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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.”

 

*   *   *

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)!

*   *   *

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 Elder I’m Not Abusing

Comments Off on The Elder I’m Not Abusing

Before the Deluge

Ere I begin my Rant of the Week ® I simply must share my favorite texts [1] of the week. This was yesterday’s exchange between moiself and daughter Belle, whom, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, is working as a summer ZooCamp counselor. This week’s campers have included many second-graders whose physical and emotionally maturity (read: lack thereof) proved challenging for their college-age camp leaders.

Belle: It finally happened – Colin finally peed his pants.

Moiself: Sorry, but ☺

Belle: Also, Ethan punched another kid in the balls.

Moiself: Hope Colin brought a change of clothing…
and the other kid a change of balls.

Belle: Ha! We had to give Colin spare shorts. After he changed he put his shoes on the wrong feet. But we didn’t notice until lunch so he was wearing them like that for 3 hours.

Moiself: This is way too much fun for me to read.

Belle: It sprinkled rain. Heather pulled a swimsuit out of her backpack and insisted she had to wear it. Because of rain.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

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I’m not one much for literary boycott or censorship, other than the self-imposed kind. That said, this is my appeal to y’all, for which I am using my Asa credentials:

As a writer, and mostly as a human being, I urge you to please not purchase nor read Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s supposed prequel to her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The background of Lee’s “new” novel is suspicious, to say the least. If you’re unfamiliar with the details (which you can find here and here and here and in many other heres), the controversy centers around Lee’s capacity to consent to the release of a book she steadfastly refused to release – or even admit existed – for  over 50 years. And now, here come a motley crew of distant family members, new attorneys and publishing scions who will profit from the out-of-nowhere, out-of-character reversal of Lee’s lifelong, principled stand.

 

mockingbird

 

Harper Lee never married and had no children or grandchildren. Her older sister, Alice Lee, Harper’s lifelong companion and confidante, was an attorney who served as her sister’s lawyer and advocate. Alice Lee would likely have profited handsomely if any of her sister’s post-Mockingbird writings were published. Instead, she loyally abided by Harper’s wishes, and protected both Harper’s estate and Harper herself from the attention Harper so ferociously avoided.

Since the 1960 publication of TKAM the publicity-shy 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.”

In 2007 Harper Lee suffered a stroke. Now aged 89, Lee has been living in an assisted living facility for many years and must use a wheelchair for mobility. Her health problems include almost total vision and hearing loss, paralysis on her left side, confusion and memory problems. [2] In 2011 Alice Lee wrote that her sister “can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”  Then in 2014, a mere two months after Alice Lee’s death, publishing house HarperCollins, along with the attorney [3] who replaced Alice Lee, astonished the literary world by announcing the release of Harper Lee’s “rediscovered” first novel.

The manuscript was “found,” Lee’s new lawyer [4] claimed, by rummaging through Lee’s attic and other personal items “in a secure place where Ms. Lee keeps her archives.”

Go Set a Watchman; right. Make sure he watches overhead, for vultures circling.

IMHO, the “finding” and publishing of GSAW is elder abuse. I won’t abet it in any way.

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“….salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning that occurs after ingesting contaminated food and/or improper handling of contaminants including feces from pets, and reptiles, poultry or rodents. Symptoms of diarrhea to fever to abdominal cramps to….”

Department of Why Do We Need These Warnings From the Government?

Specifically, why do we need to be warned not to Kiss Chickens?

Oh, that’s right – because chickens are cute. And people are stupid.

 

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

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On a related note, the following is either:

  1. the title of the book I’m reading
  2. my life’s motto
  3. my suggested slogan for the upcoming Republican Presidential candidate’s debates:

Let’s Be Less Stupid

Okay, it’s all three.

stupid

 

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Department of Duh

That’s one big ass hosta.

 

hosta

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Department of Cruciferous Haiku [5]

The cabbage sits tall
and proud on my counter. Or,
should I say, stands?

Do the words apply?
 I’m anthropomorphizing
a vegetable.

Cabbage cannot sit,
nor stand. Still, I think this one
would strut, if it could.

It bears dignity;
a certain nobility
 belies its odd shape.

Thus, I’ll treat it with
respect, despite its likeness
to a school dunce cap.

cabbage

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Op-Ed Opening Line of the week (or year)

In return for helping to raise money for veterans who lost limbs in a war that he started, former President George W. Bush took $100,000 from their charity for giving a speech in 2012, and another $20,000 to be flown in on a private jet.
(from the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial, July 10)

bushleg

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I Skimmed The New York Times Thursday Styles Section So You Didn’t Have To

It’s a section I usually toss aside.  But something about yesterday morning – perhaps the early morning dream I had in which Brad Pitt was trying to gaslight me – made me throw usually to the wind.

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the diversion (although I’m still a bit unnerved by the dream), because I might have missed this Important Fashion News. [6]

For some reason, I’m really hoping this catches on:

 

pithair

 

And not this:

 

yellow

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Department of How Cool is This?

Pluto

 

The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and a complete absence of craters – discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA’s New Horizons mission image and provided punctuation for a journey nine and a half years in the making.
Pluto’s Portrait: Ice Mountains, No Craters, and for Scientists, a ‘Toy Store’
New York Times, Thursday July 16, 2015 )

Wouldn’t you love a job where you made discoveries that baffled and delighted you? For most of us, our reaction to work-related baffling discoveries is along the lines of, Holy Honeybadger crap, it isn’t supposed to do that!

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Department of Please Oh Please Let It Happen

“…something similar (to the Cambrian Explosion) is happening in human culture. Institutions—not just religions but also universities, armies, corporations—are now faced with how to change their fundamental structure and methods to deal with the fact that everybody’s living in a glass house now.

“Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything.”

(Author, scientist, philosopher, The Clergy Project co-founder Daniel C. Dennett, from the interview, “Churches Can No Longer Hide the Truth: Daniel Dennett on the New Transparency,” Religion Dispatches May 18, 2015)

make it so

*   *   *

May your motives and methods be transparent,
May baffling discoveries delight you and your chickens never bite (or kiss) you,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi

 

 

 

[1] Names of campers changed to protect the not-so-innocents.

[2] Lee’s mental and physical decline has been revealed via family and friends in court via legal wrangling over control of her writings.

[3] I don’t want her name in my blog, stinkin’ fucking carrion-eater that I think she is.

[4] Okay, the stinkin,’  fucking, carrion-eater is Tonja Carter.

[5] Supported by a generous combined grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Food and Drug Administration, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

[6] Excuse the oxymoron. And by oxymoron I do not mean the dude in yellow.