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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?

 

 

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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?

 

 

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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….

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

 

           

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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.”

 

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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.”

 

 

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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:

 

 

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

Supermodel and philanthropist

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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

1 Comment

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.

The Comment Cards I’m Not Discarding

1 Comment

Department Of Things That Should Be No Brainers…
But Some People Have No Brains When It Comes To Animals

History: ____ (exotic animal’s name) was taken into her (former) owners’ home to be kept as a pet. After being bitten through a pair of welding gloves, her owners reached out to the rescue sanctuary….

History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) had been kept as a pet, but was rehomed after biting his owner’s child….

History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) was rescued from a home in ____(town, state), where she was being kept as a pet. After injuring her owners’ son….

History:  Young couple purchased a baby (exotic animal) from a breeder who told them that the (exotic animal) would make a good pet for their young children. “Don’t feed the (exotic animal) any raw meat and he will mature to be docile,” the exotic animal breeder told the young couple. The (exotic animal) was put on a diet of canned tuna and chicken, until one day he bit the couple’s five-year-old son on the shoulder and would not let go…

These are just a few of the stories of how thousands of formerly neglected and abused lions and tigers and bears – and cougars and bobcats and servals and leopards, et al – came to be rescued by exotic wildlife refuge centers across the country. These stories also illustrate a few of the myriad of reasons why “exotic” animals do not make good “pets.”

No matter how much you may wish it, this

 

bobcats

 

Is not this

 

 

cat

 

*   *   *

I am currently on vacation with MH, visiting daughter Belle, who is working at one such exotic animal rescue sanctuary, as previously mentioned in this blog:

A few months after acquiring an exotic pet (whether via legal or questionable means), Joe Lookatmei’mcoolIownatiger realizes that the cub which was so adorable at 8 weeks old is growing into AN ACTUAL FRIGGIN’ TIGER – never mind that the breeder assured them it was from eight generations of “domesticated” tigers and was really just a big, big pussy cat.  At that point, Joe either voluntarily abandons/surrenders the animal or is forced to do so by his neighbors or an animal welfare organization.
Enter Wild Cat SanctuaryBig Cat RescueTurpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, et al, who offer a place for these discarded “pets” –  along with animals rescued or retired from circuses or other anachronistic “entertainment” shows  –  to live out the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible.  These organizations also work to, essentially, put themselves out of business. That is, they lobby for legislation which would end the captive wildlife crisis by outlawing the buying, selling, breeding and exhibiting of such animals.

*   *   *

 

This is my first trip to Arkansas, home of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge[1]  Turpentine Creek’s mission, like that of other legitimate wildlife rescue organizations, is twofold:

  1. to care for and provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused [2]  and neglected big cats, (with an emphasis on lions, tigers, leopards and cougars   [3]);
  2. to educate the public about the plight of wild animals kept as pets and used for profit (e.g. cub petting “zoos” and traveling animal shows and animal display or petting birthday and other kiddie parties and trophy hunting), and to lobby for legislation which would outlaw these practices.

 

wild

 

Intelligent, proactive, well–intentioned and kind-hearted, supportive-of-ethical-businesses person that you are,  [4] you might be interested in advocating for and maybe even visiting an exotic animal sanctuary. But because the term “sanctuary” is not regulated by the government, any facility can call itself such. Being a person with the afore-mentioned attributes, you want to make sure you are supporting a true sanctuary and not enabling a pseudo-sanctuary – one which may seem to say all the right things but which in fact is keeping (and even raising) its animals for profit.

 

True sanctuaries will NOT

*breed animals
*allow any interaction (petting/feeding) with cubs
*allow the public to have any hands-on interaction with any carnivore of any age
*allow its own animal care team to handle any animal (unless it is sedated for veterinary care)
* buy or sell animal parts
* exhibit animals at shows, or transport animals to any place off- sanctuary (unless for vet care)

Turpentine Creek’s website has links (What is a Sanctuary) which will help us educate ourselves; i.e., to know what questions to ask about a facility to determine its legitimacy:

“Differentiating between a true sanctuary and a pseudo-sanctuary might take a little extra research, but when you visit a true sanctuary you are helping to put an end to the exotic animal trade and also protecting exotic animals from exploitation.”

*   *   *

Department Of One More Thing: You Also Don’t Want To Be Responsible For Encouraging The Breeding Of More “Kennys” In This World

 

kenny

 

If this tiger remind you in anyway of the British royal family, that’s because the (now deceased) “Kenny” is the poster boy for the dangers of inbreeding. Kenny’s tiger parents were closely related, and he suffered from a variety of physiological – and obviously cosmetic – ailments and deformities…but as long as breeding exotics is allowed and someone can make money off of it they will continue to do so and breed for a rare mutation – one that is de-selected for in the wild – because thanks in large part to ASSHOLES like Siegfried and Roy people got the mistaken idea that it would be cool to own white tiger.

*   *   *

Belle loves her work and the proximity she has to the creatures in the sanctuary, and reaffirmed her comment to us, made after her first week of her internship, about how she needs no convincing about wild animals needing to be wild:  no matter how many generations of “domestic” breeding the animals come from, no matter how friendly they seem on the other side of the fence,  [5]  no matter how long they’ve lived in captivity or how much they seem recognize you as an ally/as someone who brings their food, “As soon as you turn your back to them they begin to stalk you.”  [6]  

*   *   *

Department Of But Wait, There’s More…
(To Arkansas, That Is, Besides The Big Cat Sanctuary)

* more road kill than I’ve seen in a long time

* the former includes armadillos (seeing their carcasses, for some reason, makes me sadder than seeing that of the other road kill specimens)

* The beautiful Ozark “Mountains” (I cannot bring myself to refer to them as mountains without quotation marks –apologies to the friends who’d seen this part of the country and who, when they found out my destination, told me, “What they call ‘mountains” in the south/east aren’t really mountains.”  These apologies are due because I reacted by pooh-pooh-ing them for what I considered to be their Western Regionalism Prejudice ® …and now I find myself thinking, Really, people, these are nice, rolling hills on a plateau…but the highest peak is 2500 feet and you call them, ‘mountains?”    [7]

* An architecturally notable Art Museum…which inadvertently provided the most notable art of all (at least for moiself): A Certain Moment Of Engagement With A Fellow Human Being ® which happened to take place at said museum.

 

 

astonishedspock

Please, do go on.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of Please Share Your Impressions With Us… Up To A Point.

Dateline: Monday, Crystal Bridges Museum of Contemporary Art in Bentonville, AR. MH and I have just completed viewing the museum’s featured exhibit: Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Today, which “…presents works of art by important Native American artists, enriching our understanding of American art.”

At the end of the exhibit, I am standing in front of a comment board near the exhibition’s exit door.  The comment board is a series of metal grooves on a wall, into which museum visitors may insert ~ 4″ x 6″ unlined index cards which are provided, along with felt pens, on a table by the wall, along with the instructions to “share your impressions of the exhibit.”

I begin to scan the various comments. One of the museum’s docents, who is stationed near the exit door, walks over to stand beside me. He also begins reading the comment cards, and quickly reaches up and removes two of them.

Moiself: Why are you taking those cards down?

Docent (pointing to a slot in the top of a trash can-like receptacle to the right of the Comment Wall): “We save them; they all go here. We take some cards down to make room for others.”

I note that there is plenty of room on the board, which looked as if it could hold about 50 comment cars and there were only about 9 – 10 posted at that time.

Moiself: “Okay…but why are you taking those two cards down?

I was careful to modulate my voice, to indicate curiosity and not accusation. Because the cards the docent left posted had comments along the lines of, “Beautiful!” and, “Thanks I  enjoyed this,” while the comments written on the two cards he took down were:

card one: Move on

card two: There can be no illegal people living on stolen land.

The docent, again (attempting to distract/reassure me?) says, “We save all the comments.”  I ask him if he’d chose those particular cards to remove – excuse me, to expedite to the save box – because they could be considered political or controversial.  [8]  

Docent (flashing me a nervous smile): “We like to leave the ones that are positive.”

Before I can point out to him that the instructions for filling out the comment cards mention noting about positive or negative, only offer the opportunity to share your impressions of the exhibit, he once again declares, “We save all the comments.“

 

 

saynice

*   *   *

 

May you do more than “save all the comments;”
May you appreciate another state’s hills even if you remain smug about the superiority of your state’s mountains;
May you appreciate and support the true sanctuaries of (exotic or ordinary) life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] MH had previously visited the state in his way younger years, to see an uncle who ran one of those “Life of Jesus” theme parks (really).

[2] And by definition, private ownership and breeding of these animals is abuse.

[3] Along the way TC has also answered the call to rescue several bears, and servals, and even a monkey.

[4] Since your reading this blog, I’m assuming the best!

[5] And they are *always* on the other side of the fence. No matter what the individual animal’s history of human contact was prior to coming to the refuge there is *no* direct animal/human contact at that – or any respectable – wildlife refuge.

[6] The caregivers are always behind fences, and there is NO direct human contact with sanctuary animals, except for when the animal is sedated, e.g., veterinary care.

[7] When your point of reference for mountains are The Rockies (62 peaks exceeding 13k feet), or The Sierras (peaks to 14k), or the Cascades (peaks to 14k) or even the Coast Range of the Pacific Northwest (peaks to 4k)…. these cute little hills just don’t cut it.

[8] It was an interesting “egalitarian” moment of censorship, I thought, in that the move on comment could be taken to be a more right wing suggestion to Native peoples to get over their history of defeat and exploitation (common themes in the art), while There can be no illegal people living on stolen land is obviously a more left-leaning sentiment.

The Lot I’m Not Accepting

Comments Off on The Lot I’m Not Accepting

Department Of At Last, An Honest Answering Device

Last week I was gob smacked by the picture MH sent me of our answering machine’s display of a caller ID (for the phone call he missed):

 

 

ID

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Just Where My Mind Goes

My first thought upon reading the following review  [1] excerpt: The film isn’t circumcised?

New York Times Critics’ Pick!
An uncut gem of a movie…..

*   *   *
Department Of No, I Can’t Just Leave It Alone

Whaddya mean, I’ve never told you my favorite circumcision jokes?

Q. What did the receptionist say to the patient waiting in the circumcisionist’s office?
A. “It won’t be long now.”

Q. How much does a circumcisionist earn?
A. One hundred dollars an hour, plus tips.

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

Speaking of unkind cuts…what a convenient segue to

 

 

Department Of Name Dropping And Saint Shaming

Mother Teresa’s work was part of a global enterprise for the alleviation of bourgeois guilt, rather than a genuine challenge to those forces that produce and maintain poverty.
(“Mother Teresa as the Mirror of Bourgeois Guilt,”
Indian journalist/historian Vijay Prashad )

The following rant thoughtful explication was prompted by a recent comment I overheard, which I list in the paragraph after the warning.

(Consider yourself warned.)

Should you ever attempted to deflect a commendation (within earshot of moiself ) regarding an act of generosity or kindness on your part  by using the intended-to-be humble qualifier, “Well, I’m no Mother Teresa…”, brace yourself for my rejoinder:

“Yes, but Mother Teresa was, in fact, ‘no Mother Teresa.’ ”   [2]

The first time I recall doing this was at least fifteen years ago, during the book study group I attended at a UCC church (where we the still-closeted atheists – MH and I – were active members). I cannot recall the book under discussion nor the particular comment which elicited a fellow book group member’s poorly-timed, Well, I’m no Mother Teresa….

“Poorly-timed” translation:  I’d been reading up on Mother Teresa, having come across criticism from liberal Catholics regarding MT’s entry into what amounted to the RC church’s “Ten Items or Fewer” saint checkout line.  [3]  In doing so I’d encountered a surprising number of informed and rational voices – from British journalist Christopher Hitchens to Australian academic and social critic Germaine Greer [4] to Indian physicians and activists and others. These voices had dared to question –  and more importantly, to examine – MT’s previously unexamined reputation as a humble, selfless humanitarian devoted to the poor.  And I began to share some of my “encounters” with the book group.

Pity that unfortunate I’m-no-Mother-Teresa comment-dude…. I did later apologize to him   [5]  for getting the group “off track.” (And the always tolerant and circumspect book group leader practically left skidmarks getting us “back to the subject at hand.”)

 

weinterrupt

 

As per the name-dropping: In October 2007 I attended the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s annual convention, held that year in Madison, WI. Christopher Hitchens, one of the featured speakers, gave a rousing speech for his acceptance of the FFRF’s The Emperor Has No Clothes Award   [6].  Later that evening, a New Friend I Met At The Convention ® and I went to the hotel bar/cafe, to discuss the day’s events over wine and a tasty hummus platter.   [7]  There were no tables available, so NFIMATV and I took a seat at the bar.  NFIMATV noticed that Mr. Hitchens was seated at the end of the bar, a mere six barstools down from us, and decided we should commend him re his speech.

Although never averse to chatting up strangers, I was reluctant to “pester” someone who was…well, a celebrity of sorts.  I reminded NFIMATV of Hitchens’ reputation for not suffering fools;  [8]  also, he’d just spoken in front of hundreds of people and might want to simply unwind and sip his drink….

NFIMATV would have none of my protestations. “He came to a crowded, public place! If he wanted to be left alone he’d have gone up to his suite and ordered room service.” She grabbed my arm and literally dragged me down to the end of the bar.

NFIMATV briefly introduced herself and I to Hitch, and complimented him on his speech. Moiself said WTF to moiself, and then aloud to Hitch: “I thought you might appreciate knowing that you’ve been quoted…uh, by me…in a church book study group, when someone said the usual obsequious nonsense about Mother Teresa.”

Hitch winked at me, replied, “Indeed,” and raised his whiskey glass in a toast. Then it was my turn to be the arm-grabber as I led NFIMATV back to our end of the bar.

This ends the name-dropping portion of our programming.

 

 

reliefjpg

 

 

“I just thought that this myth [re Mother Teresa and the Catholic charities providing compassionate care in the slums of India] had to be challenged”….
Over hundreds of hours of research, much of it cataloged in a book he published in 2003, Dr. Chatterjee said he found a “cult of suffering” in homes run by Mother Teresa’s organization, the Missionaries of Charity, with children tied to beds and little to comfort dying patients but aspirin.
He and others said that Mother Teresa took her adherence to frugality and simplicity in her work to extremes, allowing practices like the reuse of hypodermic needles and tolerating primitive facilities that required patients to defecate in front of one another.
(from “A Critic’s Lonely Quest: Revealing the Whole Truth About Mother Teresa,
NY Times profile of Dr. Aroup Chaterjee )

It is highly likely that what you “know,” and what most people think they know, about MT comes from a book about her  [9] – and the media coverage about the celebrity visits to MT’s clinics, which followed publication of the book – written by Malcolm Muggeridge.  Muggeridge, a zealous Roman Catholic convert and conservative British social commenter, was derided by  Christopher Hitchens as “that old fraud and mountebank.” Hitchens largely credited Muggeridge for providing the propaganda tool which spawned MT’s becoming “the focus of a fawning cult who used the suffering of the poor for her own political and ideological ends.”

 

 

Mother

 

 

Christopher Hitchens was MT’s most vocal – but by no means only –  detractor.  He described her as a “thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf,” and charged that the missions she ran in Calcutta were humanitarian humbugs serving as a masquerade for her “cult of death and suffering.”  What Hitch did by investigating MT and her work is what any good journalist – and citizen – should do, and yet because he was one of the first to do so he was considered radical and contrarian when he was in fact being sensible and straightforward: he judged Mother Theresa‘s reputation by her words and actions.  What was being promoted by the myth makers, saint manufacturers was the opposite – they wanted you to judge MT’s words and actions by her reputation.

Okay, perspective timeout. If you’re interested in this subject, or just perplexed because this is the first time you’ve heard about the MT controversy, you can find much more information than the crumbs I offer in this space.  There have been books, articles, even a documentary  [10] on the subject, by writers and investigators far more experienced and eloquent then moiself.  If you find your defensive hackles rising at the mere thought of criticizine a “saint”–  if you prefer the PR to reality – it’s likely you won’t be convinced by the evidence, no matter the source.

Evidence – and her own words – show that Mother Teresa was not so much a “champion of the poor” but a religious fanatic who took pleasure in their suffering. Not only did she refuse to alleviate the pain of her patients but she gloried in it. As she herself said: “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.”
(“Mother Teresa ‘a friend of poverty, not of the poor,” Carol Hunt, independent.ie)

Here’s the main point, which I think cannot be overemphasized:  Mother Teresa did not love the poor and the afflicted; she was in love with poverty and affliction. The difference is astronomically crucial, particularly in understanding her motivation – which is most adamantly not an excuse – for the way she treated her patients and ran her organization.

Did she see the Calcutta slum dwellers for who and what they were, and respect them as (non-Catholic) individuals? Or did she see them as mere objects sharing a “lot” she considered to be some kind of blessed condition bestowed by her deity?

People who are in fact poor and genuinely suffering do not idealize their misery. The destitute want to rise out of poverty, and the afflicted want to get well. To think (and act) otherwise about their situations is patronizing, not compassionate.

 

pajamasloth

Is it time for some kind of cute picture to relieve the tension?

 

A summary of the reality behind the Mother Teresa mythos:

* Critics have pointed out a host of ways in which MT’s mission of mercy was not all that it seemed, including but not limited to her shady ways of caring for the sick, her problematic political contacts, her irregular management of the vast sums of money she received, and her harsh, dogmatic views on social and cultural issues.  Examples include:

* Doctors and journalists who visited MT’s clinics accused her of perpetuating the suffering of destitute patients by not giving them easily obtainable painkillers and by having the dying spend their final weeks on wooden pallets in communal dormitories, fed only on boiled rice and water;

* Families who took their loved ones to MT’s clinics to receive care for, e.g., a broken leg, complained that their loved ones were treated as if they were dying (i.e., given only hospice-type care and not transferred or referred to another, actual medical clinic) and thus did die, from lack of treatment of totally non-lethal, treatable ailments.  [11]  Meanwhile, MT herself traveled out of the country to California clinics when she got sick and required treatment.

* Several visitors who traveled to see MT’s Calcutta clinic, impressed by the mission to help the poor but appalled by the clinic’s primitive conditions and lack of supplies, made substantial donations to MT’s order (“The Sisters of Charity”) for the express purpose of updating and supplying the clinic. When these donors returned months or years later to see what their monies had wrought, they were shocked to find the clinic was as rundown as it had always been (and MT’s order refused to publish any audit of its funds).  Meanwhile, MT’s order was opening religious schools around the world – by MT’s own claim she opened 500 convents in more than one hundred countries – most of them bearing her name.  [12]

* Germaine Greer called MT a “religious imperialist” bent on evangelism,” and Indian human rights activists accused MT of a covert agenda – trying to convert the poor to Christianity, under the guise of treating the sick. Witnesses observed MT and her staff performing the Catholic rite of baptism upon dying and delusional non-Christian patients while pretending to cool the patients’ heads with wet cloths.

* MT accepted donations from – and provided photo ops for – sleazy public figures who gave her donations –  including the brutal Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier (whom she praised in return), the disgraced British publisher Robert Maxwell, and the thieving American banker, Charles Keating (remember the S & Loan crisis?) – while refusing to comment upon (or claiming ignorance about) their atrocious human rights violations.

This last * is particularly galling to me, because if you can for some reason excuse the other criticisms of MT, how can you justify, other than for brazen $$ interests, her cozying up to such horrible people and regimes? Do you know about her astonishing personal involvement in the prosecution of Charles Keating?

MT wrote a letter, on behalf of Keating to the judge who tried Keating’s case, asking for mercy and leniency in Keaton’s sentencing…despite claiming in the letter to know nothing about his business nor the criminal charges levied against him. The Deputy DA who worked on the prosecution of Keating wrote an eloquent letter back to MT, detailing the charges against Keating and the sources of the money that Keating had donated to MT, thus providing, as Hitchens put it, the “clearest and best-documented proof against the customary apologies about (MT’s supposed) innocence and unworldliness.”

The DA was so appalled by MT’s efforts on behalf of her benefactor  – and her seeming lack of concern for those Keating had swindled – that he allowed Hitchens to print his response to MT in its entirety, in Hitchen’s MT expose, The Missionary Position.  An excerpt from his letter:

“The victims of Mr. Keating’s fraud come from a wide spectrum of society. Some were wealthy and well-educated. Most were people of modest means and unfamiliar with high finance. One was, indeed, a poor carpenter who did not speak English and had his life saving’s stolen by Mr. Keating’s fraud….

You urged (the judge) to look into his heart – as he sentences Charles Keating – and do what Jesus would do. I submit the same challenge to you. Ask yourself what Jesus would do if he were given the fruits of a crime; what Jesus would do if he were in possession of money that had been stolen; what Jesus would do if he were being exploited by a thief to ease his conscience?

I submit that Jesus would promptly and unhesitatingly return the stolen property to its rightful owners. You should do the same. You have been given money by Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud. Do not permit him the “indulgence”  [13]  he desires. Do not keep the money. Return it to those who worked for it and earned it.

If you contact me I will put you indirect contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession.”

Mother Teresa neither replied to the letter nor returned the money.

*   *   *

May you always judge the reputation by the deeds, and not vice-versa;
May you always be able to provide an accounting;
May you know (at least as per circumcision jokes) when to leave it alone;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

[1] for the movie, We the Animals.

[2] And be relieved if I stop at the mere rejoinder and do not go into full lecture mode. 

[3] Bypassing traditional procedures for canonization, a move by Pope John Paul II which bothered many Catholics.

[4] Greer was once on the same airplane flight as MT, and noted that while she (Greer) rode in economy class, MT, who had taken a vow of poverty, rode in first class.  Greer had critiqued  MT and the Catholic charitable orders and their policies and politics before and after that plane ride, and infamously referred to MT as the “glamour girl of poverty” and MT’s Missionary order as an “order of clones.”

[5] And he later thanked me for bringing up a hitherto unknown (to him) perspective.

[6] An award bestowed by the FFRF, for public figures who use “plain speaking” on the shortcomings of religion.

[7]  We had to settle for stale pretzels. But the wine was nice.

[8] Which had been fully on display that evening during a Q & A session after his speech, when “Hitch” calmly, wittily, and effectively verbally eviscerated those who were less than prepared/articulate in framing their questions.

[9] Something Beautiful For God.

[10] “Hell’s Angel,” produced by Hitchens and journalist Tariq Ali. Hitchen’s research for this film, which first ran as a BBC television program in 1994, spurred him to write the book, The Missionary Position.

[11] And these poor families (who later spoke with journalists) told of how when they complained to the local  authorities, they were either disbelieved or hushed up, due to MT’s reputation.

[12] So much for her claims of modesty and humility.

[13] The purchase of “indulgences” (i.e.. buying one’s way to forgiveness)  was once an acceptable method of seeking forgiveness in the Catholic church. It was one of the theological abominations cited by Martin Luther which led to The Protestant reformation.

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