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The Superhero Unmentionables I’m Not Wearing

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Department Of Theme Songs Previously Unheard…

Until now, that is.

Thanks to a radio station I frequently listen to when I’m driving – a station which treats the ears with old advertising jingles and televisions theme songs as well as “oldies – I recently heard part of the “Wonder Woman” theme song for the first time.

That show was on during the no-TV years for me. I never watched it, nor even knew it had a theme song with lyrics.  As soon as I returned home I had to search the web and check the lyrics, to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing:

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman/All the world’s waiting for you,
and the power you possess.
In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights….

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Really.

In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights….

Ahhhhhh, yes. Perhaps I have inadvertently stumbled upon an explanation for just one of the many, many reasons why both my lifelong quest for superhero status and civil rights have fallen short of my dreams:

no satin tights.

Now I can’t help but think of alternative verses commending the magical underwear of superheroes:

☼  In your lingerie/Showing us the way….

☼  In your undergarments/Chasing evil varmints….

☼  In your silken thong/Righting all that’s wrong….

In your tighty whitey/Looking fierce and mighty….

☼  In your boxer shorts/ Rescuing cohorts….

☼  In your granny pants/Evil has no chance….

☼  In your woolen bloomers/Saving Baby Boomers….

☼  In your BVDs/Fighting Killer Bees….

☼  In your magic drawers/cleansing zit-clogged pores….

☼  In your skanky skivvies/.…

Feel free to stop me anytime.

*   *   *

Content warning:

SOAPBOX

 

Department Of How To Do More Than Just Gripe

…. meat production funnels far more resources through animals than it gets out of them…. even the most efficient sources of meat convert only ~ 11% of feed energy into human food.
And to grow all that animal feed, the industry is constantly converting more native lands to agricultural operations—burning and clear-cutting the Amazon and other forests to make way for feed fields. Today, a whopping 30% of Earth’s landmass goes to meat, dairy, and egg production, according to the United Nations. As the UN also reports, livestock production causes “an even larger contribution” to climate change “than the transportation sector worldwide.” That’s right: Factory farmed animals contribute more to climate change than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.
(Fortune, “How Your Diet Can Save the Planet,” )

Governments of the Most Powerful and Influential Nations ® , especially ours, are doing little to nothing when it comes to initiating effective solutions to combat climate change. We need a global Marshall Plan devoted to such. Absent that, it is easy for individuals to become cynical and think that our ordinary, Best Efforts ®  (I wash and reuse my plastic ziplock bags!) mean diddly-squat.  But… and this is a big but…

 

 

bigbutt

Even bigger than this, if you can imagine.

 

 

…. there is something every individual can do that will make a difference:

Switch to a plant-based diet.

The human population has reached 7.6 billion and could number 9 billion or 10 billion by midcentury. All those people will need to eat. A sobering report published in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.
To be specific: Cheeseburgers are out, and fruits and veggies are in.
The 23 authors of the report, hailing from Europe, the United States, Australia and Lebanon, reviewed the many moving parts of the global food system and how they interact with the environment. The authors concluded that the current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food aren’t environmentally sustainable and that damage to the planet could make it less hospitable for human existence.
A core message from the researchers is that efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level won’t be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.
(“Earth’s population is skyrocketing. How do you feed 10 billion people sustainably?” Washington Post)

uncle sam

…to eat your veggies!

 

Despite your best intentions, a weekly Meatless Monday or Steak-less Saturday ain’t gonna cut it. The numbers have been crunched: our patterns of producing, distributing and consuming foods – specifically, animals and animal products – are not sustainable.

New research shows moving away from animal protein towards legumes makes sense nutritionally and environmentally.
… A substantial amount of (greenhouse gas emissions, which exacerbate climate change emissions) comes from livestock farming with the production of the gas, methane….
switching diets towards plants as sources of protein as opposed to meat, is much more sustainable….plant protein sources (have) the lowest environmental production cost, while at the same time demonstrate the highest density of nutrients. “Peas have a nutrient density to environmental footprint ratio approximately five times higher than equivalent amounts of lamb, pork, beef or chicken.”
(“A switch to plant-based protein could help tackle climate change and hunger,”
Science X Network”)

You care about climate change and environmental degradation, don’t you?  [1]  You can do something. Not only about The Planet ®, but about yourself, as well.  If this concept (plant-based nutrition) is new to you, you’re in for a treat. You’ll discover a tasty, healthier way of fueling your body, as opposed to the SAD (Standard American Diet) you’ve likely been following.   [2] And despite the food-as-entertainment and eating-as-sport mindset our industrialized food culture has spawned, our intake of food is ultimately and primarily to provide fuel for our bodies.

If physicians know of a treatment that could prevent and reverse disease, then it seems like that treatment should be the first-line method of care prescribed to patients. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest managed care organizations in the country, found that there is, in fact, such a treatment. In their official materials, they now advise the 17,000+ physicians in their network to recommend the most powerful, yet least-used prescription to their patients: a healthy, plant-based diet and active lifestyle.
(“Why the Nation’s Largest Health Plan Wants Its Doctors
to Recommend a Plant-Based Diet”, Wellness)

Talk to someone who’s made the switch.  Yeah, you’ve fallen for all the advertising that makes it seem cool to brag about adding bacon to every meal, but your body and mind….

 

 

wilbur

…and Wilbur….

 

 

will thank you for wising up.  [3]  

You’ll also, hopefully, derive some satisfaction for not personally contributing to the myriad of environmental degradations caused by industrial meat production, which includes the lagoons of pig shit which overflow after hurricanes and other natural disasters…

 

 

lagoon

No palm trees to decorate these festering lagoons…are your Jimmy Dean sausage patties really worth it?

 

 

   [4] …and the totally preventable/unnatural disaster of the contamination of rural communities’ water supplies from manure and nitrates, which are the “natural” and unavoidable by-products of industrialized meat farming.

And no, if you change your eating habits and go plant-based, you don’t have to go around tossing buckets of blood on people who wear fur,  [5] or call yourself a vegan – or anything special, for that matter. Treat it like any other issue you care about and may, for example, disagree with a family member about. Your Uncle Anus takes every opportunity to crow about why he doesn’t “believe” in global warming; to keep the peace at Thanksgiving you might not counter his beliefs with the facts right there at the table, but you encourage him to do the research  [6]  and get back to you. Ditto, here.  Do the research. Then, be a responsible person and make the changes you can make,  [7]  rather than literally or figuratively sitting on your (expanding, animal products-fed) ass and pissing and moaning about why your government doesn’t ban all coal production or whatever.

 

 

 

turkeys

*   *   *

Department Of Ouch

Dateline: one week ago. I am on the phone with a Very Helpful Young Woman ® who is setting up an account for a new utility billing for MH and moiself. In order to establish credit and bill us, as opposed to requiring payment at time of service, she needs to run a brief credit check on moiself. The only info required is my name, last four digits of my SSN, my mother’s birthname, my date of birth, and occupation.  She goes down the list of questions, and when it gets to occupation, she says, “I assume you’re retired.”

Now, then. Ahem. We’re communicating by phone, so I’m guessing the VHYW made the assumption based on my birth date (which still, IMHO and experience, is a young date to retire). No one’s ever told me my voice sounds old, but maybe to her I sounded like this?

 

 

OLD

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Touchy Issues  [8]

I remember, at the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, how there were some vocal, disgruntled black Americans who complained, in a my-experience-of-prejudice-is-greater-than-yours kind of way, that with regards to discrimination (I’m paraphrasing here), “It’s harder to be black than gay, because you can’t hide that you’re black.”As in, people look at you and know your “race,” while homosexuals can “pass” or get by and no one will know unless you want them to.

 

 

flaming

Of course, it’s harder for some folks to pass than others.

 

 

I’ve been thinking about this issue – that of coming out, to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – for many years now. On last week’s National Coming Out Day, I wondered if it would be appropriate to, say, on a Facebook post, encourage those of us who are religion-free (but unknown as such, to family and friends) to do the same, on that day?

I decided not to steal the fire, so to speak, from LGBTQ issues. Still, many of us who are religion-free (we People Of The Many Monikers ®, including, atheists, humanists, Freethinkers, Brights, Skeptics, et al) have long realized that we need to take a page from the LGBTQ’s civil rights playbook.  It is far too easy for us to “hide’ or to have our worldviews remain unknown, especially in the USA where prejudice against non-religious believers is common.

A 2013 Harris Poll…found that 23 percent of all Americans have forsaken religion altogether. A 2015 Pew Research Center poll reported that 34 to 36 percent of millennials (those born after 1980) are” nones” and corroborated the 23 percent figure, adding that this was a dramatic increase from 2007, when only 16 percent of Americans said they were affiliated with no religion...(The Rise of the Atheists,” Scientific American)

Despite the fact that there’s been a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, unless you are “out” the default assumption is that you hold (some kind of) religious beliefs.

It was only when LGBTQ people began to come out that the myths surrounding them began to be destroyed. It is easier to express or hold hateful (or just well-meaning but ignorant) opinions and beliefs about what “those people” think or do when those people remain unknown to you – you never have to confront your mutual humanity.

When you find out those homos or those godless commies include the person in the cubicle next to yours, your next door neighbor, your cousin, your mom’s favorite auntie, the man sitting across the dinner table or the woman who sits beside you in the pew every Sunday,   [9]   your opinions almost have to become enlightened…or at least, a bit more in touch with reality.

Wait a minute, I’ve always thought that gays are __ (insert favorite stereotype), but now I found out that cousin Andy is gay, and so is Susie in accounting and my best friend’s brother, and these people are all nice, intelligent, decent, hard-working and principled citizens — not the kind of people at all to cause tornadoes to hit Midwestern trailer parks….hmmm…maybew the 700 Club was wrong about that, and other things….

 

 

Ateed

 

*   *   *

 

May you come out, come out, wherever you are;
May you fight the cynicism and make the changes you can;
May you send me your list of superhero undergarment rhymes;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] If not, stop reading this blog right now, slit your arteries open and dive heart-first into a vat of suet.

[2] Not that you’re a bad person, but we’ve all mostly been raised that way.

[3]  And if for whatever selfish personal reasons you continue to eat meat, climate concerns aside, you do know why you should not eat processed meats…don’t you?

[4] “Lagoons of Pig Waste Are Overflowing After Florence. Yes, That’s as Nasty as It Sounds,” NY Times.

[5] As fun as that might be…I mean, you can still do that, if you want (but I hope you don’t).

[6] This is an easy one to start with: (“Hidden Costs of Industrialized Agriculture“,
Union of Concerned Scientists)

[7] while you can still do so voluntarily and proactively, before all your “numbers” (BP, blood sugar, cholesterol & triglycerides, etc. ) skyrocket and you get your doctor’s ultimatum to go veggie.

[8] As if the whole “go plant-based!” screed wasn’t touchy enough.

[9] Yep, many religious non-believers (including MH, son K, daughter Belle, and moiself) continued to be active church members, for a variety of reasons and for various periods of time, after personally acknowledging that they do not hold religious beliefs.

The Letter I’m Not Sending

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That letter would be to orthopedic surgeon and Oregon State representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend), the Republican party’s candidate in the Oregon governor’s race.  [1] The subject matter of the letter would be the why behind the fact that although there are reasons I might consider voting for him, I cannot vote for him.

And the reasons have nothing to do with the fact that Oregon has elected only one Republican governor in the past 43 years.

I gotta have some respect for a Republican who receives the following critiques:

…Buehler frequently found himself getting into hot water with party activists who didn’t think he was conservative enough. They particularly criticized him for refusing to embrace President Donald Trump and for describing himself as pro-choice on abortion. Buehler’s recent vote in favor of a gun-control bill related to domestic abuse also rankled many gun-rights activists.
(“Republican Buehler Nominated To Face Brown
In Oregon Governor’s Race,” OPB 5-18-18)

After reading about some of Buehler’s positions on various issues, MH wondered aloud, something along the lines of, How/why is this man was even a Republican?

 

 

confusedspock

I have no logical answer at this moment.

 

 

 

I have found the incumbent governor who is running for reelection, Democrat Kate Brown, to be…. mostly acceptable. What I find unacceptable is her campaign’s advertising campaign  [2] against Buehler.  I am particularly disappointed with the way the Democrats are trying to smear Buehler re his claims of being prochoice, despite his repeated public proclamations as such.

“I’m going to vote for you, but I sure wish you were pro-life,” (a Republican voter tells Buehler at the Oregon state fair).
(The Republican voter) says he finds abortion offensive and posits that Buehler’s position is just an appeal to the liberal western portion of the state. Buehler sympathizes with his perspective, but confirms he supports abortion rights. Efforts should be made to make abortion as rare as possible, Buehler says, but the decision to have an abortion should be between a woman and her doctor.
(“Buehler’s ‘pro-choice’ stance: Disliked by conservatives, discredited by Democrats,”
Salem Statesman Journal 9-6-18)

That seems straightforward to me, and expresses sentiments similar to those I’ve heard from both prochoice conservatives and liberals. But many Oregon Democrats don’t like the fact that Buehler disagrees with them on related issues – “it’s my way or the highway” seems to be the attitude they are taking. He must agree with every issue they, or the Oregon chapters of NARAL or Planned Parenthood – organizations which I support, both philosophically and financially – deem to be related to abortion and/or reproductive health care, or they feel entitled to take away his prochoice label.

Example: there was an Oregon House Bill, signed last year by Gov. Brown, which required insurance companies to cover abortions and other reproductive health services at no cost to the patient. (I favored that bill, BTW). Buehler opposed the bill because he considered it “fiscally irresponsible to fund a new program as others were losing funding.” So, Those Who Think They Own The Label ® declare he “really isn’t pro choice.”  Which means I am seeing and hearing political ads featuring Concerned Women ®  saying, “We just can’t trust Knute Buehler,”  and implying that Buehler would somehow do away with women’s rights. And that just frosts my butt.

 

 

slothpeekaboo

While this picture is in no way illustrative of the issue addressed in the previous paragraph, wouldn’’ you rather see a cute sloth than the writer’s frosty butt?

 

 

 

In 1969, Oregon was one of the first states to legalize abortion, even before Roe v. Wade hit the law books. “Our policies are borne out of Oregon exceptionalism,” says (the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon). “We are progressive and libertarian. Voters on the east side of the Cascades may or may not agree with a woman’s right to access abortion, but they sure as heck agree that the government has no place in that decision.”
(“Why Oregon is the Only State that Doesn’t Limit Legal Access to Abortion,”
Portland Monthly)

Oregon’s long record as a prochoice state makes us the envy of many other states; thus, the issue of abortion in this particular political race is not a “biggie” for a staunch prochoice advocate such as moiself. And although he crosses his party’s line in his prochoice stance, I know there are other issues about which Buehler likely toes the Republican party line. But he is willing to tackle what is one of the most important state political issues for me, and one that the Democrats have repeatedly failed to address: the fact that Oregon’s growing public pension obligations are crowding out the rest of the state budget – what the NY Times refers to as a severe, “self-inflicted crisis.”

Oregon…is caught in a fiscal squeeze of its own making. Its economy is growing, but the cost of its state-run pension system is growing faster. … its spiraling costs are notable in part because Oregon enjoys a reputation for fiscal discipline. Its experience shows how faulty financial decisions by states can eventually swamp local communities….
Oregon’s costs are inflated by the way in which it calculates pension benefits for public employees. Some of the pensions include income that employees earned on the side. Other retirees benefit from long-ago stock market rallies that inflated the current value of their payouts.
The bill is borne by taxpayers. Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System has told cities, counties, school districts and other local entities to contribute more to keep the system afloat. They can neither negotiate nor raise local taxes fast enough to keep up. As a result, pensions are crowding out other spending. Essential services are slashed.
 (“A $76,000 Monthly Pension: Why States and Cities Are Short on Cash,”
NY Times, 4-14-18)

I like Buehler’s willingness to address Oregon’s need for PERS ( Public Employees Retirement System) reform. The PERS as it stands, IMHO as well as the opinions of financially astute people on all sides of the political aisles, is a disaster in the making. The system is unsustainable as currently calculated and implemented, and yessiree Bob, it will be a complicated and a “dirty” fight to reform it.  The spineless Democrats haven’t done a @#$?! thing about it, except to criticize Buehler (or anyone who has a plan to reform PERS), as being anti ____ (teacher, firefighter, or other public employees    [3]  ).  Thus, every four years when it’s time to elect a governor, here come the ads showing Concerned Teachers ® – mostly female, from what I’ve seen – talking about how ____ (insert name of non-Democratic candidate…this year, it’s Buehler) is “against” them.

My butt grows frostier by the minute.

 

 

slothbucket

Oh, no! Don’t worry; we’ll save you from the pictorial representation of her wrath.

 

 

No no no no no – and did I say, no? Teacher Ma’am, those who point out that your purse is leaking dollar bills and that you need to either get a new purse or fix the existing one – or at least stop walking down the street with your purse hanging upside down – are not “against” you, or your profession. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Someone who is trying to save you from inevitable bankruptcy is not out to get you (boys and girls, can you ask your economics teacher to explain what happened in Detroit, or Greece ?). But the critics of those who offer PERS reform, time and time again, year after year, offer nothing substantial in response, except for the occasional mealy mouthed admission that “something” needs to be done…eventually…by someone….

Buehler has proposed a sound beginning approach to PERS reform, and the response is ad homimen criticism from Democrats and teachers’ unions: “Why does Buehler hate teachers/public employees!?!?!?  Their distract-from-the-real-issue hysteria reminds me of the rabid, irrational criticism from conservatives leveled at football players who take a knee to protest racial injustice. Instead of actually listening to and considering the grievances which inspired the players’ actions, it’s,  WHY DO YOU DISRESPECT OUR FLAG AND OUR SOLDIERS ?!?!?!?!?

 

 

cowfish

But everyone respects a picture of a lovely cowfish, so let’s all take a deep breath and think before we yell.

 

 

 

There is a sad truth I am getting back to, in the letter I am currently not sending to you, Rep. Buehler. Despite just having expressed disgust with the black/white, you-must-agree-with-me-on-every-thing-or-you’re-against-me attitude and despite admiring you for your ideas on an issue that is of paramount importance to all Oregonians, I cannot seriously consider voting for you as long as you are willing to remain affiliated with the Republican party.

People who know most of my political positions probably assume I usually vote “for the Democrat,” and that is (usually) correct. For most of my voting life  [4] I have been registered as independent or decline to state for political party affiliation.  [5]  I have, at times, temporarily registered  in a variety of parties – mostly in the two “biggies” (Democrat or Republican), depending on how I wanted to vote in a primary election (or in a couple of cases due to my curiosity as to what kind of political mailers I would receive by being on, say, the Peace and Freedom Party’s membership roll  [6]).  In each case, after the primary election was over, I left skidmarks switching my status back to Independent.

I have never felt a strong affiliation for a political party, in any personal or “loyalty oath” kind of way, and have always loathed (what I view as) the kneejerk, no-thought required tendency of many people to always vote for their party’s candidates, no matter what.  I have voted for Republican candidates who, like you, Mr. Buehler, seemed willing to tackle difficult issues in a meaningful way and “reach across the aisle” to do so. But, as I have previously stated in this space, I will never vote for a Republican again, as long as your party continues to support/does nothing to oust #45.  [7] 

Now, you may point out that the governorship to which you aspire is a state office, not Federal.  It doesn’t matter; I will not vote for a Republican for any political office. If you claim the party affiliation, you share that affiliation with those who support the affront to human decency and civilization that is The Current Occupant of The White House. Your Republican brethren at the top seem impervious to criticism from the top, so I’m holding all of y’all down the totem pole responsible.

I’m sorry, Mr. Buehler, because you seem like a thoughtful, intelligent, just plain good person in many ways, and one who is trying to do his best for the state he loves. But the continued presence of #45 shows, to me, that those who support him have turned a blind eye to their country and their humanity – as particularly and abhorrently illustrated by the events of recent weeks  [8]  – which leaves me ethically unable to support anyone at any governmental level who is willing to remain on the Republican team.

 

 

 

ladyliberty

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Possible Exception To The Previous Proclamation

I could vote for a Republican who was actively and publicly working to remove #45 from office via impeachment or by invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh And One More Thing

The above political cartoon, by Bruce MacKinnon for The Halifax Chronicle Herald, should be a shoo-in, IMHO, for the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

*   *   *

 

 

May you carefully weigh the costs of your affiliations;
May you accept my thanks for abiding with me through one-issue rants posts;
May pictures of sloths warm your frosty butts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Notice I did not use the term, Gubernatorial, and when you’re around me, please don’t you use it, either. I find the word offensive, as in unnecessarily fancy…and just plain nasty.

[2] An objectionable political advertising campaign – what a surprise!

[3] Which include some OHSU physicians and Oregon University football coaches, some drawing grotesquely inflated pensions of more than $76,000…per MONTH.

[4] Since I register to vote at age 18 I’ve never missed an election for which I was qualified to vote.

[5] The label has varied from state and county, etc.

[6] The mailers were never as interesting – or out and out loony tunes – as I’d hoped they’d be.

[7] Whose name is not spoken in my house.

[8] I of course refer to the SCOTUS nomination and confirmation of Judge “I love beer so much I can’t remember the women I tried to rape when I was drunk but I love beer don’t you love beer and nothing’s gonna happen to privileged white preppie boys like me, boy ya gotta love beer!” Kavanaugh.

The Beauty Pageant I’m Not Entering

Comments Off on The Beauty Pageant I’m Not Entering

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

 

 

bunnies

It’s her again. Everybody act normal.

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

manboobss

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I resumed my run.

 

 

ava

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of High Praise, Indeed

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

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

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

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

My work here is done.

 

hatcat

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why All Sports Announcers Should Be British

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

“…the Everest of athletic achievement.”

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

 

 

 

twit2

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

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

 

remember

 

*   *   *

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

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Second wave feminist quote; source disputed.

The Movie I’m Not Reviewing

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

 

 

bored-in-movie-theater

Let the excitement begin.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

your movie

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Miss Roger Ebert   [1]

 

I’m just sayin.’

 

 

 

 

hatedthismovie

 

 

 

hate2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Unsung Heroes

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

 

 

tomi

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

clark

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

batman

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

pigsing

 

 

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

 

 

poopfling

“But, Hillary’s emails !!!!”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

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

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

[4] Temporarily, I hope.

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

[6] Including ultimately, this blog?

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

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

The Royal Wedding I’m Not Watching

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Department Of Why I Hate “Royal” Weddings

It doesn’t even have to be a royal wedding.

I’ve seen this announcement before, and so have you. Substitute the names of your cousins, your friends… perhaps even you and your spouse,  [1]   in the following traditional announcement.  One simple/terse sentence – in a mere nine words, are the volumes of centuries of erasure:

 

Prince Harry and the former Megan Markel are married.

 

He is what he is.

She is what she was.

 

 

sexistwedding

*   *   *

Department Of, Like There’s Anything Wrong With That?

Christian Radio Host: Meghan Markle is an “Angry, Feminist, Godless Woman”

Although Christian radio hosts are not known for observations having anything to do with reality, I certainly hope that that one is true. Those are three adjectives (which should be) applicable to any woman whose IQ exceeds her hat size.

 

 

godless-small

*   *   *

Department Of Music I Would Be Listening To If I Were In College   [2]

I refer to Courtney Barnett’s new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel.

Male-type folk who don’t quite understand women’s rage re being female in this world: listen to Nameless Faceless, and imagine having the realizations and experiences to compose the song’s chorus:

I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Men are scared that women will laugh at them
I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Women are scared that men will kill them
I hold my keys
Between my fingers

 

*   *   *

Department Of If This Surprises You, You Need To Get Out More Often

Dateline: early this week. After her college graduation and in preparation for her summer job, daughter Belle, while driving me to help her do some errands, tells me about having recently had the oil in her car changed. She bemusedly recounts how the Young Oil Change Guy ® made a really, really big deal  [3]  when he saw her car, because (in his opinion) Belle is the rare “girl who drives a stick shift.”

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Belle and I laugh, and share a mother/daughter bonding moment:  Dude, it’s just a skill…that involves using one hand and one foot, and no dicks.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Still Can’t Quite Wrap My Brain Around The Fact That
They Still Say This Shit In 2018

“…and the former….”

 

 

 

bride

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Awesome Headlines

“Profanity Correlates with Higher IQ Scores”

 

Holy Shit! Yet another piece of evidence which proves that I’m a goddamn genius.

 

genius

No fucking way!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Will Rogers Quotes

Never miss a good chance to shut up.
(Will Rogers)

Re: a friend describing the recovery of her sister-in-law, who recently had a stroke: She actually was able to make bacon this morning for breakfast….

My first thought – which I managed to (mostly) keep to moiself:

This is progress !?!
A lifetime of bacon consumption probably contributed to her stroke.

 

 

 

judge

*   *   *

Department Of You Must Admit The Resemblance Is Striking

Dateline: earlier this week, walking back to our Manzanita beach house, from a grocery store. I am wearing my ubiquitous hat, an Outdoor Research  Seattle Sombrero.  A car pulls over to park by the market; a woman and two young boys, maybe four and six years old, emerge from the car. As I pass by them the younger boy excitedly calls out, [4]  “Mama, that’s a cowboy – Mama, that’s a cowboy!”

 

cowboy

Cowboy

RubberChicken2

Moiself

Who wouldn’t be confused?

*   *   *

Department Of Why This Memory Recall, And Why Now?

Dateline: twenty-three years ago, in the Liberal Protestant Church MH And I And Our Young Children Once Attended ® .   [5]

Seemingly apropos of nothing – and of course during a silent portion of the church service – son K turned toward me with the light bulb look of sudden insight in his eyes, and declared,

Boys have penises and girls have ba-jiners!

The married couple seated in the pew in front of me turned around, and graced me with matching, good-humored, raised-eyebrow expressions. I smiled in return and said,

Any questions?

 

 

special

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you never be referred to as the former;
May you listen to music as if you were in college;
May you always be a cowboy in a young child’s eyes;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Please tell me you didn’t…or that you did, but you regret it.

[2] But I’m soooo no longer in college…and yet, I’m listening.

[3] With likely flirtatious undertones, I as a mother deduce.

[4] About me, I presume, as I was the only other person on the street.

[5] In what today seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

The Peasant Food I’m Not Upscaling

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Department of Not Surprised, But Still Sad

I recently read Junot Diaz’ acclaimed article in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma), wherein he revealed publicly for the first time his own history of childhood sexual abuse . [1]    It was a stirring account, to say the least.

I’ve never been fond of nor impressed by Diaz’s short fiction – and haven’t read but a few of his stories because the ones I did read left the proverbial bleech taste in my mouth, due in most part to the male-female dynamic found within. His style and themes reminded me of a more contemporary, multicultural Norman Mailer (and other acclaimed alpha male writers whose work I loathed, fiction writers who used their supposed hyper-realism narrative styles to impart their own loathing for women in any roles other than as their objects of sexual desire ). Ah, but for years Diaz was the new/exotic literary sensation in town, so who was this middle-aged white lady to judge?

Having undergone  sexual abuse seems particularly difficult for men to admit to; thus, my cynicism at his revelation shamed moiself. Cynicism as in, I thought that perhaps this (his essay) was his way of explaining/justifying (what I saw as) the sexism in his writing (a phenomenon too often explained/excused, for male writers, by literary “talent”    [2] )…

But that bit o’ skepticism was not my first response to the why reveal this now?-ness of his essay. My immediate, gut reaction was,  He’s laying the groundwork….  Translation: someone is going to accuse him of  Metoo conduct, and this (I did what I did because of what was done to me), overtly or implicitly, will be his defense.

And shame on me for thinking that.

I kept my opinion to moiself – now, there’s an admission you won’t often hear  – and was glad I did so.

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

Then came the story in last Friday’s New York Times, wherein Diaz was speaking at a writer’s conference:

The writer Zinzi Clemmons stood up. Without identifying herself by name, she asked Mr. Díaz about a recent essay he had published in The New Yorker detailing the sexual assault he experienced as an 8-year-old boy. She then asked why he had treated her the way he had six years prior, when she was a graduate student at Columbia….

Ms. Clemmons said she believed that Mr. Díaz had tried to pre-empt accusations like hers by writing the autobiographical essay in The New Yorker last month 

Other accusations of his misconduct have since surfaced;  Diaz resigned his position on the Pulitzer Prize board as the allegations are being investigated.

I feel bad about this; I take no joy in having my cynicism validated. I am not questioning the validity of Diaz’s report of childhood abuse. And the thing of it is, and it could be true that he abused his power over women as a direct (or oblique) result of his own history of being abused.  Or, these could be separate issues. Either way, all ways, it’s just….sad.

*   *   *

 

We Interrupt The Ranting For A Moment Of Gratitude

Deep thought of the day: a rubber chicken does not, in fact, have to be made of rubber, to embody the essence of the rubber chicken.

Translation: Mere words cannot express my feeling that there is an ultimate rightness to the universe, when I am presented with evidence that some mahvelous people, when they encounter an object which reminds them of a rubber chicken, are reminded of moiself[3]

Thanks, JWW.

 

 

jww

Whaddya think, is she’s one of us?

 

*   *   *

We now Return To The Previously Scheduled Ranting

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Reason To Scream At A Screen
Adjunct Department Of  Yes, I Should (And Do) Know Better

My afternoon exercise sessions often occur around the time when the local Decades TV station runs episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. If I am not working out to one of my exercise DVDs, I’ll tune in to the Laugh-In reruns. I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying the retro fun of it all, including memories of watching it when it originally aired.

 

 

tinytim

Can we ever forget – or forgive – the show that introduced the world to Tiny Tim?

 

 

 

I remember how moiself and my buddies would take turns watching Laugh-In at each other’s houses, sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor, usually with our parents seated behind us, sitting in their armchairs, also watching the show.  Our fun was enhanced by the prideful, barely stifled giggles that can only be produced by eleven-to-thirteen year olds who realized that the grownups and were laughing for different reasons (and at different times) than we were. Translation: many of the naughty jokes/double entendre‘s Laugh-In was known for– and almost all of the drug references – zoomed over our parents’ heads.

Fast forward to the present, and I am finding that for every skit or joke I enjoy and relive, I also marvel at how dated much of the show’s humor is.  [4]  What is particularly striking to me is how Laugh-In  – considered ahead of its time by tweaking the customs and prejudices of society – trafficked in so much hackneyed humor that was beholden to its time, in many cases reinforcing (not critiquing) stereotypes of ethnic minorities and gays and (especially) women.

Once again, I digress.

 

 

DUH

 

 

So. The danger to television-as-backdropexercising is that I am often in the middle of, say, lifting a dumbbell when the show goes to commercial, and thus am unable to hit the remote’s mute button. The commercials for daytime TV shows can be particularly odious, as the demographic is obviously considered to be the target audience for Certain Products For Those Of A Certain Age (read: elderly/infirmity drugs and diet plans).

One particular/frequently running ad is exceptionally…oh, how can I put it? It frosts my butt.  The second time I saw it  [5]  I realized, between biceps curls, that I had begun yelling at the television screen, at the two perky, formerly in shape and now chunky, E list celebrities (a former actor married to a former football player)  [6]  reduced to hocking a snake oil potion enthusiastically promoting a weight loss product. With no sense of irony and a surplus of golly gee this seems too good to be true, but it is! pride, they actually recited the following dialog:

 

* We eat our favorite foods and still lose four times more weight!

*Nothing in your lifestyle needs to change!
(as a picture of the implied favorites, foods-that-once-may-have-been-many-different-colors-but-which-now-are-all-deep-fat-fried-yellow ®, flashes by on the screen.)

 

 

hearyourself

 

 

 

And there I am, screaming at a screen, at the asinine and totally bogus “promises” repeated, again and again, about how “nothing in your lifestyle has to change….

but it’s your fucking lifestyle that got you this way in the first place  — it’s that junk you’ve been eating that did this to you and but now you’re boasting that you can continue eating the same rubbish ?!?!?

And of course, the grammar cop in me is irritated by the ad’s claims that a person using the weight loss supplement can “lose 4 times as much/more weight!”

Okay…I’m waiting…but there is no follow-up. Excuse me, aren’t y’all forgetting something?  “As much/more” are comparisons, and thus require comparatives.

 

 

Grammarcop

Hold still and this won’t hurt as much.

 

 

 

“Lose 4 times as much/more weight!”!”  As much or as more as what, pray tell? As much as a person who’s never used the product but keeps scarfing their favorite foods faster than a hotdog-eating contest competitor on death row?  More than a herd of weasels on an all-kale diet?  More than twelve three-toed sloths on a treadmill?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only You’d Had A More Interesting Childhood

My mother once told me that she viewed cooking as the least favorite of (what she considered to be) her duties as a homemaker. Although her family never went hungry, that attitude was revealed in terms of the variety (read: not much) of dinners she served to her family. She was the target audience for the advertising mad men – the  marketers whose mission was to convince 1950s – 1970s homemakers that the roles and tasks to which women were relegated were tedious and burdensome.  Convenient, an adjective heretofore not associated with food, became lauded — packaged meals and prefab  “food products” would save her from the drudgery that was cooking (and, these salesmen assured her, these food products were ultimately “better” – as in, more nutritious – for her family than anything she might be able to cook).

And she bought it –  hook, line, and Hamburger Helper sinker.

A recent Fresh Air podcast featuring an interview with chef Chef Lidia Bastianich made me think of my childhood culinary “heritage,” such as it is.  [7]  Chef Lidia is yet another foreign born cook of humble beginnings who came to the USA and made her fame and fortune (in both the TV cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurant businesses) by presenting the cuisine and heritage of her youth to Americans.

When Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked Lidia about the ironies of serving peasant food in top-tier Manhattan restaurants, I wondered if I had missed my chance do the same. However, unlike Chef Lidia, moiself did not have an exotic Italian-Croatian background. What would be the peasant food of my SoCal childhood that I could make seem trendy – Tang? Cool Whip? Rice a Roni? Spaghetti-os?

 

 

 

swanson

With the right marketing Manhattan gourmands will pay $95 for this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you realize the futility of screaming at screens;
May anything rubber chicken-related make you think of…someone you love;  [8]
May you maintain an embarrassed fondness for the peasant food of your youth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Raped at age 8, by a trusted adult.

[2] to wit, see Junot Díaz And The Myth Of Male Genius – How a male writer’s “brilliance” is used to explain away his obvious misogyny…

[3] Even better when they acquire said anything and present it to moiself.

[4] No surprise and to be expected, with any show that tacked political and social topical issues.

[5] The first time, I couldn’t quite believe I was hearing what I was hearing. And it was not an ad for hearing aids.

[6] To protect their privacy, I’ll call them Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete.

[7] It isn’t, really.

[8] Betcha you thought, if only for a second, that moiself was going to write, “moiself.”

The Super Power I’m Not Flaunting

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

Happy Star Wars Day, y’all.

 

 

May4

*   *   *

Department Of Justice Served Cold

While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.

Backstory.  Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH.  MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis.  For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.

The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed.  We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.

“Uh…expecting lumberjacks?” I ask.

“No,” MH replies, “But if the East Area Rapist shows up, we’ll be ready.”

 

 

EARjpg

 

 

Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!!   as I heard

Day 1: on an NPR newscast that authorities in California had arrested the suspect known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, and then on

Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly   [1] broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered

While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.

I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:

We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..

Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?

 

 

planet

Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle

Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading:  And the Band Played On  (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.

IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure.  [2]

As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:

Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?

Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  [3]   reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.

 

 

 

shame

 

 

 

Certain business interests,   [4]   political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).

Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear you at any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.

Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.

Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over 20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it[5]  And meanwhile, people were dying.

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.

On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …? Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).

And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses.  Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups   [6]   were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer).  And meanwhile, people were dying. 

 

“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.”
Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…

 

different

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden

Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see.  I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.

MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?”
Moiself: “I can smell fear.”
MH: ???
Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”

 

 

 

 

super

She who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive;
May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served;
May the 4th be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.

[2] When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.

[3] Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was  in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.

[4] E.g., for-profit blood banks.

[5] Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.

[6] The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as  an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).

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