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The Year I’m Not Rating

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Department of the In Between

Happy In-Between Week. ®    [1]

New Year’s Eve has always held both the threat and promise of merriment. And by threat I mean the anxiety arising from the suspicion that expectations can never be met, and the pressure that comes with the knowledge – actually, of course, the astoundingly incorrect assumption – that everyone else but me is having soooooooo much fun….

I’ve had some very enjoyable NYE’s, and some that really sucked.  Most have been satisfactory if not at least tolerable but, frankly, closer to the zenith of what I call the Lame-o-meter. (it goes by other names, too).

 

crap

 

One of the lamest of the lame occurred many years ago when I was living in The Bay Area. I’d received less than zero  [2] invitations to NYE’s events and I’d neither the time, money nor inclination to organize even the smallest of gatherings moiself.  All things considered, why not wallow in it? What might be one of the lamest things to do on a night generally considered to be full of promise and anticipation of exciting times to come?  I stayed home, polished an old chair (not even my chair;  [3] it belonged to the landlord) and watched that fucking ball drop in Times Square on one of those insipid, Wearisome Rockin’ New Year’s Eve shows.

That night has proven to be a shining beacon  [4] — a light leading to improvement in the years to come. Every year, no matter what lackluster plans I have or lack for NYE, I reminded myself, at least you’re not at home polishing someone else’s butt ugly furniture.

 

 

NYE

What time is it? Have I had fun yet?

*   *   *

Department Of Pubic Service Announcements

Thanks to my alert cousin and Idaho resident, DF, for passing along this vital information:

Please, take care of yourself out on the roads this New Year’s Eve.
A recent joint study conducted by the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related.
This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes who drink bottled water, coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and stuff like that.
So beware of those who do not drink alcohol – they cause three times as many accidents.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sudden Realizations

This is my last post for 2017.  Can’t decide if that’s worthy of this

 

sob

 

Or this

 

 

happyfacespider

 

 

Hint: when in doubt, always choose the Hawaiian happy face spider.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Righting Wrongs At The Last Minute

Can it be that I have almost let 2017 pass without having posted a single link to a screaming goat video?

 

 

 

 

You are so, so welcome.

*   *   *

May your New Year’s Eve activities be the envy of 1950’s valium-addicted housewives;
May your New Year’s resolutions be amusing if not attainable;
May you always appreciate the synergy of Bon Jovi hair music and screaming goats;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy New Year, y’all, and Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day.

[2] Not possible, yethinks? Oh you of little mathematical imagination. I’d received one invitation, which was later rescinded (don’t feel too sorry for me – the event was cancelled.  Or so I was told…hmmmm….)

[3] And polishing furniture, even my own? Something I Just. Don’t. Do.

[4] Or anemic bathroom night light, depending on my disposition.

The Sign I’m Not Posting

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Department Of Not Sure What To Call This

Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:

I think you might enjoy this.  Cameos by Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/700-foot-mountain-whipped-cream/

The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond,  features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.

I listened to a lot of radio back then, and can’t remember any of the ads featured in the episode. It’s beyond bizarre (both the ads, and the guy who’s obsessed with interested in them). The era of acid rock also had Frank Zappa recording the voiceover  [1] (with a young Linda Ronstadt contributing background vocals) for a men’s shaving commercial, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose White Rabbit was arguably the definitive psychedelic rock hit, doing a jingle for White Levi’s?

I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads. 

As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated.  “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”

It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials.  Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  [2]  during last year’s election cycle.

 

 

trumpsignjpg

 

 

I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  [3] or school board candidate.  In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard?  [4]

You’ve seen this sign.

 

 

inouramerica

 

Or, one of its variants.

 

 

inthishouse

 

 

 

I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….

 

 

DUH

 

Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….);  I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster.  And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?

To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements —  I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.

Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of

IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)

 

 

 

 

mrrogers

Not exactly the warmest welcome to the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it.  Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®,  would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.

Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G).  Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket.  [5] Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).

For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.

Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Looking Underneath The Tinsel  [6]

From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:

Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me

I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people

Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.

I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!” “So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?)  have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….

Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

 

Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.

 

 

 

 

winter

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial;
May your convictions go beyond your signage;
May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?

[2] Or window or car bumper or….

[3] I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial.  Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)

[4] This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.

[5] Okay; maybe it’s time for another metaphor.

[6] Do “young people” even know what tinsel is? Nobody uses tinsel anymore – I think it may even be banned.

The Hand I’m Not Raising

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Department Of Feeling Guilty In Yoga Class

The instructor began Monday’s class as she usually does – going around the studio room and having each student to give their name and briefly describe how they are feeling and/or list any pose requests or “anything that needs attention.”  (common responses include requests for core work, or poses targeting shoulders, or lower backs sore from weekend gardening sprees…)  One yogi  [1] requested something for “mood elevation.” As the instructor paused to consider the request, I could feel (in whatever part of my brain is responsible for involuntary movements) my arm beginning to rise. I quickly quashed my incipient pick me pick me hand-wave, because I realized I was about to blurt out, “I could tell you an elephant fart joke!”

Wisely, moiself kept that to myself. I didn’t want a fellow student to think I was mocking or in any way making light of her need for mood elevation…but I swear, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.

No doubt there are some exercises/yoga poses that might provide more long term mood ascension; still, when stuck in the here and now, how can you maintain a melancholy disposition when you hear an elephant fart joke?

 

 

elephantpose
This is “elephant’s trunk pose” (Eka Hasta Bhujasana).  Farting not necessary (but certainly appreciated).

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thank You For That Image Which Is Now Seared In My Brain

Two yoga class stories in one post?

Dateline: same day, same class.  [2] Our instructor led the class into utkatasana, aka, “chair pose,” and offered us this tip as for how to your weight back toward your feels while moving into the pose:

“…imagine you’re in one of those Porta potty’s,
and you don’t want to touch the seat…”

 

 

chairpose

This is chair pose.

 

notchair

This is not chair pose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Baby’s First Christmas  [3]

Dateline: Manzanita, Oregon, last weekend. Yeah, I know it’s a dog friendly town but…

Walking on west on the town’s main street, heading for the beach, a young married couple  [4] approached me, slowly walking east. The women held the leash of an enthusiastic black Labrador, while the man held the hand of a toddling toddler, who – wait for it – toddled very slowly beside him. The woman was pointing to various holiday decorations adoring street lamps and shop windows, saying in a sing-song, high-pitched, kindergartner teacher voice, Oh look at the bright star! Do you see the bright star? And there’s a wreath – that’s a Christmas wreath of lights. The man joins in, saying “See the sparkly lights?!”

I think, awww, how cute…until, observing the woman’s and then the man’s eyes as they gaze down adoringly at the smaller being in their midst look, I realize they are pointing out these sites to their dog, and not their child.

 

 

 

dogbaby

*   *   *

Department Of Just What I Want To Hear Before My Birthday

 

Heretofore friendly/perky checkout clerk at the store:

“Would you like some out with your items?”

Moiself:

“No, thank you…well…
only if you have some cute box boys who need something to do…”

Clerk (unsmilingly):

 “Oh, I’m afraid they’re way too young for you.”

Moiself, audibly:

“Hahahahahah have a nice day….”

 

Moiself, for my ears only:

“And by have a nice day I mean….

 

 

 

vowel

I’d like to buy a vowel….

*   *   *

Department Of Doing Double Duty

So, you need a new wallet. Why settle for a run of the mill, small folding case to hold paper money, your photo id, credit cards et al when you can have that which also functions as a personal enhancement device?

Laugh, will you? As usual, the unvarnished truth can be found online, in this case via a description for a wallet with seemingly magical powers:

It helps you become more attractive and glamorous. The compact and elegant styles of this wallet make you outstanding and unique from others.

 

 

wallet

Tell me again how my wallet makes me glamorous.

*   *   *

May your natural glamour and attractiveness be independent from your wallet style;
May the spirit of the holiday season prevent you from bitch-slapping humorless, impudent store clerks into next week;
May you find an excuse to share an elephant fart joke in yoga class;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Someone who does yoga.

[2] But, alas, no footnote.

[3] Also no footnote here. Move along, folks.

[4] I assumed. Referring to being married, not young. I mean, the young part was obvious.

The Elbow I’m Not Ignoring

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Department Of It’s About Fucking Time  [1]

“…the #MeToo movement represented the ‘fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.’ ”
(Time Magazine’s Editor-in Chief Edward Felsenthal, from in the NY Times article,
” ‘The Silence Breakers’ Named Time’s Person of the Year for 2017″)

 

 

Time person

 

 

 

About That Red-Circled Elbow

Along with the prominent women in the MeToo movement featured on the Time magazine cover, there is a woman whose face is obscured – as in, off camera. Only her right arm is visible. This a hospital worker Time magazine reporters spoke with, a woman “from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Editor Felsenthal said. The image is intended to symbolize women and men who have yet to come forward, or who wish to speak out but fear repercussions.

In an interview, Time National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow (only) image was deliberate:

“…a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward.”

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past

AKA, An Incident I Haven’t Thought About In A Long Time

 

Specifically, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man ® .

Dateline: one afternoon, a long time ago in a galaxy at a university far, far away ( UC Davis. )  I was on campus; my first morning class had let out and I had three or so hours before my next class’s midterm exam. Instead of returning to my (off-campus) apartment for lunch I decided to splurge  [2] and get a sandwich from the campus Coffee House and do my last minute studying the the exam on the campus Quad.  ‘Twas a glorious spring day; I could have easily spent several hours happily parked by a mini grove of fir trees on the acres of green grass, along with other students studying, eating, napping, or tossing a Frisbee back and forth…

 

 

UCDQuad

 

 

…but after about 45 minutes I had to move as I just couldn’t take it any more.

What had begun as a curiosity – what I thought at first was perhaps a stunt or prank – morphed from snarky entertainment into torture by seemingly infinite repetition.

A young man with curly, shoulder-length brown hair was riding a balloon-tire beach bicycle back and forth across the quad length, from north to south and then east to west, all the while singing the Gordon Lightfoot song, If You Could Read My Mind.  He didn’t sing the entire song,  only a portion of it:  [3]

I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

That’s it. Thirty-six words, which he kept repeating singing.  Over and over.  And over.

It was… fascinating, at first. But ultimately tedious.  After about fifteen minutes, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man’s path took him within a few feet of me and I caught a glimpse of his glassy blue eyes and realized, He is going to keep doing this until he either passes out or someone makes him stop. I felt a brief twinge of sorrow for the guy’s obvious…disturbance. But whether or not the man’s break from reality was drug-induced or the result of a mental health crisis, I (like the other students I saw leaving the Quad in droves) was young and impatient, and my sympathy eventually dissolved into annoyance. I lasted another half hour before I gave up and took my books to the library to finish studying.

After all these years, I remember what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man was singing but haven’t a clue as to how I did on the midterm for which I was studying.  Which is perhaps the healthiest way to pass through this world, n’est ce pas[4]

 

 

 

bicyclejpg

This is what the bike looked like. Unfortunately, this is not what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man ® looked like.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of In The Running For My Favorite Headline Of The Year:  [5]

Acting Studios Are Struggling. Does It Matter?
( NY Times, 12-1-17)

 

 

 

question

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Should Be Some Kind Of Holiday Thing Here

xmas partyjpg

 

 

 

I don’t know about y’all, but moiself is having a hard time getting excited – or even interested – in the holidays this year.  If a Crazy Bicycle-Riding Santa ® would make an appearance, that might do it for me. I may just have to settle for the Speedo Santa Run.

 

 

naked santa run

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be a Silence Breaker, or an ally to one;
May you enjoy the sporadic Blast From Your Past ® memory;
May you summon a modicum of excitement about any holidays you celebrate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  Time as in time…not as in Time Magazine…. There should be some kind of really bad pun apology here.

[2] Working at the school library to put myself through school, any non-home procured food – even a simple sandwich – was (or felt like) a splurge.

[3]  The chorus? Verse? Bridge? Root canal? Help me out, musically literate people.

[4] Not to show off in front of Gallic illiterates, but n’est ce pas? is French for, “The birdhouse smells like stinky feet, does it not?”

[5] Other than the one about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

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]   

 

 

lefseladies

“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.).

 

 

xmasjpg

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

sorry

 

*   *   *

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.

 

 

grannyshock

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.”

 

 

blondepw

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 Turkey I’m Not Stuffing

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What do vegetarians, vegans, non-meat eaters and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving?

( Other than, of course, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE. )

 

 

 

veganannoy

 

 

 

The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and an apple turnover.  [1]

 

 

danish

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them

‘Tis the day after feasting, for many of us. It sometimes seems as though just when you’re recovering from your last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.

This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, forthright, sincere, family-friendly,

Heathens Declare War on Christmas ©
post.

 

boxingsanta

 

Department Of Did You Know…

…that 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]

 

tistheseason

 

 

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

We Heretics/apostates non-Christians 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, for any reason? And really, we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

 

 

heathen

 

 

Early Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with  missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs.  But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and quite effectively, simply renamed most of them.  [4]

Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry.  This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshipping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the 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 worshipping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.

( Easter is the one/odd exception – the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name chance. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)

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.  [5]  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 seasons.

 

 

axial tilt

 

 

And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.   [6]  My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

 

woden

“Go find 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.  [7]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  [8] included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.)  The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.  [9]

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas” [10]   when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

saturnalia

 

 

 

*   *   *

Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.

May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else;
May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset;
May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia;
…and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.

 

And, of course, no holiday season preview would be complete without The Dropkick Murphys to get us all in the spirit:

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Damn right I’m proud of that one.

[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] 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.

[5] “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

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

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

[9] 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.

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

The Sharks I’m Not Swimming With

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The following letter (my emphases) appeared under the title, Apologies, Fear and Silence, NY Times 11-15-17

To the Editor:
Re “Being a Female Comic in Louis C. K.’s World,”
by Laurie Kilmartin (Sunday Review, Nov. 12):

The news of Louis C. K.’s sexual misconduct has shaken my confidence in humankind in a particular way that will take time to process. I was among his longtime fans who enjoyed even his most controversial material, because he so brilliantly cultivated a persona that encouraged us to trust that behind the jokes was a man of true compassion. His message seemed to be, “I have sexually inappropriate thoughts, but I deeply respect women and am one of the good guys.”

Ms. Kilmartin states: “It has made me examine my own life, 30 years of swimming under, over and around sharks. What could I have accomplished if I’d been able to put that energy elsewhere?”

This magnificent question haunts those who have been subject to sexual misconduct. Often, we suffer silently for years. Imagine the benefits to our society when women are free of the self-doubt and shame that accompany sexual abuse, when we can leave the confines of our inner turmoil and bring productive energy to the world.

DEBBY BIERSCHWALE, NARBERTH, PA.
The writer is a clinical psychologist.

 

*   *   *

Department Of My Me Too

This magnificent question, indeed. I was floored by that simple phrase.

Remember that wise and compassionate letter from the male engineering student (which I wrote about in my 11/3 post ),  who wrote about his realization that the playing field for his female peers in STEM is far from equal, and because of sexism and societal expectations, women  have so much more to deal with than just the study and work itself?

I doubt that most men, even The Good Guys ® with their best intentions (e.g. that wonderful engineering student), can truly understand the ramifications of what the afore-quoted psychologist calls This magnificent question.  Hell, for that matter, nor can most women. Even women who do not have the horrific experiences of severe harassment and/or abuse have devoted and wasted so much time in just taking the extra steps we must take – steps so common we taken them for granted – in navigating both the personal and professional worlds, which continue to operate under the shadow of patriarchal and hierarchical expectations.

From issues seemingly mundane (advisors to the female senatorial candidate reminding her to smile so she won’t seem threatening but not smile too much or she won’t be taken seriously) to acute (the astronomer attending a Big Ideas in Dwarf Planet Research conference which ends at night must consider where she will park her car in the conference site lot  to give herself the safest, most well-lit route route…and she will remind herself to check the back seat before she gets in)…

Scratch that first adjective; none of it is mundane. All of it is acute, in that it is critical to understanding the time-sucking, energy-draining b.s. that women in all fields, from the sciences to the arts to the Walmart cashiers, must deal with.

And the answers to the magnificent question are almost unimaginable – so much so that I’d like, truly and sincerely, to ask and challenge my male allies (and I think most men are, or want to be, allies to women).  Menfolk, try to picture what your life would have been like, or how it might change right now, if you had to waste. The. Equivalent. Amount. Of. Time. And. Energy. And Resources.  that women have had to…

Let me put it this way, by adapting the letter writer’s phrasing:

Examine your own life, and think if you had spent 30 or however many years of swimming under, over and around sharks. What might you not have accomplished if you’d had to divert your energy thusly? Imagine the loss to our society if men had to enter the confines of such inner turmoil and divert their productive energy…

*   *   *

 

As reference/promised/threatened in last week’s post, moiself is going to share a workplace Me Too   [1]  story. Clarification: there will be “a” story as opposed to “my” story – the latter implying that I’ve only one such story.

In a just world, even one story of sexual harassment and discrimination would be too much.  But then, welcome to this planet.

 

 

angryplanet

 

 

 

I am not going to share the story about working for a media hardware/proprietary software company in the mid-1980’s – I’ll call it Radiorama. Nope, this is not the story about when Radiorama’s president/co-founder – I’ll call him “Seamus”  [2] – had to explain to his confused and angry female Service Department Installers why, when it came time to choose a new Service Department Manager, he promoted a man who was somewhat experienced enough to do the job, even though there were at least three to four highly qualified women in the department with more experience and installations under their respective lady belts.

His justification?  Radiorama’s Service department had an approximate 2/1 female to male employee ratio. It would be better for Radiorama’s clients, Seamus declared, to know that even if they mostly have to deal with women during installations of the company’s product and after-installation service, not to worry – there’s a man in charge.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

 

Nor will I share another story about the same company (story #2 cast light upon the first story), wherein a group of newby Service Department Installers were discussing the predominance of men in Radiorama’s upper echelons, as well as the almost total lack of any employees who were not of European-American background.  “Tom” was one of the newbys, and he also happened to be the gay lover of “Rock,” Radiorama’s  co-founder and vice president. Tom shared some pillow talk he’d had with Rock: Rock had told Tom that, on more than one occasion, Seamus had declared, sans irony,  [3]  that he (Seamus) “…hated blacks, detested fags, and only tolerated women.”

 

 

 

 

supervisor

 

 

 

Nor will I share the story from my stint working at The Hungry Bear Restaurant, one of the many food venues at an amusement park which goes by the tagline, The  Crappiest Happiest Place on Earth ®.  Not gonna write about the scenario, which unfolded over several days, wherein I witnessed a Foods Supervisor repeatedly badger one of my Very Attractive Blonde Co-Workers. ®   [4]   Foods Supe reduced VABCW to tears, and also made not-so-veiled threats about VABCW’s  employment status, when VABCW politely but firmly and repeatedly turned down his offers to promote her from THBR  [5]  to waiting tables at the park’s exclusive, members-only lounge, Club 33.  At Club 33, Foods Supe told VABCW,  she would be able to dress “more attractively” (read: provocatively) and interact with the club’s “wealthy, influential, male clientele.”

 

 

 

rat

What I really need here is an image of a slimy, horny Mickey Mouse – I swear, that’s what that Supervisor looked like – but the park’s legal staff tend to be sensitive about their mascot, so this will have to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story I’m going to tell took place some 30 years ago, when I worked in the Publications Department for a professional membership society (think something along the lines of, The California Trial Lawyers Society). The Society published several different periodicals, including monthly newsletters for each of the Society’s regional chapters, and a quarterly glossy magazine whose circulation included all individual Society members (plus member corporations and other related/interested companies).

The Publishing Department consisted of six employees: The self-described  [6]  Gang of Four shared a large, open cubicle-type office, and did the actual work of putting out the newsletters and magazines. The Gang of Four were the Editor, the Assistant Editor, the Art Director, and the Classified Advertising Editor  – aka moiself. The remaining two employees were the Director of Publishing (DOP) and his secretary.

The DOP’s secretary was a bubbly, childfree-yet-maternal woman of whom I was quite fond, despite what seemed to be her taking on a personal calling to get me to wear makeup. [7]  That quest gave her something to do other than cover for her boss when some Society higher-up was looking for him (the DOP would disappear for hours at a time, on an almost daily basis, which was fine with the us in the Gang of Four).   [8]

The DOP was a tall, oily-man, who sported what we’d now call a porno moustache (do not do an internet images search for that term – trust me).  [9] The DOP had always given me the creeps when he was around, which fortunately wasn’t often. His private office was a hallway and a half away from our group office… for the life of me, I can’t remember what he actually did as department director, save for approving certain articles and banner advertising, and having his name listed first on the magazine’s masthead.

One afternoon, a couple of weeks before the magazine’s upcoming issue deadline, the art director and the other two editors went down to the Society’s basement to discuss a magazine shipping detail with the mailroom manager. I was alone in our office, seated at my desk, typing up copy for one of the regional newsletter’s classified ads section. Believe it or not, I was engrossed in my work.  How engaging can a classified ad be, you ask? It was a particular ad’s particular phrasing which both fascinated and annoyed me. How was I going to make sense of what the ad buyer had written (and paid for)?  I remember thinking, Was there no essay portion of his professional exam? How did this guy get any kind of certification,with such evidently poor written communication skills? Nevertheless, he’d purchased ad space and I had to make sense of it…

The DOP entered the office. He circumnavigated the room and took up a position standing directly behind me. I was vaguely aware of his presence; he was just…standing there, behind me.  Why hadn’t he said anything? I kept working, and soon felt the touch of his massive, hairy-knuckled hand on my right shoulder.

I ignored his (creepy/totally inappropriate and unwanted) touch and kept typing away. He removed his hand, then placed it again on my shoulder.  I twitched my shoulder, as if trying to dislodge a pesky mosquito; he removed his hand. A second or three later, he placed both of his hands on my shoulders (still, all that time, saying nothing). I ripped the copy I was working on from the typewriter, pushed my chair back from my desk (almost running over his toes), stood up and marched fifteen feet away, to the Editor‘s desk.  I dropped the ad copy on her desk, turned on my heel, flashed (what I would now call) a WTF !?!?! glower at the DOP….

At that very moment the Editor, Assistant Editor and Art Director returned to our office, chattering away re some inane (in their opinion) complaint the mail dude had about the size of the upcoming issue. The DOP said something to the Editor about confirming our department’s late afternoon meeting the next day, then beat a hasty retreat to his own office, having never said a single word to me.

The next afternoon, ten or so minutes into the afore-mentioned meeting, in the midst of discussing an in-house photo shoot idea the art director had proposed, the DOP announced he’d decided that the magazine’s masthead would no longer include the name of the Classified Advertising Editor.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

 

The Gang of Four were all caught off guard by the seeming non sequitur-ness of the DOP’s announcement (which reminded me of when members of Congress try to sneak abortion restrictions language into a bill on kumquat subsidies or whatever).

The thoughts racing through my mind needed attention – I was trying not to go into rage hyperventilation mode, and so after beginning to protest, I quickly shut up  [10] and let my colleagues provide the opposition: 

What could be the reason for removing the C.A. editor’s name, which had always been listed on the magazine? Classified ads  were a major source of revenue for the magazine (and the only source for the monthly bulletins), and thus the editor of such was an important cog in the department’s wheel…and it hardly qualified as a cost cutting measure to remove two lines of print….

The other editors and art director argued my case in vain. I can’t remember exactly how the DOP justified his decision – he said some horseshit about streamlining, and that as  Director of Publishing, it was his decision that the magazine should go for a “mean and lean” look, and that was that.  He deftly changed the subject by criticizing the Editor’s choice of a lead-off article, which effectively diverted everyone else’s attention.

Streamlining; mean and lean, my ass. I was being punished. I couldn’t prove it, I never told the other editors what had happened, but I knew what was going on. Disappearing my credit was the only way the DOP could think of that wouldn’t draw too much attention (my work and attendance record was impeccable; he couldn’t fire or demote me). That masthead credit was the most prestigious – and practically only – evidence I could use for future, hard copy references, as the other publications I worked on listed only single editor attribution.

*   *   *

I haven’t told this story to many people. I remember telling it, years ago, in a mixed-gender group of acquaintances, when the subject of workplace harassment came up.  One of the guys in the group asked me what I’d been wearing, and what I looked like, on the day of the the incident.

 

 

LADY

Seriously, y’all wondering what was SHE wearing?

 

 

 

 

What was moiself wearing?  FFS, what was he wearing? A neon sign on his necktie which flashed LECHEROUS BULLYING PATRONIZING WANKHEAD would’ve been helpful.

Back then, I excused the naiveté of the schlub who asked that question by thinking that he, too, was yet another victim of times – after all, it was over 30 years ago. And yet, from what I’ve been reading, little has changed. Women still feel compelled to do what I’m about to do: describe what I was wearing at the time of the incident. Most likely, it was what I wore at least twice a week at that time: my “uniform,” so to speak, of  either gray slacks or Levi’s jeans and a high neck, long-sleeved Cub Scout shirt I’d found at a thrift shop (the C.A. editor position didn’t pay well; I had zero contact with the public, so I got away with very casual attire).   [11]  As for what I “looked like,” well, I was a women in my early 20s. I was 30+ years younger than I am now but I still looked like…like a 30 years younger version of moiself . I was no sea donkey, nor was I an alluring starlet either (and, much to the consternation of the DOP’s secretary, I was, of course, not wearing any makeup).

And of course to the nth, it didn’t/shouldn’t have mattered, then or now, what I was wearing, or how comely or homely my boss found my features. Whether I looked like a budget-conscious thrift shop fashion reject, or a vamping, slut-walking siren, or anything in between – that had nothing to do with it.

 

 

amen]

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things Have To Change

 

This subject; the fact that it is still an issue:

 

 

sotiredpng

 

 

 

Me, too.

 

 

*   *   *

May you never be a shark someone else has to swim with;
May you get mean and lean with anyone who would streamline you out of credit;
May you find a way to use slang like sea donkey in everyday conversation;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Me Too, also referred to as #MeToo (except by me, who doesn’t do Twitter and loathes the whole “hast tag” devolution of the pound symbol as a social media theme signifier), is being used by people as a way to share their own experiences with sexual assault or sexual harassment, in part to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

[2] Which will alert readers that subsequent names which are first introduced in quotation marks are pseudonyms – dang, y’all catch on quickly!

[3] Seamus considered Rock to be one of his “best friends.” Rock did not hide the fact that he was gay.   Seamus had worked with Rock for years, including starting Radiorama; thus, in Seamus’s convoluted “logic,” since he (Seamus) he liked and respected Rock and also detested “fags,” this meant that Rock couldn’t possibly, really, be gay.

[4] Most of whom were, like moiself, between the ages of 18 – early twenties, working to earn money for college.

[5] which was, in essence, one of the park’s fast food venues, although They called it a restaurant.

[6] If the self-describing it was moiself.

[7] I sent her over the moon the day I let her do me up with her eye shadow and mascara: “Oh, look how it makes your big beautiful brown eyes JUST POP!” she exclaimed. I swear she wanted to adopt me on the spot.

[8] A couple of years after I left the Society I was visiting the woman who’d been The Editor while I was there, and she filled me in on the Society  gossip. The Society’s management finally wised up to the DOP’s absences, and fired his truant ass.

[9] Well, it was the 1980s…but on him it looked extra creepy.

[10] Those who know me are thinking, whaddya mean, she shut up?

[11] Oh, I loved that shirt. It went with everything (or nothing, depending on your POV.)

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