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The Law(s) I’m Not Rising Above

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Department Of Questions That Get Me In Trouble (Although They Shouldn’t)

NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.

That proclamation, a supposed axiom of our justice system, does not always seem to be so axiomatic when it comes to the rich and powerful.   Since the latest/final straw revelations of #45’s felonious acts I’ve been hearing, reading, and even seeing it (moiself has noticed NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW signs posted in shop windows and on people’s lawns) all over the various news outlets.

No one is above the law is a sentiment/principle/practice I heartily agree with… yet moiself can’t help but wonder if those who are earnestly advocating NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW realize that the principle goes both ways, and all ways?  That train runs north and south, east and west, up and down, left and right….

If you truly would like to see #45 and his minions prosecuted for their innumerable crimes – and it’s starting to look like the federal prisons are going to get awfully crowded if all of his abettors are brought to justice – then what do you have to say to your fellow citizens who expect the same principle should be applied to all matters of the law?  For example, to people who have entered the country illegally. Illegally, which means to violate the law – you know, the law that *no one* is above?

If your answer is “No!”  or some variation of, “Well, wait – that’s different….”  can you take a deep breath and consider for a moment why there are those on the so-called far right who feel that they cannot dialogue with us lefties?

 

I agree with this sentiment, but there *are* humans who commit illegal acts. I wonder how the sign holder proposes we deal with that?

*   *   *

Department Of And Now We Segue To A Much Less Loaded Question

Question: what are your two favorite obscure Beatles songs?

 

 

By obscure I mean not one of their bajillion [1]  number one hits; perhaps a B-side or a song from besides or maybe just a lesser known song from Revolver (e….g., “For No One” ) or Rubber Soul  [2]  (maybe, “If I Needed Someone”) or any of their other albums.

Mine are I’ll Be Back and No Reply Both are examples of why I continue to love the group’s music.  These two songs contain varying rhythmic and/or chord progressions, along with a certain melancholy tone, stunning harmonies and impassioned vocals so different from what their rock ‘n roll peers were doing at the time.

And yours are?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Are The Odds?

Oh, about one in 18,250 – a conservative estimate given that there are 365 individual dates each year  [3]   and at least a 50 year age range for people who can legally purchase alcoholic beverages (get out your calculators, y’all – there’s one on your smartphone)….

So:  1 in 18,250.  Those are, at the very least, the odds that the clerk in the grocery store defied when she came over to my self-checkout carrel to use her key scanner to enter approval for the bottle of wine I was purchasing. This particular store requires that the clerk enter an “over age 21” birthdate for every customer’s alcohol purchase. The clerk told me she is able to determine “90% of the time” that a customer is over 21 by sight rather than by checking ID (which she doesn’t like to do because it takes longer); after she used her scientific method to determine my age (Wrinkles? Check. Gray-flecked hair? Yep.) she quickly keyed in a random birthdate which would make me over 21, a random date which happened to be MH’s birthdate: the exact month, day, and year.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Shocked…

outraged, gob-smacked, flabbergasted, stunned, astounded, dismayed, offended, aghast, appalled, astonished….might as well throw in the whole book of synonyms.

 

 

And by outraged I mean of course that I’m Not. At. All. Surprised.  I refer to the recent revelation that the slightly-less-recent “revelation” about red meat eating is likely a steaming pile of…that which hails from the end of the cow that even die-hard beef eaters eschew.   [4]

“Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.”
(NY Times 9-30-19)

Provocative headlines, indeed. ‘Tis reasonable to be skeptical when “new studies” proclaim to overturn hundreds of other studies.  Indeed, those new studies were criticized by other scientists in terms of methodology and data collection and analysis…and now, ta da!:

The study, which has received a plethora of criticism and has been branded an ‘egregious abuse of evidence’ – concludes that red and processed meat isn’t as harmful as previously thought.

It has since been discovered that lead researcher Bradley C. Johnston, who disclosed that during the past three years he didn’t have any ‘conflicts of interest’ to report….According to the New York Times, as recently as December 2016, Dr. Johnston was the senior author on a study which was paid for by food industry giant International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), who are ‘largely supported’ by companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Mars, and Cargill – one of North America’s biggest beef processors.

(“Scientist Behind Red Meat Study Previously Tied To Food Industry”)

 

 

Oh golly gosh, what a letdown. Because in the history of all history we just can’t imagine a doctor or scientist getting paid for shilling for the “food” industry which, of course, only has our best interests at heart.

“… the Coca-Cola company, as far back as fifty years ago, began a campaign to hire scientists to attempt to shift the blame/public attention for increasing obesity and type 2 diabetes rates away from sugar consumption by blaming dietary fat. Their scheme to divert attention from the mounting evidence linking soda consumption with weight gain and poor health included funding the Global Energy Balance Network, an “astroturfing”   [5]   organization purporting to research diabetes but whose employees were actually being paid to promote the idea that insufficient exercise, not bad nutrition, was the primary cause of weight gain.    [6]

(previously blogged about my moiself in my prudently titled segment,
Department of Fuck You, Coca-Cola, 3-2-18)

 

“And with the funds from my  shameless whoredom ground-breaking research I could, dare I say, rule the world…”

*   *   *

Department Of The Clueless Guy Who Thinks He’s Attractive No Matter What ®

Watching a recent Unsuccessful Flirtation ®  [7]  made me think of my favorite experience with such a dynamic.

Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (circa 1989), at a Bay Area Planned Parenthood. I was working my regular shift at the check-in desk for that PP’s Tuesday morning clinic.  The clinic saw patients, male and female, for a wide variety of needs, the majority of which were for routine tests and bloodwork and STD treatments.

“You know how these American foxes go wild for our sexy infectious diseases!”

A man similar in age to mine (maybe late 20s – early 30s) approached my desk.  His idea of checking in for his appointment took the form of leaning his elbow across the desk, making serious, eyelash-batting eye contact with me, giving me his name and appointment time and then attempting to chat me up.

There was no one in line in back of the guy, so he wasn’t taking up anyone’s time but mine…but, geesh.  He said something about recognizing me, then segued into a series of questions/statements meant to elicit personal information from me, which I responded to by ignoring them as I got his chart and prepped his intake paperwork.  Meanwhile, he’s telling me that he knows the clinic closes for an hour at noon, presumably so the PP staff can have a meal break, so where do I like to get lunch nearby – do I know any good restaurants or cafes?

The thing is, besides…

(1) not being attracted in the least to this guy, and

(2) being married,    [8]   and

(3) there is no #3

…how is it possible he could ignore the fact that I, too, was capable of recognition?

I’d seen him – checked him in for his appointment – in several previous clinics.  Even if I hadn’t, I had his chart, right there in front of me, to tell me that he was coming in for appointment #4 in a series visits to have topical applications of acetic acid to treat his HPV.

Dude, you are flirting with me?  Here?  Now?

 

I *work* here – I know what you’re here for: to have warts burned off your penis.  I mean, props to you for doing the responsible thing, but it’s not a turn on.

*   *   *

Department Of Just When You Thought The Story Couldn’t Get Any Better

So. I got away from Obliviously Flirting Warty Penis Man by getting up from the desk to take his chart back to the clinician who would see him. I must have had “a look” on my face, because the clinic’s Nurse Practitioner asked me what was going on. I told her; we both had a good laugh.

The following Tuesday the same NP rushed up to me as I was getting my coat from the employee break room “I’m so glad I found you – you’re not gonna believe this! she exclaimed. She had just arrived to work the afternoon clinic and wanted to tell me about the previous week’s clinic, but hadn’t been able to find me after she was done seeing patients that day (my shift ended at noon)It seems that the OFWPM had started putting the moves on *her*, during his appointment!  Yep, he was sitting on the exam table, nekkid from the waist down, asking leading/flirtatious questions of the Nurse Practitioner who was applying an acetic acid solution to his genital area. She attempted to quell his queries by telling him that she needed to concentrate on what she was doing…which led to OFWPM making some lewd remarks, including about how it was nice to be around an attractive woman who enjoyed her work…which led to the NP shoving an acetic acid-coated swab up his urethra.

Her apology was immediate, if not sincere: Whoopsie daisy – I am **so** sorry!

 

“You remember the Klingon proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold…or with a red hot acid swab shoved up your pee-hole.”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [9]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Kitchen Express, by Mark Bittman

Recipe: Microwaved Honey Eggplant

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [10]

*   *   *

May you never harass a clinician who has your private parts in her hand;
May you live the kind of life in which your only response to the previous advice would be, “Well, DUH;”
May you cherish your favorite lesser known Beatles songs;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Okay; it was twenty-one.

[2] Arguably one of the best album titles ever.

[3] Y’all with Leap Day birthdays can go pout in the corner now.

[4] Nor chew.  Ewww.  Although dead flesh eaters will eat just about anything….

[5] Astroturfing is “…the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by a grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection.”

[6] And we now know it’s the other way around – you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.

[7] A man in a coffee shop was really trying to impress a woman, who was giving off every I’m not interested vibe known to humankind.

[8] I kept pointing to his chart with my left hand, — even tapping it, to get his attention – asssuming he would notice my humble but obvious gold wedding band.

[9] 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.

[10] * 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 Presidential Cabinet I’m Not Staffing

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Department Of Somebody Got A Screenwriting Credit For This?

Dateline: last Saturday, Manzanita OR. Pondering the recent news re the death of actor Peter Fonda, I wondered how it was that moiself had made it through life as a movie fan (including taking a film class in college) without having seen that supposedly ground-breaking classic, Easy Rider.

Friend JWW was visiting MH and moiself. JWW and MH each claimed to have seen Easy Rider and, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, agreed to watch it with me that evening.

You know That Thing ®  when you get embarrassed for people you don’t even know and/or who aren’t even in the room with you?  That’s the thing I felt, watching Easy Rider. As (a cartoon version of) George Takei might say,

 

 

 

Now I know what it feels like to have a bad trip, despite never having dropped acid.

Anyone who has watched older, “classic” movies has probably noticed that many such classics, however groundbreaking and/or interesting they may have been when they were released, just don’t hold up over time. This is the case, IMHO, for Easy Rider.   I’ll just leave it at this: if ever there was a movie which turned out to be an inadvertent Public Service Announcement   [1]  for the idea that Drugs Makes You Stupid ® ….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Apologies I Don’t Quite Believe…

A.K.A. Why I Love Walking On The Beach Early In The Morning

Dateline: last Saturday circa 7 AM, walking north along the beach at Manzanita.  The beach is fairly devoid of other bipeds; then I espy a figure dressed in shimmering, vibrant green attire walking south, about 50 yards in front of me. Woman In Shimmering Green heads in my direction when her two Corgis leave her side and do their funny-odd, scuttling dwarf-dog, crab-run towards me. She calls to them in vain as the scamper in the sand in a circle around me and beg for pets, which I am happy to provide. 

Woman In Shimmering Green approaches me, shading her eyes against the morning sun. She is barefoot, slim, with thick, shoulder length platinum gray hair styled in a manner reminiscent of Lauren Bacall.

 

“You know how to whistle for a corgi, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

 

Speaking of Bacall, I note that Woman In Shimmering Green has that classic movie star style bone structure which ages well even when wrinkled – she appears to be in her late 50s or early 60s, and she is a knockout. The shimmering green reveals itself to be a rather stunning silk pajama ensemble with an elaborate, dragon pattern stitched in gold thread on the sleeves and legs.

She laughs, pointing at her bare feet and then at her pajamas, and says apologetically, “I didn’t even bother to get dressed.”

“This is the beach,” I hear moiself reply, thinking of my own beach walking “ensemble” (workout shirt and pants and knee high waterproof boots). “You look fine to me.”

We exchange a few sentences of small talk before she moves on; she says something along the lines of how she just got out of bed and the dogs demanded to be walked so she came out here figuring no one else would see her “looking like this.”

Which, I want to call BS on.  I mean, c’mon – she looks better at 59 than I ever did in my prime (assuming I had a prime, maybe for 15 minutes when I was 19 or 20). She is one of those “natural beauties,” and I think she knows it. She of the expensive dogs and designer pajamas wants me to give her the benefit of the doubt and believed she just rolled out of bed looking that way?  Yeah, right, fuck that exhibitionist bitch

Never mind. I decided to stick with my initial, more generous assessment:  she’s just another early riser enjoying the beach.

And so it goes. That is, she goes her way and I go mine, with moiself laughing aloud as I imagine the scenario wherein I do the same as she allegedly did: roll out of bed and just come to the beach without altering anything about the way I look and/or dress in the morning.  I picture someone from the local beach cleanup committee following behind me, wielding an enormous butterfly net which they are attempting to place over my head.  Please stop it. You’re scaring away the tourists

 

I don’t have a picture of the woman in the green dragon pajamas, so Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and his legendary dragon stage outfit (circa 1977) will have to do.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Looking On The Bright Side

So many Democratic Presidential candidates…so many podiums on the debate stage.  According to what I’m reading and hearing, many people find it easy to get confused or even discouraged about that fact – they figure what with so many candidates there is a dilution of interest, money, and time for serious examination of issues that require more than gotcha sound bites.

But I’m starting to think, it’s all good. The winnowing process has already begun via the debate committee qualifications; also;  some of the lesser known/funded candidates have consulted their Magic 8 ball and dropped out…even as others remain in the race despite not qualifying for the third round of debates (someone please copy Bill De Blasio on the if-you’re-polling-at-less-than-0.05%-this-is-pointless memo).

 

 

As for the debate qualifiees (which moiself assumes will include the eventual nominee), we started with twenty-plus and are now at ten. They are, in alphabetical order:

* Former Vice President Joe Biden

* New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

* South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

* Former San Antonio Mayer/Obama Cabinet Member Julián Castro

* California Sen. Kamala Harris

* Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

* Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke

* Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

* Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

* Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

There are positives about every nominee – a lot of energy and optimism and experience. I think that exposure to this many serious candidates is win-win for the country, because the Also-Rans are quite a talented bunch; you could fill the President’s cabinet with top-notch talent. And I am, in fact, hoping that when the proverbial dust settles and the President/Veep slate is chosen, that that is what will happen.

I’m already imaging a  Presidential Cabinet Roster, along the lines of the Also Rans‘ experiences and interests. For example, for Office of Management & Budget Director I’d nominate Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who has long expressed an interest in campaign finance reform. Michael Bennet, the Colorado Senator, has a zeal for education – and there we have the position of Secretary of the Department of Education filled.   

So, let’s say the ticket is President: Elizabeth Warren and Vice President: Corey Booker . My fantasy cabinet for the moment might include the following as secretaries and/or administrators of their respective departments:

White House Chief of Staff, Pete Buttigieg

Department of State, Joe Biden

Department of the Treasury, Bernie Sanders

Department of Defense; Kirsten Gillibrand

Department of Justice, Attorney General, Kamala Harris

Department of the Interior, John Hickenlooper

Department of Commerce, Andrew Yang

Department of Labor Beto O’Rourke

Department of Health and Human Services, John Delaney

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro

Department of Energy, or the Environmental Protection Agency, Jay Inslee

Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Tulsi Gabbard

Department of Homeland Security, Amy Klobuchar

It’s fun – try it yourself.  What might your fantasy Presidential cabinet look like? Also, there may be some kind of board game potential in this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

Recipes:

* Sautéed Eggplant With Basil and Chilis

* Barley Salad with Cucumber And Yogurt-Dill Dressing

My ratings, for both recipes:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher [3]

  *   *   *

Department Of The Never Ending Fight Against Maturity

 

Dateline: last Wednesday eve, at McMenamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. We are having a belated birthday dinner for MH while enjoying the tunes of one of our favorite performers, singer-songwriter Billy D.

Apropos of…something…I got son K to agree that, should the “natural” order of life proceed and I predecease him,  [4]  he will lead my memorial  attendees in singing and/or reciting rousing renditions of two of my favorite childhood songs: “Scab Sandwich” and “Beans Beans the Musical Fruit….”  To be followed by a pass-the-microphone session wherein attendees share their favorite, Robyn-would-have-liked-this fart jokes.

Y’all been warned.

 

*   *   *

May you pick a memorable sing-along for your memorial gathering;  [5]

May you waste spend precious neurological energy constructing your own
Fantasy Presidential Cabinet  ® ;

May you never experience Easy Rider flashbacks;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] put out by The Man, as one of the movie’s characters might say.

[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.

[4] The “natural” order – parents dying before their children, is something I am no longer taking for granted, given the events of this year: two longtime friends each suffered the deaths of one of their young adult children (one in January, the other just this month).

[5] Remember, if you don’t, someone may do it for you.

The Phone Call I’m Not Answering

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Department Of How To Talk To An Obscene Phone Caller

Dateline: Monday eve, post dinner. Feeling nostalgic (or just too lazy to flip channels), MH and I tune in to the end of Wheel of Fortune, just in time to see the winner getting to choose the category from which her “bonus” puzzle will be chosen (categories may include Things; What are you doing?; Food and Drink; Places; People….). The night’s winner chooses the category, What are you wearing?

That’s weird, MH muses aloud. That category could be interpreted as a question from an obscene phone caller.

Moiself was beyond gratitude for MH’s observation, because it brought back a memory I hadn’t thought of in years.

 

“Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel….”

 

Arguably the only obscene phone call   [1]  I ever received  [2]  happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…specifically, one Friday afternoon between 2-3 pm, at the private OB/GYN practice where I worked.

Background info (which figures into the story, trust me):

*  The practice belonged to a doctor (“Dr. B”   [3]  ) and nurse practitioner (“NP”), who on Fridays saw patients until noon or 1pm and took the rest of the afternoon off. The practice remained open until 5pm for staff to return and make phone calls, notify patients of test results, ready the office for the next week’s patients, etc.

* The practice had two telephone numbers – one which was listed/public (for patients, pharmacists, hospitals, other doctors…) and an “inside line” which was private, its number known and used by staff only. If the private line rang on a Friday afternoon it was typically a call from Dr. B, more rarely NP, asking for clarification of something from a patient’s chart, or would I please check to see if he’d left ____ at the office, or call in a prescription for Ms. ____ or reschedule the Tuesday morning surgery of Ms. ____ …..

*  I had a very warm, congenial, and joking relationship with Dr. B and NP.   [4]

That particular Friday had been very busy – the morning slipped into the afternoon before I’d even had a chance to look at the clock and realize that the last patient had left over an hour ago and I hadn’t taken a lunch break.  I hadn’t seen Dr. B or NP in a couple of hours and figured they must have left while I was readying the ultrasound room for the amniocentesis which was scheduled first thing Monday morning, or perhaps when I was helping the pharmaceutical rep who’d stopped by to restock our samples shelves.  Dr. B and NP never left without saying goodbye, so when the inside phone line rang I picked it up, figuring it was Dr. B calling to wish me a good weekend. The male on the line spoke in the voice Dr. B sometimes assumed – a muffled, drawn-out, dopey tone – when Dr. B was imitating a drunken doctor, or asking me to repeat information he found to be implausible or just plain silly.

Unidentified Male: Hellllooooo?

Moiself: Well, howdy! Where’d you get off to?

Unidentified Male: Hellllooooo(and something else I couldn’t quite hear).

Moiself: Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?

Unidentified Male: What are you wearing? 

Moiself: Oh, you know me – just the usual golfing attire.

Unidentified Male:  (heavy breathing, moaning and panting ensues…)

At that moment I espied a most quizzical-looking Dr. B standing in front of me across the desk counter, one eyebrow raised in a Mr. Spock-like fashion.  According to the office manager I stomped my foot and gave the telephone receiver quite the double take when I realized it was not Dr B on the other end of the line. I slammed down the receiver and ran to the nearby patient’s bathroom, where I washed my hands while alternately laughing and shrieking EEEEEWWWWWWW – I feel dirty! as I told Dr. B and the office manager about the phone call.

Neither the office manager nor Dr. B ever let me forget the incident. When for whatever reasons the office manager wanted to cut me down to size  [5]  she’d find an excuse to say to a patient,  “Robyn enjoys talking to obscene phone callers.” As for the good Dr. B, every now and then and seemingly apropos of nothing he would look at me and say, “just the usual golfing attire?”

 

If this don’t stiffen your putter I don’t know what will.

*   *   *

Department Of Conundrum Of The Ages

Dateline: Saturday, August 17.

Facebook: Let ____ know you are thinking of her on her birthday today!                                                   

Moiself:  But, I’m not!

But wait – technically I am because of the Facebook notice; that is, I’m thinking about the fact that I’m not thinking about it, which of course means that even for a moment I am thinking about it….

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes For a New Generation, by Molly Katzen

 Recipes:

* Grilled Ratatouille Salad

* Lime-Drenched Sweet Corn and Peppers

My ratings:

For Grilled Ratatouille Salad:

 

For  Lime-Drenched Sweet Corn and Peppers:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7] 

*   *   *

Department Of Without Eternal Vigilance
It Could Happen In Your Neighborhood

A friend turned that age this week   [8]   Which got me to wonder if there have been any Beatles fans who are so dangerously obsessive devoted that they insisted their grandchildren be named Vera, Chuck, and Dave?

 

 

*   *   *

May you not be plagued with “When I’m 64” videos
when you have that auspicious birthday;
May you remember, when you turn 64 and  friends play “When I’m 64” for you,
to react as if you had NO IDEA that might happen;
May friends and loved ones remember your birthday sans social media prompts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Obscene Telephone Call – is that even a thing anymore? For y’all who are too young to remember, an obscene phone call is a telephone call made to an unknown and/or unsuspecting victim, wherein the caller uses deception to gradually or suddenly pose questions about or make statements using explicit sexual imagery/suggestions and/or obscene language. The caller’s aim is to get the unsuspecting respondent to listen to material of an explicitly sexual nature, from which the caller derives sexual satisfaction.

[2] If there were others, I can’t remember them.

[3] Hoist your goblets, you who know what to do (certain friends invented a drinking game where one must take a sip of a [preferably alcoholic] beverage whenever moiself tells a DR. B story.

[4] Who were married to each other…although many of their patients didn’t know this, as they had different surnames.

[5] She sometimes gave off the vibe that she was envious of my collegiate relationship with our employers.

[6] 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.

[7]

* 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.

[8] Happy birthday, Erndawg!

The Official Party Business ® I’m Not Undertaking

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Department Of Why The Two Party Duopoly Has To Go, Reason #379

Republican, schmublican; Democrat, schmemocrat – both parties use the same sleazy-ridiculous tactics when it comes to fundraising.  As per the following which MH received in the mail – previewed by moiself to him in an oh-so-excited text:

MH, look what you’re getting!  It’s official party business!
It has official numbers on it!  Quick – find something to salute!

*   *   *

Department Of I Guess You Had To Be There

Homemade yogurt joke:

 

“Whey! No whey!”

*   *   *

 

Department Of You Need To Watch This Show Because I Say So

“Happiness is amazing. It’s so amazing, it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.”
(“Anne,” to “Tony,” at their regular meeting place – in a cemetery,
sitting on a bench which faces their respective late spouses’ gravestones.)

Last weekend Moiself watched all six episodes of the first season of.After Life – a Netflix series written and produced by Ricky Gervais –  and I recommend that you do, too.

A British black comedy, After Life follows Tony, whose beloved wife has  died and whose dementia-addled, elderly father is in a care facility.  Tony, struggling to deal with the irritations and futility of everyday life, considers suicide, then decides to live long to punish the world for his wife’s death by saying and doing whatever he wants, including telling the truth about the pointlessness of his and his colleagues’ jobs – working for a community newspaper no one reads. Tony thinks of this as his “superpower,” but his friends and colleagues persist in seeing through his gruff persona to the decent chap  [1]   he used to be.

Every episode had me on the verge (and sometimes over the edge) of tears, of both mirth and pain.  Keep the Kleenex handy for the laugh out loud, spit out your popcorn/iced tea/wine dialogue, interspersed with gut-wrenching displays of the depths of Tony’s love for his wife and grief at her loss.  Tony’s observations about humanity are cutting; his misanthropy can be obscene; his heartache is raw and palpable. And the supporting cast – from his colleagues at the newspaper, to a prostitute (“Excuse me, sex worker!”) he befriends, to the inept postman he taunts, to the nurse at his father’s care facility, to a widow he meets at the cemetery who becomes a kind of grief mentor – all are multi-dimensional characters, keenly written and well-acted.

Frankly, imagining moiself in his shoes, I think Tony shows remarkable restraint in many of his interactions with his fellow humans. For example, he goes on assignment with the paper’s photographer to interview yet another clueless couple who think their daft doings deserve media coverage – in this case, parents who think themselves newsworthy for  having “…a baby who looks like Hitler.”

Newspaper staff member:
Got a good lead for you: “Local baby looks exactly like Adolf Hitler.”

Tony, at the baby’s home, with the staff photographer,
looking at the Hitler-style mustache on the baby’s upper lip:
So is that a birthmark?

Baby’s Mother:
Oh, no, it’s eyeliner. We did it with marker pen at first, but it took ages to get off.

Baby’s Father:
Yeah, I mean, this way we can do it when we want then wipe it off if we need to.

Tony:
So hold on, it doesn’t really look like Hitler then.

Photogapher:
It does.

Tony:
No. I mean naturally. It wasn’t born with its hair combed forward
and a mustache, was it?

Photographer:
Nor was Hitler, to be fair.

 Tony:
What I’m saying is, it’s not a revelation, is it? I mean, to get in the paper. “Baby born that looks a bit like Hitler,” mildly interesting if it had a real mustache. But you can draw a mustache on any baby and it looks a bit like Hitler.

Father:
Not a black one.

Mother:
Not as much.

Tony:
I’ve got one more question. Why do you want your baby to look like Adolf Hitler? You’re not fans, are you?

Parents:
We’re not Nazis, no.  Just a bit of fun, innit?

Tony:
I mean – Yeah. Hitler’s the funniest thing to do, I guess.

 

Moiself, I prefer Hitler cats to Hitler babies.

 

Tony (like his creator, Gervais) is an atheist. I’m grateful for Gervais using Tony’s character as a foil with which to reveal and parry some of the absurd things people  say to non-religious believers, as in Tony’s meaning-of-life exchange with Kath, a co-worker. Kath, the newspaper’s advertising editor, is a haughty thorn in most of her colleague’s sides. She’s also a fervent fan of the American comedian-/actor Kevin Hart:

Kath:
 If you were atheist –

Tony:
 I am.

Kath:
 – and don’t believe in an afterlife –

Tony:
I don’t.

Kath:
If you don’t believe in heaven and hell and all that, why don’t you just go around raping and murdering as much as you want?

Tony:
I do.

Kath:
What?

 Tony:
I do go around raping and murdering as much as I want, which is not at all.

(a co-worker chimes in):
‘Cause he’s got a conscience.

Kath:
But if death is just the end, what’s the point? –

Tony:
What’s the point in what?

Kath:
– Livin’! You might as well just kill yourself.

Tony:
So if you’re watching a movie, and you’re really enjoying it – something with Kevin Hart in – and someone points out that this’ll end eventually, do you just go, “Oh, forget it then. What’s the point?” and just turn it off?

Kath:
No, ’cause I can watch it again.

Tony:
Well, I think life is precious ’cause you can’t watch it again.  I mean, you can believe in an afterlife if that makes you feel better. Doesn’t mean it’s true. But once you realize you’re not gonna be around forever, I think that’s what makes life so magical.
One day you’ll eat your last meal, smell your last flower, hug your friend for the very last time.
You might not know it’s the last time, so that’s why you should do everything you love with passion, you know? Treasure the few years you’ve got because that’s all there is.

(a thoughtful silence envelops the newsroom)

Kath:
I’ve watched Ride Along 2 five times.

Tony:
Well, you haven’t wasted your life, then.

Kath:
Definitely not.

 

Series Bonus: you know satisfying it is when you resolve a Where do I know this actor from?! feeling? By the last episode I was so happy when I figured out (without “cheating” – i.e., looking at the credits) that the actor who plays Anne, Tony’s cemetery buddy, is Penelope Wilton.  Wilton is probably best known to American audiences for playing Downton Abbey’s Isobel Crawley, the more liberal member of the family whose modern outlook is an irritant to the imperious Countess Dowager.

 

 

Anyway, if it isn’t obvious by now, I found the show quite entertaining as well as thought-provoking and mirth-inducing.  And if anyone else thinks they have a better philosophy of life (that can be proven) than Tony’s what makes life so magical speech (along with what his friend Anne says in the quote which opens this segment) – well then, to use a suggestion the Tony character would likely approve of,  go $#?! yourself.

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Words A Parent Lives For
(Sub-Department of My Work Here Is Done)

Earlier this week moiself ran into one of son K’s  high school teachers/coaches when I was out walking and she was out for a run.  So, wait a minute: did she run into me, or did I walk into her?

Move along, folks, nothing here to see.

 

I didn’t recognize her at first; it had been at least six years since I’d seen her.  She wore a running shirt emblazoned with the logo of the fitness club she and other coaches had started at K’s and our daughter Belle’s high school. I asked her about that, we chatted, I introduced myself, and she remembered K from his years on the Cross Country team and also from one of her classes. She will always remember K, she said, as being …very intellectual, and also kind, very kind.” Two more times in our conversation she used the word kind to describe him.

 

That’s my boy.

*   *   *

Department Of One More Thing About Offspring

I found this while going through the file cabinets, looking for something which was in a folder adjacent to the folders in which MH and I keep old notes and sketches written by  Belle & K.  There is no date or attribution on it –  PARENTING FAIL!  [2]   I’m thinking it was done by K, due to the handwriting…but then, as MH pointed out, Belle was big on writing notes to us, so it could have been either one of them.   

 

 

Translation:

How to take care of children

  1. get in PJs.
  2. eat dinnr.
  3. let them have as much Desrt as they wont!

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert

* Creamy Fava Bean Soup
* Eggplant Zaalouk
* Berber Skillet Breads

 

My ratings: for the Fava Bean Soup and the Eggplant Zaalouk:

 

 

For the Berber skillet bread:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

*   *   *

May you appreciate (or at least tolerate) yogurt puns;
May a teacher remember your child – or you – with fondness;
May you rest assured that no baby is born looking like Hitler;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] He’s British, you know.

[2] I always (or so I thought) wrote on the back of a drawing or note I saved, the name of its creator, and the date.

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

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

The Dream I’m Not Forgetting

Comments Off on The Dream I’m Not Forgetting

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.

*   *   *

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….”

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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 Summers I’m Not Forgetting

1 Comment

Department Of My Daughter Is Better Than Your Daughter

Because your daughter didn’t hand paint these cooler-than-cool Vans high-tops for me!

Knowing of my fondness for cephalopods, and orange and purple, Belle designed and painted these, which I received in the mail this week as a belated Mother’s Day gift. Am I lucky – and is she talented – or what?

*   *   *

As I am writing this (Thursday afternoon), the second of the first round of the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate’s debates is just a couple of hours away.  Here’s my summation of the first debate, which was held Wednesday:

Of this Gang of Ten, there was just one candidate (whom I shall not name) who disappointed me: it was the guy who, although an experienced and seasoned politician, when the camera was first turned on him looked confused and a bit alarmed, as if he were trying to remain calm despite knowing that a weasel was crawling up his pant leg.

Other than that, I thought everyone had their moment(s) to shine, and that lesser known candidates, e.g. Hawaii military veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, did particularly well.

So many people! So many ideas! So many white men ( I mean of course, so many men of pale color ) ! So much energy, and even smarts, and dreams and reality checks…instead of being frustrated by the sheer number of candidates I feel energized. There is a lot of passion and talent out there, whether or not it gets translated to The White House, I hope those people apply themselves in other areas of public service.

Moiself posted a version of these comments on Facebook, and although friends ventured a couple of guesses, no one has yet identified weasel up-the-pants dude.

My lips are sealed…which is a good thing  because my teeth are sharp. Now, point me back toward the podium.

*   *   *

I smelled them before I saw them, at a Manzanita Farmer’s Market fruit stand. I was in line for the black cherries; prior to that memory-inducing olfactory alert, I didn’t even know apricots were available. 

The Santa Ana (Southern California) home I lived in for the first 18 years of my life  [1]   was simple and small, but had a backyard which was a child’s summer paradise: a large, oval expanse of grass, bordered on three out of four sides by trees, trees, and more trees.

Is that reminiscence I smell?  Well, she is the driver…close your eyes and it’ll be over soon.

Behind the garage was a sticky-sappy pine tree, from whose hefty, needly canopy we could gain access to the top of the garage (which was a parentally forbidden, and therefore highly desirable, destination). Climbing even higher, we could spot the Anaheim Stadium halo which lit up whenever Jim Fregosi or another Angel ballplayer hit a home run, or see the fireworks show put on by Disneyland every summer night at 9:30. In the way back of the yard, by the fence bordering the fields belonging to “SAC” (Santa Ana College) were four apricot trees. Two more apricot trees grew on the east side of our backyard, and on the west side were a plum tree (also climbable and much less sticky than the pine tree), a lemon tree, and a pomegranate bush.

I grew up taking tree-ripened apricots for granted. My sisters and I would set up a croquet course on the backyard grass, and when I got to the rear stake of the course I’d reach up into the limbs of the nearest tree, find a ripe apricot, take a bite, and continue my turn.

Why fresh apricots have not become the go-to fruit for summer desserts has always been a mystery to me. Their flavor rivals (surpasses, IMHO) that of peaches and nectarines and other pit/stone fruits; apricots are both sweet and tart (“nectarous” as per one apricot-o-phile). Also, there is no easier fruit to work with:  [2]  you don’t have to peel them, and unlike peaches, the pit easily slips out when the apricot is ripe. Get your paring knife and just bisect the apricot along what I call its butt-crack line (or “clivage du derrière” as Julia Child would say),  [3] flip out the pit, and you’re good to go.

My birthday is in December; I never much cared for birthday cake but it seemed to be de rigueur –  you have a birthday and gawddammit, they’re gonna serve you cake.  One year, in one of her greatest feats of parenting, my mother surprised me by baking a “fresh” apricot pie for my birthday, made with apricots frozen minutes after she’d picked them the previous summer. She’d remembered something I’d forgotten – how, during that summer when she and I had made an apricot pie together, I’d gone on and on about how much I loved apricot pie and it was my favorite dessert and who made up the dumb rule that you have to have cake on your birthday….   Later, while canning apricots, she saved a batch of fresh apricots – she halved and pitted them and hid the plain, raw apricots in a couple of bags in the freezer (“I didn’t even know if that would work,” she said), and five months later I got my surprise birthday pie. From then on, it was apricot pie for me, every birthday…also a “homemade” Devil’s Food cake with vanilla icing  [4] – for the family members who just had to have cake.

I pity the fo – 

Yes…thanks, Mr. T, but as I was going to say, I pity the folks who have never tasted tree-ripened apricots, and who have only had access to the dried kind.

Apricots – which, BTW, my family pronounced using the long a version (APE-ri-cots) and which to this day sounds funny or pretentious to me pronounced with a short a (dictionaries lists both pronunciations as correct) –  are not a common fruit in terms of commercial availability.  Is it because they are difficult to grow – perhaps apricot trees are persnickety when it comes to climate and soil requirements?  To this day, even on the rare occasions moiself is able to find apricots in the grocery store or farmer’s market, I cannot bring myself to purchase them unless I can smell their apricot righteousness from three feet away.  Those undersized, rock-hard apricots found in most stores – which I once actually talked a stranger out of purchasing – are a pitiful substitute for the real thing.   [5]

Longtime observer of human behavior that moiself is. I am aware that my recollections of the delights of tree-ripened apricots is likely elevated by association with parallel pleasant memories. I can live with that.

The pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.

*   *   *

Department Of Writing Bad Jokes For A Good Stand-Up Comic

Not that that he asked me to do so, but…Ramy Youssef, are you listening?

Background: Ramy Youssef is an Arab-American (Egyptian descent), a Muslim, and a stand-up comic who plays a not-so-disguised version of himself on the hulu show, Ramy.

Dateline: Wednesday, circa 7:30 am, out for my morning walk; listening to a Fresh Air podcast. Host Terry Gross is interviewing Ramy Youssef; they are discussing a variety of topics specific to Youseff, such as being a stand-up comic who is an Arab-Muslim-American and, how, when he was younger, he realized his name is similar to Ramzi Yousef, one of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993

So, here’s my story for your next act, Ramy: you can riff on how, with your Arab-Muslim background, using the standard jargon for comics in, say, mentioning a previous performance that was not well received by the audience, could be a little dicey for you.  Specifically, you probably shouldn’t open your act by bounding onstage and saying,

“Hi, I’m Ramy Youssef, and last night I bombed in New York.”

You’re welcome.

It’s yours, Ramy, if you like. I’m expecting no residuals; attribution would be nice.

*   *   *

Department Of Natural Selection

Dateline: Monday morning circa 7:40 AM. I’m walking past a field and hear a rustling in the grass.  Looking down and to my left I behold a very excited/animated and scrawniest squirrel I’ve ever laid eyes upon. It is clearly alarmed by my presence, but instead of merely turning a few degrees in any direction and scampering away from me it runs in the same direction– it attempts to “flee” by paralleling my path. It turns its head toward me every few seconds, a look of terror on its scrawny face when it sees that I am still “following” it…then there is a small but audible thunk when, during one of those head turns, it runs headlong into a fence post.

The squirrel bounces off the post, careening toward a tree just behind the fence post. As it scampers up the tree I see it has the skinniest, most pathetic excuse for a tail I have ever seen on a squirrel.

Kinda like this, only worse.

Is it genetic, I wonder, or a disease, or maybe the result of being low on the squirrel totem pole (i.e. the tail has been “picked on” by more dominant squirrels)?

Feeling only slightly guilty for my laughter, I continue on my walk. Nope, I think to moiself, that one’s not gonna win the breeding lottery.

*   *   *

Department Of Is This The Sweetest Thing Or The Saddest Thing…Or, Just A Thing?

Dateline: Oregon coast, an early Friday evening.  I am walking up the main street of Manzanita. Walking toward me is a family:  a mother and six-ish year old daughter in front, followed by a father and middle grades-ish age son.  I catch a snippet of conversation as they pass me on the sidewalk: the mother leans sideways toward/speaks softly to her daughter, who has a crestfallen look on her face:

“I don’t know, sweetie, sometimes brothers get to be a certain age
and they just don’t want to hold your hand.”

 

This is why all brothers should be baby sloths.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
 Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni

Recipe:  Gobhi Moong (Mung Bean and Cauliflower Stew)

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you cherish whatever is your equivalent of an apricot memory;
May you always want to hold your brother’s or sister’s hand;
May you remember that calmly dealing with weasels is
an essential presidential qualification;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Save for two years in San Diego (my kindergarten and first grade years), due to my father’s job transfer, which my parents knew was temporary; thus, we rented out and later returned to our Santa Ana house.

[2] Okay, maybe blueberries are easier.

[3] Okay again, that may be a lie.

[4] In our family, and in 99.999% of families in the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s, I’d wager, “homemade” translated into using a Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines or other cake mix. No one made cakes from scratch. Alternatives were “boughten” cakes,  which were found in in the grocery store bakery.

[5] Yep, I’m the nut who judges your produce selection.  The guy said he’d never had an apricot before and I didn’t want him to have a bad first experience, so I steered him toward a u-pick farm instead.

[6] 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.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin (a character from The Office who 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 Conundrums I’m Not Scooping

Comments Off on The Conundrums I’m Not Scooping

Department Of If You Want To Make Your Head Spin, Think About This

HAL HERZOG: The New York Times actually wrote an editorial about it (the killing of an amusement park crocodile named “Cookie,” by its owner, after the crocodile drowned a 6 year old boy who had fallen into the croc’s enclosure)… the editorial writer wrote, killing Cookie made no sense intellectually, but it felt right emotionally.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM: And the reason it didn’t make sense intellectually, of course, is the idea that a crocodile would do what a crocodile does is hardly surprising.

HERZOG: (the croc’s) brain is smaller than a walnut. He is a creature, largely, of instinct, particularly when it comes to food. And he was… doing what crocodiles do. He was not a moral agent, you know, which I would argue is one of the biggest differences between humans and other species. We are moral agents.

VEDANTAM: So the interesting thing is that Cookie’s owner, in some ways related to Cookie as if Cookie was a person, that Cookie was a moral agent…which is, you’re assuming that the animal has agency and behaves or thinks or has human-like qualities and that you are therefore obliged or required to treat this other creature as if, in some ways, it had human-like qualities.

HERZOG: …This similarly played out in a bizarre incident that happened in Tennessee, where an elephant named Mary killed its groom while in a circus parade in 1916. And they hung the elephant to death…and to me that was…the ultimate example of where we’ve anthropomorphized animals – that we give it capital punishment in a sense for something that it was clearly not morally culpable.

(From “Pets, Pests And Food: Our Complex, Contradictory Attitudes Toward Animals,” Hidden Brain podcast 6-17-19)

The concept of moral consistency often times leads us astray in our interactions with animals.  This is just one of many take-aways from the most recent episodes of one of my favorite podcasts, Hidden Brain. In this episode, host Shankar Vedantam interviews Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology who has studied human-animal interactions for more than 30 years and the author of the book, “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.”

*   *   *

When I began doing my research on the comparative cruelty of cockfighting versus McNuggets…I just – I was absolutely stunned. And I realized…cockfighting should be illegal, but the casual chicken eater is committing a bigger sin in their own way than is the rooster fighter.
(Hal Herzog, Hidden Brain guest)

*   *   *

It has always fascinated me that every person I know or have read about who has chosen to alter their eating and other lifestyle habits in part or primarily due to their concern for animals – e.g., vegans, as well as other animal rights activists who are not exclusively plant-eaters – has pets. Yet one can make a strong argument that keeping animals as pets is presumptuous at best and “species-ist” at worst: you are keeping animals in captivity, away from their natural habitat, without their request or permission.

Moiself’s family of origin had a variety of pets over the years, including hamsters, cats, and dogs, and on a few occasions we attended events that featured animal “entertainment” (e.g., my parents took us to a circus, and to Sea World a couple of times.). MH and I and our two children have always had pets, including cats, snakes, rodents, fish, birds, and a bearded dragon. Our current fauna enslavement count is four felines.   [1]

I will never again go to an animal circus. Nor will I patronize a Gator World or Sea World type facility, which, unlike accredited zoos or wildlife preserves (which nowadays focus on education, conservation and breeding programs for endangered species), keep animals as moneymaking entities and train them to perform for human entertainment. I’ve also a “moral problem” with horseback riding, as much as I’ve enjoyed that activity in the past.

Watch the “Blackfish” documenary, if you don’t understand the Sea World reference.

As per my own moral consistency regarding the pet issue…let’s see how many metaphors I can mix….

IMHO, the barn door has already closed when it comes to removing/returning certain animals from/to their natural habitat.  That ship –  of cats and dogs – has already sailed, particularly with regard to dogs, which have been kept and selectively bred by humans for thousands of years. Domestic cats also have a long relationship with humans but have not been subjected as much genetic tinkering; thus, “homeless” cats can be seen, in our own neighborhoods and on city streets around the world, hunting and otherwise fending for themselves quite well – ’tis why we have a problem with feral “domestic” cats.  It’s hard to imagine dogs, especially those of wheezing, gasping brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds (e.g. pugs; French bulldogs, Boston Terriers) or toy breeds (Yorkies, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas…)  “make a living” without us.

At the time my offspring wanted reptiles as pets I insisted that any herps  [2]  (which eventually consisted of a corn snake, a ball python, and a bearded dragon) they acquired be captive bred.  I no longer think that is a good idea.  Considering their behaviors and interactions with humans, I think reptiles belong “in the wild”  (and as undomesticated as your adolescent child’s bedroom might seem to you, that doesn’t count).

Ditto for rodents, and birds.   [3]  And fish (really, people…keeping fish as “pets”? Just get a terrarium and watch the grass grow, for comparable excitement).

*   *   *

Hidden Brain’s host and guest discussed how humans’ attitudes toward and treatment of animals are shaped by how we anthropomorphize them. For example, the giant panda and the giant salamander are both endangered species native to certain regions of China, but guess which gets the lion’s (panda’s?) share of attention and concern?  You’re not gonna see the World Wildlife Fund put the pictures of endangered invertebrates on their calendars, coffee mugs, tote bags and other fundraising swag.

(more from the Hidden Brain interview, my emphases)

HEZOG: And the panda…in some ways, looks a little bit like a human.
But it’s basically a faker in the sense that it has these giant circles around its eyes, which ethologists call baby releasers. So we look at that panda and it basically logs on to that – jams into that maternal instinct that we have when we see creatures with big eyes and it impose on them that in some ways it reminds us of a human infant. So, for example, researchers have shown that one of the biggest predictors of whether or not people will give money to save animals is the size of the animal’s eyes. And pandas certainly have it when it comes to eye size.

But wait – if it’s round eyes you’re going for, how about the wolf spider, which has eight big fuzzy ones? Oh, never mind.

Am I cuddly, or what?

It – how some animals we “love,” some we consider pests, and some we eat – is a fascinating issue to consider. And if you, like moiself (and the podcast’s psychologist) think that the paradoxes of pet ownership are in some ways unresolvable, just wait until you start thinking about eating animals, or using them in “sports” for our entertainment.

VEDANTAM: So the more we think of animals as sort of members of our family, the more we think of them as being like us, in some ways, this raises a profound moral paradox: if we actually think of these animals as being like us, how in the world can we…in any good conscience, confine them to our homes, confine them to cages, treat them as if they were our captives to do with as we please?

HERZOG: I think that’s a great point… And I’ve really quite seriously been thinking about, is it ethical to keep animals as pets? If we really think of them as autonomous beings, what right do we have to take away all their autonomy by controlling every aspect of their life? – what they eat, where they go, when they go. And increasing, we’re taking control of their genes, which created its own problems.
To me, the logic of pet keeping is not that different than the logic of meat eating. I eat meat. And I know the arguments against it are good and they’re better than my argument for eating meat, which is, basically, I like the way it tastes. Well, I feel the same way about my cat. I love my cat, but she carries with her a moral burden. And it’s my moral burden. It’s not her moral burden. I’m the moral agent. I’m the adult in the room. And I’m the one that has to deal with thinking about this stuff. Although, most people conveniently repress it and don’t think about it.

 

 

Like most Americans, you are probably disgusted by the brutality of cock fighting and support bans on it and other animal “blood sports.”  And, like most Americans, you probably occasionally or regularly eat chicken, when dining out or at home.  Unless you insist on Certified Humane ® products from your restaurants and grocery stores, do you know which animal – the rooster raised for fighting, or the factory farm raised broiler which ends up in your McNuggets and Chicken Tikka Masala – actually has the “better” life (and less horrific death)?

HERZOG: (Gamecocks) live lives that are generally – compared to a broiler chicken – pretty darn amazing. They live, on average, two years. They’re not usually fought until they’re two years old. For a chunk of their life, they live in free range or they have way more room than a broiler chicken.

They’re fed incredibly well – a varied diet. They get plenty of exercise. If they win a couple fights, they will use them as a stud rooster. And what they’ll do is they’ll spend their life chasing the hens around. Not a bad deal.

On the other hand, the life of a broiler chicken is absolutely horrendous. Their life only lasts between six and seven weeks. They’re basically meat machines, which means that they put on weight so fast that their legs can’t really hold up their bodies… They’re jammed into giant broiler houses with 30,000 chicks in a broiler house, where they’ll never see the sun. They’ll never get to play on the grass. They’ll never get to peck at bugs. Their lungs will be burned with ammonia.  [4]   It’s an absolutely horrendous existence. And they will die a pretty lousy death. They’ll be crammed into a series of cages. They’ll be hauled, for miles, in an open truck, jammed into small little cages with their feathers flying down the interstate (to the slaughterhouse/processing plant), where they will be hung upside down by their legs, dipped into an electrified water bath to stun them. And then they’ll go through a carotid artery set of blades that will, hopefully, kill them quickly – although, oftentimes, it does not.

*   *   *

We human animals are inconsistent in how we think, feel, and behave towards non-human animals. No answers for y’all here,  [5]    just lots to think about…unless, like most pet owners and animal flesh eaters, you  prefer not to think about such things and would rather live with the quandaries…because to do otherwise might require sacrifices and lifestyle changes and, hey, you’re a busy person and it’s time to walk the quandary again….

If you do nothing else, please just remember to be a responsible moral agent: take your bag with you and pick up the, uh, conundrums your quandary drops along the way, okay?

*   *   *

Department Of Will Someone Please Do This Man A Favor
And Steer Him Toward Lessons In Basic Pronunciation?

Dateline: Tuesday am, listening to “How Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor Create One of the World’s Most Fascinating Podcasts,”  a recent episode of the podcast Clear and Vivid. Clear & Vivid is concerned with how people communicate and connect with other people.  In this episode, host Alan Alda interviews two of the creators of Ear Hustle, a podcast produced from San Quentin prison, by prisoners.

Ear Hustle deals with the daily life of prison inmates, which gives cause for (now former) prisoner Earlonne Woods, during the Clear and Vivid interview, to use the term death row several times. “Clear and Vivid”…except that Woods consistently mispronounces death row as deaf row, which is not at all clear but which definitely brings a vivid image to my mind: of someone who, for whatever reasons, makes a group of hearing-impaired folks stand in a lineup.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 Chickpea Flour Does It All, by  Lindsey S. Love

Recipe:  Baby Chickpea Quiches with New Potatoes and Chard

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [7]

*   *   *

May you consider the quandaries in your life;
May you be brave enough to consider said quandaries before your next meat-based meal;
May you never have to choose between death row and deaf row;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] MH and I have two, and our adult children each have one.

[2] From herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles.

[3] I realize that some kinds of birds, such as members of the parrot family, are more interactive with their human owners, even bonding with a human as they would in the wild with their mates…which presents a whole other set of logistical/care-taking and ethical problems.

[4] From the excretory fumes of their own and the 29,999 other chicken’s waste.

[5] Well of course I do have suggestions, such as adopting a plant-based diet.  If for whatever reasons you do want to eat meat, do your research find some farmers/ranchers who raise their animals humanely – they do exist!

[6] 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.

[7]  * Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin ( a character on 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.

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