Department Of It’s The Little Things Which Make Life Worth Living
In These Trying Political Times
Dateline: Tuesday afternoon. Apropos of…whatever, my offspring, son K and daughter Belle, have this exchange on our family messenger group, Yep!!!! Cats!!!!  (sans pix; these are my illustrations):
I did not realize how truly gigantic Fetterman is.
He’s like 6’9.”
Since words and reason don’t work we now have Fetterman
to give the insane senators a swirly.
First on the list: Mitch McConnell.
Although I think just turning him upside-down would kill him,
probably couldn’t even get to the swirly part.
Moiself walked around the rest of the afternoon with a big smile on my face, thanks to the imagery provided by my offspring.
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Department Of Another Good Thing ® About Social Media
There’s no shortage of criticisms of the various social media outlets, and most critiques are legit, I’d wager.  Even as I am encouraging those who complain about supporting a certain megalomaniac to drop their Twitter accounts and stop buying Teslas, moiself remains on one social media site: Facebook. Here’s one of the reasons why.
Dateline: earlier this week. A FB friend posts pictures of his grandchild‘s visit to what looks to be an amusement park, and picture shows the child playing that classic arcade game, Whac-a-mole. Seeing this picture prompts a lovely flashback for moiself – a memory I’ve not thought of in decades.
Dateline of memory: A long time in a galaxy far far away (Southern California). I am visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana. It’s summertime, and the County Fair is on. My parents tell me they haven’t been to a state or county fair in ages, and suggest we go. And so we do. As we walk past the various cheesy games and merchandise and food booths, nothing catches our interest, until we come to an arcade. I espy a Whac-A-Mole game, and instantly am obsessed with getting my mother to play it.
My mother is hesitant, despite my enthusiastic recommendation. She knows nothing about it, she says (Even better!!!, moiself thinks to moiself ) I assure her that it’s a straightforward game, no complicated strategy or levels or scenarios: she simply must hold the mallet and whack the heads of the moles as they pop up from the console.
“Why?” she asks me.
“There’s no time to get existential right now,” I reply. I put my two quarters in the slot, press the game’s start button and put the mallet in my mother’s hand. “You don’t want me to waste fifty cents, right, Mom? Look – there’s one! Pretend it’s digging up your rosebushes!”
Unlike the champ in the above video, my mother is exquisitely awful at Whac-A-Mole. Her timing is atrocious; even so, she soon gets into it in her own way, emitting a high-pitched, “Oh!” whenever a mole head appears, followed by her delayed whack at its head. My father and I, standing to the side of the game console, are doubled over with laughter as we watch my mild-mannered mother, with an increasing maniacal look in her eyes, pursues those pesky moles:
“Oh!” (whack) “Oh!” (whack)
“Oh oh oh oh oh oh!”
(whack whack whack whack whack whack)
It is one of my favorite memories of her.
I haven’t gone to a county fairs in years and it’s been even longer since I’ve even seen a Whac-a-mole game. So, then: would that memory have been prompted by anything else, save for a post on social media? It’s not like I would have seen a picture of my friend’s grandchild playing this game – like most of my FB friends, we don’t have a letter-writing kind of relationship.
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Department Of Well That’s Not Up To Their Usual Standards
It was a tad interesting, due to the skills of FA host, Terry Gross, arguably  the best interviewer out there. But IMO it was not up to the usual FA standards. This was because Lynn was (again, IMO)…. There’s no easy way to say it. The guest can make or break the interview. And it wasn’t that Lynn was a “bad” guest, or an audaciously humorless and insufferably boorish one like a notable few TG has dealt with.  On the contrary. Lynn was pleasant enough, but it seemed to me that she was also…well… rather…simple, or basic. Not plucking every string on her guitar, so to speak.
LL seemed not at all interested in self-reflection and/or discussing or exploring how she writes her songs. Okay; fine; her prerogative. But then, why agree to be come on a show where the whole point is to talk about your work as a female singer who broke ground in her genre for writing her own songs?
The point of a FA interview with a musician/singer/songwriter is to reflect upon one’s work, technique, inspiration, and so on. Which Lynn summed up in sentences like, “Oh, I don’t really know,” or “I don’t like to talk about that.” Lynn’s songs are personal – she’s said in previous interviews that her husband was, in one way or another, “in every song” she wrote, yet she wouldn’t go further when FA host TG would ask her about *how* or why her husband is in a particular song.
And TG let her get away with it.
LL’s song Fist City is borderline hilarious in some ways and disturbing in others. And TG did not probe into that, as I have heard her done, through the years – the decades now – that I’ve been listening to FA interviews. Gross is insightful and persistent as an interviewer, and respectfully so. She typically does not give up after one attempted conversational diversion by a guest. And her guest was country music legend Loretta Lynn, who has written all these classic country songs about women trying to take her man (including, wait for it: “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man”), and… hello? What are those lyrics about?
If it had been any other songwriter, I think TG would have asked more persistently about the song’s implications. She did try, but Lynn wasn’t having any of it. “Oh I don’t want to talk about that,” LL would purr, in her soft Kentucky lilt.
I wanted TG to get LL to at least to consider why people might want LL to talk about that problem – about how she was really singing about, writing about, the wrong problem. When LL sang about how some women were ‘after,’ (her words) her man, the underlying problem wasn’t those women.
Loretta Lynn, the woman who wrote so empathetically about birth control liberating women from the life of a brood mare (“The Pill”), and the trials of a divorced woman having people think that just because she’s divorced she’s loose/available (“Rated X”) didn’t seem capable of, or willing to, consider the fact that it was her husband who was the problem. He married her, but chased after other women. But Lynn…wouldn’t go there.
And TG, in deference to Lynn’s age, status and/or “sweetness,” didn’t seem willing to push it the way I think she would have with another musician…or politician, or writer or artist or sports figure or….. Is that ultimately respectful, or patronizing?
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Department Of The Big Day Next Week
The more I know about the origins and mythologies (read: lies) about Thanksgiving, the less I want to call it that.
I’ve always had a certain ambivalence regarding Tday. Even as a child, I suspected we weren’t being told the truth about that much vaunted Happy Time Between Indians and Pilgrims ®. Historians are starting to speak up, and…how can I put this? Folks, if the Readers Digest, hardly The Socialist Review, is willing to address this issue, that means it’s way past time the rest of us did.
“Thanksgiving is both uniquely American and full of treasured traditions. But this rosy picture of modern celebrations leaves out most of the real history of Thanksgiving….
Yes, you can still settle down with family to give thanks. But it’s important to know what you’re celebrating and unlearn some long-held myths.”
…. What’s the harm in believing the happy version so many of us grew up with? It’s just a story, right? This whitewashing downplays the long and bloody series of conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans that would occur over the next two centuries…..
‘Narratives of a harmonious Thanksgiving celebration were created to justify westward expansion and Manifest Destiny,’…. The term Manifest Destiny, coined more than two centuries after the first Thanksgiving, was the belief that settlers were destined by God to expand across America and prosper….
Myth: The “first Thanksgiving” started the tradition that founded the holiday.
Truth: The harvest celebration of 1621 was not called Thanksgiving and was not repeated every year. The next official ‘day of thanksgiving’ was after settlers massacred more than 400 Pequot men, women and children. Governor Bradford’s journal decreed, ‘For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a governor is in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.’
We should add that to our list of favorite Thanksgiving quotes as a stark reminder of the real history of Thanksgiving.”
(“The Real History of Thanksgiving,” Readers Digest, 11-15-22)
I like the idea of a holiday involving gratitude, and one in which friends and family get together for a celebratory meal. As for what is in the meal, as the years have gone by, my own dietary preferences have changed – although even as a child I never was all that fond of the big bland boring turkey and wondered what all the fuss was about.  Moiself likes the idea of variety feast, rather than a fixed menu. 
Moiself also likes that which is practiced by our neighbors to the north. Canadian Thanksgiving, which I and my family have experienced thanks to the generosity of a dear Canadian friend and (former) neighbor, is more of a general harvest celebration, without a traditional fixed menu.
Hmmm, so, how’s about Harvest Fest? Gratitude Day? Grativest Day? Harvitude Day?
Perhaps I’m being persnickety here. After all, I’m the one who points out the secular origins of Christmas, which I don’t insist on renaming it, for the same reasons that, for example, I call the middle day of the week Wednesday even though I do not worship the Germanic god for whom the day is named. Still, knowing the origins of Thanksgiving and the subsequent mythologies which promoted it, I can’t help but wish for a name change.
But that’s about as likely to happen as Elon Musk is likely to gift the running of Twitter to the Southern Poverty Law Center, sell his holdings in Tesla and donate the profits to Greenpeace, then take a vow of abstemious living and join a Buddhist monastery.
Ah, but it’s good to dream.
* * *
Punz For The Day
How did Ziggy Stardust express his gratitude to the Thanksgiving host for serving her tasty sweet potato casserole?
“Wham, yam, thank you ma’am.”
My family advised me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes,
but I said I couldn’t quit cold turkey.
How does rapper Sir Mixalot, who loathes pumpkin pie,
express his Thanksgiving dessert preference?
“I like big bundts and I cannot lie.”
* * *
May you have a good feast with friends and family, whatever you call it;
May visions of Mitch-getting-a-swirley warm the cockles of your heart;
May you find a whac-a-mole game and go to town;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 So named, by MH…I can’t remember the specifics, but it had to do with one of us commenting about all of us posting cat pictures yet again. It has evolved into a family message board…with – yep! – lots of cat-sighting pictures.
 Wager, rather than aver, because I’m not on most social media and thus can’t speak from direct experience.
 As in, you could argue with me about this, but you’d lose.
 My most memorable Tday was when the friend of a host brought a huge chinook salmon he’d caught the previous day in Alaska, and the hosts, my aunt and uncle, roasted it simply, with herbs and lemon juice. I WAS AMAZED.
 Also, I haven’t eaten meat for years, so there goes that feast centerpiece.