the road, and besides, it was foggy – in Seattle! Imagine that – and you couldn’t see anything from the observation deck anyway.

I turned my attention to the other four people near that bar/counter. Two of the adults were just old men in suits, but why did the other adult and the kid look familiar? I quickly figured it out – the kid’s flaming red hair and freckles were a giveaway.  The adult was the actor who played Reuben Kincaid, the Partridge Family manager (the actor’s name was Dave Madden,) and the kid was Danny Partridge, the precocious/smart ass middle brother and bassist (played by Danny Bonaduce).

 

 

 

 

 

(The private event the elevator operator had told us about was a promotional tour for those two TPF actors; later on, when my family was exiting the Space Needle, I saw a black stretch limousine, parked at the curb by the SN’s front entrance, sporting a banner stretching across the driver’s side which read something like, “Meet Reuben Kincaid and Danny from the Partridge Family”).

The three adults (the Two Suite Men and “Reuben”) talked shop, while Danny, obviously bored out of his gourd, looked for ways to entertain himself. He hung upside down from a velvet rope barrier that snaked around the bar/counter area, then gradually made his way to where I stood, and attempted to engage me in conversation.  We were close in age – I later found out the age difference was about 2 ½ years although of course I considered myself much older than this…this what? Who was this jerk, trying to impress me because he had a role on a cheesy sitcom?  Puh-leaze…

I was determined to maintain my facade of jaded nonchalance. Although I didn’t turn my back on him I crossed my arms, grunted a few unintelligible responses, and generally made my body language as unwelcoming as possible until I found an excuse to rejoin my family.

These many decades later, I see the encounter for what it likely was: he was just a kid, stuck on a trip he probably didn’t want to go on, looking to relieve the tedium with…perhaps another bored kid around his age who was also stuck with uncomprehending adults (in his case, booking agents, in my case, parents).

And, so what if he had been trying to impress me? Would it have hurt me to humor him, to have joined in some banter…or simply to have been kind?

Decades later, after TPF was cancelled, Bonaduce became notorious for running afoul of the law due to various drug and alcohol problems. Yeah, it was probably my fault.

 

*   *   *

May you settle for philanthropy if supermodel just isn’t in the cards for you;
May you be kind o Partridges in and out of pear trees;
May you enjoy the bath that fits your pits tits and naughty bits;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The placement of which ruined the crossword puzzle for me, gawddammit.

[2] Which you haven’t (yet) asked, but you know you want to.

[3] In a dermatology magzine, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I worked in the medical field.

[4] As well as being considered for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and/or Physiology and Medicine.

[5] Looking back, especially in comparison with today’s rigs, it was amazingly small,  for a family of six.

The Virtue I’m Not Signaling

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By next Tuesday – Election Day – we’ll find out if all this talk, outrage, Facebook posting and parade attending has translated into voting action. If all the hoopla turns out to be so much virtue signaling, moiself is going to be looking for asses to kick.

Y’all likely have encountered someone who practices virtue signaling, even if the term is unfamiliar to you. One example of a virtue signaler is the guy who wants to be seen as “an environmentalist” more than he actually wants to consider the impact of his lifestyle on his environment:

His image:
“You know how I admire my co-worker, Mr. Forrest Greene –  he’s always advocating for sustainability and environmental issues! And now he’s selling his downtown condo and buying land upon which he will build a tiny house – he’s downsizing to live in the country!”

His reality:
If Mr. Green was truly advocating for sustainability he wouldn’t change his lifestyle to leave a much larger carbon footprint than that which he currently produces as an urbanite. He is developing previously undeveloped land, for one. And he’s neither quitting his job nor getting rid of his car, but by moving “to the country® ” he’s tripled his commute time and distance.  Is he, somehow, on his land, going to be able to raise/produce all of his food and clothing material (and toilet paper and other household goods?). Of course not, so he’s going to have to drive much farther and more often to get the essentials. When he lived in the city he mostly used public transportation to commute to work, and also for work, errands, and entertainment…and he could walk to many stores, cafes, theaters and nightclubs and…

 

 

virtue

 

 

After the nightmarish 2016 election, Portland had several nights of demonstrations.  [1]  I remember my shock-quickly-morphing-into-disgust when some of the demonstrators, many of whom were seemingly passionate and articulate people, were interviewed by TV news crews: when these demonstrators were asked re whom/what they supported in the election, they said that they had not voted.

 

KHAN

 

 

The streets of downtown Portland have swelled with protesters each night since Donald Trump won the presidential election on Tuesday, and on occasion the protests have turned violent….a review of state election records by a local news station shows that more than a third of those arrested didn’t even vote.
(
A Third of Anti-Trump Protestors Arrested
in Portland Didn’t Vote,” NY magazine, 11-15-16 )

If I hear you complain about the state of our government, then find out you didn’t vote….

 

 

slap

 

 

*   *   *

 

                                           Department Of It Pays To Get Distracted                 

Dateline: last week, during the previously mentioned trip to Arkansas. MH and moiself are hiking the Devil’s Den State Park cave trail, which takes hikers past really cool caves you can no longer explore. [2]   I am in the lead, about 50 feet ahead of MH, who has stopped for a photo op. I think I see something off of a side trail leading to a creek, and decide to investigate…and am very glad I did.  I call out to MH and he joins me in admiring (and adding to) The Mysterious Land O’ Cairns ®.  

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of You Can’t Make Up This Shit   [3]

Helpful Background Information ® :

haram (adjective) ha·​ram | \hä-ˈräm:
forbidden by Islamic law

News flash: as you may have heard, a notorious Islamist country took a teensiest baby step a bold leap into the 15th century by granting its female citizen a modicum of independence . Even so, the decision by Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive was apparently too much for at least one slavering fanatic  pious Saudi cleric, who tweeted  [4]  this helpful explanation of why it is sinful for women to drive:

“When a woman is driving, she’s exposed to vibrations, this shakes her vagina, she will feel sexual euphoria and this is haram.”

 

vibrator

Hip Hip Hooray for haram!

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Honeymoon Never Ends

Content warning: sex and violence.  [5]

 

 

content

 

 

During our previously mentioned trip to Arkansas MH and I stayed I overnight in a cabin in the also previously mentioned Devil’s Den State Park. After enjoying some adult snuggle time during the evening, MH felt compelled to share the following tender sentiment with me the next morning:

“So, in a horror movie, when the two teenagers have sex in the cabin in the woods, that’s when the slasher/killer gets them.”

 

 

 

cabin

Now where did those two lovebirds go?

 

 

*   *   *

The Halloween Costumes I’m Not Wearing

Halloween, what was once one of my childhood favorite holidays, has fallen by the wayside, so to cliché-speak, in my adult years. I still enjoy thinking up costume ideas but often go no further than the brainstorm, because, Life.  [6]

This week the Trick or Treat day fell on my yoga class day; I wanted to do something to celebrate both, but after having just returned from the (previously to the nth degree mentioned) Arkansas trip I’d neither the time nor the energy to put in much effort.

I considered hitting the streets as Hell’s Yoga Teacher: wearing an uber yoga outfit, accessorized by a devil’s tail and pointy ears and carrying a rolled up yoga mat and wielding a pitchfork, I would accost strangers on the street and correct their posture:

 (“Tuck your pelvis; shoulders back; lift the crown of your head; remember to breathe…now, give me 160 Sun Salutations….)

Instead, I made a last minute trip to a Halloween Costume shop, where I purchased a couple of “props” for my yoga teacher:

 

 

catcow

 

 

Keeping in mind the forbearance and good humor of both the teacher and my classmates, I also purchased a lame bear mask, which I wore to class. I appreciated that most of my fellow students—who are old enough (ahem) to get the reference, eventually guessed that I was Yogi Bear   [7].  

 

 

 

beartreepose

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you vote as if your country depended on it (and not make moiself want to slap you);
May you savor forbidden vibrations;
May you enjoy what magical sights may be found by going off the main trail;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A couple of which turned into near-riots.

[2] To protect the wildlife – read: bats – humans may no longer enter the caves, although once upon a time you and our trusty flashlight could do so.

[3] Except, of course,  when it comes to religion, all the shit is made up.

[4] Posting talking-out-of-your-ass statement on social media, however, is expressly praised in the Islamic scriptures.

[5] As in, your now adult children are still in fact your children and even the slightest allusion to the fact that their parents may be having marital relations is embarrassing…

[6] What a lame, adult excuse, right?

[7] A yogi is the term for anyone who practices yoga.

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