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The Stages I’m Not Following

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Department Of Yet Another Content Warning ® …

….which I hope you will (eventually, if not now) ignore.

The following deals with grief.  Specifically, the intense and traumatic grief experienced by the sudden and/or unanticipated death of a loved one.

If you are presently not in a physical or emotional space to handle the subject, moiself hopes you’ll take care of yourself, and read this later.   [1]  The thing is, if you aren’t grieving such a loss right now, you will later on…and someone you know and love is dealing with this or will be, soon.  That is Life’s price of admission…and one particular grief survivor’s insights and observations could be – I’ll go so far as to say *will* be – of use to you.

The following excerpt blew me away (my emphases):

“The five stages of grief are ingrained in our cultural consciousness as the natural progression of emotions one experiences after the death of a loved one. However, it turns out that this model is not science-based, does not well describe most people’s experiences, and was never even meant to apply to the bereaved.

(“It’s Time to Let the Five Stages of Grief Die,”
McGill University, Office for Science and Society )

 

I had read about the questionable science behind The 5 Stages of Grief ® model, and had always had my doubts about its application.  But I had no idea that it was *never* meant to be applied to the bereaved – to people grieving the death of *other* people.

 

 

But wait – there’s more.

 “…many people, even professional psychologists, believe there is a right way and a wrong way to grieve, that there is an orderly and predictable pattern that everyone will go through, and if you don’t progress correctly, you are failing at grief. You must move through these stages completely, or you will never heal.

This is a lie.

Death and its aftermath is such a painful and disorienting time. I understand why people –  both the griever and those witnessing grief –  want some kind of road map, a clearly delineated set of steps or stages that will guarantee a successful end to the pain of grief. The truth is, grief is as individual as love: every life, every path, is unique. There is no predictable pattern, and no linear progression. Despite what many ‘experts’ say, there are no stages of grief.

In her later years, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote that she regretted writing the stages the way that she did, that people mistook them as being both linear and universal.”

( “The 5 Stages of Grief and Other Lies That Don’t Help Anyone”,
Megan Devine, author of “It’s OK That You’re Not OK.” )

 

 

“We’ve all heard about The 5 stages of Grief. But what happens when your experience doesn’t follow that model at all? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone began to question how we think about grief after a devastating loss in her own life. She shares the techniques she learned to help her cope with tragedy.”
( intro to the Hidden Brain Podcast, “Healing Your Heart” )

This is the podcast I want you to listen to, and Lucy Hone is the “one particular survivor” I referred to earlier in this post.

Lucy Hone, Ph. D., is an adjunct senior fellow at the University of Canterbury (NZ) and author of Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss that Changes Everything.  Hone has a master’s in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in well-being science/public health from AUT University.   [2]

 

 

The 5 Stages of Grief ® has become part of our culture’s how-to-grieve manual.  But the thing is, this list which was meant to be descriptive has now turned proscriptive. It’s originator, Swiss-American psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, *surmised* (not proved) these stages, when, as a psychiatry resident, she observed observations of people dealing with terminal illness – people who had advance knowledge of their impending death.

And yet, how many times have you heard about

* the family of a *recently* and *suddenly* deceased person   [3]   “going through the five stages of grief.”

* someone else, perhaps also grieving the same loss, being concerned that these same family members had not gone through the stages, or had skipped a few and were therefore stuck in their grief or somehow not doing it properly?

Something like this happened to the HB podcast guest.  Dr. Hone, ironically enough, a “resilience researcher,” had to rethink her and society’s approaches to grieving after the devastating loss of her beloved 12-year old daughter, Abi, who died after the car she was riding in (along with Abi’s best friend Emma and Emma’s mother) was t-boned by a driver who went through a stop sign at high speed.  [4]

Hone and HB host Shankar Vidantam talked about Hone’s drive to know what she could do to manage her grief.

HB host Shankar Vidantam:
“…the grief counselors and others told you that the next five years of your life were going to be consumed by grief; that you were a prime candidates for divorce, estrangement, and mental illness. You also heard about the 5 Stages of Grief.  What is the conventional wisdom about the 5 Stages of Grief, Lucy?”

Hone:
“…Like most people, I was kind of aware about the stages, and like most people I could probably name about three of them.  But when people started telling me about them – and boy, anyone who’s ever been bereaved will know that people tell you about them! – they expect you to go through them.

Pretty quickly I became frustrated with (the 5 Stages), because I didn’t feel anger and animosity towards the driver. I knew that that was a terrible mistake – that he didn’t do it intentionally.  And I wasn’t in denial – from the very first moment I remember thinking, ‘Okay, this is my job now, my mission is to survive this.’  And so they didn’t fit with my experience.

And the other aspect that quickly frustrated me (with the 5 stages) is that it’s reasonably helpful to be told that you might feel ___ (all of these different things), but actually, I don’t want to be told what I’m going to feel; I am desperate to know what I can do, to help us all adapt to this terrible loss.”

SV:
“I’m struck by the fact that at a certain point in your journey of grief over Abi’s death you were thinking like a researcher, or starting to ask yourself whether you yourself could be a research subject – that you’re’ studying yourself, observing yourself, like a scientist…”

Hone went on to say that yes, she did have a moment of being aware that she was both

 “…experiencing this devastating loss and curious about my experiences simultaneously…
I was doing this internally, observing my loss and my reaction to it, and then I thought, ‘Well, what I’m really curious about, is we have all these tools from resilient psychology, which have been shown to help people cope with potentially traumatic events.  How useful are they when they are brought to the context of bereavement?’ And so that’s been the question I’ve been really exploring, ever since Abi died.”

SV narration:
“Pondering this question gave (Hone) the space to analyze how her own mind was responding to  grief.  When she noticed something about how she was coping, she reserved judgement about what it meant.
When she engaged in ‘what-if’ scenarios – What if she hadn’t allowed Abi to drive with the other family? What if she hadn’t planned a beach vacation? – she noticed how those thoughts made her feel.  She paid attention to how she felt after getting exercise or a good night’s sleep.  In other words, she started behaving like a scientist.

She eventually discovered there were things that made her feel better, and things that made her feel worse. She came up with a series of techniques that gave her a measure of control over her grief.”

Hone:
“I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen thinking, ‘Seriously, Lucy, chose life over death. Don’t lose what you have over what you’ve lost.’ “

 

 

I wanted to print a transcript of the whole episode, it’s so good, but I’ll leave it to you to find that, or listen to the entire episode  (the link again: Healing your Heart.)  

Moiself will, instead, just list a few bullet point-style take aways:

* Hone’s ideas are not a glib substitutions for one series/stages or method over another.

* Models such as “The 5 Stages Of Grief, The Four Stages Of Recovery,” et. al., have been perpetuated because they are tidy.  But grief is not tidy; grief is messy and does not lend itself to finite lists.  According to one researcher, grief is “as individual as your fingerprints.”  What works for you as a strategy for handling your grief might not work for your spouse, your mother, your brother, your siblings – even as you are all grieving the same loss.

* “Taking a break” from grief is not avoidance, or denial.

* Learn the difference between grief reaction, over which we have little control, and grief response, which is loaded with options

* It isn’t *easy* –  to learn such distinctions and apply techniques to give you a measure of control over your grief – but is it possible.

 

*   *   *

 

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Department Of Rest In Peace Face-Palming Laughter

Gilbert Gottfried, died last week. YOU FOOL!

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Stand Up For Comedians Edition

I was in Russia listening to a stand-up comedian making fun of Putin.
The jokes weren’t that good, but I liked the execution.

What kind of humor do quarantined comedians use?
Inside jokes.

Why do mountains make good comedians?
Because they’re hill areas…

A new standup comic told jokes about the unemployed.
Unfortunately, none of them worked.

What did the cannibal comedian say when he tried to eat the audience?
“Tough crowd.”

 

 

You got a long way to go, girl.

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate the differences between reactions and responses;
May you rethink your own “However Many Stages of Doing This Thing” lists;
May you treat yourself to some stress relief and watch Paul Lynde’s one-liners outtakes from Hollywood Squares;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Not because moiself  is the preeminent grief expert; rather, the people behind resources I am citing *are.*

[2] as per UC Berkely’s Greater Good Science Center (“Science-based Insights for a Meaningful Life”).

[3] Suddenly as in, via an accident or homicide or suicide – any death that was unexpected or not with foreknowledge of its inevitability, as in, with cancer or other diagnosed terminal illnesses.

[4] The two girls and the adult woman died; the driver who caused the accident survived.

The Comment I’m Not Posting

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Department Of Why Am I Am Not Writing “Done” In The Comments

Dateline: Tuesday morning.  Moiself  sees in a friend’s Facebook feed one of these kinds of posts – if you’re on Facebook you’ve likely encountered them:

“This is food for thought.  You’re not the same again after cancer and treatments. With the side effects of chemo and radiation, you will never be 100% again because your immune system is weak. Ruins marriages, families, and relationships with friends. Because Ii the hardest moments you know who your real friends are or who the people are who appreciate you. Unfortunately, like with most friendships, Facebook friends will leave you in the middle of a story. They want a post to ‘like’ for the story, but they don’t really read your message when they see it is long. More than half have stopped reading. Someone may have already gone to the next post in their newsfeed….”

 

(There was a lot more, including a request to comment “done” if you read the post all the way through.)

 

Here was my comment.  [1]

OK, here goes: I have read this all the way through, but I am not writing “done” in the comments, nor am I copying and reposting the post.
Here’s why.

Most of us on FB have seen these posts of awareness (for cancer, other diseases/injuries/afflictions, those facing economic hardship, etc.). And while I’ve no doubt that they are well-meant, I consider them to be the emotional equivalent of chain letters.

The writers of the original posts (whom I know is not you) include implied threats and “digs” (against the reader’s character and empathy) in these pleas for “awareness” –  implications that how one responds to these posts is a litmus test of who is a real/true friend.
Here are some of the ones this post includes:

“… A little test, just to see who reads and shares without reading… I would like to know who I can count on and who takes the time to read this… So I’m going to make a bet, without being pessimistic. I know my friends and family will put it on their wall. You just have to copy….”

If the writers of the post truly “know” your friends and family will “put it on their wall,” why do they have to prod them to do so?

Whether or not you can count on someone in times of need has *nothing* to do with what they will or will not copy or post (or even read) on a Facebook feed.  This is just another form of virtue signaling.

And the implication that people will read and not repost – “Unfortunately, like with most friendships, Facebook friends will leave you in the middle of a story. They want a post to “like” for the story, but they don’t really read your message when they see it is long” – is virtue-shaming.

Actually, the awareness post I refer to was mild, in the shaming factor, as compared with others I’ve read, which practically scream, “Oy vey, I’ll just sit here posting in the dark, knowing that few people will actually read all the way through because nobody cares….”

Now, I’ve nothing against someone advocating for cancer (or any other) awareness.  But, why the emotional extortion?  Why not just post whatever info you want to convey?  Then, as with other social media posts that people like and/or find significant  – from cat videos to political screeds – people can repost it if they deem it repost-worthy.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What I Did Not Post In The Comments Section

One prays for rain, one prays for sun;
they kneel in church together.
Which of them, do you suppose

will regulate the weather?   [2]

 

 

“I liked/reposted this.”

“I’m praying for you.”

Boys and girls, can you identify which of the above is the least effective action?

 

I knew you could.

 

That’s right; it’s both/either of them.

Pleas for reposts, and their responses (“I reposted this!”) remind me of, “I’ll pray for you!”  Reposting on social media, ala praying for something to happen, may get you to think nice things about yourself (or moiself,  if I say that I’m praying/posting for you), but is ultimately ineffectual.

My learning that you have been diagnosed with cancer and are beginning treatment, and then my responding with, “I’m praying for you,” or “I posted about cancer awareness,” is a way to make us both think that I am doing something when in fact I am doing next to nothing. How’s about actually *doing something* you will need help with –

* organizing a meal delivery service and/or contributing meals for you and your family during your treatment and recovery “downtimes”

* giving your kids rides to school and extracurricular events

* “babysitting” you so that your spouse and/or kids can get out of the house, or hosting a family game/ movie night at their or your house    [3]

* running errands (that you used to be able to do) for your elderly parent(s)

* being a “chemo” buddy (taking you to and from treatment appointments)

* taking you to medical and other appointments, and/or pick up prescriptions

* just sitting and talking with you, and, more importantly, listening…or spending companionate time in supportive silence

* taking you to or meeting you for movies or lunches or park walks or other outings, to get at least a temporary respite from the disease-takes-over-my-life mode

* arranging to mow your lawn/put out your recycling on trash pickup day, walking your dog, performing or helping with other household maintenance tasks

*running interference for you when well-meaning folks are driving you nuts….

 

 

Ah, but all of these things, and the other Life Stuff a (temporary or otherwise) sick or disabled person may need help with – these things take time and effort, and entail emotional (and possibly financial) involvement.

Posting/praying takes a microsecond of hot air.

Let’s say I get sick, and you mow my lawn…and you also pray for me (in private, thank you very much), asking your deity to heal me, etc.    [4]  As for the latter, please understand that you are doing it for yourself; but, that’s fine – whatever floats your boat.

For anyone who believes in the efficacy of petitionary prayer,    [5]   let’s say that you and I are having lunch in a taqueria, and you begin choking on your chalupa – really choking, as in, you’ve aspirated it into your windpipe.  You cannot dislodge it, and you can’t breathe.

Would you rather I pray for you, or perform the Heimlich Maneuver on you?

 

I’ll pray that you learn to take smaller bites when you eat. Oh, and thanks for mowing my lawn!

 

Cheese and crackers; what a different place the world would be, if prayer “worked” ?!?! People pray for peace and healing all the time.

And when you examine the content of those prayers – particularly the ones for healing – it’s interesting to note the accommodations.  For example, re the child with horrific third degree burns over 90% of his body, no one prays for their god to cause new skin to grow overnight for the child (although they may pray that the skin grafts take). 

 

 

While many people of faith seem convinced that prayer can heal a wide variety of illnesses (despite what the best scientific research indicates), it is curious that prayer is only every believed to work for illnesses and injuries that can be self-limiting.  No one, for instance, ever seriously expects that prayer will cause an amputee to regrow a missing limb.
Why not?  Salamanders manage this routinely, presumable without prayers.
If God answers prayers – ever – why wouldn’t he occasionally heal a deserving amputee?  And why wouldn’t people of faith expect prayer to work in such cases?
(Sam Harris, “Letter to a Christian Nation“)

Why, in all of human history, there is no record of (anyone’s) god ever healing an amputee by regenerating a limb, or changing a Down syndrome child to one with a normal chromosomal profile? If a god is said to have intervened, it is only in situations that can be otherwise explained as natural phenomena.

( For more on this illuminating topic – which you should ponder if you haven’t previously, especially if you think you believe, in some way, that prayer “works” – check out https://whywontgodhealamputees.com/ . It’s a fun site delineating why petitionary prayer is superstition, and also raises other questions about religious tenets. )

Now, I’m not knocking all kinds of practices which come under the category of prayer.  As freethinkers wiser than moiself  have pointed out, if contemplative prayer focuses your mind and helps you establish objectives, then it can be a beneficial practice.  However, meditation is just as good if not superior for those goals; also, it has the added benefit of non-delusion – you don’t have to pretend that some supernatural being is paying attention.   [6]

“If you talked into your hair dryer and said you were communicating with someone in outer space, they’d put you away.
But take away the hair dryer, and you’re praying.”
( Sam Harris )

 

 

Coming back to the thing about petitionary prayer: moiself  thinks it is actually obstructive, in that is that it provides the illusion of having done something when in fact you’ve done next to nothing, other than mumble select phrases or entertain some thoughts.  And what might be called “secular prayer” – liking or posting on social media – can fall under that same category.

The following is from professor, author, educator and speaker Dale McGowan’s  (erstwhile) blog, The Meming of Life   [7]

When someone asked Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom to pray for a friend who had breast cancer, Adam said, “I have a better idea — give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits and make her feel less alone and more cared for will do much more for her than talking to anything else.

This was from a piece Adam wrote in the Chicago Tribune’s blog (“The Seeker“) a couple of years ago. And he went on to make an especially good point:

“The Humanist world has recently sponsored a counter-program – the National Day of Reason, which celebrates the power of the human mind to understand and improve the world. But I have an even better idea. While reason is certainly a worthy value to celebrate, the secular counterpart to ‘Prayer’ is not ‘Reason’ – it is Action. “

The counterpart to prayer is doing something.

 There are secular equivalents of prayer. Facebook is full of them. I’m sure there are people who “like” 50 humanitarian causes a day, achieving that same illusion of having done something. And like the prayer, I think that self-satisfied illusion often keeps the liker from actually doing something. It relieves the pressure, gives that little shot of dopamine, makes us feel ever so good about ourselves. Of course, there’s a whole neologism for it — slacktivism.

My take-home is that secular prayers, if they go no further, are no better than sacred ones. Action, real action, is still what matters.

 

 

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*   *   *

Department Of A Really Frustrating Phenomenon

Dateline: Last Friday, driving to the coast.  I press the seek button on my car’s radio, and it lands on an oldies station.  After just a few seconds my brain recognizes the intro to a song moiself  hasn’t heard in *decades*:  Glen Campbell’s “Honey Come Back.”

Now, the late and sometimes great Glen Campbell recorded a lot of fine songs, but that insipid, self-pitying, talk/sing tale of lost love is not one of them.

 

 

See?    [8]

Here’s the thing that drove me bonkers after the song began playing (well, other than the song itself).  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (freshman year, UC Davis) I got an A in my calculus class. Today, if you put a gun to my head – and I really hope you wouldn’t – with the idea of forcing me to solve the most basic calculus equation, I could not do so. But I can recognize the opening strains of Honey Come Back.  How pathetic is that?

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Country Music Edition

Which country music singer’s name do you say
when you’re moving furniture past someone?
Dolly Pardon.

So, why does Keith Urban sing country music?

Why is country music is like a vacuum?
As soon as you turn it off it stops sucking.

Technically, aren’t all national anthems country music?

 

Y’all don’t have to answer that.

 

*   *   *

May your brain store memories of both higher mathematics *and* banal oldies;
May you avoid the temptations of slacktivism;
May you talk into your hairdryer, beseeching it for…whatever…just because you can;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] As should be obvious, I have not included all of the post, although I reference certain portions of it which are not included in the beginning excerpt.

[2] Variously attributed to Anonymous.

[3] When one member of a family has cancer or another chronic or debilitating disease, *every* member of the family “has” that disease, to a lesser extent, and they’ll need to get out and have a break from it.

[4] Although, being all-knowing and such, this deity already knows the illness I have and what I need to recover from/deal with it – right? – and shouldn’t need you to beg about it.

[5] “Petitionary prayer is a specific form of prayer aimed at making requests of God….for answers to life’s questions and concerns….also pleas for God to be the sole responsible agent to act on behalf of the one who is praying. Petitionary prayers can be offered on a small and personal scale for oneself or for others, or they may involve requests on a larger scale that concern changing undesirable circumstances within society or, indeed, the world as a whole. ”   (Center for christogenesis)

“Traditional theists believe that there exists an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly loving, and perfectly good God. They also believe that God created the world, sustains it in being from moment to moment, and providentially guides all events, in accordance with a plan, towards a good ending. Historically, most traditional theists have believed that God sometimes answers prayers for particular things…..these prayers are referred to as ‘petitionary prayers’…. (Oxford Handbooks online, “Petitionary prayer” abstract introduction.)

[6] Nor will you have to deal with the cognitive dissonance which will arise when, despite knowing that Jesus is quoted as declaring (in Matthew 18:19), “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven,” and despite you and a friend agreeing that BillyBob should be cured of his Necrotizing Fasciitis and thus y’all consistently and sincerely pray for this to happen, BillyBob continues to suffer horribly, then dies.

[7] As best as I can remember (apologies for any misattributions).

[8] Kudos for those of you who made it past the first verse.

The NDR I’m Not Signing

Comments Off on The NDR I’m Not Signing

Department Of Things That Will – Or Should – Blow Your Mind

Did you know that the post-slavery, Jim Crow Law society of the USA served as a model for the Nazis’ system of establishing “racial/Aryan purity”?

“It turned out that German eugenicists were in continuing dialogue with American eugenicists. Books by American eugenicists were big sellers in Germany in the years leading up to the Third Reich….of course, the Nazis needed no one to teach them how to hate. But what they did was they sent researchers to study America’s Jim Crow laws. They actually sent researchers to America to study how Americans had subjugated African Americans, what would be considered the subordinated caste. And they actually debated and consulted American law as they were devising the Nuremberg Laws. ”    [1]

( “It’s More Than Racism: Isabel Wilkerson Explains America’s ‘Caste’ System,”
Fresh Air, 8-4-20 )

 

“Captain, you’re shitting me, I mean, fascinating….”

 

In her recent Fresh Air interview with host Terry Gross, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson spoke about discovering, while researching her latest book, that Nazi Germany modeled their system of codified racism in part on (what Wilkerson calls) America’s racial caste system.  Wilkerson suggests that we look at America as having created a caste system (as opposed to using the overused and often misapplied blanket term of “racism”) to keep down African Americans.

T. GROSS:
In the comparisons that you make between the Nazi regime and the caste system in America, you describe…what qualified in each country as being white…. Would you compare the two countries in defining that?

WILKERSON:
Well, that was a source of tremendous debate, I came to discover. I had no idea how they (the Nazis) had arrived at their delineation of people. And they sent people to study the United States and how it had defined and codified, categorized and subjugated African Americans and delineated who could be what in the United States. They also studied the marriage laws – intermarriage laws. And in doing so, they debated as to who should qualify to be considered Aryan in Germany at that time.
And in studying the United States, they were stunned to have discovered the one-drop rule that was the common distinction in the United States for determining whether a person could be identified as Black…. That idea of the one-drop rule – that was viewed as too extreme to them.

T. GROSS (incredulously):
Too extreme to the Nazis?

WILKERSON:
Stunning to hear that…stunning to see that, stunning to discover that. The Nazis, in trying to create their own caste system…went to great lengths to really think hard about who should qualify as Aryan because they felt that they wanted to include as many people as they possibly could, ironically enough.
In trying to define who could qualify to be Aryan, the Nazis were more concerned about making sure that those who had Aryan blood would be protected…. They actually had greater latitude in defining who could be Aryan and who would qualify as Jewish than the United States had determined with who could be African American or who could be white.

 

 

Too extreme to the Nazis?

Terry Gross’s reaction keeps coming back to moiself

Once again, historical scholars and journalists are doing fascinating research, bringing to the forefront information and historical documentation, via sources and materials readily available, that we Americans are just not taught in school – or anywhere else.

Another intriguing quote from the interview is from when Gross and Wilkerson were discussing the fact that “the idea of being white is an American innovation.”

T. GROSS:
You were talking to a Nigerian-born playwright, and that playwright told you there are no Black people in Africa…. Africans aren’t Black.
What did they mean?

To find out what that playwright meant, and how Wilkerson came to believe that “caste” is a more accurate description of Black people’s experience in the USA than racism, listen to the interview (or get the transcript here).

*   *   *

Department Of How’s This For A Life Strategy?

*  Live your life so that you never have a reason to request even one non-disclosure agreement, from anyone, ever. *  

For decades, (He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Space ) has relied on broadly worded nondisclosure agreements as a powerful weapon against anyone who would say something critical of him. Among those who have signed agreements are a porn star, two ex-wives, contestants on “The Apprentice,” campaign workers and business associates….

Now, in one of the most sweeping efforts by a former associate to undo nondisclosure agreements, the _____ campaign’s former Hispanic outreach director last week filed her latest effort in a class-action suit to void all such campaign contracts. She says they are so broad that they deny individuals their First Amendment right to say anything critical of the president — even as he routinely takes to Twitter to mock and deride his critics.

(The Washington Post, 8-7-20, “t**** long has relied on nondisclosure deals to prevent criticism. That strategy may be unraveling.”)

 

*   *   *

Department Of Nostalgia

Sub Department Of Yet Another Reason To Fear For The Youth Of Today

What with virtual schooling perhaps being the norm at least for a while, combined with the gradual replacement of chalkboards with whiteboards in schools, will an entire generation of children grow up unable to appreciate the metaphor of describing a hideous experience as “…like fingernails on a chalkboard?”

 

 

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Department Of It Can’t Be Scarier Than Letting Them Drive

Y’all heard of the campaign to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds? 

 

 

Calm down, Grandpa, and think about it.

The goal of vote16usa.org  is
“…to support efforts to lower the voting age on the local level, help start new local campaigns, and elevate the issue’s prominence on a national level.”

This is something moiself  supports.  I hope that you will as well, after researching and considering the issues – like these ones:

Your child must file a return in any of the following situations for tax year 2019:
Unearned income was more than $1,100.
Earned income was more than $12,200.
( from Kids and Taxes, figures for 2019 filing year )

The 16-year-old with an after-school job and a paper route will have to pay income taxes, just as a part- or full-time employed 18-year-old must, if their incomes exceeds a certain amount.  But unlike the 18-year-old, the 16-year-old cannot vote for her political representative to decide tax policy.

Most of us are familiar the statistics behind auto driving:

* Over 37,000 Americans die in automobile crashes per year.
* An additional 3 million are injured or disabled annually.

Driving is quite the responsibility.  Yet, a 16-year-old can get a driver’s license and also, at the DMV, can sign a legally binding consent to be on an organ donor registry.  But he himself cannot vote on how those life-altering policies (the licensing of drivers and organ donation) are implemented, nor can he elect representatives to do so for him.

 

No taxation without representation.  Remember that rallying cry?  [2]  Our political forebears fought an effin’ revolution over issues like that. It seems only fair that, if you can work a job and pay taxes, you should be able to vote.

Because of our culture’s fucked-up misunderstanding of the 2nd amendment  lively debate on issues surrounding firearms, 16- and 17-year-olds have the “right” to attend high schools where they must participate in active shooter drills, but they cannot vote in or out the adults who set national and state firearms policies (they are old enough to be murdered, but not to vote).

Do you remember how, after the Parkland High School shooting, many of the school’s students organized marches, and addressed their adult political representatives:

“Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.
(Parkland students say, ‘We are going to be the last mass shooting’,
Daily Journal Online)

Do you also remember how many adults, from news pundits to politicians, dissed the students for doing so?  Do you think politicians could so easily ignore those young voices if those same voices had the power to organize and vote them out of office?

 

 

One of the more common arguments older people give against lowering the voting age is their claim that 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t rational or informed enough to be involved in political decision making.

Seriously? What qualifies as “rational” or “informed-*enough,* given our populace? Do you know how many Americans over age 18 watch reality TV shows? At the height of its popularity, Here Comes Honey Boo-boo, arguably the worst reality show ever, drew 2.9 million viewers  (the show ran for two years, and was only cancelled when it was revealed that the mother of the show was dating a registered child sex offender) .  

Many 16- and 17-year-olds are more sensible and better informed on politics and social issues than adults thrice their age.  When I was in high school I ruefully noticed that so many of my peers – in particular, those of us in the journalism group, where being interested in and informed about currents events was both an attraction and a requirement – knew much more about politics and current events than most of our adult family members and even some of our teachers – a frustrating fact which was evidenced when we tried to initiate discussions of said events and the adults openly copped to being unfamiliar with the issues.

From my junior high – high school years, I can recall many a baffling dialogue with my parents, in which I tried to engage them on political issues – not just to express moiself’s  own thoughts; I genuinely wanted to hear their opinions.  I was almost always unable to satisfactorily do so, because they knew few (and sometimes no) specifics of the issues I wanted to discuss, from a local school board election to international criticism of USA policy on Vietnam.   And in some (read: too many) cases, they frankly admitted they just didn’t know and didn’t care… And yet, there were no “rational and informed” poll tests nor requirements they had to pass: by virtue of their age alone, they were able to register to vote and then go to the polls and cast their ballots on issues about which they knew or cared nothing, and/or elect other citizens who would make those decisions for them.

I used to advise religions that forbade female clergy, “Either ordain women or stop baptizing them.”  [3]   (For some reason, the various RC popes never took moiself’s  advice on that…or any other matter.).  Fair is fair.  If you’re old enough to pay taxes you’re old enough to vote for those people who make those tax policies.    [4]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thoughts That Wake Me Up At 3 AM.

2020: it is the present year, and also the term for normal visual acuity. When we say that someone “…has 2020 vision,” we are complementing that person’s accuracy of perception.

I began the year with optimism: maybe 2020 is the year when the collective WE ® will realize that international problems require international solutions.  How appropriate, moiself  dared to dream, if 2020 turned out to be the year when WE began to get our proverbial shit together!?

Now I despair that 2020 will be the year when we ultimately lost our sight.

The viral pandemic and the resulting medical economic and political upheaval have put other pressing issues on the back burner.  Speaking of burning, the most crucial of those issues is that we are burning the planet up – we are setting our own house on fire. Aside from our nation’s own pathetic excuse of non-leadership on this issue,  I don’t see any other international leader with the standing and influence (or, seemingly, the desire) to take point on this issue.

This is why leadership is so important — why leadership is a thing in the first place.  Because there are 7.7 fucking BILLION of us, and moiself  and my friends trying to “do our part” by never buying another plastic bag (“refuse, reuse, reduce, recycle, and other ways to reduce your carbon footprint”) may help save a sea turtle or two but it’s not gonna hack it in the long run.

It’s just too damn depressing. I need a baby sloth moment.

 

“Oh sure, you wanna talk about burning up? I live in a tropical jungle and y’all put me in flannel pajamas?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of My Phone Knows Me Too Well

Here is how my smart(ass) phone, at 3 am, translated my dictation of “Department Of Thoughts That Wake Me Up At 3 AM.”

“Department of farts that wake me up at 3 AM.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of You Can Pee In The Yard, But Don’t You Dare Enjoy It

Our across-the-street beach neighbor, JK and his wife CK,  [5]    live next to a house which is almost always rented out. This (edited) email from JK was in response to my giving him a “heads up” that my son K and his friends would be staying at our place last weekend:

You might have noticed the group of 11 staying at the rent house next door (rated for 8 occupancy)… black SUV and black pickup truck… the SUV arrived before the pickup truck guy (who had the key) arrived to open the house. The three (SUV) women tried the front door, to no avail, went around back, which started our dogs barking. I went out to the deck to see why the dogs were barking so viciously and got there just in time to see a woman hook her thumb into the back waistband of her yoga pants, pull them down and squat in the backyard between the fern and the picnic table. After a few seconds, presumably emptying her bladder, she stood up and pulled her yoga pants back up. It was obvious that she neglected to put her panties on that morning… yes, commando yoga pants. The three women got back in the SUV and headed south.

Upon hearing this story,  CK reported the event to the rental agency and the Manzanita Police. The black pickup truck arrived about 15 m after the SUV left;  the guy couldn’t figure out how to work the house key, and made the dogs bark again. He got on his phone and shortly drove off in the same direction as the SUV. When officer M arrived, he and I had a nice discussion about these events, and he agreed with my suspicion that the gals were just early, had to go NOW, and then decided to go to the beach. He also informed me that, according to Oregon law, peeing in the yard is not illegal but trespassing is. If the woman was part of the group renting the house, she’s entitled to do so (pee in the yard). As long as she’s not touching herself for pleasure.

My response to JK:
Thank you – this is hilarious.  As long as it’s not happening next door to us.  😉 Hey, good to know that, in Oregon, I can drop trou to pee, but not “pleasure” myself.  Does this law also extend to men?

JK:
Yes the law applies equally to both/all genders.  If you are on property that you do not own, you must have permission to be on the property.
The Oregon code states that a person has “… a reasonable expectation of privacy …” in a number of places including “… residences, yards of residences, …” and it makes no distinction between front or back yards. Exceptions are included for touching one’s privates for pleasure and “… causing arousal in others …”

You are correct to notice that this picture in no way relates to the above story…but do you really want a picture of a woman peeing in someone else’s yard?  [6]

 

*   *   *

May you never sign nor request others sign a non-disclosure agreement;
May we all continue to learn the parts of our national history which make us uncomfortable;
May you always have other options than having to pee in the yard;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry: :

 The Nuremberg Laws were antisemitic and racist laws in Nazi Germany…. The two laws were the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans and the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households, and the Reich Citizenship Law, which declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens. The remainder were classed as state subjects without any citizenship rights.

[2] And by remember I mean, from your American history class…not that you heard it personally.  I mean, moiself knows my readers tend to skew older, but not *that* old.

[3] Or stop cashing their checks.  Now I just want women to stop writing those checks. Imagine what would happen to religious organizations if women stopped giving them time and money? I sometimes do, and I sleep better at night when I do.

[4] If you can’t, then you shouldn’t have to pay income taxes until you’re 18.

[5] Who gave me permission to share this story, in case you were wondering.

[6] And if your answer to that question is “Yes!” then please stop following moiself’s  blog.

The New Word I’m Not Defining

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

…for now.

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

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

All together now:

He who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Dreamed I Made Up A Word…

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

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of You’re Not Fooling Anybody

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

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

 

 

Yep; that’s how it begins.

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

Yet again, I digress.

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

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

 I winced in sympathetic embarrassment, just typing that. 

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

   *   *   *

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

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

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

I’ve little commentary…

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

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

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

[5]

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

The Vacation I’m Not Extending

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And yet, apparently, I am.

On what is usually my blog writing day I traveled to Someplace (r) , Somewhere (r), to do Something (r), and inadvertently left my laptop at home. I did manage to bring its power cord… Which is a nice, if useless, gesture on the part of my subconscious.

See y’all next week.

The Posts I’m Not Reading

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Although my number of FB contacts is growing at a moderate pace, the number of posts to my home page seems to be growing exponentially. Even so, it is taking moiself less time these days to do my read/nod/skim (of the posts) and say, move along.  The number of political posts re Cadet Bone Spurs and his band of (Global) Village Idiots….  I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. For. Very. Long.

I’m trusting (a hard thing for me to do, trust me  [1]  ) the FBI and investigative journalists (both here and internationally) to do their respective jobs. When I despair, I try to remember Watergate, and how long it took to detect, understand, and expose the Nixon administration’s tangled web of deceit, criminality and paranoia. In one of life’s many nasty paradoxes, it often seems to take only months for greed, incompetence, criminality, racism, misogyny, and treason to slime their way to the top, yet years to bring the purveyors of such to justice.

 

 

Note the date. The Watergate break-in was June 1972. It took more than two years of evidence-gathering, investigation and testimony….

 

 

*   *   *

A Blast From The Olympic Past

Dateline: Friday, February 23, NY Times sports section. My attention was captured by the following headline, for a story about a Public Address system announcer at the Winter Olympics being told to stop using French pronunciations for some of the Canadian hockey players:

Kerfuffle Erupts In Canada Over French Pronunciations

My first thought was, What a great name for a band I need a bit of help – not only am I wavering between just what music genre/kind of band would be most suitable, but the name itself…there are so many opportunities:

 

Kerfuffle Erupts

 

 

 

The Erupting Kerfuffles

 

They Might Be Erupting Kefuffles

 

 

The Artist Formerly Known as Kerfuffle Erupts

 

 

Bruce And the E- Street Kerfuffles

 

Stand by Your Erupting Kerfuffles

 

 

The Kerfuffle Family Eruptions

 

 

 

Please, somebody, stop me.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Fuck You, Coca-Cola  [2]

I know it’s nutritional rubbish, moiself would often acknowledge, even as I engaged in my longtime diet cola habit. I justified it because I didn’t have one every day, and when I did it was (usually, only) one a day, at lunch (if I was out for lunch, which I often was during the week and almost always on Saturday and Sunday). Besides, I liked it.  “Sodas” were a rare treat when I was growing up. I loved the taste, and especially the bubbles, the carbonation – and the flavor of mineral water  [3]  is, to moiself, what I imagine licking the sidewalk would taste like.

And the diet products…I justified them with, at least I’m not getting the over NINE TEASPOONS of sugar that’s in an average can of Pepsi or Coke.  Then came the mounting evidence against diet sodas, which indicates that people who drink them are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome – the latter of which is responsible for the seeming conundrum which is that consumption of diet drinks is linked to increased weight gain.

Yep, Evidence reared its fearsome head.

 

 

 

Knowledge is both power and willpower for me (even if it takes a while to sink in, when it comes to altering longtime habits).  It is difficult for me to not know something once I know it. The clincher for me, in my successful swearing off of the Soda Habit, was the Ick Factor ® realization that came with recent revelations: every time I consume a Diet Coke or its rival equivalent(s), I am supporting the soft drink beverage companies’ morally reprehensible – and disastrous, to public health – campaign of obfuscation and deception.

These revelations include that 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”  [4] 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. [5]

 

 

 

 

 

The evidence is out and, like diet soda drinkers’ waistlines, it is increasing. Whether due to health concerns, or the encroachment of beverages other than sodas into the market (or some combination of those and other factors), soda pop consumption in the US has been gradually declining…leading the soda beverage industry with a marketing challenge: How, in the face of increasing awareness that their products are a health sinkhole, can they keep pushing the young happy healthy looking people have even more fun drinking our fizzy stuff images?

Of course, beverage corporations are not the first to deal with this issue. Tobacco companies can no longer (directly) market their death-by-stick products as part of a carefree or even healthful lifestyle – they can’t even market them at all, in certain venues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But they can still, through print ads and entertainment placement – and with the unwitting [6]  cooperation of music and movie stars and other celebrities – try to play the Bad Ass Cool Card ®.  The ultra hip Rebel, defiant of convention and evidence, does what he wants to do simply because he wants to do it, his lungs (and your and my) air quality be damned.

Taking a page from the tobacco industry’s vile playbook is what likely spawned the insidious Diet Coke commercial which ran during NBC’s telecast of the Olympic Games. Did you see it? I was slack-jawed at the ad’s blatant yeah, so what?-ism   [7] – and by its tacit acknowledgement that drinking a Diet Coke is not a good thing to do, but c’mon, you know you want it (and the company really wants you to want it). It was a basic, up yours to health: have a Diet Coke because you can.

Here’s the thing about Diet Coke; it’s delicious. It makes me feel good.
Life is short; if you want to live in a yurt, yurt it up…
(from the Diet Coke ad,” ‘Because I Can’ Featuring Gillian Jacobs”)

I like it; it makes me feel good Protested every junkie, ever.

Oh, and the equating of “living in a yurt” with not falling for corporate propaganda and acting upon information and actually caring about what you put in your body?  The ad’s cynicism and anti-intellectualism is so transparent…and, sadly, it’s also probably effective.

The attractive, mildly-sarcastic-enough-to-be-cool-young-woman ®  all but blurts out that she knows she’s putting liquid shit in her body, but she wants to do so, so there – an attitude which  appeals to the 13 year old in all of us who wants to give a Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah to whatever authority is telling us to do (or not do) something.  Nice touch, Coke marketing douchebags.  [8]

The ad is titled, “The Diet Coke Ad ‘Because I Can’ Featuring Gillian Jacobs.  This leads me to assume I’m supposed to know who Gillian Jacobs is, other than the latest Pretty Young Thing Prostituting Herself for Her Ten Minutes of Fame Making A Buck Shilling A Product.

 

 

 

Young Lady, do your parents know of your low-class harlotry?

 

 

 

She’s most likely an actor…of some kind…appearing in some thing. I’ll waste neither precious time nor keyboard strokes Googling her.

I will, however, venture to waste keystrokes and do a cringe-worthy thing here: make a plea to y’all to stop buying and consuming the crap Coca-Cola et al are selling.  I’m talking baby steps here (at least, at first). If you are a soda junkie aficionado, please consider, maybe, giving it up when you dine out?  [9]  Water is the beverage our bodies need – order tea and/or coffee,  [10]  if you need to dress it up or just can’t imagine having “just water” with you meal.   [11]

Or, speaking of just, just do the math yourself: look up those reports I cited. After that, ask yourself why would you want to continue rewarding such atrocious behavior?

 

 

Book ’em, Danno: Criminal negligence and complicity in the second degree.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Guess Someone Was Running On Autopilot

Dateline: Sunday afternoon, at a grocery store’s express checkout line. It’s a busy day and the line is slow (express line?!  Fail); thus, I have a chance to observe the young checker-man. With every new customer, Young Checker-Man symmetrically and oh-so-briefly raises the corners of his mouth, like some AI approximation of a smile, as he asks them variations on the same questions (what kind of bag do they want, if they didn’t set their own in front of him, and do they play the store’s Monopoly game) before he dismisses them with Have a nice day.  I had only two bottles of sparkling juice, and when it was my turn I quickly and kindly told YC-M that I didn’t need a bag and did not play the store’s monopoly game, thank you. In the three seconds it took me to look down at my purse and extract my wallet I found that YC-M had double-bagged my items and given me three of the store’s Monopoly game tokens.

As the line was long behind me, I decided not to bring YC-M’s ignoring of my instructions to his attention.  Still, I couldn’t resist one more test to his attentiveness. As YC-M cheerlessly instructed me to Have A Nice Day I chirped, “No thanks, I have other plans.”

He didn’t even blink.

 

We give you a bag, whether you want one or not. It’s what we do.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you always have other plans;
May you develop a (non-life-threatening) allergy – ethical or physical – to soda pop;
May you appreciate a kerfuffle worthy of the Olympic games;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Methinks I need to rephrase that.

[2] and PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper/Snapple and….

[3] Often suggested by friends and acquaintances as an alternative to soft drinks.

[4] 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.”

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

[6] I’m sorry to imply there is any association with any variation of the word wit with the word celebrities.

[7] But really, I shouldn’t have been.

[8] The Los Angeles office of the ad agency Anomaly and Ogilvy & Mather.

[9] Dining out is, according to one doctor I talked to years ago, when most people consume sodas. I’m not sure that this is true anymore (maybe it never was)…but it would be a start, to quit association soda consumption with the “treat” of going out to eat.

[10] Or, of course, a yummy Oregon Pinor Noir.

[11] The beverage and restaurant industries have worked for years to insure we feel somehow inadequate for having “only” water with our meals.

The Connections I’m Not Calling

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Department Of Random Ideas Which If Implemented By The Right People
Could Turn Out To Be A Groovy Thing

Calling all the Music Industry Connections I have:  [1] please do pass along the following suggestion to Ms. Bonnie Raitt.

Background: I’ve always loved the music of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song Free Bird, even as I’ve found the lyrics to be annoying (as in, whiney).  [2]   In a Flash of Insight ® …

 

 

Yeah, kinda like this.

 

 

 

 

I had this week (while guess what song was playing on the radio?), I realized how the song could be redeemed, for moiself:  if Bonnie Raitt did a cover of it.

Ms. Raitt, are you listening? If so, please give us music-living mere mortals something to talk about  (sorry) and work your magic. Couldya wouldya, please oh please or please?

Or if not, could you please find an excuse to get Dennis Quaid out of his sly sexy devil semi-retirement and the two of you could do another flirty, Thing Called Love-ish video?

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Damage To Our Selves, Our International Reputation,
Our Environment And Civil Rights And Women’s Rights
And Basic Human Decency 
Is Almost Worth It…

…to hear an actual patriot/worthwhile human being, in this case Senator Tammy Duckworth   [3], have the opportunity to respond to The Cheetos Hitler’s treacherous oral spew. Here, in a series of tweets, Sen. Duckworth drops the mic on #45’s latest:  [4]

We don’t live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore an oath—in the military and in the Senate—to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.

Thankfully, there are better quotes from better Republican Presidents. Here’s one from Theodore Roosevelt—a Republican who earned the applause he received—that Trump might want to consider:

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of On Second Thought

Hyperbole, schmerbole – I realize that nothing is worth the damage to ourselves, our international reputation, our environment and civil rights and women’s rights and basic human decency and and and and and and…

and I apologize for, in a moment of trying to find the silver lining in the megaton dumpster of shit coming out of the White House, implying that the relentless opportunities for mockery provided by Cadet Bone Spurs is almost worth…anything.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Well That’s Enough About That   [5]

Ever seen something so cute you just wanted to puke a stream of 100% proof  [6]  blood sugar?

Dateline: earlier this week, in a Trader Joe’s . I’m pushing my cart down the aisle when I hear a little girl’s yelp of delight.  The high-pitched voice belonged to a half-pint-sized dynamo who raced around the corner of the aisle to stand in front of, and point at, a shelf with various apple- and fruit sauce mixtures. She looked over her shoulder, toward (what I presumed, and later confirmed) her mother’s shopping cart, the edge of which I could just make out jutting from another (intersecting) aisle. The pitch of the girl’s voice and size of her body made me think like she couldn’t have been more than three years old, but what came out of her mouth was beyond precocious.

“I think we should get this one!” The girl jabbed her finger upward, indicating a jar of apple-carrot sauce mixture, and her tone changed from excited to reassuring. “Now, I’m not saying I don’t like the other one,” she pointed to the regular, apples-only applesauce, “but I think this one would be much healthier, Mom.”

 

 

I don’t have a picture of the girl, but she was about this cute.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Movies I’m Not Critiquing

Except of course, when I am.

I saw a multiplex extra jumbo popcorn-sized jug full of good films this past year. Thus, it’s going to be difficult for me to root for my favorites when it comes to Academy Awards time.

As always, I am trying to see all (or as many as I can) of the films which have been nominated in the “big” categories (Best: Picture, Director, Lead and Supporting Acting, screenplay original and adapted).  Once again, it is likely moiself will fail in that endeavor, but I think this year I’ll come close to seeing most of them.

The favorites I’ve seen in the past ~ 14 months include:

– The Shape of Water
– Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
– Wind River
– Lady Bird
– Get Out
– The Big Sick
– The Post
– I, Tonya
– Wonder Woman
– Battle of the Sexes
– Hidden Figures
– The Disaster Artist
– Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how my list compares with the Oscar Best Picture nominees, which are:

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I have yet to See Call Me By Your Name or Darkest Hour, but plan on seeing both movies. I saw Dunkirk and Phantom Thread, but they did not make my list of favorites. (I wish one of the two war flicks [Dunkirk or Darkest Hour] and Phantom Thread could trade award consideration places with Wind River and/or The Big Sick).

Right now, my choice of best picture is between about five of the films up for the Oscar.  I could force myself to narrow it down to two choices, each of which is representative of the two classifications into which I can sort almost any movie I deem worthy of seeing:

(1) that which portrays an alternative and yet somehow believable or at least captivating reality (as in, The Shape of Water);

(2) that which presents a reflection of reality which, while fictional, is remarkable and poignant in both its narrative and character development/believability (as in, Lady Bird).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie buddy and dear friend CC and I have often discussed how our judgment of the movies we like are based on not so much the immediate reactions, but those which stick with us – the movies that have you going over and defining to yourself, for days or even weeks afterward, what you saw and how you felt, as well as what you think the movie’s creators were trying to get you to see and/or feel. (Wind River, Three Billboards… and The Big Sick, for example).

The small moments of character revelation, the big u-turn in plot, all the elements which cause you to turn to the side, locking eyes or exchanging a knowing nod (or an eyebrow raising WTF?!?!?) – yes, even in the dark, with your friend or family member, or a total stranger….

Have more fun this year. See more movies. Get out of your house and off of your couch and mingle with your fellow bipeds, even if just for a couple of hours.

Yep, this is an unabashed promotion for the theater-going experience.  [7] A tragedy is more keenly felt, a documentary is more riveting, a comedy is funnier, when you’re gasping or laughing (or crying) with company. Two thumbs up for sitting with strangers in the dark.

 

 

 

Strangers…or maybe friends you haven’t met yet.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Want To Know Before I Die,
But I Don’t Want To Find Out And Then Die, Like, Right Away

Can anyone tell me what exactly is the pompatus of love.

I refer to the song lyric, and not the movie with the same idiotic title.

Every once in a while I think about things like this.  [8]   Not that I want to take all the mystery of life….

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

May you avoid puking (anything, for any reason) in the aisles of Trader Joes;
May the pompatus of love warm the cockles of your heart;
May you bond, however temporarily, with strangers in the dark, over a good movie;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] How many ways can you spell none?

[2] Dude, grow up and change, if your lack of it is causing you problems, or if it’s fine then just stop complaining about how you can’t – what are you, five years old?

[3] She of multiple honorable identities, including military veteran and helicopter pilot (who lost both legs in combat); first Asian American elected to Congress in Illinois and first disabled woman elected to Congress.

[4] This time, calling those who did not applaud during his self-congratulatory deluded ramblings State of the Union speech “treasonous.”

[5] Which was my father’s go to phrase when you were getting into conversational territory in which he didn’t want to tread…even when such territory was entered, honestly and directly, in response to a question he had asked you.

[6] Or however the stuff is measured.

[7] Although I’m talkin’ movies here, this includes live theatre – plays and musicals – of which I am also a big fan.

[8] Usually when moiself is trying to avoid thinking about something more consequential.

The Lefse I’m Not Rolling

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For almost three decades many years, on the second Wednesday in December, I have hosted a Ladies Lefse Party  [1], as mentioned here and here and here and….  And yes, the soiree was Ladyfolk only, much to the chagrin of the Many Fine Gentlemen I Know Who Also Like To Make Lefse. ®  [2]   

 

 

“This is how we roll, homie.”

Norwegian Americans – does this culture know from fun, or what?  [3]

 

There was no Ladies Lefse Party last year – not in my house, that is (Ægir only knows what sordid celebrations were held in the nether neighborhoods of Minnesota  [4]).  I had the privilege of recognizing I needed to take (and being able to do so) a control-alt-delete sabbatical (as written about here ) which I did…or tried to do…in early-mid December.

December 2016 turned out to be quite the month for tempests, both meteorological and personal.  Winter storm Caly brought snow/ice/freezing rain to regions of NW Oregon which rarely get such extreme weather and thus aren’t equipped to adequately deal with it (read: power outages, road closures, accidents, flight cancellations….).  I returned early from my sabbatical to work around the weather re scheduling travel to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend/ mentor/former employer…just as my mother’s health precipitously deteriorated.  Coordinating with my other siblings’ visits to our mother’s home (Santa Ana, CA) I booked another flight: for the day after Christmas. 

I found out early Christmas morning, minutes before K arrived to open stockings and presents with MH and Belle and I, that my mother had died late the previous evening (my mother’s live-in caretaker wanted to spare us the sad news on Christmas Eve.).

 

 

 

 

 

A few months ago, looking ahead to the holiday season, I was anticipating the lefse party.  Now I ‘m thinking, give it one more year It’s good to take a break from the usual routines every now and then – even from those which bring you great joy – if only because doing so makes you more appreciative when you resume them. This is what I tell myself. However, all I know right now is this: it makes me feel sad to realize that I will not be able to call my mother after the party. No matter how foggy and/or fearful her brain could be in the last years of her life, she always perked up when I told her about the lefse parties. She was able to follow the narrative and share stories and recollections of her own. I think – I hope – the distance of another year will enable the fond memories to mute the bouts of heartache.   

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Nothing Like Dissing White Trash  [5]
To Segue From A Poignant Topic

 

Dateline: Wednesday morning, out walking at 7 am. Heading for a neighborhood park, I pass the house that always has at least three or four muscle cars parked in the driveway and/or on the lawn.  I arrive just as one of the cars is being warmed up by its driver, who revs the engine, over and over (the resulting cacophony is surely appreciated by the neighbors).  Plumes of gray-white smoke chortle, pop and chug from the car’s custom, over-sized tailpipe, and I think, So, when the driver’s a flaming asshole he makes sure his car has one, too?

The unmuffled engine farts increases as the driver backs down the driveway and shifts into first gear. I am tempted to chase after the car and tap on the window with my walking pole. In my brief but oh-so satisfying fantasy, the driver stops the car,  rolls down the window, and I inform him, with a look of grave concern on my face, “Excuse me, sir, but there is obviously something really wrong with your dick car.”

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can’t Make Up This Shit
Installment 346.5

 

 “There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today….. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
(Angela Lansbury says women must ‘sometimes take blame’ for sexual harassment,
CNN, 11-28-17)

 

Oh, ick.

Or, to play on the title of Lansbury’s most famous acting gig, Horseshit, She Said.

When I first saw Lansbury’s name trending in social media, moiself thought that yet another formerly bright star was going to be featured in the upcoming Emmy, Tony and Academy Awards roll call of the dead.  Turns out…not. Unless those shows also decide to run a tribute for the brain-dead.

 

 

Oh, that’s just mean.

 

 

 

Actually, I’m going easy here.

Ever have that reaction where you cringe in embarrassment for someone else, when you read about what that Someone Else has said or done?  Please, Angela darling, a follow-up: the world eagerly awaits your opinion as to how sexual assault victims, from three year old girls to 94 year old retired nuns in nursing homes, can own up to “the fact” that their efforts to “make themselves attractive” backfired.

Angela Lansbury, the (formerly?) beloved stage, film and television (Murder, She Wrote) actor, is 92. She’ll be given – rightly, perhaps – a certain amount of slack for the mind-jaw-bobbling-ignorance-revealing statements she made, in an interview with a British magazine, about the Hollywood sexual assault and harassment scandals. And I’m not going to read any of the excuses, because I can pretty much guess what they’ll sound like:

Oh this is so pathetic but remember, she’s 92; she’s from another era; she’s really old; she’s a prime example of just how entrenched misogyny and the patriarchy are; she’s in her 90s; she’s from a time where women had to look the other way and *not* rock the boat if they wanted to get ahead…and did I mention how old she is?

As to the shit I can’t make up: guess what Ms. Lansbury’s first film role was? It couldn’t be the one about a woman who is manipulated so persistently and successfully by a man she trusts that she begins to doubt what is all around her? Yep; it was Gaslight.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Even More Puerile Entertainment

During the last few weeks MH and I have been going to furniture stores, checking out their various counter stools/bar chair models. Last Sunday eve, as we wandered the aisles of Dania[6] I confessed to MH that when we are at such venues and are inevitably approached [7]  by a salesperson who asks, “May I be of assistance?” I’m having a hard time refraining from replying, “We’d like to see your stool samples.”

 

 

That’s so im-ma-chur I could barf.

*   *   *

 

May your age never excuse your ignorance;
May the size of your car’s tailpipe reflect your acceptance of your attributes;
May your immature thoughts be the delight (or bane) of furniture salespeople;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Tortilla; chapatti; matzoh; lavash; injera…flatbreads are common throughout the world. Lefse, the Norwegian flatbread, is made from potatoes and flour.

[2] And who, like so many of the fine men I know, never organize their own such parties, but just complain about not being invited to the women’s gigs.

[3] Fortunately, the Irish half of me is dominant.

[4] Ægir  is the Norse god of partying.

[5]  I realize many people are offended by that label. However, analogous to African-Americans who use the N-word, I come from a long line of WT and thus feel entitled to apply the epithet judiciously.

[6] Where we purchased a Really Cool Lamp ® on sale…but nothing else.

[7] Why are there no more footnotes?

The Friendly Skies I’m Not Flying

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Department Of This Never Would Have Happened On Alaska Airlines

Ah, United Airlines, where customer service goes to die.

Unless y’all have recently emerged from a persistent vegetative state, it is likely you are familiar with recent headlines along the lines of

* Two Girls Barred from United Flight For Wearing Leggings

* Passengers ‘shaky and so disgusted’ as United forces screaming doctor off a plane

 

 

 

Once again, the internet comes to the rescue: satire wafts from the ashes of tragedy and shame, as per these new slogans people have suggested for United Airlines:

* United Airlines: You Carry On, We Carry Off.

* United Airlines: The Captain Has Turned On The No Passenger Sign.

* United Airlines: Other Flights Have Cabin Crews. We Have Bouncers.

* United Airlines: Board As a Doctor, Leave As a Patient.

* United Airlines: You Can Run But You Cannot Fly.

* United Airlines: Would You Like a Neck Pillow or a Neck Brace?

* United Airlines:  If We Overbook You’ll Catch a Right Hook.

* United Airlines: Now Serving Punch.

* United Airlines:  Tell Us Your Safe Word At Check-in.

* United Airlines: We Have First Class, Business Class, and No Class.

* United Airlines: We’ll Drag You All Over The World.

 

Years ago (decades, actually) I stopped voluntarily [1] flying United Airlines, due to what I perceived as their cattle-car treatment of passengers. As for the (latest) incident, it is turd-twirlingly mind-scrambling to think of how many ways United fucked up.

I recall standing in an airline’s boarding area, listening to the announcement that the flight is full, and wishing I’d hear a, We’ve-overbooked-would-anyone-volunteer-their-seat-for-the-following-compensation? announcement, because although it would inconvenience me it was the one time when I could have taken the free trip anywhere plus hotel voucher and rebooked for a later flight to my destination.

I can recall many more times when I have heard the, We’ve overbooked announcement but could not take the offer because I really had to be at a certain some place at a certain time. Being at a certain place by a certain time is why I had booked that particular flight – why 99.9% of passengers book any flights – in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

Flying hasn’t been fun, or even a mildly pleasurable form of transportation, for years. Unless you can manage/afford to fly first class you’re basically boarding a bus with wings after having the write-home-to-grandma experience of the bus station employees giving you a body cavity search. People generally don’t book airline flights on a whim; they book a particular flight because they need to get to a particular place by a particular time. Thus, it is understandable that the United flight in question had no takers when the pilot or whomever announced that they’d overbooked the flight and needed four seats for their standby crew.

According to the news stories, the give-up-your-seat offer was $400 and a night at a hotel – no takers. United upped the cash to $800 – still no takers. Then a manager came on board the plane and announced that a computer would randomly select four people to be kicked off de-boarded.

Now then: why did United wait until the plane was already boarded to make the announcement/do the selection? We’re supposed to believe they didn’t know until the very last minute about the standby flight crew wanting a ride, or just didn’t announce it until later? Everyone knows you do the, We’re overbooked thing while passengers are still in the airport, impatiently milling about the gate – you do this BEFORE boarding the damn  plane, to save time/avoid hassle and embarrassment of having to de-board already boarded passengers. Major Fuckup #1.

Major Fuckup #2 – No takers on getting people to surrender a seat they’ve already paid for? You keep upping the amount until someone agrees to reschedule their flight. Sweeten the pot enough, eventually, someone will accept the offer.  By overbooking in the first place, you, the airline, have screwed this up, so you’re going to have to suck it up financially  in order to get someone to give up their seat.

Major Fuckup #3: random selection by computer may sound like the fairest option in a bad situation, but such measures will always need human triage, in the form of oversight and tweaking. What if the computer selects a single parent traveling with minor children, which would leave the children flying alone? Nope; move on to the next roll of the dice.  A person with a disability which makes boarding problematic, or a frail, easily confused elderly man flying with his attendant? Move on to someone else. A shell-shocked woman who is rushing to be with her mother after the sudden and unexpected death of her father,  [2] or a physician who has patients to treat…. The human components of reviewing circumstances and applying compassion must overrule random selection.

I’ll stop at that. In this era of instantaneous Twitter posts passing for reporting, the incident is already old news by now. Other minds more articulate and reflective than mine will continue to investigate and dissect the incident…but knowing this does not “un-rattle” me about what happened. It so Did Not Have To Be That Way. ®

 

 

May I show you our complimentary involuntary deplaning menu items?

*   *   *

Department Of That WooWoo That You Do So Well  [3]

Do you want to try something “woo” this Friday?

This is how I text-invited MH, last Wednesday, to an event about which I knew next to nothing. When I Googled What is a Crystal Sound Bath one of the first descriptions I ran across contained the advice to “…think of it as a woo-woo horizontal concert.”

The event, held at the yoga studio where I take classes, had the following description on the studio’s website:

“Come join us for an evening of sound healing and relaxation. A crystal bowl sound bath offers the participant the ability to completely release any stress or tension in the mind and body allowing one to relax, balance, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
During this sound bath the participant will relax comfortably on their back, while the sounds and resonance of the pure crystal bowls engulf the room and move through and around you; feeling like an energetic massage from the inside out.”

It’s not like the crystal bowls resonate themselves…which you might wonder after reading that lacking-in-some-essential-details-description. There was a person, [4]  a self-described “musical artist”  [5]  playing the crystal bowls, and also drums and chimes and a few other percussion-type objects, while attendees were supine, eyes closed, on yoga mats.

I did find it a most pleasant and relaxing way to spend an hour. Bonus woo: the entertainment value of the “sharing” afterwards of participants’ experiences, wherein MH and I had an unspoken pact not to make eye contact when a very few other participants hopped the Woo Train and shared their experiences, including one person who claimed to have opened her eyes at one point and seeing – not imagining nor hallucinating, but seeing – “ethereal beings hovering” over the people in the studio…

 

 

 

Ahem, ’twas BEINGS hovering, she said….

 

 

 

…while the sound of chimes engulfed the room.

Crystal Sound Bath.  I figured out the bath reference – one’s body is “bathed” in the sensation of sounds. Although when I first heard the term Crystal Sound Bath, for some reason I pictured moiself sitting in a really large bathtub with other participants and a guy holding one of those crystal bowls. Which, of course, took me right back to a tune from long ago.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.
My how interesting – move over, boys.

BTW, if anyone can help me identify the novelty song  from whence those ever-so-lightly-naughty lyrics stem (a song played on the Dr. Demento radio show), you will have my eternal gratitude.  [6]   Thanking you in advance, I offer this Dr. D all time-favorite, for your listening pleasure:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes It Hits Me With No Warning

Dateline: Saturday morning. While exercising, I looked out at the window to our backyard, surveying the remnants of the wind apocalypse that hit northwest Oregon from the coast to the Columbia Gorge last Friday. Just for a moment, I thought, in the present tense, I can’t wait to tell Mom about this.

The weather – that most bland, mundane and seemingly impersonal of subjects – was actually one of the best thing to talk about with my mother in her later (Read: “declining”) years. Mom loved hearing about the rain, or the glorious autumn foliage, or first sunny day in Spring and the unexpected snowstorm to blanket the Portland  area. She in turn seemed to enjoy sharing details of the latest (read: ongoing) drought in SoCal, the same weather she’d told me about the previous week.

In her last two years, all conversational roads with my mother circled around and back to the weather.  It was her way of keeping grounded, of telling me how she was doing, when the simple, basic “How are you doing/what’s up with you?” conversational queries were no longer so simple.   [7].

When she couldn’t remember the names of my children; when she couldn’t remember her own age or how many children she had or the fact that she was living in Southern California and not Minnesota or that she was talking with me and not another of my sisters, or that her husband was not with her because he had died and not deserted her – or if she could remember just enough to know that she was forgetful ,and was physically and cognitively deteriorating, which made her fearful – she could still understand and appreciate the weather.

Oh, tell me about it! Do you think you’ll get more ____ (rain, snow, wind, sunshine)? We really need the rain down here, even though, as you know, I love the sun….

And so on Saturday morning, for the briefest of moments, I was happy thinking about my next phone call to her – happy to have a “safe” topic to share…followed by my brain’s gut-clenching reminder to my heart that I now have no obligation – nor opportunity –  to share the weather report with my mother, who died last Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

Marion Parnell, in the days when she didn’t have to pretend to care about the weather.

 

 

*   *   *

May all your airplane de-boardings be voluntary;
May your sound baths be as woo-filled or wee-free as you like;
May you never lack for safe topics to share with your loved ones;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I have flown United once since making that vow; on a flight booked by someone else.

[2] I have been that passenger, and can’t imagine the additional heartache of being “randomly selected” to be thrown off the plane.

[3] If you’re too young to get the Frank Sinatra lyrical reference, just keep that to yourself, okay?

[4] A yoga teacher and “healer” type person specializing in “energy work.” Yeah, MH and I cringed a bit, but he was quite nice.

[5] As in, neither true musician or artist?

[6] Could it be The Moustache Song  (sp?)?  Here is a sample, but where is the entire song?  a sample here…where is the song? And no, not the one from that A Million Ways to Die in the West movie.

[7] Such questions are not recommended – in fact, they can be (unintentionally) cruel – for people suffering from memory impairment.

The Heritage I’m Not Claiming

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I’d given up on attending Christmas-themed theatrical performances – at least, the ones which (theoretically) are comedies. The disaster that was A Tuna Christmas has become legend in my family. Several years ago MH got our family tickets for a Portland performance of the play, at my request, as a family outing for my birthday. When intermission was announced and everyone in the theatre stood up to stretch their legs and find the bathroom, I turned to son K, who was standing beside me, and asked, “Would you be disappointed if we left now?”

Oh, Mom, K gushed, hugging me so hard I almost toppled out of the balcony, “I’m so glad you feel that way!” His enthusiasm quickly spread to daughter Belle and MH, who, as it turned out, were all equally unimpressed with the play. We’d each been sitting there, thinking the same thing (this play sucks), each of us thinking we were the only one who felt that way….

There are few worse forms of entertainment than unfunny comedies, especially those that present themselves as satire and/or farces. The series of Greater Tuna plays – set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas and described as satirical yet affectionate take-offs on small-town, Southern life and attitudes – are, IMHO, a prime example of that phenomenon.

I suppose…I can maybe imagine…how, in the early 1980s, the sight of two gay men portraying a play’s twenty-plus cast members, including elderly female characters, was considered to be thigh-slappin,’ boot-stompin’, side-splittin’ hi-larious. For some folks. [1]

Moiself? I found it dated, and, worst of all – take it away, Joanne Worley – 

 

 

BOOOOOORRRRRRING!

 

 

Last Sunday I decided to give the Christmas Comedy one more try, thanks to local theatre company Bag & Baggage.  Because nothing says holiday spirit like the description of their one time cabaret event, Drunk as the Dickens:

Five of our Resident Actors will start drinking at 5:00pm. We will pull as many vaguely Victorian costumes as our drunken hands can carry, and then head over to Clark’s Bistro and Pub where, at 8:00pm, we will make them pull their characters from out of Scrooge’s nightcap, hand them a 1 hour(ish) version of A Christmas Carol and see if any of them can read while hammered. What could possibly go wrong?

*   *   *

Speaking of Christmas….

 

Annual Holiday History Lecture Reminder To The War On Christmas Imbeciles Bunch

 

 

 

The more fundamentalist the believer, the more ignorant they seem to be re a fundamental truth behind their religious observances: “Christian” holidays, in particular the biggies (Christmas and Easter), began as pagan festivals. Christmas belongs to and was in fact originated by pagans. Christians just changed your own history and renamed the festivities. However, in the true spirit of generosity, we heathens are happy to share the jolly season with one and all. As per these self-plagiarisms excerpts from my previous blogs:

  The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  [2]  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.  [3]

 

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

Heretics/apostates non-Christians We happy heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t like a party/celebration, for any reason? We who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with any religious folk – sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they acknowledge the fact that the ways we celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas tradition” that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism. [4]  A celebration in the depths of winter, at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north, is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked, actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all of the seasons.

 

 

 

Our names for the days of the week come from religions predating Christianity. The Greeks named the days week after the sun, the moon and the five (at the time) known planets which they’d named after their gods… then the Romans substituted their equivalent gods, followed by the Germanic, Norse and Celtic peoples. For example, Thursday comes from Thor’s-day, Friday from variants on Frigg’s and Freya’s Day, Saturday from Saturn’s Day….

The god Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  [5]  My calling that day Wednesday doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship, or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

 

 

“Go smite the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”

 

 

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.   [6]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or around December 25 included HorisHuitzilopochtliIsisMithrasMardukOsirisSerapis and Sol.)   [7] 

When the Roman Catholics came to power and spread north from Rome, they encountered pagan practices that had gone on for thousands of years before the Popes decided to claim divine authority and subdue the illiterate masses by dressing like the bastard spawn of Elton John and Lady Gaga.

 

 

 

The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.   [8] Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the (Christian) church. Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the son-of-god.

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  [9] when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Is She Or Isn’t She

I’ve lost track of the number of times it’s happened to me. In a lecture hall at college; in a restaurant; while riding public transportation; with fellow travelers in a rowboat on Lake Bled in Slovenia….

It’s a combination of my reminding people of someone else, and/or my saying or doing something that makes people suspect (or even hope) that I might be one of their clan.

Are you Jewish? You’re Jewish – right?

It (the questioned ethnicity/group of origin in question) is almost always not the case, and I can’t help but be fascinated by why it matters to the person asking. The default explanation presented to me (by someone who once asked) is that if you are in the minority, in any way or group, you tend to notice [10] who might be one of your kind, so to speak.

Hands down, the majority of identity inquiries I’ve received have been about my being a member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Chosen People. But not exclusively. Other Are you _______?s have included gay/lesbian, Russian, Native American and – one of my favorites – Australian (hello?  Aussie accent, like, nonexistent?).

 

 

 

We don’t claim her, mate, now G’day and bugger off.

 

 

 

Most recently it happened at a seafood bistro, during last week’s sabbatical-of-sorts trip to the Oregon Coast.  It was a slow evening for the restaurant, and my waiter and I had established a chatty rapport.  Near the end of my meal, before he frightened me with the dessert tray,  [11]  and seemingly apropos of nothing, the waiter asked if I or any members of my family were French Canadian, or Cajun?

I told him that, to my DNA analysis-deficient knowledge, the only thing French about me was the attempt by certain relatives on my father’s side of the family to downplay their indigenous heritage (this was back when it wasn’t considered “cool” for white folks to claim Native American ancestry) by reassuring my maternal grandmother than the purported Chickasaw/Cherokee woman who’d married a Parnell man was “maybe just French.”

The waiter chuckled; I asked him why he wondered about my heritage. He replied that, physically and mannerisms-wise, I reminded him of several relatives on his mother’s side of the family, and also, specifically, his mother.

The waiter was at least my age (several years older, I’d bet).  Nevertheless, I told him I would take that as a compliment, and he left verbal skidmarks assuring me that, indeed, that is what the similarity was supposed to be.

I did not order dessert, but left a good tip. Monetarily ,that is. I refrained from leaving him another good tip: never tell a woman who is older than twenty that she reminds you of your mother.

 

*   *   *

May you never be forced to endure a humor-free comedy;
May you acknowledge the old traditions before creating your own;
May whatever tribes or traditions you claim bemuse the hell out of someone;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

Happy Saturnalia and Solstice and Yule and Merry Christmas and Boxing Day and Hanukkah and Kwaanza and Festivus and….

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like, say, your mildly homophobic grandparents.

[2] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[3] Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.

[4] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[5] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.

[6] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[7] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[8] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[9] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

[10] And in some cases/in some situations, it can be life-preserving to keep track of such things.

[11] Really, out of nowhere a ginormous dessert tray appeared by my side, and my being startled by it greatly amused my waiter.

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