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The Discount I’m Not Claiming

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Department Of This Explains Why Republican Congressmen Haven’t Congealed Into A Fetid Cesspool Of Their Own Despicable Gullibility

From my cryptogram-a-day book, the puzzle for November 26. Even two thousand years ago, it was an observable phenomenon:

The mind attracted by what is false has no relish for better things.

(Horace, Roman poet, circa 65 – 8 BCE)

*   *   *

Department Of Is That Your Classic Sodapop Bottleneck,
Or Are You Just Happy To See Us?

Moiself saw a movie on Tuesday I wasn’t sure I was going to see, until a friend recommended it.  From the many previews I’d seen, I figured Ford v. Ferrari was sure to be a testosterone fest and would likely fail The Bechdel Test as applied to movies.  [1]   Also, mere words cannot express my lack of interest in auto racing.  Also also, although the leads in the movie, Matt Damon and Christian Bale, are IMHO two of the more consistently interesting actors in movies, their blatant product placement scene – a  male bonding wrestling/fight, after which they toast each other with bottles of soda pop, the COCA COLA label of each bottle most carefully turned toward the camera – was an ignominious sellout moment.

Although it won’t go down on my list of faves for the year, thanks to the skills of the actors and the story line (clashing buddies join forces to navigate corporate shenanigans and international rivalries) F v. F was an enjoyable watch “for the most part”…savefor my desire to have edited “the most part” down to a respectable, non-butt-numbing 90 minutes.  As it currently runs, F v. F is over 2 ½ hours…and, really, gents, do we need scene after scene, cut after cut, of VROOM VROOM VROOM and images of a clutch being depressed, followed by a foot pressing the accelerator, VROOM VROOM VROOM, repeat x 256 to the nth?

Yep, they race cars; they downshift and up-shift; they speed up and slow down – got it.

 

“I love you, man. No, I love *you,* man. What say we celebrate our bro love by shifting some gears and downing some ice cold sodapop?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why I Love It When The Closed Captioning Option
Gets Stuck On The Hotel TV While I Am Channel Surfing
Through A Seemingly Endless Stream Of Action Movies

Because I get to read such wonderful captions as,

[dramatic music]

[ system powering up]

[tires squealing]

[ men grunting]

 [chatter]

 

Guess you can’t caption this …whatever it means….

 

*   *   *

Department Of Best Wrong Text Message Ever

You know that moment: in the nano-nano of nano seconds when your finger is reaching to press the send arrow and the executive part of your brain says, Stop! No – this is not the person you mean to send this text to! …and it’s too late?

My best of “that moment” occurred last week, via a text I sent to a neighbor. I was under the mistaken impression that MH was the most recent person from whom I’d received a text (MH had asked me if there was anything he needed to do/get that afternoon at home before joining me at the coast).  I’d forgotten that I had answered friend JK’s text about meeting up with him and his wife that night, which thus put friend JK in the default/first position when I opened my phone’s messaging app.  [2]

Moiself (texting to JK, thinking it was to MH):

Hey, today when you go home, could you check the laundry that is in
and on top of the dryer? Also be on the lookout for a loose turd.
I found one and only one upstairs.

Moiself (half s second later, to JK):

Oh my god JK ignore that,
that was meant for MH…this is hilarious…Sorry.
The turd remark, as you may guess, had to do with a litter box accident
by one of the cats
.

JK (to moiself):

I think I’ve seen that turd, but it was long ago….

Moiself and JK later decided my text-fail would have been even better if I’d sent it to someone I didn’t know well and who didn’t know that I have cats.

 

(“But you may find the turd you’re looking for by the cantina….”)

*   *   *

Department Of Mortifying Memories

I recently bought an issue of Sunset Magazine, which sparked a long-buried memory of familial discomfiture (read: mine).  In the late 1960s through the early 1980s my parents subscribed to Sunset.  Back issues of “The Magazine of Western Living” were always stacked on the lamp table by our living room armchair; during my grade school years I thumbed through them on occasion, both bemused and perplexed by the pictures of tastefully manicured yards surrounding architecturally stunning, designer-furnished houses with their beautiful kitchens and elegant table settings. Those emblems of “gracious living” seemed quite foreign to me, living in my family’s modest home in our lower middle class neighborhood.

 

 

When I entered junior high I made friends from the Other (read: wealthier) Side Of Town ® and eventually was a regular visitor to their houses. In those homes I saw design and decor that had previously been only a fantasy, and realized that what might have been inspirational or aspirational to my parents was the reality for many of my new friends.  The magazine that had been a curiosity turned into an embarrassment, and I began hiding our copies of Sunset when my friends came over to my house.  [3]    I was mortified to think that my friends might think…. I’m not sure what, exactly, I feared our copies of Sunset represented.  Was it that my friends would secretly laugh at the idea that my folks thought that they, too, had a magazine-worthy home?  Or worse, that my family aspired to a lifestyle which we obviously did not have and could not attain?

My parents were always generous toward and genuinely interested in my friends, whom they welcomed at all times and on all occasions into our home.  When I observed how this was *not* the case at the homes of some of my more affluent friends, I became cognizant of and grateful for the kind of genuine gracious living my parents practiced, and I stopped hiding the magazines.

It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Still, moiself cringed to recall this memory.  I’m a much better person now (we’re grading on the curve, right?).

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Cauliflower Arugula Puree

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher     [5]

 

*   *   *

Department Of It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times…
No, Actually, It Wasn’t Anywhere Near The Worst Of Times,
But It Sucked, Anyway

Dateline: Tuesday, 12:45-ish p.m. at a New Seasons Market.   [6]  I am in the “quick” checkout line, and as the checker is ringing up my takeout sandwich, pinto of cherry tomatoes and a few other items she asks, “Do you want your discount today?”

I’m a longtime New Seasons customer, and know that on Tuesdays all NS stores offer a Veterans discount, wherein active and retired soldiers may receive 10% off their purchases (either by showing their id or being in uniform).  Since nothing about me shrieks military, I reply, with confusion:

Moiself: “My…discount? What discount?”

Checker: “Well, normally we do it on Wednesday, but during Thanksgiving week we decided to extend it to Tuesday, also.”

Moiself is still looking at the checker with genuine incomprehension, and she points to the front of her cash register, where a sign notes that Wednesday is Senior Discount Day for those age 65 and over.

Moiself: “You mean, your Senior discount?”

Checker (nodding enthusiastically): Yes!

Moiself, smiling (read: baring my teeth): “I don’t qualify for it.”

I havejust come from receiving sad news from a friend who’d lost her cherished mother-figure/mentor; I probably have a less-than-perky, distressed look hiding behind my initial smile-at-the-checker visage. I’m not afraid of aging; I realize it is a privilege denied many, but, still…. I’m getting there fast enough on my own, thank you.

The checker begins to do that frantic, talking-to-fill-an-awkward-silence thing, babbling on about how she doesn’t take the discount either, although she thinks she might be even older than me and…and she takes way longer to bag my items than is necessary, fumbling and dropping several tomatoes out of their box.  I continue to say nothing, simply favoring her with my numb, thank-you-so-much-for-assuming-I’m-older-than-I-am, half-smile.

I decide not to do the easy/expected thing – to assuage her and say, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s all right.”  It wasn’t as egregious a slip up as pointing at a woman’s distended belly while asking, “What is your due date?” and then finding out she is not pregnant…and  I *am* just a few years away from the store’s senior discount parameters.  Still, I want the checker to momentarily flounder in her discomfort, in the hopes she might remember that when it comes to a discount based on age, you should wait until a person claims it, then check their crow’s feet or teeth or id or whatever if you need to do to confirm their discount-worthiness.

The checker finally corrals the last loose tomato, flicks a few buttons on her checkout screen, and says she’d decided to give me the discount anyways.  A savings of $3.34; I guess that was – what, my insult dividend?

 

“Make it a 90% discount and you can keep all the tomatoes, you impudent whippersnapper.”

 

*   *   *

May you never assume someone qualifies for a senior discount unless
their false teeth have sprung out of their mouths and landed atop your sneakers;
May you never, ever, agree to be part of a product placement;
May you always find the escaped turd;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] The movie has to (1) have at least two [named] women in it; (2) Who talk to each other, (3) About something besides a man.  As predicted, F v. F failed the test.

[2] And, of course, I didn’t check the recipient’s name but just dictated the message.

[3] I stuffed them under the chair, returning them to the table when my friends were gone. My parents never noticed.

[4] 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.

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character in The Office who would eat anything, would like this
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.|
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[6] Not my usual New Seasons (where I know or at least recognize most of the checkers), but one in another town.

 The Bush I’m Not Beating Around

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Happy Day-After Darwin Day

Darwinday

It’s not too late to celebrate it, if you missed it or forgot.

There are several organizations that wish to make International Darwin Day an internationally recognized holiday, in order to inspire people:

“…throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin.”

So, there’s that.

Closer to home, you could be inspired to keep up the fight for truth, justice, and the rational way, or follow my example – when in doubt on how to commemorate something, make a special meal. [1]

Oh, joy, another celebratory dinner.

Oh, joy, another celebratory dinner.

Last night I made a Darwin Day primordial fish soup. I made a rich fish stock as a base, for which I must thank the always-helpful New Seasons Market fishmongers, who ventured into the big freezers to fetch me some halibut bones. On to the second stock [2], which I pureed, then added cubed cooked celeriac (aka celery root) and steamed green beans and chunks of cooked fish.

Most any mild, white-fleshed fish would work well with this recipe. Considering that many of Darwin’s contemporaries variously feared for or threatened the fate of his “immortal soul,” I thought a filet of Dover sole would be appropriate.

Hint for a really amazing fish soup: cook the fish separately and add it to the soup just before serving. I cut the filet into smaller pieces and poached them in olive oil. I forget where I got that tip – Julia Child?  Jacques Pepin? Lady GaGa? – but it was easy, decadent, and delicious.

♫ Can't read my, Can't read my, no he can't read my poach-fish face...♫

♫ Can’t read my, Can’t read my, no he can’t read my poach-fish face…♫

*   *   *

Another commemoration, of sorts.

Wednesday marked the 6th anniversary of my father’s death. Chet Parnell would have liked the fish soup.  This picture of us was taken at Christmas, 1975.

 

ChetandRobbieDoll1975

*   *   *

Attention, Old Persons and Sports People

I recently purchased a foot acupressure mat, which came with several roller tubes and other foot massage devices. I have treated myself to professional foot massages on several occasions, and would like to be able to do something similar at home.

Not for a moment do I believe the woo about how pressing on certain “energy points” on the sole of my foot will “free a blockage,” stimulate a vital organ, restore “total health,” or effect any of the other silly claims made by the mat’s makers. It’s just that an acupressure or reflexology-based foot massage Feels. So. Good.

Extra feel-good bonus: the mat, manufactured in India or SW Asia, comes with two delightfully stilted, isn’t-it-amazing!-lost-in-translation, English language instruction sheets which, for entertainment reasons, I can’t bear to recycle right now:

Ideal for * House Wives * Office Executives * Old Persons * Sports People
Computerised foot shape…helps you to place your feet in correct direction (not in haphazard manner)
Mat is made up from very tough, long lasting, virgin material [3] to avoid back supporting board which is disturbing factor for energy flow.

I’m sure a good giggle stimulated my energy meridians far more than the mat’s Micro Point charger! and New Computerised design! could ever do.

biomat

*   *   *

Department of This Explains A Lot

I was listening to a Fresh Air interview with author Jennifer Senior, whose book — All Joy and No Fun explores some paradoxes of modern parenting. In response to a question about the neurological underpinnings of teens’ and young adults’ foolish risk-taking and other exasperating behaviors, the author shared some intriguing information about the latest science behind what we call the adolescent or teenage brain – which actually goes past the teen years, until around age twenty-five :

“…the adolescent brain is this really interesting thing. First of all, the prefrontal cortex is not quite done developing. And the prefrontal cortex is what is responsible for kind of rational decision-making and planning and impulse control. So there’s a reason that teenage kids take dumb risks. You know, the mechanism that actually should be functioning as their brake pedal is not fully developed. It’s a rather weak brake.

They also tend to sort of overestimate the reward that they will get from taking risks, which is interesting to me. Their brains are just awash in dopamine, which is the feel-good hormone, so they feel everything very, very, very intensely – and that’s everything from crushes to, you know, rejection. It’s the good and the bad. So it’s a real adventure having them in the house. What’s so interesting is that it now looks like the prefrontal cortex keeps developing, right into your mid-20s. So the only kind of group of people who seemed to figure this out before neuroscientists was car insurance companies. They actually knew; you do not give a car to anyone under the age 25.

So.  Ahem.

Last week Belle did the ET thing and phoned home.  Fortunately (for her), MH answered, and thus had the unenviable task of passing along the news to me that Belle had fractured a metacarpal bone in her right hand. [4]  After an hours-long study session at the library, she’d finished her chemistry and calculus assignments and moved on to homework for another class. Frustrated by what she perceived to be the idiocy of a four-page instruction handout for a one page assignment, our lovely and talented daughter, valedictorian of her high school graduation class, now a college biochemistry major mathematics minor student, walked outside and punched a wall.

REALLY

Really.

A fucking BRICK wall.

wall

*   *   *

Department of Creepy Coincidence

Last week I came across a New York Times article on Jeb Bush, Evangelicals and the Pandering Question, about the challenges the aspiring Republican presidential nominee will face in courting the religious right wing of his party. The previous day I had highlighted [5] this passage from The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

For Ingersoll, the primary danger of entanglement between religion and politics was that invoking divine authority would simply shut down discussion on controversial issues. The requirement that politicians be religious, or at least appear to be religious, ruled out a significant group of independent thinkers from office. Ingersoll decried the public religiosity required of politicians in a statement that is just as applicable today as it was then:

…it is almost impossible for an independent man to success in a political career. Candidates are forced to pretend that they are Catholics with Protestant proclivities, or Christians with liberal tendencies …or that although not members of any church, their wives are…. The result of all this is that we reward hypocrisy and elect men entirely destitute of real principle, and this will never change until the people become grand enough to do their own thinking.”

Do yourself a brain favor and get to know Robert G. Ingersoll, the 19th century attorney, Civil War veteran, abolitionist, Freethinker, orator, civil and women’s rights pioneer — one of the greatest Americans most Americans have never heard of. [6]

 

Ingersoll

*   *   *

While We’re Sort of on the Subject

Please, To Whomever May Be Listening on the Republican Side of Things [7] :

No Jeb Bush!  No more of the Bush family; no Bush of any kind or age or gender or…anything.  No no no no no.

Oh, this is disappointing.

Oh, this is disappointing.

*   *   *

Department of Please Don’t Let Al Sharpton Know About This

Yet another fascinating thing about moiself:

– I am a white supremacist when it comes to popcorn.

Don't even ask, of course, I choose the one on the left.

Of course I choose the one on the left!

*   *   *

“In the fight between you and the world, back the world.”
( Frank Zappa quoting Franz Kafka )

“In the fight between you and the wall, bet on the wall.”
( Robyn Parnell quoting Robyn Parnell )

*   *   *

May you always fight the good fight – or, failing that, at least may you bet on the winning side – and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Why isn’t there a footnote yet?

[2] Diced onion, green & red bell pepper, celery & carrot sautéed in EVOO; then add fish stock and spices (a pinch of saffron & ground white pepper, tomato paste, dried dill week, bay leaf,  parsley sprigs) & simmer for 25 m.

[3] It’s plastic. Virgin plastic.

[4] Yep, the one she writes with. You take a swing at something, you lead with your dominant hand.

[5] There should be more interesting footnotes here, or somewhere in this post. Sorry.

[6] And for the same reason Ingersoll had to champion the memory of Thomas Paine – both men were open and articulate promoters and defenders of Freethought and critics of religion, and thus not favorites of the history textbook writers.

[7] Yeah, I know, I might as well be talking to – or punching – a brick wall.

The Catastrophe I’m Not Having

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The Fallout From Ten Years of Watching Grey’s Anatomy:

After escorting a friend to a PT appointment I boarded the hospital elevator, as did a Handsome Young Doctor ® .  One man, one woman, in one hospital elevator….?  For a moment, even as I noticed the really, really serious expression on HYD’s face – a look that made me realize he probably would not get the joke/reference – I considered flashing him a perky smile and saying, “So, aren’t we supposed to be having sex?”

*   *   *

Still more reasons to go on living…and quit writing? 

The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct.  This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.” 

“I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing.”
(Tim Kreider, “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” NY Times op-ed)

 Like Kreider and many other writers, I’ve had “opportunities” presented to me, from media and other publishing outlets, wherein I could write articles, guest blog posts, even a regular op-ed/feature column.  Opportunities to work, without pay.  Sometimes these offers were presented via fellow writers, who should know better…and perhaps do… and perhaps inwardly cringed when they offered their bosses’ party line, which was, essentially, that being published in ____ (The Oregonian, The NY Times Review of Books, The Furrowed Eyebrow Literary Review) is an honor, and that such “exposure” is equivalent to compensation.

Such offers almost always begin with the Those Offering the Guest-Permanent Writing Gig telling you, the writer, how much they admire your work.  Although not enough, evidently, to pay one red cent for it.

FACEP

Like Kreider, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that people who would never ask their barber to give them a haircut for free or expect their market to provide them with a bag of groceries at no cost (“I’ll tell everyone these organic brown eggs are from New Seasons – it’ll be great exposure for your store!”) will, with a straight face and a clear conscience, ask authors and artists to write an essay/illustrate a brochure for them, for nothing.

(In his essay Krieder briefly and drolly compares his situation to that of his sister, a pulmonologist:  “as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.”)

And then there is Patricia J. Williams’ so-good-it’s depressing article, “Writing as Women’s Work” (The Nation).  Williams uses the case of zoologist and Scientific American blogger Dr. Danielle Lee, a busy scientist who politely declined an offer to do a guest blog gig for no remuneration, [1] to illuminate the situation of those of us who labor in disciplines that have been deprofessionalized and undervalued in the digital economy.  Although I shouldn’t be surprised by the phenomenon, until reading William’s article I didn’t know that writing is also falling victim to outsourcing (“…companies like Journatic, which supplies supposedly ‘local’ news coverage, have outsourced stories to nonlocal freelancers across the U.S., as well as in the Philippines, where writers are given ‘American-sounding bylines’ and asked to commit to 250 pieces/week minimum at 35 to 40 cents a piece.”).

In the year since I’ve started this blog I’ve no doubt  bellyached mentioned several times the fact that every week (and some weeks, every day), I consider the business end of writing fiction [2] and ask myself why I do what I do. And I come across these two wonderfully written – and likely poorly paid for [3]–  articles, and I feel…I don’t know how to describe how I feel.  Like the lyrics of that immortal C & W song: I don’t know whether to kill myself or go bowling.

The business end of writing

The business end of writing

********************

Public Service Announcement #1
And now, we pause for a moment to piss off the faithful
before returning to our regular programming.

Theology in a nutshell [4]

THEOLOGY

Public Service Announcement #2, aka
Law and Order, WPD [5]

 

A small but fervent request:  let’s all do our part to halt the creeping catastrophization of our language.  You can be upset about something, you can have your feelings genuinely and even painfully hurt, without being “destroyed” or “devastated.”

Definition of DEVASTATE

1 :  to bring to ruin or desolation by violent action
2:  to reduce to chaos, disorder, or helplessness

(The flood devastated the town; The disease has devastated the area’s oak tree population; The hurricane left the island completely devastated.)

You didn’t get the promotion, you flunked the [6] admissions test, you were snubbed by the in-crowd at the school or office cafeteria, maybe you even received an alarming medical diagnosis.  But were/are you devastated, or destroyed:

1.  Ruined completely; spoiled.
2.  Torn down or broken up; demolished.
3.  Done away with; ended.
4.  Killed.
5.  Subdued or defeated completely; crushed.
6.  Rendered useless or ineffective.

If I make an upsetting or dismissive remark to you, I may be acting rude, but you have not been bullied.  Your child’s exclusion from the neighborhood kid’s birthday party is hurtful, and the memory of being left out may affect him/her for some time, [7] and you, as a parent, were disappointed on behalf of your child, and maybe more than a little pissed off.  But really, was your child – were you – demolished or destroyed?

WOW

Stop the hyperbole, and reserve such catastrophic classifications for situations (The Rwandan Genocide, The Space Shuttle disasters, the LA Dodgers trading Pedro Martinez for Delino Shields)  that can truly and accurately be described in no other way.

*   *   *

I hope these PSAs have not annihilated your sense of your place in the cosmos, and that your hijinks will still ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] And was subsequently smeared by the blog editor (“Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”)

[2] And increasingly, nonfiction, as these cited articles illustrate.

[3] Kreider contributes to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which he is paid “the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989.”

[4] A fitting container.

[5] Word Police Division.

[6] No reason for this footnote. Move along folks, nothing here to see.

[7] Including, eventually/hopefully, in a positive way, as a catalyst to develop empathy for the socially excluded.

The Butt Cheeks I’m Not Cooking

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Lizards may not have lips, but fish have cheeks.  The former are imaginary; the latter, delicious.

I’d ordered fish cheeks at restaurants but had never found them available for purchase.  An Oregon coast fishmonger told me that the much-prized fish cheeks were sold mainly to restaurants and were rarely available in retail markets.  The first time I saw halibut cheeks on sale was over ten years ago, at the newly opened branch of a locally-owned organic market (a shout-out to our beloved New Seasons!).  I checked out fresh meats section of the store, passing by other patrons who stood in front of the beef, poultry, lamb and pork cases while the butchers took their orders. When I reached the seafood display case I nearly mashed my nose against the glass with excitement, and the fishmonger smiled in appreciation.

“Look what you have!”  I blustered.  “You have halibut cheeks!”

Butt cheeks?”  The woman to my right gasped and dropped a freshly wrapped package of New Season’s house-made chorizo in her shopping cart.  “They sell BUTT CHEEKS?”

I exchanged bemused glances with the fishmonger, who, I could see, was about to enlighten the aghast shopper.  Greedy moi launched a preemptive strike[1].  “Yes, they do.” I grinned at gasping sausage woman, and cheekily (sorry) patted my own behind.  “They are considered a delicacy in some Eastern European countries.”

I was able to buy ’em all: two pounds of halibut cheeks.

Sweet and tender, with a flavor and flaky texture that is often compared to with lobster,[2] halibut cheeks are so tasty on their own that IMHO, the KISS[3] doctrine applies to their preparation.  Here’s how we celebrated Little New Year’s Eve[4] at the Black Cat Café,[5] with dear friend and discerning dinner guest, LAH.

Yummers Halibut Cheeks (serves 4)
-1 pound Halibut cheeks (about 8 – 12 pieces)
-EVOO
-Sea salt
-2 ½ T unsalted butter, divided
-2T freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
-lemon wedges

Film two large cast iron pans with EVOO and heat the pans over medium-high heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Sprinkle both sides of the cheeks with salt; place cheeks in the pans (don’t overcrowd – give ’em plenty of gasping room). Sauté the cheeks for 2 minutes.  Flip them over, cook second side for 2 minutes.  Add the butter and lemon juice (dividing them among the two pans). After 30 seconds flip the fish again, so that both sides are coated with butter.  Cook for another 30 -60 seconds (do not overcook; depending on thickness, total cooking time for the cheeks should be a mere 5-6 minutes).  Plate and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on top.

 Credit: Roy Henry Vickers artcountrycanada.com

Don’t ask don’t tell

During this lovely dinner, I sniffed a cat turd. There’s no graceful segue; it happened.[6]

I heard something scuttling on the floor by my chair,  and with all the holiday goodies we’ve been given (including a package of chocolate goober things called “Moose droppings”) I assumed the cats had once again gotten up on the counters and knocked down some treats down….  And I screamed at K when he said, “Yeah, I was going to say to you when you picked that up, ‘I think it’s a cat dingleberry.'”

Don’t ask.  Oh, but you didn’t, did you?  I told, without being asked. And if you’re a Facebook friend of my daughter’s, you already know.

*   *   *

♫ So this is Christmas/And what have you done
Another year over/A new one just begun ♫ 

As much as I have always loved the Tweenolidays[7] I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  I have been to and hosted my share of entertaining New Year’s celebrations; still, more often than not, it’s a couple of days to tolerate, not anticipate. This is methinks, a combination of three factors:

1)  The Ghost of The Younger Years ® rattling its memory-chain of the Are We Having Fun Yet?! pressure:  It seemed to me that I did not have the kind of festive/bacchanal/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new adventures immortalized (and exaggerated, yeah, I know) in cinema and literature, and thought that I was supposed to do that, even if I didn’t want to, and that every other person on the planet was Having A Great Time save for moi;

2)  The gut-check of the Mature years:  I’ve passed a certain AARP- significant age, and that effin’ John Lennon song gets played over and over this time of year, the lyrics of which seem to taunt me with the reality of the insignificance of my accomplishments during the past 365 days  (“…and what have you done?…another year over….”)

3) There is no factor #3.

*   *   *

A new year.  Here we are, two thousand and thirteen. Fiscal cliff, schmiscal cliff.  We stared into the void.  Dutiful American © that I am, I am supposed to ponder…something. I believe it is my patriotic duty to declare, “No matter what else happens, at least my taxes might not go up.”

Not to be flippant, but the issue was so complex; I tried to find a study guide to help me understand it, but apparently they don’t make Fiscal Cliff Notes.

cliff

A New Year.  Here we are, two thousand and thirteen.  That bears repeating, because just like the intestinal gas bubbles caused by your uncle’s New Year’s Blowout Chili-dawg casserole, the boogeymen of yesteryear keep surfacing.

Despite the number of professional male athletes who spoke out in support of LGBT on rights in 2012, a recent Los Angeles Times article detailed how gay athletes still feel unwelcome in pro sports.  To come out as gay (which no active NFL, NBA, major leagues or NHL players have done) is considered a “career-ending” truth-telling, largely – gee, I’m just guessing here – due to attitudes like those of Detroit Tigers right fielder Torri Hunter.

The über-masculine named Torri told the Times that he believes an out gay teammate would make him “uncomfortable.”

“For me, as a Christian…I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right,” Hunter said. “It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”

All his learning.  Okey dokey.  Has Hunter done any learning about how someone with his skin color[8] playing baseball alongside white teammates once made the majority of white Americans “uncomfortable,” because in all their teachings and learning, biblically, the “mixing of the races” was not right?

BTW, this isn’t the first time Hunter’s insight-free jaw flapping statements have gotten him attention.  In a 2010 interview with USA Today about the changing demographics in baseball, Hunter referred to dark-skinned Latino baseball players as “impostors.”

I look forward to Torri Hunter’s Detroit Tigers teammates addressing the question if being on a team with an ignorant religious bigot makes them uncomfortable.  In the meantime, without further ado-doo, Imposter of the Weekgoes to Torri Hunter, for his up-until-now successful imitation of a sentient human being.

catimposter

The TMI Files

I subscribe to salon.com. I usually find their articles an equal mix of cogent, timely and provocative, seasoned with more than the occasional dash of WTF thinks this crap is news? But on Little New Year’s Eve, the article with the story line: “My Sexual Resolutions,” oh, really, salon?  I am so not going there (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

I hoped in vain the article would have a subtitle, something along with lines of “…which I vow to keep to myself.”  Alas, no.

*   *   *

This stupid day in history.

On January 4:

– 1649 – English Civil War: The Rump Parliament votes to put Charles I on trial.[9]
– 1885  The first (successful) appendectomy is performed by Dr. W. W. Grant, on Mary Gartside.
– 1974 – President Richard Nixon refused to hand over tape recordings and documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.

Notable births on January 4 included
– 1809 – Louis Braille, French developer of the touch reading system for the blind
– 1960 Michael Stipe, R.E.M. singer/songwriter

Two significant January 4 bucket-kickers
-1903 – Topsy the Elephant (died in America, born in India, ca. 1875) was electrocuted.[10] Yet another reason to hate Thomas Edison.
– 1999 – Iron Eyes Cody, Italian American actor (nee Espera Oscar de Corti) best known for portraying Native Americans (he was the “crying Indian” in the Keep America Beautiful PSAs).

*   *   *

2013.  I’m going to have to start those…how do you say #@!%& French tapes, en francais? There it sits on my desk, mocking me: Rosetta Stone Francais Level 1. I promised Belle that if she sticks with French for all four years of high school, she and I will travel to France after her graduation. It seems as though I may have to keep that promise, and my two quarters of college French seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Although I’ll have my own translator in the family, I’d like to reacquire some survival basics, other than being able to complain about the lack of TP in the WC (Il n’y a pas de papier dans la salle de bains).

*   *   *

My KenKen books are full, and this is not to be tolerated in a new year.  I’ve become quite fond of the math puzzles[11] and consider doing at least one of them, along with the NY Times Crossword puzzle, a daily, sanity-break necessity. My New Year’s present to moi was a shopping spree on Amazon, where you can (and I did) waste far too much time perusing their puzzles offerings.  I limited myself to three: Puzzle-a-day Kenken; Ferocious KenKen, and Crazy for KenKen. It was a tough call to settle for the third book, the full title of which is Crazy for KenKen: 100 Logic Puzzles That Make You Smarter.  I kept searching for its companion: Batshit Crazy for KenKen: 100 Irrational Puzzles That Blow Your Higher Reasoning Skills Right Outta Your Nostrils.

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The New Year is here; hilarity ensues.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] There weren’t many halibut cheeks in the display. I wanted them all.
[2] Not by me, but by people who like comparing things to lobster.
[3] Keep It Simple, Sweetie.
[4] The eve before New Year’s Eve.
[5] Aka our dining room.  So named for the painting, titled, “The Black Cat Café,” that hangs on one of its walls.
[6] Or, shit happened, as the saying goes.
[7] the days of between Christmas And New Year’s day, briefly mentioned in last week’s post.
[8] Jackie Robinson couldn’t help but be “out” about that.
[9] Some historians believe Charles got a bum deal.
[10] Topsy, a circus/amusement park elephant, had killed three men, including a trainer who tried to feed her a lit cigarette. Although the sadistic trainer was not considered a threat to elephants, Topsy was deemed a threat to humans by her owners and killed by electrocution after the cyanide-laced carrots she was fed failed to do the job.
[11] KenKen is way better than Sudoku, which, IMHO is like watching grass grow while the paint dries.