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The Ears I’m Not Growing

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Department Of Best Answer Ever To That Particular Question

Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, Tacoma, WA. The chef of a hotel/restaurant establishment had acquired a whole halibut, weight approximately 60 lbs.  My daughter Belle is his Kitchen Assistant/Assistant Manager.

Chef:  Do you think you can skin a fish?

Belle: “Let’s find out.”

 

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Department Of I Need To Grow More Ears

It’s no wonder that the phrase “everyone has a podcast” has become a Twitter punch line…  podcasts — with their combination of sleek high tech and cozy, retro low — are today’s de rigueur medium…. There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry…. There is also a compendium, published by Podcast Junkies, titled “The Incredibly Exhaustive List of Podcasts about Podcasting.
(NY Times 7-18-19, Have We Hit Peak Podcast )

 

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Department Of Why Terry Gross (Or Any Other Interviewer)
Is In No Danger Of Losing Her Job To Moiself

 

Good to know – now I can sleep at night.

 

Subject:  the Fresh Air  interview with TV critic Emily Nussbaum. In the interview, TG talks with her guest about Nussbaum’s recently released collection of essays, “I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution.” The book includes a provocatively titled essay, described by TG as

…one of the most interesting essays I’ve read, that is about,
“What Should We Do With The Art Of Terrible Men?

 (excerpt from the interview edited by moiself for length, my emphases):

GROSS: So you make the point… decent people sometimes create bad art, and amoral people can and have created transcendent works. Was there a period where you just thought the answer was simple – judge the work, not the person?

NUSSBAUM: Yes….I’ve been thinking a lot about this because…when I was in college, I specifically had a strong sense of resentment at the idea of any kind of censorship…the feeling that I had about it was, you can’t tell me what I can look at.
And I had this general sense that I really wanted to expose myself to the broadest range of art – anything – even if it would shake me up or upset me or traumatize me....I feel like that shaped my attitudes as a modern person….

Now then.

Moiself realizes that hyperbole is the default mode for many writers and other artsy folk when talking about their work,  [1]   and that such people often take a license with certain words, especially when talking about their artistic sensibilities. Still, I kept waiting for TG to interrupt her guest, with at least some variant of the gut-reaction question that immediately sprung to my mind when I heard Nussbaum say that she’d wanted to expose herself to art which would traumatize her.

traumatize verb (trau·​ma·​tize | \ ˈtrȯ-mə-ˌtīz  also ˈtrau̇-  \ )

Definition of traumatize
: to inflict trauma upon.

trauma noun (trau·​ma | \ ˈtrȯ-mə  also ˈtrau̇-  \ )

Definition of trauma
: an injury (such as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent
: a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury

Really?

I wanted to ask Nussbaum the not-quite-rhetorical questions which might have made her storm out of the interview in righteous indignation, due to their implied criticism of her word usage and comprehension skills:

“Uh…do you know what the word traumatize means?
Have you ever actually been traumatized – not just upset, but traumatized?  My guess is no, or you would not use the word so…unceremoniously. 

I mean, who in their right mind wants to be traumatized, for their personal artistic growth, or for any reason?

 

 

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?   I enjoyed the interview.

 

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Department Of Things Every Podcaster Should Know
Aka, Reasons To Stop Listening To A Podcast

I frequently write about podcasts I listen to, and sometimes recommend certain episodes or a podcast that on the whole I find interesting, provocative, entertaining or combination thereof.  I get recommendations for podcasts to add to my feed from MH, and a few friends, and of course, the podcasts themselves. With 700,000 out there (to cite the NY Times article) I should have plenty of material to choose from, when, for example, I’m out of new episodes  [2]  but want to listen to a podcast when I’m exercising or doing some other kind of brain-dampening task.

Stuff You Should Know was one of those recommended podcasts (but, recommended how/when/by whom, I forget).   SYSK is produced by two of the writers from How Stuff Works – hey, I like knowing Stuff ®!  I figured it would be a match.

I tried it, over a year ago, for a couple of weeks, then deleted SYSK from my podcast feed. I just couldn’t get past the hosts’ voices/vocal mannerisms, interplay and attitudes, which I found too casual, too seemingly non-scripted, and just plain irritating. It was if the show consisted of two slacker dudes who’d stumbled upon some recording equipment, and “…Like, hey, we can do a podcast.”

A couple of weeks ago, on a day where I was listening to music while picking berries and also weeding the blueberry and raspberry patches, I decided I wanted to listen to a podcast..but, alas, there were no new podcast episodes on my phone (even podcasters, it seems, take summer vacations and play reruns).  Too lazy to do research to check out a new podcast, I thought I’d give SYSK another chance. For several days in a row I listened to a few SYSK  episodes, and realized I still found the hosts’ voices and general show construction to be annoying. However, such irritations could be overlooked, I thought, should the show’s content be interesting enough. And it was, for a few days.

Then came the episode, What Makes a One Hit Wonder?  How could that not be entertaining? A fascinating and nostalgia-invoking phenomenon, a One Hit Wonder classically refers to a singer and/or band, either newbies or long time musical veterans, who have one hit song, but without any comparable follow-up hits. The hosts were shambling along with their ruminations, including the psychology of OHW ( is it better to have had had a hit and then fade away and deal with the subsequent ego blows, or not have had a chart-topper at all…)

All fine and dandy, until they decided to apply the One Hit Wonder ® label to other genres. Like fiction writers…like, Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger.  Or, to use the SYSK hosts’ oh-so-literary introduction, “Uh, what about books?”

They proceeded to ramble back and forth about how Lee and Salinger were known for one great book each – respectively, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye – but then (according to the hosts) those writers just kinda faded away, and no one knows why[3]

Both authors, Lee and Salinger,  egregiously mischaracterized by SYSK as One Hit Wonders, in fact left quite the public paper trail when it came to their respective decisions to remove themselves from the public eye.

I don’t know if anyone has an answer, why she never wrote again.
(SYSK host, on Harper Lee)

Actually, many, many people have “an answer” and “know why,” and you (SYSK hosts) could too, if you’d bothered to do the slightest bit of research instead of just pulling some book titles from your ass off the tops of your heads and essentially saying, These are the only books we know of by these authors, so they are examples of literary one hit wonders.

Although she wrote articles before and after To Kill a Mockingbird, the publicity-shy Lee refused subsequent publishing offers, famously saying that “she’d said what she wanted to say” (in a previous blog post, I wrote about my disgust when Lee was mentally incapacitated and a subsequent TKAM  book was published without her permission).  [4]

Both before and after the life-altering (and privacy-destroying) success of Catcher in the Rye in 1951, J.D. Salinger authored several novellas and short story collections. He was a prolific writer. His popular Franny and Zooey stories spent 26 weeks at the top of The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list in 1961-62. One hit wonder? Pleeeeze.

Inexcusably sloppy “reporting.” Yo, Stuff You Should Know, here is some stuff you should really, really know: don’t pull something out of your ass as if it’s a fact, or if you think it illustrates another point you were trying to make, when you haven’t actually investigated it.  Do your research, or turn off your microphone.

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Department Of Those Who Deserve Airspace

No surprise, I (once again) deleted SYSK from my podcast feed. And then, there are the podcasts which have earned my loyalty.  Including the entertaining if inaccurately titled, Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.   [5]

Moiself highly recommends the most recent episode (#54, on Writer’s Block). The Nobody… episodes always feature something to do with the title (Poundstone and cohost Adam Felber interview an “authority” on various subjects of interest to Poundstone), but my favorite parts of the podcasts are the recurring segments, such as Poundstone’s and Felber’s movie reviews, which consist of them recommending whether or not listeners should see a currently released sequel movie by reviewing the original movie (or a totally different movie that Poundstone declares has something in common with the sequel).

During the end of episode 54, host Poundstone and her cohost and producers and writers put on another of their recurring segments: the radio skit, Ken LeZebnik’s America, in which a squabbling family goes on a road trip to some obscure yet significant location in the USA. This week the trip was to Clayton, NY, home of Thousand Island Dressing ®  . The mother and father take turns enthusing and griping in the front seat, while their obnoxious kids Timmy and Nelly argue in the back seat.  After an unfortunate stop for some food covered in Thousand Island Dressing® , followed by an even more unfortunate drive on a curvy road…Nelly’s fearful prediction comes true, as her brother Timmy begins to upchuck. All. Over. The. Car  . [6]

The sound effects begin at roughly 1:03:12 and go to 1:03:40, increasing in over-the-top authenticity, which matched my increasing amusement.  I haven’t laughed that hard – until I cried, literally – since the last time I saw the trying-on-bridesmaids-dresses-after-getting-food-poisoning scene in Bridesmaids.

 

Wouldn’t you rather see a cute sloth picture than a boy getting carsick?

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The First Mess Cookbook, by Laura Wright

Recipe:  this is embarrassing…I cannot remember the name of the recipe I made from the book…

 

 

…and the book is in another locale, so I can’t look it up.  But, uh…I remember I liked it (and can recommend the entire cookbook)!

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May you enjoy a life-enhancing, “let’s find out” experience;
May you take petty enjoyment from hearing juvenile barfing sound effects;
May you seriously rethink any desire you have to be Podcaster # 700,001;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] Which is why Fresh Air’s interview with writers – especially fiction writers, ahem – tend to be my least favorite shows.

[2] I don’t listen to every episode of every podcast, and sometimes delete without listening the episodes whose topics and/or guests I find uninteresting or “unworthy” in some other aspect.

[3] Not a verbatim account – I tried to find a transcript of the show (without forcing myself to listen to it again), but they offer no transcript on the SYSK website. When you have a rambling show, seemingly unscripted, I guess there isn’t much of a call for transcripts?

[4] Since the 1960 publication of TKAM, Harper Lee notoriously – and more importantly, consistently – refused to submit any of her other writings (or even admit that she had any) for publication. She said what she had to say on the subject, was her patient if terse response the few times she bothered to answer critics or fans who wanted “more.” If that wasn’t plain enough, she vowed that, “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”

[5] I listen to her, and, as Jesse Jackson would put it, I AM somebody!

[6] His vomiting is so wild and copious it cannot be contained in the roasting pan the ever-practical mother, voiced by Poundstone, brought along for just that purpose.

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

The Self I’m Not Hating

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It’s Later, and I Don’t Hate Myself

The spam message I dared to delete:

IF  YOU  DON’T  READ  THIS  NOW  YOU’LL  HATE  YOURSELF  LATER

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Every year, we forget they are there. And every year, usually in late June but earlier this year, two yellow roses pop up seemingly overnight, nestled amongst our patch of Hood strawberries.

roses

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Three Cheers for Neti

That’s Neti, as in Neti pot – not Nessie, as per the one strange person who claimed they once overheard me extolling the values of a “Nessie pot.”

 

"So what am, I chopped liver?"

“So what am, I chopped liver?”

 

Sorry, Nessie. No cheers for you…although in this, The Season of Blooming Things, ® it does often seem as though a  Loch Ness Monster of snot [1]  is sloshing through my sinuses. And indeed, ’tis the season.

Curse you, pollen.  Curses upon you, you son of a fish who does not even know his own father — if I could only get at you, I would do the same to you! I would drape your innards over your arms! [2]

Curse you, ubiquitous and meddlesome wind-blown plant sperm, which will not be content with fertilizing the fauna but which also delights in infesting my nasal cavities and giving me what I can only describe as razor blade throat.

Some seasons, some days, it’s hardly noticeable. Either way, on most days, half of an OTC allergy pill usually helps, as does the use of the Neti pot.

 

neti

 

Twice last week, after engaging in a breezy, early evening berry picking session, I thought I would achoo my brains out. As I was stuck in full tilt, machine gun-sneeze mode, I marveled at the unstoppability of the reaction and contemplated the sad fact that if I had one of those attacks during Inconvenient Times ©, the terrorists would win.

What if I had such an attack and I was on a bus with doctors and Korean refugees, all of us hiding from the nearby North Korean patrol that would surely kill us if they found us, and I couldn’t stop sneezing and Alan Alda would have to strangle me to keep me quiet so as not betray our position?

Am I the only person in the world who thinks of the MASH  series finale when I have an epic sneeze fit?

Don’t answer that.

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Good News That’s Nothing to Sneeze About

For once I have cause to be politically and socially proud of the actions of the country of (50% of) my ancestors’ birth. Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular national vote [3]. Sure and begorrah, ’twas a popular vote, indeed, as more than 62% of Irish voters said aye to changing Ireland’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people, regardless of gender.

The Roman Catholic church has had a stranglehold on Irish politics and culture, dating from when the RCs ruled every aspect of Irish life and the priests sodomized the courts and the laws before they discovered altar boys and Magdalene laundry girls.

The RC church is rapidly and consistently losing ground in Ireland, a briskly changing, modernizing society which now polls as one of the more secular European nations. However, the majority of the county’s laws were enacted when the RC church had a theocratic stranglehold on the land.

IRELAND-GAY-MARRIAGE-VOTE

Michael Nugent, Dublin writer and chair of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland, noted in an interview with Freethought Radio that Ireland is a “pluralistic society governed by Catholic laws.” Nugent said that Ireland’s openly a-religious, atheist and freethinking politicians [4] are taking this vote to heart and plan on working to amend and repeal a plethora of Church-inspired laws – from abortion prohibitions to statutes requiring public officials to swear religious oaths.

More than one political commentator has referred to the gay marriage vote as a “reality check” and a “slap in the face to the Roman Catholic church.” I heartily applaud the latter, and look forward to more church-face slapping – preferably with the biggest, coldest fish voters can wield – as the interests of humanity and rationality overturn the legal vestiges of dogma and superstition.

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I’d Like to Buy a Vowel, Pat

vowel

NO NO NO NO NO.

Not that vowel.

I’d like to buy an i.

i is my favorite vowel, in part because two of my favorite words begin with it [5].

There is the word I itself, the personal pronoun. Although I am not fond of the first person narrative in fiction and rarely employ it in my stories, I am fond of I for more personal reasons, having to do with action and momentum. I is an indicator of agency and responsibility (I will do ___; I think that ___).

My other favorite i-word is if. I love that word. For me, it is the key to answering the question non-writers of fiction often ask of writers of fiction; specifically, How do you get your story ideas? The closest I can come to answering that question truthfully [6]  is to say that the What if question is always involved.

Story ideas, from the mundane to the profound, center around possible answers to the question, What if…

*  a couple used their argument over whose turn it was to bring in the garbage can as a distraction from their crumbling relationship, mental health issues and employment insecurity…
* a husband betrayed  his wife by posting bail for her sister who was in jail for abetting a cult leader’s assault upon…
* a bereaved mother enlisted the help of a sympathetic stranger she met in a university library to avenge her daughter’s death…
* a teen-aged/elderly/mentally challenged skate boarder/retired cracker salter quality assurance manager/grocery bagger  stumbled upon the body of a former teacher/complete stranger/notorious serial flasher in the hall closet/supermarket parking lot/Grand Canyon gift shop restroom…

Also, if can be used to denote the hope of things to come and the rationalization of things that fail in the here and now (“If ___, then ___”).  It is a word of both promise and regret (“If only…”).  A mere two letters, a thousand possibilities. I like that.

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Disc Down, Antlers Up [7]

I saw my first professional Ultimate Frisbee game last Saturday. It might have also have been my last professional UF game.

On a sweltering afternoon in the Hillsboro Stadium (the home of Hillsboro’s minor league baseball team), my family and I watched the Portland Stags defeat the San Francisco Dogfish. [8]  That is, MH and Belle stuck around to watch the entire game. A bored and disappointed K and I left at halftime.

boredom

UF is an interesting, fast-paced game…or so I thought when I watched college and other teams play it. The teams self-referee, there are no time outs and no dallying between quarters and halves – the action is almost non-stop. The professional UF game I saw had been turned into a version of…frankly, of something I also used to love to watch: professional baseball.

It had the same bloated time frame, with time outs being called every other play and with the announcers and team owners or whomever not trusting the audience to be still with their thoughts and reflections – the cocaine/Ritalin/ADD generation has a short attention span and must be distracted/entertained every second! Thus, we were tortured provided with mind-numbingly, butt-scratchingly, tedious, juvenile and game-prolonging mascot dances and cheers and come-out-onto-the-field-kids-for-some-relay-games “entertainment” at every opportunity.

 

Oh, now this makes it interesting.

Oh, now this makes it interesting.

 

Over one and one half hours later, and it was only halftime? Thanks, but, nooooooo.

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Shave Every Day and You’ll Always Look Keen

I’ve posted before re my brain’s penchant for earworms.  Apropos of nothing (conscious), yesterday morning I awoke with the charming ditty Shaving Cream, a novelty song featured on the Dr. Demento show, oompah-ing through my cranium.

There are worse ways to start a day.

All together now, join with me on the last verse:

♫ And now folks my story is ended
I think it is time I should quit
If any of you feel offended
Stick your head in a barrel of…. ♫

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May you always look keen (and I trust that you do),
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Apologies to BO’M and those of you who’ve told me you enjoy reading this blog during breakfast.

[2] From the Epic of Gilgamesh, arguably the first great work of literature, which tells the tale of a Mesopotamian king’s adventures which include angry deities causing a worldwide flood and other tales which later sources borrowed  (e.g. the biblical Flood story). Quite entertaining, the EOG also has some really epic curses.

[3] Other countries have legalized same sex unions, via acts of their legislatures and/or the courts.

[4] Imagine, a country where a religion-free politician can be elected! Don’t need to imagine – that’s most Western Europe and the “developed” world,  except for the USA, which is in the company of the Islamic theocracies when it comes to electing out-of-the-closet atheists.

[5] Uh, that is, they begin with the letter “i,” not “it.”

[6] Yep, I’ve lied or mislead on many occasions. “How do I get my ideas? Well, there’s this guy in a trench coat who hangs around NE Burnside, and if you slip him a twenty he’ll flash you a plot and character outline….”

[7] That is the Portland Stags’ fan cheer or unofficial anthem, from what I gathered.

[8] Or, Dgfsh, as the scoreboard read.