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The Elves I’m Not Shelving

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Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself  is hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [1]

Can you identify this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

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Department Of Happy Little Christmas Eve

Whaddya mean, what’s Little Christmas Eve?  It’s tonight, December 23, as in, the eve before Christmas Eve.

LCE is an obscure – to everyone but my family – holiday supposedly celebrated in my maternal grandfather’s ancestral, tiny Norwegian village.  It was one of my favorite special days, when I was a child.  It still is . [2]   Moiself  has continued that tradition with MH’s and my family.  We have a special LCE dinner, but unlike Christmas Eve dinner, which always features lefse, the LCE menu varies year to year.  After dinner, each child gets to open one of their Christmas presents. The most memorable aspect about my childhood LCEs was the “rule” that our house was lit only by candlelight, during the dinner meal and thereafter, until bedtime.

I was fascinated by candles; thus, it was a magical night for moiself.  Candles everywhere; no electric lights allowed!  If you went to the bathroom, you carried a candle.

How we never managed to burn the house down, I don’t know.  Guess those elves were watching over us.

 

 

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Department Of About Those Elves….

“Oh, yeah, so you all liked that Elf on a Shelf thing?”
(Misinformed persons who feel compelled to ask about all the elves
in our house during this time of year)

Much of moiself’s house’s holiday décor, in all its tacky seasonal glory, is in homage to my mother, who died six years ago on Christmas Eve.

Marion Parnell loved Christmas and especially her Christmas decorations, which included the tradition (which her family started and mine continues) of placing certain kind of elves – the kind with small plastic, doll-like faces and bendable, felt costume-clothed bodies,   [3]  all around the house.  Like the one above, a rare yellow-green costumed variant.

The idea was that from any vantage point, whether you are sitting in the living room or getting a drink from the kitchen sink, an elf is casting a friendly eye upon you.  Some of our elves indeed are on a shelf, but most perch atop curtains, peek out from bookcases, lurk behind candlesticks, nestle behind dishes and clocks and art and….

But, this “Elf on a Shelf” thing? Never heard of it, until recently.  EOAS is, apparently, a picture book about…honestly, I don’t know or care what it’s about. I looked it up:  the book has a 2005 publication date.  Neither I nor MH knew about it, nor had our two children (DOBs 1993 and 1996) grown up with EOAS as part of their kiddie lit repertoire.  My extended family on my mother’s side has been putting up elves since the early 1920s, so none of these #!*&#?! EOAS references applies to elves on MY shelves, okay?

Y’all must excuse moiself  if (read: when) I respond with a yuletide-inappropriate profanity should you mention that book to me. Actually, moiself  finds it funny how much it irritates me when someone, after seeing or hearing about our houses elves, makes a reference to the book – such as the antique store owner who, when I asked if her store had any elves and began to describe what I was looking for, said, “Oh, you mean, like that book?”   My customary cheerful/holiday visage darkened, and I answered her with utmost solemnity.

No.
Nothing.
Like. That. Book.

Which might not be entirely accurate, seeing as how I’ve never read nor even seen the book…which may indeed be about something akin to *our* family tradition.  I just want…oh, I don’t know…attribution, I suppose.  WE THOUGHT OF IT FIRST, OKAY?  So, stick that Elf-on-a-shelf in your Santa Hat and….

 

*   *   *

Christmas with a big deal in my childhood.  My parents didn’t have as much $$ as many of my friends’ parents did; still, they made sure there were always very-much-appreciated presents awaiting my siblings and I under the tree Christmas morning.    [4]    Later, when my parents’ children grew up and had children of their own, something…happened.

I don’t remember getting (from my parents) gifts that I thought were inappropriate or that I didn’t want.   I made a wish list before the holidays, at my parent’s request, and they usually chose from that. Fast forward to their gifts to MH and my children, their grandchildren.  Excuse my yuletide jargon, but what the fuck?

The following reflection was inspired by a Hidden Brain podcast on gift giving.  When a guest on the show mentioned inappropriate, “message” gifts, I remembered trying (unsuccessfully, I think) to talk my parents out of a gift they were planning on giving to an extended family member. Alarmed by his weight gain and his family history of heart disease, they told me they were planning on giving him a gym membership.

 

 

This got my mind going to my parents’ Christmas gift fail with my kids.  Which I expounded upon a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay; from my March 2016 post, The Gifts I’m Not Authenticating):

When K and Belle were kidlets, there were many, many, many – and did I mention many? – years where it took us up to four weeks (or more!) post-Christmas to find enough room in the garbage can for all of the non-recyclable packaging materials which were indigenous to gifts that came from A Certain Side of The Family.

Read: my side. Specifically, my mother.   [5]  Mom was abetted in her trashing of the planet abundantly swathed present-bestowing by the good folks at Lillian Vernon.  Are you familiar with that catalog company? If so, you have my sympathy. 

 

 

My mother discovered the Lillian Vernon catalog (too) many years ago. Once she did, there was no turning back. The catalog became her go-to source for gifts for her grandchildren, and a more wasteful source I’ve yet to encounter. Why a four-inch tin-plated Model T replica needs to be encased in enough Styrofoam insulate an entire Uzbekistan village is a mystery to me…but that, apparently, is the shipping policy at Lillian Vernon.

The excessive packaging was one thing; the gifts themselves, ay yi yi. All made in China, of substandard construction   [6]  –– and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

 

This crap is authentic, guaranteed.

 

Most bewildering of all was how inappropriate the gifts were. Not inappropriate as in giving a life-size Uzi replica to a five-year-old; rather, inappropriate in that the gifts had no relation to what K and Belle actually wanted.

I’ll never forget K’s reaction the year he opened his present from Grandma M, dug through the layers of packaging and…oh, um….yeah…a set of miniature antique automobile replicas? Perhaps for some child, somewhere, that would have been a welcome present. K had no interest in “antique replicas” (even those that came with certificates of authenticity).  Thus K, along with his sister, got an early introduction to practicing the art of Present Face.

 

 

It was (kinda sorta) terrible to laugh at the gifts, but we did – after I gave K & Belle the usual parental reassuring (“Grandma means well”). Year after year, my mom gave her grandchildren stuff they neither wanted nor needed.  I tried to figure it out, thinking aloud to MH one Christmas, after K & Belle had opened their respective/bewildering (but authentically certified!) LV boxes: It’s as if my mom is using suggestions based on someone’s idea of gender and age:

Here are gifts for Boy Child, ages 9-11, and for Girl Child, Ages 5-8….

Which, I would discover, was exactly what my mother did.

In year three or four of the They Sooooo Do Not Want These Things (the year of the antique replica cars) phenomenon, I resolved to find out what was going on. I tried to be gentle during my Christmas Day phone call to my parents – I tried to tease out what made them think K would be interested in a set of Ford Model A and T cars? I could have used a verbal sledgehammer, for all of my mother’s obliviousness.   [7]

I do all my Christmas and birthday shopping from the catalog, my mother explained. (actually, it was more like bragging than explaining). I have all the categories covered – they list them for girls and boys, of any age. When it’s time for a Christmas or birthday I go to the boxes in the garage or under my bed and pick one out!

Hmmm…yeah. Say, Mom, for next year, how about if you ask K and Belle what *they’d* like? Or they could send you a gift list, like you used to have me write up for my birthday and Christmas. K really likes to draw – there’s an artist’s pencil set he’s interested in, and Belle loves Legos, and….

That’s okay, I already have next year’s Christmas presents picked out!
Birthdays, too! I keep them all in a big stash under the bed.
K’s and Belle’s birthday presents are ready to go – it’s so convenient.
Oh, here’s Dad….

I was more direct with my father: “This is difficult to say…I want my kids to be grateful for any gift, but Dad, it’s like the presents are from a stranger who doesn’t know them. It’s nothing they are interested in. Why doesn’t Mom ask them what they’d like? They’d love to tell her.” He just didn’t hear me (“Well, that’s how she likes to do it.), and changed the subject.

Later that day I sought email counsel from my older and younger sisters. It wasn’t just my family’s dilemma – they’d both dealt with the LV catalog gift-gifting issue, and had tried everything from dropping hints to being directly confrontational.  Their advice: Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Learn to live with it.

  

 

MH and I raised K and Belle to look at gifts as just that – gifts, not entitlements. We encouraged them to find something about which to feel grateful for any present they received; we advised them to never expect nor request presents, but to be gracious and specific when asked by someone what you’d like for your birthday, or Christmas.

My parents never asked.   [8]

K and Belle dutifully wrote thank you notes to Grandpa Chet and Grandma M.  After years of getting presents they didn’t want, it became somewhat of a family joke ritual:  on Christmas morning, along with our gift-opening accouterments we also set out a direct-to-Goodwill bag for the Lillian Vernon haul, and there was a special ceremonial flourish when a Certificate of Authenticity assumed its rightful place in the paper recycling bin.

Along with the droll (okay; snarky) comments and laughter which became a part of our gift-opening, there were genuine hurt feelings, for both me and my children. It sliced at my heart, the first time K and Belle looked at me with sad-round eyes and said, Why don’t they ask me what I want?

It was so effin’ impersonal; it showed no interest in them as individuals. My mother took pride in being done with her present shopping months (even years) in advance…and took no interest in finding out what her grandchildren actually wanted. You can learn a lot about children by asking them what they’d like for a present – it can be a segue into finding out about their hobbies and interests and talents, about finding out who they are and what they like to do.

Instead, it was This Christmas Belle gets something from the “Girl Toys Ages 6-9” bag under Grandma M’s bed.  My mother even mixed up the presents one year: K got a gift that was meant for his cousin. The gift tag read, “To X, Love Grandma M” (cousin X, my younger sister’s second son, was the same age as K)!

 

 

At my suggestion (and with my father’s encouragement), my parents switched to giving checks to their grandchildren a few years back, a practice my mother continued after my father died. Now, the LV catalog present years are the stuff of family lore. Back then, it was Yet Another Life Lesson ® for my children (and their parents) in tolerance, acceptance, and loving people as they are, warts/quirks and all. Looking back, a part of me is even grateful for the experience, which provided us with one of our favorite family code phrases:

Belle:
What do you know about that new cafe downtown?

Moiself:
I haven’t heard much about them, only that each menu item comes with a

Certificate of Authenticity.
Belle:
Whoa, thanks for the warning.

 

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Department Of Food (and beverage?) For Thought

In 2020 (the last year for which there is complete information) there were 11,654 “alcohol-impaired”-related auto accident deaths.

That accounts for 30% of the 38,824 total auto accident deaths for 2020.

Which means that the remaining 70% of auto accident deaths were caused by ijiots who drink bottled water, coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, et al, and/or talked or texted on their phones and/or were otherwise impaired by their own stupidity, incompetence, and inattentiveness.

 

 

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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week     [9]

“At this season of the winter solstice, let reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell;
there is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition which hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

(Anne Nichol Gaylor, principal founder, Freedom From Religion Foundation )

*   *   *

May all of your gift-giving be authentic;
May you have a Happy Christmas Eve;
May you have open hearts and free minds;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Specifically, in our pear tree.

[2] And arguably, I still am somewhat child-like (or, ish).

[3] Many of the oldest ones have a tiny Made in Japan sticker on them, and date from the 1950s or earlier, or so I was told by one antique shop dealer.

[4] Which, BTW, is the only proper day to open your Christmas gifts.  If MH’s family had been a, “We-open-our-gifts-on-Christmas-Eve!” kind of family, we would not have married.

[5] (my mother has since died, but at the time I included this “Content reassurance”): my mother is alive, albeit in poor physical and mental health. We speak at least once a week; she doesn’t remember our phone conversation from the previous week (nor often what I said five minutes ago). She is a shut in, in her own home, with 24/7 care by patient and loving attendants. She has no access to the internet, doesn’t read my blog, doesn’t know I write a blog, doesn’t know what a blog is….

[6] I was going to write shoddily manufactured…there’s just no nice way to put it. That shit was cheaply made.

[7] And it was my mother’s doing. As was common to many men of his generation, my father gladly ceded the birthday and holiday gift-choosing tasks to his wife.

[8] MH’s usually did.

[9] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Intentions I’m Not Setting

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Department Of First Things First:

Happy International Blasphemy Day, y’all.

 

 

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Department Of It’s Not Working
#397 In A Never-Ending Series

Dateline: Monday morning, 9 am, at the beginning of my streaming Vinyasa yoga class.  The teacher announces that, in case we weren’t aware, September is National Yoga Awareness Month. She says that before the pandemic a group of yoga teachers in the area used to gather on the first Sunday after the Equinox to do 108 Sun Salutations in an open space, such as a public park.  They would begin the practice by “setting an intention” for world peace.  For this morning’s practice she was going to lead us in a series of Sun Salutations – but don’t worry, she assured us, *not* 108 of them.   [1]

 

 

Moiself  is aware of the practice of yogis doing 108 Sun Salutations to mark the changes of the seasons, and I’ve done them for the past few years, by moiself,   [2]  on the day of the solstices and equinoxes.  I hadn’t heard of the first-Sunday-after/intention-for-peace ® thing. And, after Monday morning’s class, when the teacher again mentioned the intention-for-peace, I couldn’t help but siggle (a combo sigh and giggle).

For thousands of years, thousands of monks and nuns – whether in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries or Roman Catholic abbeys, have devoted their lives to the practice of praying for world peace.

 

 

Yo, all you well-intentioned monastics (and any like-minded yogis):  it isn’t working.

One true thing: while occupied with doing yoga poses my fellow yogis and I were not outside the studio and/or our homes, fomenting armed conflicts.  And all those folks praying for/meditating on world peace, while they are so engaged, they also are not participating in any wars.    [3]    But prayer and good intentions…dudes, really?  These and other elements of “spiritual warfare” may give you a temporary dose of the warm fuzzies, but they didn’t stop the Romans or the Huns or the Nazis then, and they don’t stop Putin’s army now.

Nevertheless…. Yeah, it is a nice “intention.”  Namaste, y’all.

 

I’d prefer one yoga pose which does not effectively put all of my weight on my boobs…but hey, whatever works for you.

 

 

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Department Of International Celebrations Of Yoga

Meanwhile, Irish yogis marked the Equinox with their traditional celebrations.   [4]

 

 

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Department Of Particularizing

“The best argument in the world won’t change a single person’s point of view.
The only thing that can do that is a good story.”
(novelist Richard Powers)

Recently I was listening to an interview with Ken Burns, who was promoting his latest documentary series, The US and the Holocaust.  When discussing with the interviewer how to get past the numbness of such atrocities, Burns said something at once common-sensical and dazzlingly insightful:   [5]

“If you don’t particularize, you anesthetize.”

Burns was referencing how one can try to illustrate or explain seemingly unimaginable numbers, such as this disorienting fact:

There were nine million Jews living in Europe before World War II; afterword,
there were only three million left alive.
Six million Jews died.

How many of us can imagine six million, of anything?  But, as Burns explained, you can tell the story of a family of three; you can show the pictures of a mama and a papa and their child, and tell how only one of the three will be alive at the end of the war.  *That* can touch people; that is something people can relate to.

I immediately thought of the movie The Martian, one of my favorite films of the past…well, ever.  Many is the discussion I’ve had with MH about that movie; more specifically, about the idea of sending people on manned missions to our moon or other planets.  Moiself  is in favor of that; I am keen on extra-Terran investigation of our cosmos and don’t see it happening otherwise.  I see the need for humans in space exploration as an inversion of the old astronaut’s axiom.  “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.”    [6]

 

 

MH’s position, held by some scientists and laypeople alike, is that it makes no sense to undertake the higher costs and logistics of sending astronauts to (for example) Mars when robots and probes, etc. can do similar jobs of exploration more efficiently and less dangerously.   [7]   But I say it depends on what kind of “sense” you are talking about.

If a probe crash lands or simply runs out of juice, the scientists who have worked for years (in some cases, decades) on the mission will be distressed, of course.  But no one will be scrambling to mount a rescue mission.

Exactly.

 

 

Without human involvement – not just in the design, but in having human/astronaut “boots on the ground” – you will not capture the wider human attention for the mission.  In the real-life case of Apollo 13, millions of people around the world were watching.  Even if only temporarily, people set aside personal concerns and were united in their hopes that the three imperiled astronauts would make it back to earth alive.  Three men in a space can.  Meanwhile, 100,000 times as many people were dying across the globe every day, some from (arguably) treatable causes such as famine, war, and poverty.  But we don’t relate to those numbers; it is the particular stories which can capture our hearts and minds.

Figures like 100,000 deaths anesthetize.  But a particular story can, I firmly believe, unite people across seemingly intractable political barriers, as when, in the fictional case of The Martian, an international crew of astronauts faced tragedy, and Chinese scientists persuaded their government to essentially give up their secrets in order to help a stranded fellow scientist.

 

 

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Department Of The Podcast I Couldn’t Listen To All The Way Through

But first, a flashback.

Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, during one of those late-night, discussing-Deep-Topics®-while-sitting-in-someone’s-dorm-room conversations.  One of the Deep Topics® participants, in whose room the conversation was taking place (there were a total of five of us), was considering majoring in psychology.  While we bantered about various subjects, “Tim,” a dorm friend of ours, appeared in the open doorway of the room.  Reeking of dead skunk and beaming a beatific smile, Tim looked down at us five, spouted some stoner nonsense, and continued staggering down the hallway, loudly humming a Grateful Dead song.

Deep Topics® host chuckled, then offered a provocative discussion topic. With the caveat that psychological survey claims cannot ultimately be tested, they said they’d read a survey wherein religious believers generally claimed to be happier than religious skeptics. 

“And your point would be?” moiself  snarked.   I pointed out that, right now, Tim would no doubt “survey” as being happier than all five of us combined.  Little did I know that Someone Smarter Than Moiself ® had already nailed that one.

 

 

Back to the podcast I couldn’t finish.  It was a recent episode from one of my favorites: Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid podcast.  In that particular episode, Alda was up to his usual high standards of affable yet probing interviewer, and his guest was equally amiable and engaging.  But the episode, Bridging Science and Faith, was about a subject at which guest Francis Collins tanked, IMO.

There was no bridge constructed.  Not even an inflatable pontoon.

 

 

Collins is a noted a physician and researcher, former director of the NIH, and one of the Human Genome Project leaders.  The episode had this teaser:

Head of the National Institutes of Health for 13 years and now interim science advisor to President Biden, Francis Collins is that rarity in the scientific community – an outspoken evangelical Christian.
For him, science is “getting a glimpse of God’s mind.”

In the interview Collins ultimately (even cheerfully) did not offer any “evidence” for his belief in a (Christian) god, except for the fact that he did believe.  He openly admitted that he could make no argument for the evidence affirming the particulars of Christian theology over those of other religions.  It quite surprised me, coming from a scientist – his offering of the shopworn, “oh gosh all these things I am studying it must have come from something, and it looks like there is some kind of order to it, yet we don’t know what it is…”  reason.

You don’t know something, and so you conclude that the something must be a supernatural deity, aka, a god?  That’s quite a leap, for which there is no evidence.  And science is all about the evidence.  Thus the fact that scientists consistently survey as the least religious professionals.

Then, when Collins decides to embrace the concept of a deity, he happens to choose a religion which would be the most comfortable and familiar and acceptable in his culture and country: Christianity.  It was a giddy, circular concept, as dizzying as a child’s playground roundabout.  Collins said that by studying what he studied (biology/the human genome), by examining the “evidence,” he became convinced of the existence of a creator, which led to his religious faith – however, this same evidence does not convince other scientists who have studied the same things (the vast majority of scientists) that there is anything supernatural guiding the cosmos….  So, Collins talks about the evidence leading him to faith even as he admits that he takes his faith on faith, because there *isn’t* objective evidence to prove his faith.

 

 

Scientists, of course, are human beings, raised by and living among other human beings.  Whether or not they actually believe in their particular culture’s religions, many scientists do not object to being identified with the religion of their family or “tribe,” or they continue to hold on to some kind of religious identity for cultural and social reasons (and for professional and personal safety reasons, as in some societies you do not have the freedom to be open about religious disbelief, no matter what your profession is).

“I have no problem going to church services because quite often, again that’s a cultural thing,” said a physics reader in the U.K. who said he sometimes attended services because his daughter sang in the church choir. “It’s like looking at another part of your culture, but I have no faith religiously.”
( “First worldwide survey of religion and science: No, not all scientists are atheists.”
Rice University news and media relations 12-3-15 )

Even as I kept those contingencies in mind, moiself  started doing that thing – have you ever done it? – feeling embarrassment for or on behalf of a person I have never met, a person who is not even in the same room but whom I think is speaking…well…foolishly.

I wish Collins would have just said, “I have chosen to believe this,” instead of claiming that some kind of evidence – which, unlike the evidence used to map the genome, is not evident to his fellow scientists – is what led him to faith.  Like the vast majority of religious folk, no matter their profession or education, Collins’ decision to embrace the supernatural is not (IMO) the result of response to objective evidence;   [8]  rather, it is due to that most human of traits: credulity.  For whatever reasons, he *wanted* to believe.  And so he did. 

Don’t get me wrong – I think Collins is a great guy.  And I love the fact that he had a friendship with the late great British journalist and author, Christopher Hitchens. “Hitch” trashed Collins in public debates (re the existence of a supernatural deity) but got to know Collins personally.   [9]

 

 

We now pause for a break in our regularly scheduled program to take advantage of this opportunity for segue.

Many is the person, however witty and wise they had previously seemed to be, who regretted debating Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens was acknowledged by admirers and detractors alike as being one of the best debaters to ever take the stage.  In 2007 at an FFRF convention I had the pleasure of hearing Hitchens speak, then answer questions from the audience.  One of the audience questioners…oh, dear.  I felt so sorry for the man, but he phrased his disagreements with several of Hitchens’ opinions – disagreements I moiself  actually held – somewhat inanely and very clumsily.  And Hitch pounced.  I witnessed a phenomena that (at the time) I didn’t know had already been given a name:  the man had been Hitch-slapped.

 

Hitchens response to the biblical story of Abraham obeying god’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac.

 

Definition: when a person overwhelmingly lost a debate with Christopher Hitchens or was the subject of a devastating Hitch putdown, s/he was said to have been “Hitch-slapped.”

Most of the people Hitchens debated with wound up Hitch-Slapped within a few minutes of making their first remarks. You can check out one of my favorite H-S moments here.

Christopher Hitchens was an annihilative debater, seizing on logical weaknesses and often dominating the discourse with his vast vocabulary and Oxford-honed debating skills.  No matter the subject, Hitch would have all the facts at his disposal and an overwhelmingly witty way of presenting them, in his unpretentious British accent.  Some of his finest moments were when he had the audience on his side and he turned his powerful forensic skills on them, if he felt they’d mistreated his opponent:

“The liberal…audience members were on Hitchens’ side, of course….  They cheered him on and loudly booed (his opponent) ….  Instead of basking in the adulation, he stopped the debate to scold the audience for treating (his opponent) so shabbily.
As a leftist way outside of the mainstream, he knew what it was like to have his opinions shouted down, and he objected to his own partisans engaging in such behavior.”

( “Christopher Hitchens…outrageously fierce, outrageously classy…” Isthmus12-16-11 )

 

 

Hitch called his and Collins’ friendship despite having differing opinions on religion “The greatest armed truce of modern times,” and he praised Collins’ devotion to the Human Genome and other scientific projects.  I do appreciate how over the years Collins has been the point man in getting other evangelical Christians to consider the facts of science.  But I don’t think “the facts,” other than the those of Collins’ own humanity and credulity, are what caused Collins to undertake the most human of endeavors: religion.

 

 

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Punz For The Day
Autumn Edition

What’s the best vehicle to drive in the fall?
An autumnmobile.

A pumpkin got a job at a public pool, watching children swim.
I guess you could say it was a life-gourd.

My husband lets people blame him for anything bad that happens in Autumn.
What can I say; he’s a Fall guy.

How do you fix a broken pumpkin computer program?
With a pumpkin patch.

 

 

*   *   *

May we do more than visualize what we want for the world;
May we be aware of our own credulility and never deserve to be Hitch-slapped;
May we remember that all great truths began as blasphemies;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

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[1] It was more like 27.

[2] And once in the studio, in a pre-pandemic group.

[3] Except of course for the war on rational thinking.

[4] I’m half Irish, and thus claim the right to make fun of my peeps.

[5] Hardly surprising, from the person who has had a (if not the) most profound influence on how Americans see and understand their own history.

[6] That phrase, from The Right Stuff (movie and book) refers to the reality understood by the USA’s early space program participants, from NASA scientists to astronauts: No money, no space travel.  Thus, the space program courted the press (well, the “right kind” of press) and public interest, without which they knew the funding for their program would not likely be approved.

[7] As in, your average homo sapiens does not (yet) equate losing a robot with having an astronaut die.

[8] As contrasted with people who are religious and admit not to have examined their religions’ theology and/or tenets – they are religious because they were raised to be and have accepted it.

[9] Collins played the piano at Hitchens’ memorial service.

The Floor I’m Not Mopping

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Despairing Comment of the Month

Overheard at our dinner table: “Hillsboro is so not Paris.”  [1]

*   *   *

Regarding Pope Francis’ encyclical on global warming, I can’t say it better than FFRF founder and co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor’s essay, excerpted here, Why I Find It Hard to Laud the Pope’s ‘Laudato’ :

“…I do have a quarrel, a major quarrel, to pick with Pope Francis and his encyclical. Which is that since the dastardly “Humanae Vitae” was issued in 1968 — in which Pope Paul VI not only crushed the hopes of an entire generation of idealistic young Catholics, consigned women to be brood mares and cemented the church’s war on abortion and contraception — the world population went from 3.5 billion to today’s 7.3 billion and counting. Yes, it’s more than doubled. And that’s surely a crime by humanity against what the pope calls ‘sister Earth.’

“…Overpopulation may not be the direct cause of all our environmental ills, but it makes all of them worse, far worse. The more people, the more cars and carbon dioxide emissions, the more plane flights and fuel burned, the more deforestation, wildlife and habitats destroyed, the more trash in space, in the oceans, dumped in developing nations, the more biodiversity silenced or imperiled, the more fodder for plagues, famines, droughts, wars, natural (and “unnatural”) disasters. It’s not rocket science.

“My mother used to have a favorite analogy about overpopulation, what she called a ‘sanity test.’ You’re in a room with an overflowing sink and a mop and bucket. What do you do first? Do you turn off the spigot or mop the floor?

*   *   *

Let ‘er Rip

Last week’s blog, devoted to a fondly remembered high school teacher and journalism advisor, was a bit milder than usual. But I did promise a return to my usual, highbrow, Masterpiece Theatre entertainment.  Read: fart jokes.

A family drops off their elderly mother at a nursing home. While sitting in her new room, she slowly begins to tilt sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately straighten her up. After a while, she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses rush back to put her upright. This goes on all morning.
Later, the family arrives and asks the old woman, “Are they treating you all right?” She replies, “It’s pretty nice here, except they won’t let you fart.”

Q. Why are farts smelly?
 A. So deaf people can enjoy them, too.

The Duke of Edinburg loudly passed gas during a dinner party at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth gasped, and Prince Philip said, “How dare you fart in front of my wife!” The Duke apologized, “So sorry, I didn’t realize it was her turn.”

Continuing with the royal theme : [2]

Q. What do the Queen of England’s farts have in common with helium and neon?
A. They are all noble gases.

“Jolly good show, Your Highness, that one’s a riser!”

*   *   *

We now return you to our regular programming.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Happy

I like to do a diva finger snap or flick my hands (ala Star Trek’s Lt. Riley in TOS’ Naked Time episode [3] ) when I approach a store’s automatic entry or exist doors, timing it such that my gesture appears to cause the doors to open.

When I do this (admittedly silly) thing, I do not attempt to mimic the sound effects [4]

So far.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Sad

Last week I saw an incidence of shame eating: a woman sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV in the parking lot of a local outdoor shopping mall, frantically and furtively scarfing down what appeared to be an entire tray of frosted cinnamon rolls.

 

*   *   *

Things That Frost My Butt

 

Read the sign carefully. There is no mention of who is sponsoring, leading or providing the food and activities.

Pedophiles, luring kids to the park with the promise of free goodies, games, maybe even puppies?

Close.

Using amazingly similar techniques, it’s religionophiles.

I saw the same sign last summer, in same place, which is in a local park where I walk in the mornings. I assume it’s the same group as last summer, when I took my walks later in the morning and, one day, saw the group setting up and asked them what be going down? [5].  It’s a church group, proselytizing to the kiddies while luring them (and their low income families) with the promise of free food and “fun” games.  [6]

The butt-frosting is due to the fact that they are not upfront about who they are and what they are doing.

 

Want some bible candy, kiddies?

*   *   *

Things That Curl My Payots  [7]

It’s a good thing – a blessing in disguise, if that phrase may slither from an apostate’s lips – that the door spring on our oven broke and there is no replacement part for it and there are also several other oven parts that are either broken or fraying.  Thus, MH had reason to search online for new oven options, and was able to alert me to this wonderful discovery: Even happy heathens like us have the option of purchasing appliances that have a Sabbath mode, yet another modern convenience which allows the faithful to ignore and/or circumvent comply with their  ridiculous primitive treasured religious proscriptions. [8]

Lest you be permanently stuck in Huh/WTF? Mode, let the Chicago Rabbinical Council explain it to you:

The primary function of the Sabbath mode is to override the following features of modern ovens that conflict with the needs of a kosher home, including:

  • Auto shutoff which shuts off the oven after 12 or 24 hours to conserve energy and/or prevent fires.
  • Lights and signals that go on or off when one opens the door, food finishes cooking, the temperature is adjusted etc.

Instead of employing a gentile to turn your oven off or on, you can have your very own Shabbat Goy Oven, imagine that.

Be sure not to miss Schlomo’s Appliances sale on Sabbath-compliant, fur-insulated microwave hats.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Wake up at 3 am and say, Huh?

So, we are all familiar with the questions that have been raised as to how astronauts on a mission are able to eat, bathe, defecate and exercise (these and more space travel dilemmas are delightfully delineated in Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars), right?

But, what about dental hygiene in space? Specifically, I was wondering about the effects of zero gravity on gum tissue. [9]

Inquiring minds don’t give a rat’s ass want to know.

*   *   *

The Obvious Points I’m Not Belaboring…

Or, maybe I am.

“Nothing fails like prayer.”
(Anne Nicol Gaylor, author, feminist and Freethought activist, 1926 – 2015)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof, who police say opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer meeting at a historic African American church here…

There are few words that haven’t already been said or written about the despicable, racist massacre in Charleston. There is, however, a certain…question…that isn’t being asked aloud, for a variety of reasons, including the general consensus that we’re still “too close” to the tragedy [10] to bring up such issues…until a person such as moiself dares to voice the ahem, excuse me observation.

In light of such a tragedy, I know what I am supposed to say or feel, about the people who gather to pray for the victims and their families. I am supposed to express if not genuinely feel platitudes about faith and about resilience in the face of tragedy.

Uh uh. Nope.

After frustration and anger re the racist motivations of the shooter (and the denial of the same by head-in-the-sand-and-up-their-asses conservative politicians, talking heads and gum-flapping Southern Heritage supporters), my second and now recurrent thoughts revolve around the folly of superstitions and incantations.

I have to put down the paper/change the channel/close the website if I read or hear about yet another event wherein religious believers gather to “pray for the victims.”

WT Holy F?!?!?!

Nine people are murdered at their “Lord’s House” during a prayer meeting, which, I can  logically assume via both definition and experience, included petitionary prayers for help, inspiration and intervention – prayers directed to a deity  [11] which, his followers believe, can move mountains [12] but which couldn’t be bothered to protect people in “his” church from being attacked…prayers directed to the same god they believe could have stopped the attacker (if not, why  pray for help and intervention?), but didn’t?

And so, y’all are going to pray. For what?  To what?  Why?

*   *   *

A Belated Happy Half Birthday to Me

We celebrate half-birthdays in our house. Mine was two weeks ago, and I love it that I always forget when mine is just around the bend. Thus, ’twas a cool surprise to come downstairs in the morning and find a card on the refrigerator door, hanging from a red ribbon that led to a gift bag in the freezer, a bag which contained the ingredients for, IMHO, nature’s perfect feast:

 

 

The history of the half-birthday celebration is due to MH’s and my first date, which took place on the day after my birthday. When MH found out that he had just missed celebrating my birthday with me, he expressed mild distress…and I thought nothing of it until, six months later (and yearly after that), I received a half-birthday card.

*   *   *

May you pass the most basic sanity test and throw away that mop;
may you be surprised by gifts of lima beans and dark chocolate (or whatever ingredients compose your equivalent dream feast);
may you take enjoyment from the simple pleasures of a royal barking spider joke,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Re Belle and I trying to plan a celebratory, French-style dinner.

[2] Yes, there is an entire subcategory of The Queen fart jokes. Is this a great world, or what?

[3]  Watch this at 1:49 if you don’t get the reference. And TOS = The Original Series, for you non-nerd readers.

[4] Click on turbolift door, for a sample of what I’m talking about. 

[5] Not my exact phrasing.

[6] Not their verbatim answer.

[7] If I had payots, which—surprise! – I don’t.

[8] The proscription relating to ovens: observant Jews are forbidden from ” creative work” on the Shabbat, which has been interpreted to include food preparation, even flipping a switch or pressing an electronic button.

[9] No, I don’t know what causes such concerns to pop into my mind. I’m just grateful that this time, the brain-popping happened at 4 pm instead of 3 am.

[10] I wonder, will the passage of time make the reactions any more rational?

[11] For purposes of argument, not that I think such a supernatural being actually exists.

[12] Matthew 17:20: ” Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (also Mark 11:23)

The Bucket I’m Not Listing

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I don’t have a Bucket List ® .  I do have, in the dusty corners of my mind, a file of some things I want to do before I die…but not right before I die. That is, I don’t want to do them, and then die.

One of them is to form a retro, San Francisco-style psychedelic band – doing covers of Jefferson Airplane, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Iron Butterfly songs.  We’ll call ourselves Acid Reflux. [1]

*   *   *

Speaking of hallucinogens…

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, an evangelical Christian and son of a Baptist preacher, regularly references his reliance on and so-called relationship with his god and has used his political platform to promote his beliefs. This has led to “The cutest press release we’ve ever issued”, according to FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaynor, which refers to the “genius action by one of our members” as per following story.

 In January Gov. Walker told a group of Wisconsin bankers that he will only run for president if he felt “called” to run. His many statements about how he feels instructed by his deity to make political decisions include his statement to the Madison Christian Business Association that by the age of 13 Walker had “…realized “I’m going to trust in you, Christ, to tell me where to go.” [2] Since Walker has taken the steps prospective candidates take in launching a presidential bid, one can assume that Walker feels instructed by his god to run for president.

Thus, a cheeky Wisconsin state member of the Freedom From From Religion Foundation felt called by the forces of reason and rationality to file an open records request as per the state’s Public Records Law:

“Since your terms as Governor, please provide a copy/transcript of all communications with God, the Lord, Christ, Jesus or any other form of deity.”

Despite the fact that the various incarnations of the Christian deity [3] have rarely if ever seemed to be press-shy – at least if you count the actions of their followers – the governor’s staff admitted there is no evidence for governor-deity consultation. The official response to the records request came from the Office of the Governor’s legal counsel, which confirmed that no such records exist.

I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you – by this revelation!

*   *   *

But wait – there’s more!

The Christian deity may be press-shy for a mere governor, but for renowned astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium Director and Cosmos host, Neil deGrasse Tyson ? Oy vey and fire away:

Interviewer NGT: “God, it’s great having you on StarTalk, I’ve been after you for a couple of years to do this, you finally made some time in your busy schedule, so thanks.”

God: “It’s my pleasure, I’m a big fan, Neil. May I call you Neil?”

NGT: “Neil is fine.”

God: “Would you be willing to actually kneel?”

NGT: “Uh, there’s no ‘k’ in my name. And the answer’s no.”

You can listen to more of Neil’s Conversation with God here, on the podcast StarTalk Radio.

*   *   *

Department of Is it Equanimity, or is it Valium?

Wednesday night, circa dinner time, making a last minute run to the nearest market to pick up some I-forgot-these items, I spotted a man walking up and down the aisles of the store, accompanied by his (presumed) daughters, guestimated ages 6 and 3. The three year old was totally losing her shit; daddy remained calm, with an almost disturbingly serene smile on his face, despite being the recipient of many lasered, why won’t he do something about that? stares from unsympathetic adults.

I’d like to take this moment to thank Belle and K for being such relatively easy kids to raise. No matter what they did at home, they mostly held it together in public places.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

*   *   *

Department of Simple Pleasures

I love being able to use my MS Word Add Words To Your Spell Check Dictionary feature for terms like “wedgie.”

*   *   *

Department of How You Know When It’s Time to Quit

but it looks so glamorous when the rock stars do it….

Dateline: Monday morning, ~ 6:58 am, out for my morning Nordic walk. I detected an unfortunately familiar scent on the cool morning breeze, my head instinctively if disgustingly turning toward the direction of the smell, to confirm that it was yet another  of another husband/wife banished to the porch/garage for their morning nicotine fix.  This time it was a man, slouched on a lawnchair on his front porch, wearing tennis shoes and a too-small (his wife’s?) pink terrycloth robe.

The robe (and the man) looked nothing like this.

The very next (Tuesday) morning, the very same smell, the very same turn of my head, only it’s a double turn, as in double take.  This time, it’s a woman at the same house, sitting in the same chair on same porch, and she’s wearing the same ratty pink robe. She takes a deep drag on her fag and I’m thinking, ah, how cute, it’s the shared smoking robe.

Wednesday morning – nah. I took a different route.  I was a smidge curious (would there be a third wearer of the smoking robe?), but, there are so few mysteries left in life….

*   *   *

Department of I Still Can’t Get Over This

The past few years…decades…have shown us that far too many [4] Republican legislators have an obsession with women’s reproductive systems. Surprisingly—NOT – these same lady-business-is-my-business conservative whackadoodles  seem to have little understanding of how the human body is constructed and actually functions.  Time and time again, their rhetoric indicates they wouldn’t know an actual female reproductive system from the proverbial hole in the ground.

The GOP’s Va-jay-jay patrol.

Latest pathetic example: State Rep. Vito Barbieri (R – Idaho) apparently thinks a woman’s stomach is connected to her vagina.

Really. I may be a fiction writer but I can’t make up shit like this.

Whhile questioning a physician who was testifying against an Idaho State house anti-abortion bill, Representative aren’t-you-glad-my-salary-is-paid-by-my-constituent’s-tax-dollars Barbieri, whose intellect is evidently only rivaled by Idaho’s famous potatoes, asked the doctor  “if women could simply swallow a camera in order for doctors to perform remote gynecological exams.”

I’m going to suggest Rep. Barbieri simply use a suppository camera so neurologists can perform a remote scan of his brain.

*   *   *

He no play-da-game. He no make-a-da rules!
(variously attributed to several politicians and/or public officials, referring to the Pope’s stricture against contraception)

 

May you only play the games where every player agrees to the rules,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feel tall.

[2] As quoted in Freethought radio broadcast

[3] Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost,

[4] The correct number of legislators would be zero.

The Saudis I’m Not (yet) Terrorizing

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It’s been a while since I’ve undocked my laptop from the mother ship and taken it to a coffee shop.  I don’t need the caffeine but I will need the wifi in order to post this.  Our landline/modem are down (as well as my cell phone’s voicemail, a glitch that has no technical relation to the former problems, but it all happened at once, all of a sudden and apropos of nothing, so WTF?).

When informed about my various technical/communications snafus, perspicacious friend SCM asked, “What have you done to piss off the NSA?”

*   *   *

The Grammar cop is always on her beat.

Tuesday’s New York Times featured a cover story about labor and safety demands made by Nepalese Sherpas in light of the Mt. Everest avalanche tragedy.  The Grammar Cop is issuing a warrant for the arrest of the mountaineering company owner who was quoted in the story.  The charge: illegal (yet admittedly impressive) usage of two torpid terms [1] in a row, thus creating an emphasis redundancy:

“The bottom line is, at the end of the day, if the Sherpas aren’t happy….”

Remember, every time you make a typo, the errorists win.

*   *   *

Hoping the Terrorists Win This One

 Saudi Arabia has issued a combination of royal decrees and legislation which, according to Human Rights Watch, will serve to criminalize virtually all dissent thought or expression, and which define terrorism as, “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”

Oh-so-disturbing, but oh-so-hardly surprising. Saudi Arabia has a dismal, to put it mildly, human rights record. [2]  Its inexorable oppression of women has been likened to gender apartheid, and – imagine this! – the Islamic monarchy remains one of the very few countries in the world not to accept the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yo, King Abdulla and your misogynist, racist, Islamite religionist, Stone Age stooges: this Royal Turd Trophy is for you.

*   *   *

Dateline: San Francisco, mid-1980’s.  A friend and former college apartment mate, who’d moved to the East Coast to pursue his master’s degree, was back to The Coast for a visit, and arranged for us to meet up at the dive bar of his choice.

Much to the amusement (and sometimes, annoyance) of our other roommates, Yanny [3] and I liked nothing better than to chew the intellectual fat.  That night in SF we were in fine form, chomping far and wide, so to speak.  I can’t remember which one of us brought it up, but the night (and drinks) ended with us gnawing on this proposition: if you could be endowed with tremendous or fantastic abilities/features/talents in one area, what would you choose?  And which trait do you think would have the most impact upon your personal and professional life?

You can have genius intelligence – you could understand at a glance Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity and see where Max Plank should have tweaked his quantum theory.  Or, you have perfect pitch, can sight read music, possess a singing voice that causes Vladmir Putin to embrace kittens and weep with joy when he hears you belt out Time to Say Goodbye.  Or, your athletic ability is such that the decathlon isn’t enough of a challenge for you, and the International  Olympic Committee decides to add a fweptathalon (that would be the term for forty-one events, right?) to showcase your abilities.  Or….

I mentioned the obligatory caveat, that many historical figures deemed genius were not all that content with or successful in their personal lives. Then Yanny and I, almost simultaneously, brought up the idea that one extreme attribute, the one that involved the least amount of aptitude and/or effort, was also the one trait most likely to affect your life in a positive manner:  that of being good-looking.

The world is our oyster…whatever that means.

In various psychology and sociology classes we’d read about the “perks of pretty,” or what was sometimes called the “Beauty Effect.” [4]  Controlled studies show that, absent any behavioral or verbal cues, beautiful people are regarded to be more talented, kind, friendly, competent, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts, and that “people go out of their way to help attractive people — of the same sex and opposite sex —because they want to be liked and accepted by good-looking people.”

Yanny and I, while hardly trolls, had long been aware of our place among the pulchritude-inally challenged.  We swapped the-entire-lecture-hall-snorted-with-duh-osity stories about the times our professors had brought up a Beauty Effect story. Say it ain’t so, prof – beautiful people have an advantage/get special treatment in this world? Stop the presses!  Alert the National Guard!

I don’t recall either Yanny or moiself confessing, screw integrity, we’d take the beauty superpower. I also don’t recall ifI felt we’d lied about that.

*   *   *

This, of course, brings me to Julia Sweeney.

Segue smackdown!

Sweeney is a comedian/screenwriter/actor/author/essayist/playwright – yes, she’s one of those multiple slash identity people.  Most folks know her as the creator and star of the “It’s Pat”  series of Saturday Night Live sketches.

I greatly admired Letting Go of God, Sweeney’s moving and amusing memoir (and subsequent theatrical monologue show & movie), in which she recounted her journey to letting go of Catholicism and taking hold of a “precarious, messy, cruel, and glorious,” natural worldview.  I’d heard her speak at two Freedom From Religion Foundation annual conventions, most recently during last year’s gathering, at the FFRF home base in Madison, WI.  Sweeney’s speech included an uproarious excerpt from what was to become her latest book, and I made a note to self:  get that one.

If It’s Not One Thing It’s Your Mother is that book.  It contains many interwoven stories, most of which revolve around how Sweeney adopted her daughter Mulan[5] from China, and how she met the man she would later marry via an email solicitation from her future husband’s gay brother.

One of my favorite chapters concerned Mulan’s school experiences.  A friend of Sweeney’s sent his three kids to the same upscale Santa Monica preschool Sweeney’s daughter briefly attended.  [6]  This friend provided Sweeney with a spot-on explanation of the abundance of Young, Beautiful and Thin Mothers ® at the school (in response to Sweeney’s astonishment at the spectacle– “It’s like a beauty pageant around here!”):

 A lot of women come to Hollywood because they are very beautiful…they come here because this is where you can really exploit your luck at being born gorgeous. Maybe they want to be actresses. Maybe the part of being an actress they like most is the part where people admire your beauty. Sometimes they make it in show business. Most, however, do not.

 Then, you have a lot of very successful men in Hollywood. Many of them were overlooked in high school. They have a deep psychological need to be with a knockout. This need is a gasoline that powers their desire to dominate. The women decide that their best bet is to marry these men and seal the deal by having a couple of kids. They’re like anyone assessing their prospects in the face of their declining value because they’re getting older. Can you blame them? It’s a smart move…And many of them do not work outside the home, and they have the time, and the desire, to hang out at the school, parading their beauty for all of us to enjoy.
(from Chapter Twenty-Two, “An Education,” If It’s Not one Thing It’s Your Mother)

I recommend the book for an entertaining read.  If you read it in public – say, during your commute or lunch hour – you will also provide entertainment for those around you.  You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll retch. The chapter on her daughter discovering the mechanics of sex courtesy of a frog project at school made for laughing-so-hard-I-cried reading.  As for the retching, that came from reading about Sweeney’s encounter at a playground, a few days after Sweeney and Mulan returned from a Hawaiian vacation. A Korean mother approached Sweeney and chided her for the robust tan Mulan had acquired:

“You know, we don’t let our kids get that dark…I mean she looks like she’s black,” the Korean mother said.  Making a disgusted face, she added, “A Korean mother would not let that happen.”

*    *   *

Simple Pleasures of Spring: the Return of (our) Blue Man Group

Simple Pleasures of Spring, the Sequel

Walking home from lunch at a local Lebanese-Persian café, I got caught in a hailstorm.  I had my trusty rain hat on, but discovered that my favorite “water resistant” pants have apparently adopted the Borg mantra: Resistance is futile.

*   *   *

May all of your man groups be blue, may your resistance be effective, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1]  Torpid terms are vapid words and phrases used in place of vital ones (e.g. using “the bottom line” instead of conclusion, keynote, upshot, main point), as per the Thesaurus of alternatives to Worn-Out Words and Phrases

[2] I feel kinda dirty even using the words “Saudi Arabia’ and “human rights” in the same sentence.

[3] The etiology of his nickname comes from a long involved story about my implying that there was a Norwegian somewhere in his family’s allegedly exclusive Jewish woodpile…a story I cannot remember in its entirety, for which you should be grateful.

[4]Beautiful people get more of everything positive in life – from pay raises to social status and career and academic opportunities , and probably less crappy stuff, like mosquito bites and bedbug infestations and spam email….

[5] Yes, Mulan is her real/given Chinese name; she was not named after the Disney princess, as Sweeney will be explaining for life.

[6] Sweeney soon realized the school’s fancy, creepily opulent atmosphere was not for her, and enrolled Mulan in public schools.