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The Official Party Business ® I’m Not Undertaking

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Department Of Why The Two Party Duopoly Has To Go, Reason #379

Republican, schmublican; Democrat, schmemocrat – both parties use the same sleazy-ridiculous tactics when it comes to fundraising.  As per the following which MH received in the mail – previewed by moiself to him in an oh-so-excited text:

MH, look what you’re getting!  It’s official party business!
It has official numbers on it!  Quick – find something to salute!

*   *   *

Department Of I Guess You Had To Be There

Homemade yogurt joke:

 

“Whey! No whey!”

*   *   *

 

Department Of You Need To Watch This Show Because I Say So

“Happiness is amazing. It’s so amazing, it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.”
(“Anne,” to “Tony,” at their regular meeting place – in a cemetery,
sitting on a bench which faces their respective late spouses’ gravestones.)

Last weekend Moiself watched all six episodes of the first season of.After Life – a Netflix series written and produced by Ricky Gervais –  and I recommend that you do, too.

A British black comedy, After Life follows Tony, whose beloved wife has  died and whose dementia-addled, elderly father is in a care facility.  Tony, struggling to deal with the irritations and futility of everyday life, considers suicide, then decides to live long to punish the world for his wife’s death by saying and doing whatever he wants, including telling the truth about the pointlessness of his and his colleagues’ jobs – working for a community newspaper no one reads. Tony thinks of this as his “superpower,” but his friends and colleagues persist in seeing through his gruff persona to the decent chap  [1]   he used to be.

Every episode had me on the verge (and sometimes over the edge) of tears, of both mirth and pain.  Keep the Kleenex handy for the laugh out loud, spit out your popcorn/iced tea/wine dialogue, interspersed with gut-wrenching displays of the depths of Tony’s love for his wife and grief at her loss.  Tony’s observations about humanity are cutting; his misanthropy can be obscene; his heartache is raw and palpable. And the supporting cast – from his colleagues at the newspaper, to a prostitute (“Excuse me, sex worker!”) he befriends, to the inept postman he taunts, to the nurse at his father’s care facility, to a widow he meets at the cemetery who becomes a kind of grief mentor – all are multi-dimensional characters, keenly written and well-acted.

Frankly, imagining moiself in his shoes, I think Tony shows remarkable restraint in many of his interactions with his fellow humans. For example, he goes on assignment with the paper’s photographer to interview yet another clueless couple who think their daft doings deserve media coverage – in this case, parents who think themselves newsworthy for  having “…a baby who looks like Hitler.”

Newspaper staff member:
Got a good lead for you: “Local baby looks exactly like Adolf Hitler.”

Tony, at the baby’s home, with the staff photographer,
looking at the Hitler-style mustache on the baby’s upper lip:
So is that a birthmark?

Baby’s Mother:
Oh, no, it’s eyeliner. We did it with marker pen at first, but it took ages to get off.

Baby’s Father:
Yeah, I mean, this way we can do it when we want then wipe it off if we need to.

Tony:
So hold on, it doesn’t really look like Hitler then.

Photogapher:
It does.

Tony:
No. I mean naturally. It wasn’t born with its hair combed forward
and a mustache, was it?

Photographer:
Nor was Hitler, to be fair.

 Tony:
What I’m saying is, it’s not a revelation, is it? I mean, to get in the paper. “Baby born that looks a bit like Hitler,” mildly interesting if it had a real mustache. But you can draw a mustache on any baby and it looks a bit like Hitler.

Father:
Not a black one.

Mother:
Not as much.

Tony:
I’ve got one more question. Why do you want your baby to look like Adolf Hitler? You’re not fans, are you?

Parents:
We’re not Nazis, no.  Just a bit of fun, innit?

Tony:
I mean – Yeah. Hitler’s the funniest thing to do, I guess.

 

Moiself, I prefer Hitler cats to Hitler babies.

 

Tony (like his creator, Gervais) is an atheist. I’m grateful for Gervais using Tony’s character as a foil with which to reveal and parry some of the absurd things people  say to non-religious believers, as in Tony’s meaning-of-life exchange with Kath, a co-worker. Kath, the newspaper’s advertising editor, is a haughty thorn in most of her colleague’s sides. She’s also a fervent fan of the American comedian-/actor Kevin Hart:

Kath:
 If you were atheist –

Tony:
 I am.

Kath:
 – and don’t believe in an afterlife –

Tony:
I don’t.

Kath:
If you don’t believe in heaven and hell and all that, why don’t you just go around raping and murdering as much as you want?

Tony:
I do.

Kath:
What?

 Tony:
I do go around raping and murdering as much as I want, which is not at all.

(a co-worker chimes in):
‘Cause he’s got a conscience.

Kath:
But if death is just the end, what’s the point? –

Tony:
What’s the point in what?

Kath:
– Livin’! You might as well just kill yourself.

Tony:
So if you’re watching a movie, and you’re really enjoying it – something with Kevin Hart in – and someone points out that this’ll end eventually, do you just go, “Oh, forget it then. What’s the point?” and just turn it off?

Kath:
No, ’cause I can watch it again.

Tony:
Well, I think life is precious ’cause you can’t watch it again.  I mean, you can believe in an afterlife if that makes you feel better. Doesn’t mean it’s true. But once you realize you’re not gonna be around forever, I think that’s what makes life so magical.
One day you’ll eat your last meal, smell your last flower, hug your friend for the very last time.
You might not know it’s the last time, so that’s why you should do everything you love with passion, you know? Treasure the few years you’ve got because that’s all there is.

(a thoughtful silence envelops the newsroom)

Kath:
I’ve watched Ride Along 2 five times.

Tony:
Well, you haven’t wasted your life, then.

Kath:
Definitely not.

 

Series Bonus: you know satisfying it is when you resolve a Where do I know this actor from?! feeling? By the last episode I was so happy when I figured out (without “cheating” – i.e., looking at the credits) that the actor who plays Anne, Tony’s cemetery buddy, is Penelope Wilton.  Wilton is probably best known to American audiences for playing Downton Abbey’s Isobel Crawley, the more liberal member of the family whose modern outlook is an irritant to the imperious Countess Dowager.

 

 

Anyway, if it isn’t obvious by now, I found the show quite entertaining as well as thought-provoking and mirth-inducing.  And if anyone else thinks they have a better philosophy of life (that can be proven) than Tony’s what makes life so magical speech (along with what his friend Anne says in the quote which opens this segment) – well then, to use a suggestion the Tony character would likely approve of,  go $#?! yourself.

 

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Department Of Words A Parent Lives For
(Sub-Department of My Work Here Is Done)

Earlier this week moiself ran into one of son K’s  high school teachers/coaches when I was out walking and she was out for a run.  So, wait a minute: did she run into me, or did I walk into her?

Move along, folks, nothing here to see.

 

I didn’t recognize her at first; it had been at least six years since I’d seen her.  She wore a running shirt emblazoned with the logo of the fitness club she and other coaches had started at K’s and our daughter Belle’s high school. I asked her about that, we chatted, I introduced myself, and she remembered K from his years on the Cross Country team and also from one of her classes. She will always remember K, she said, as being …very intellectual, and also kind, very kind.” Two more times in our conversation she used the word kind to describe him.

 

That’s my boy.

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Department Of One More Thing About Offspring

I found this while going through the file cabinets, looking for something which was in a folder adjacent to the folders in which MH and I keep old notes and sketches written by  Belle & K.  There is no date or attribution on it –  PARENTING FAIL!  [2]   I’m thinking it was done by K, due to the handwriting…but then, as MH pointed out, Belle was big on writing notes to us, so it could have been either one of them.   

 

 

Translation:

How to take care of children

  1. get in PJs.
  2. eat dinnr.
  3. let them have as much Desrt as they wont!

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert

* Creamy Fava Bean Soup
* Eggplant Zaalouk
* Berber Skillet Breads

 

My ratings: for the Fava Bean Soup and the Eggplant Zaalouk:

 

 

For the Berber skillet bread:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

*   *   *

May you appreciate (or at least tolerate) yogurt puns;
May a teacher remember your child – or you – with fondness;
May you rest assured that no baby is born looking like Hitler;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] He’s British, you know.

[2] I always (or so I thought) wrote on the back of a drawing or note I saved, the name of its creator, and the date.

[3] 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.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin (a character from 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.

The Prank I’m Not Playing

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Department Of Good Sports

Dateline: Monday, April 2; a local yoga studio. My fellow yogis were gracious participants in my idea to play a belated April Fools’ Day prank on our equally gracious instructor.

If you’ve attended a yoga class and/or have a home practice, you may be familiar with the variety of props that may be used to attain and/or enhance certain asanas[1]

 

 

yogaprops

 

 

Some people and classes use several props (e.g., blocks, straps and bolsters) while others use little to none. The classes I attend typically use a strap for a couple of poses, the blocks for maybe one or two, and bolsters for sitting and/or final relaxation. But it has always seemed to me that there was a prop missing. During poses targeting head and neck flexibility and strengthening or those concerned with posture or spinal alignment, when I hear the suggestion to lengthen the crown of your head, I think to moiself, “There ought to be a prop for that.”

April 1 fell on a Sunday. For Monday’s class, I was prepared. I’d purchased 24 paper crowns (Did you bring enough for everyone in the class, young lady?) and passed them out to my fellow yogis before class. The rest is history.

 

 

 

yogacrowns

 

 

 

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Department Of, Who, Moiself – Foodie Trend-follower?

I love me some avocadoes. I consume at least half of one avocado per day, included in my breakfast or lunch, or sometimes dinner.  [2]   But it never occurred to me to use an avocado to construct that most trendy of foods items. Until now.

Oh, look, I made some avocado toast.  To strive for authenticity, I’m thinking of charging moiself  $15 for it.

 

 

 

avotoast

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Department Of Things You Don’t Expect (Or Want) To See In Trader Joe’s Parking Lot

It was just another shopper, pushing another red Trader Joe’s  shopping cart. Her cart was filled with groceries and there was a child  [3]  sitting in the kid seat portion of the cart. The other TJ Shopper ® and I were headed in the same direction; she was in front of me, and as I got closer to her I noticed something odd about the child. Its body size and movements (and the fact that it was sitting up unsupported) made me guess the kid was just under a year old, and its torso and limbs were in standard/chubby baby proportions…but the kid’s head was massively outsized, and blocky.

I quickened my pace and got a look at the child’s face.  Yikes, to say the least. It was as if someone had gotten hold of a 3 D printer and superimposed the head of Ricky Gervais onto an eleven-month’s old body.

 

 

 

terror

 

 

 

Now, I happen to admire much about that comic provocateur, Ricky Gervais. I’d love to espy his big head, say, one day when I glance through my office window and say, Isn’t that the multi-talented, stand-up comic/writer/actor/director/producer Ricky Gervais standing on my front porch?, and then I’d invite him in for a cup of tea and we can have a jolly good time poking fun at politics and religion and Caitlyn Jenner and other people who take themselves way too seriously.  But to see that enormous mug of his on top of a baby’s neck….

For the briefest of moments I considered returning to TJ’s, buying up all the Two Buck Chuck  in the store and drinking it in the backseat of my car.

I was going to try to find a couple of pictures online,  [4]  do some photo-shopping, and come up with something similar (to what I saw) to share with my readers. But it’s so kind of y’all to be reading this – I’ve no desire to ruin the rest of your day.  Instead, here’s a more pleasant occupant-of-a-shopping-cart image for you to ponder.

 

 

 

shopping cart

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Department Of Do You Recognize Padding When You See It?

 

As you may have noticed, I’ve not much profound to say/report on this week.

 

 

einsteinduhjpg

 

 

Correction: actually, there is (too) much to say, much of it involving subjects that have been weighing on my mind recently. One of them is so bleak…think along the lines of articles by people even more thoughtful and articulate than moiself   [5]  who are willing to tackle such feel-good topics as

Robots taking human jobs causing hellish dystopia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Dystopian Future Has Come To Pass

Artificial Intelligence Will Best Humans At Everything By 2060, Experts Say

The US opioid addiction is an omen of a ‘hellish dystopian’ future, scientist claims, as AI takes over billions of jobs, leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives….

Not to be a downer or anything.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you already be working on next year’s April Fool’s Day shenanigans;
May you be pleasantly surprised by the next thing you see at a Trader Joe’s parking lot;
May you never pay $15  [6]  for anything on toast;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yoga poses or postures.

[2] Does anyone else remember when (to non-Californians) avocados were considered by some folk to be “exotic”?

[3] Presumably hers…although I noticed absolutely no familial resemblance.

[4] Of Mr. Gervais and random male babies.

[5] Make that, 100 times more….

[6]  Not even if it’s platinum-plated caviar (and why you’d want to eat fish eggs – with or without plating – is beyond moiself).

The Cufflinks I’m Not Inspired By

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 Cufflinks: these affordable imitations make you look rich at a fraction of the cost

I was thrilled to find out, via my email spam filter, that there is a more affordable way to fulfill my lifelong ambition to spend as little money as possible to “look rich.”

If I were a composer, that out-of-nowhere e-solicitation might be a source of artistic inspiration.  Odd/random snippets of information have provided the creative kick for many a song.  John Lennon famously wrote Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite after seeing a 19th century circus poster in an antique shop.  The brain nudge for yet another Lennon-penned track on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Good Morning, came from a breakfast cereal commercial.

Most of the ideas for my stories have come from what I call the what-if? question.  Following a seemingly haphazard visual, auditory or personal encounter, I find myself asking questions and/or posing scenarios and wahoo, story outline.

Cufflinks.  What if?  Cufflinks…cufflinks…cufflinks….  Nothin.’

*   *   *

So, it’s officially launched.  The Mighty Quinn had its release date May 14, which means I was finally able to download my e-version of my own book.  My publisher, Scarletta Press,  had sent me my author’s copies and readers who’d preordered the paperback version on Amazon and Barnes & Noble told me they’d begun receiving their copies two weeks before the 14th.  I was able to get TMQ’s tantalizing icon on my ereader two weeks before the release date, but could not access it until that very day.  I wanted to e-whine into my Nook, but I’m the author; can’t I see how it looks on screen, pretty please?

And now, I know. Yikes, and with a capital Y.  Here’s how the title page looks when the screen is rotated long side vertical.:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Last week was must-see TV week in this house, what with the series and season finales of The Office and Grey’s Anatomy.  And then there was this unexpected entertainment from that bastion of reasoned debate and civic discourse, Meet the Press, Face the Nation Geraldo at Large.

Confession: I’d never seen the show (which, judging from the title, I thought was a reality show about the host’s battle of the bulge), until alert media critics called to attention the episode with a certain, guaranteed-to-amuse guest.

Ostensibly on the program to dispute NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s public health initiatives, conservative political foghorn commentator Ann Coulter managed to steer her anti-nanny state tirade to one of her favorite topics: naughty gay sex.  The always blithering quotable Coulter’s best line:

“Sodomy: we all have to pay.”

That’ll be $200, in cash, up front, Ms. Coulter.  Leave it on the sink counter, next to the mint mouthwash.

Poor Ann, still paying for it.  No wonder she seems so agitated.  Someone, please, send her a link to Craig’s List Casual Encounters.

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One prays for rain, one prays for sun;
they kneel in church together.
Which of them, do you suppose
will regulate the weather? [1]

When someone asked Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom to pray for a friend who had breast cancer, Adam said, “I have a better idea — give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits, and make her feel less alone and more cared for, will do much more for her than talking to anything else.” [2]

To many people, prayer apparently provides the illusion of compassion and intention.  “I’m praying for ____ (your job search, a cure for Nana’s cancer, the tornado/ flood/hurricane/bombing victims…).”  No matter how sincerely you may hold that thought, all you have is the self-comforting (read: selfish) delusion of doing something, when, in fact,

You. Have. Done. Absolutely. Nothing. Except. Pray.

People in trouble, people in need, need your actions, not your carefully arranged thought patterns.

My point is not to bash the ignorant praying masses, nor make light of the latest tornado tragedy.  My intention, as always, is to promote reason and look reality in the face (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

And then, there is Wolf Blitzer.

Need I say more?  No.  But I will.

In case you were on a media-free retreat in an Indian ashram this week (or perhaps busy crawling out of the tornado-flung –debris from which your Lord and Savior neglected to save you [3]), you’ve probably come across the Ultimate Newsman Fail clip, in which CNN Evangelist Snake Handler Blessings Giver correspondent Wolf Blitzer keeps pushing an Oklahoma tornado survivor to mouth the obligatory Natural Disaster Survivor’s Pious Blather ®  .  Blitzer prattles on about how Rebecca Vitsuan and her family have been “blessed,” and when he insists, “You gotta thank the Lord,” a visibly bemused and flustered Vitsmun  gives that BlitzHole more civility than he deserves by politely replying, uh, no, that’s not gonna happen, seeing as how she’s an atheist.

It would make for a fascinating on-camera moment to see a real “news” correspondent ask some religious person (preferably your average, Sally PraiseDeLawd and not Pat Robertson or other religious pros) [4] the following question:   Please explain your understanding of why all those faithful believers living in in the heart of the Bible Belt died (no doubt furiously praying their asses off as the wind howled around them), while that unrepentant atheist survived.

Okay. I understand why many people appeal to their deities and call for prayers during times of loss and tragedy.  It is something I did (with varying degrees of confidence in the efficacy of the act) when I called myself a believer; it is a cultural reflex, a part of the human struggle to attribute cause and effect – or assign blame – for events we don’t understand or burdens we feel powerless to ameliorate.

But please, leave the god talk out of natural disasters.

I was elated to see the Oklahoma elderly woman’s on-camera joy at discovering her dog beneath the rubble of her home, the dog she’d assumed was dead…even as I cringed to know what was coming – the thanking of a god for not only saving her, but her dog:

 “I thought god just answered one prayer; ‘let me be OK,’ but he answered both of them.”

I would never want to quash the woman’s delight at having her beloved canine companion back.  If I knew her personally, and had an ounce of respect for her intellect and sentience, after her recovery I’d hope she’d have the opportunity to consider the conflicting, disturbing implications of truly believing what she said on camera.

1) If this supernatural being you prayed to exists, you believe he [5] has the ability and the willpower to intervene in the natural world, which is why you prayed for him to rescue you, and your dog.

2) If you believe this god used his divine powers to rescue your dog you must also consider that he did so while allowing human beings, including children cowering in terror in their schools, to suffer horrific, crushing injuries, and die.

3) This same god is now the object of prayers of gratitude from survivors, and petitionary prayers to extend his comfort to the brokenhearted families whose dead children were somehow less worthy of divine protection and intervention than one old woman’s dog.

prayer

I am being advised, on Facebook, radio, television, email petitions, by people who don’t even know me (as well as by people who do and should know better), to pray and pray some more – this week, for the tornado survivors.  Next week will surely bring another prayer-worthy petition.

And I realize it isn’t considered kosher to bring up this Uh, wait a minute, are you really thinking this through?  issue in times of trouble – or at any time, in a culture as superficial as ours.  Pandering religious sound bites of gratitude and “comfort” are the norm, and it’s a popular move for politicians, media mouthpieces and other public figures to Thank God for ____ or announce, as one newscaster did this week, while viewing footage of a tornado-razed school,  “We pray they [the faculty and children of a Plaza Towers Elementary] were somewhere else.” [6] But true religious believers cannot be taken seriously when they (claim to) apply reason to the rest of their lives, and then perform mental gymnastics worthy of an Olympic medal when it comes to their theology or worldview.

If your deity is all-knowing, it knew the tornado was coming yet “said” nothing. If your deity is all-powerful, it watched the tornado and did nothing. If your deity is all-loving and compassionate, it did not warn its beloved followers and  it did not prevent their violent deaths by stopping the tornado as it was being formed or by redirecting it to an empty prairie.

The deity whom you believe formed the universe with a thought and animated humanity with its breath and commanded a 40 day flood to rain upon the earth, this deity was unable to affect a minor change in barometric pressure to morph the tornado into a harmless rainstorm.  And no running away from it with the “the gods work in mysterious ways” crap.  If a god is unable to act, then it isn’t much of a god.  If you believe that this (or any) god exists then you must consider that this god twiddled its divine thumbs while a school building collapsed upon the heads of terrified and screaming children.

Social media has, of course, proven to be yet another venue for perpetuating the prayer nonsense…and also combating it, or at least pointing out its ultimate inefficacy.  An example of this is comic/actor/director and atheist Ricky Gervais,’s marvelous reaction to trending Twitter hashtags #PrayForOklahoma and #PrayersForOklahoma.

When MTV News tweeted, “Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma,” Gervais’s commented:  “I feel like an idiot now.  I only sent money.”

Gervais went on to promote #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma, and suggested his 4.6 million followers give $10 to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts

Oh, and back to the dog. As caught on camera, the stunned puppy peeking out from the rubble was saved by human hands.  Humans lifted up the debris.  Humans pulled the dog to safety, held the trembling, whimpering animal, and comforted it.  No matter what their supposed motivation or attribution, it is our fellow human beings who pull us from the wreckage, help us heal, and rebuild.

*   *   *

In order not to end on too serious a note, have you ever wondered what would happen if you did a search for cutest reptile in the world?

lizard1

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Variously attributed to “Anonymous”

[2] Event also cited in author Dale McGowan’s insightful, witty and compassionate blog, The Meming of Life

[3] Or caused to be flung upon you. If you believe your deity is in control of such things.

[4] or at least waiting until the professionals have finished blaming those storm-causing homos

[5] I’m using the male pronoun because the elderly women did. Although I believe all supernatural beliefs, mythologies and superstitions to be gender inclusive.

[6] They weren’t.  Seven children died.)