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The Seasonal Spice I’m Not Appreciating

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Departments of Heroes and Villains

First, the good guys:

Goodbye to one of Oregon’s – and the nation’s – finest.  Donald G. Malarkey, a WWII paratrooper and NCO with the 101st Airborne Division’s legendary Easy Company, died on September 30, at age 96.

Malarkey’s story, and those of his fellow Easy Company paratroopers, is told in the finest historical miniseries of all time (IMHO, but don’t even attempt to argue with me), based on the book of the same name, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.

Several times in this space  [1] have I mentioned my fondness for the series, and how much the series meant to my father (also a WWII paratrooper).  Like everyone I’ve spoken with who’s watched the HBO series, I became absorbed in some way with each of the very different soldiers’ very different stories. That said, Malarkey (portrayed by the terrific actor, Scott Grimes  [2] ) stood out in many ways. It was engrossing and heart-tugging to watch him transform from the wise-cracking, amiable, optimistically brash private in paratrooper training to the haunted lieutenant, a veteran of some of the most bloody and decisive battles of the ETO. In the series’ interviews with the surviving members of Easy Company, the real (i.e. non actor) Malarkey evinced the survivor’s pain and humility (Why am I here and my buddies are not?), decades after the incidents portrayed in the series, that came from seeing his good friends blown to bits and/or severely maimed.

A far better tribute to your country than standing and saluting a damn piece of cloth “the flag” would be to educate yourself about The Big War, which continues to affect politics and policies, for good and ill, to this day. Band of Brothers offers a slim time portal…a window through which to look back at what so many of our fellow citizens – our friends and family – endured (and sacrificed) during those times.

 

 

 

Malarkey

 

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different

 

 

Department Of Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish… And One Regressive Sexist Pig

The good riddance news: Hugh Hefner is (finally!) dead.

The bad news: people keep eulogizing him as if he were some kind of progressive pioneer and/or First Amendment activist.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yeah, really.

Hugh Hefner was a First Amendment activist the in the same way that my cousins who used the N-word were free speech advocates.

As an op-ed piece in The Independent put it,

To claim that Hefner was a sexual liberationist or free speech idol is like suggesting that Roman Polanski has contributed to child protection.
( “Hugh Hefner was the ultimate enemy of women – no feminist anywhere will shed a tear at his death” Julie Bindel, The Independent )

Friend RE noted with disgust on Facebook that people are “…holding Hugh Hefner up as some sort of humanitarian, or even making jokes that indirectly show admiration for this absolute scum of a person.”

Just the idea of using those three H words – Hugh and Hefner and humanitarian – in the same sentence is ludicrous.  If you were to publish a book about Hugh Hefner’s “humanitarianism” it would be one of the smallest books every printed, vying for that claim with Saudi Arabian Sports Legends, The Wit and Wisdom of Dick Cheney, and Authentic French Vegan Cookery.

Some feminists felt they had to make an uneasy alliance with HH, due to his financial support for abortion rights when times were tough in the pro choice movement. [3] But HH, a profiteer of mid-twentieth century/post-WWII prudery, [4] didn’t give a lecherous rat’s ass about women’s right to self-determination and bodily integrity. Rather, his support for abortion rights fit into his philosophy of as much sex as possible with as many women as possible…and some of them are going to get pregnant, and if you can convince them to have an abortion you don’t have to marry them and/or pay child support.

I even ran across a blurb lauding HH for supporting “feminist causes.” That would be news to the Predator-in-Chief, himself, who in an infamous 1970’s memo (leaked by secretaries at Playboy) lambasted a reporter, who thought she’d been assigned to do an objective story on the Women’s Movement for Playboy magazine, for not doing a hatchet job on feminists:

“These chicks [feminists] are our natural enemy,” wrote Hefner. “It is time we do battle with them… What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart.”

Finally, some harsh reflections and truth-telling have been getting through (Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner, and How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, and this piece in Salon,  among others)…which, apparently, is upsetting to some HH fans.

One Trump fan and singer who says she’s known Hefner since she was a teenager is beseeching commentators, “Please don’t trash a man with class.” [5]

 

 

yeahright

 

 

A tRump fan who thinks HH was a man with class? What a shocker.

I don’t know what flipped my stomach more over the years – the pajama-clad pimp himself, or the fact that many people thought it “hip” or “classy” to be associated with a third rate smut peddler sporting a fourth rate dye job. Some celebs thought it was a sign of coolness to be invited to the Playboy mansion. Bill Cosby was a frequent Playboy mansion guest…yet another shocker. Perhaps it was there that Cosby learned his Quaaludes strategy for “allegedly” drugging and then raping women. Hefner was a fan of the powerful sedative, which he often pressured his girlfriends and “bunnies” to take – he referred to Quaaludes as thigh openers.

Excuse me, tRrump fan, you were saying something about a man with class?

 

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Department Of Enough Is Enough

‘Tis the season, again. And again and again and again.

Come October, it used to be you couldn’t walk within 30 feet of a Starbucks without getting a whiff of a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin spice chai or pumpkin spice frappuccino.  But now, in 2017: pumpkin spice – it’s not just for coffee shops anymore.

Have you noticed?  It’s everywhere. There are, of course, pumpkin spice scented candles and baked goods.  But, hey, Pumpkin Spice Industry ® , y’all be gettin’ outta hand.  I came across a pumpkin spice bathroom deodorizer. Finally, humanity has the means with which to fool guests to our homes into thinking that it was a festive autumn squash dessert which took a dump in our toilets!

 

rejoicing

And there was much rejoicing.

 

 

And the other goods…yikes. These are just some of the pumpkin spice products I’ve seen/heard of in the past week:

* pumpkin spice chutney
* pumpkin spice pasta
* pumpkin spice shampoo and conditioner
* pumpkin spice body lotion
* pumpkin spice antiperspirant
* pumpkin spice toothpaste
* pumpkin spice doggy chew toy
* pumpkin spice cough drops
* pumpkin spice vinegar

 

You can even purchase a pumpkin spray on spice, to apply to presumable anything that has somehow escaped being pumpkin-ized. (the spray’s how-to-use instructions include this evocative suggestion: Awaken your breakfast.)

 

 

 

bfast

“Yo, breakfast – wake up or I’ll use the spray…”

 

 

 

 

 

The last straw  [6] was yesterday, when I picked up our mail and saw one of those catalogs targeted towards Women of a Certain Age ®…addressed to moiself.  Y’all Lady Folks know what I’m talking about? You’ve never purchased anything from such a catalog, never even knew they existed, and then one day you start getting them in the mail.  [7] They have titles like, As We Change, Soft Surroundings, The Golden Times, and The Best is Yet To Come (which, I think, would be a slogan better suited to selling ED drugs to Men Of A Certain Age ® ).  

 

 

 

as we change

 

 

Oy vey.  I suppose it’s a better title than

As We Shrivel Up and Blow Away:
Feel Like a Nap, Look For Your Eyeglasses, Live Just To Spite Your Heirs

Yet again, I digress.

So, I get this catalog, and discover it contains a little foil sampler packet sample….of a pumpkin spice….ahem….”personal lubricant.”

I kid you not.

 

 

 

kirkscream

That’s…just…WRONG.

 

 

 

 

Okay, that was a (fragrance-free) lie. But the way things are trending, I betcha next year I won’t have to make up anything like that. Anyway, the point:  people, pleeeeeeease, stop. Pumpkin spice your pumpkin pie, and leave the rest alone.

 

 

 

pumpkin

Do I *look* like I want extra foam on my pumpkin spice latte?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May the spice in your life be anything but pumpkin;
May you feel free to trash a classless man;
May you appreciate the true heroes in life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like here, and here, and here….

[2] Currently piloting a starship in the TV sci-fi drama/comedy, The Orville.

[3] And many others thought he sought to excuse his exploitation of women by “buying” feminist sympathy, or at least toleration, by throwing money at pro choice organizations.

[4] Who profited greatly from said prudery, for if nudity and sexuality were truly considered healthy and natural, where would be the fun – and why pay for the opportunity – in sneaking behind the bushes and looking at nudie magazines?

[5] As quoted in How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, Slate.com

[6] Strangely enough, the straw was not pumpkin-spiced.

[7] I know the gummint is worried about an impending Social Security crisis, but is the SSA selling their data base to marketers?

The Military I’m Not Saluting

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And They Said The Honeymoon Wouldn’t Last

I sliced the steaming, freshly roasted squash down the middle, and sighed. “I love the aroma of roasted Delicata squash.” I waved a piece of squash under MH’s nose, and bid him to inhale.  “I just want you to know that.”

This is good to know, MH replied. He assured me that, upon my death, a Delicata squash would be cremated alongside my body.

 

squash7

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The Verisimilitudinous Vermin of Autumn

I kick through the foliage detritus at least once a day, during my morning walk. Still, I never tire of the splendor of the Fall colors, which have a way of elevating and beautifying everything they surround…including, as I discovered ~ seven in the morning last Monday, the parking lot of a nearby athletic field. A brief portion of the otherwise mundane asphalt surface was transformed, however ephemerally, into Nature’s abstract palate, when I espied the desiccated, flattened carcass of a rat adorned by nature’s seasonal garland.

 

rat

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Belated Veterans Day Thoughts and Wishes

 

Thank you for your service.
(A phrase employed far too often, IMHO, by civilians, directed to military personnel)

I have come to despise that trope of alleged appreciation, even though I’ve no doubt it is used sincerely by many who wish to thank our brave men and women in uniform [1] for doing…well…what the rest of us would rather not spend much time thinking about.

It’s just too easy…it is too sanitized and safe. Thank you for your service – it’s as effective as, I’ll pray for you. It gives the spouter of the phrase the feel-good illusion of action, when in fact you’ve done nothing concrete.

You want to thank soldiers for their service? Lobby or work to insure veteran’s benefit reforms and to get our soldiers out of these never-ending, police-the-world wars…and, oh yeah, end the all-volunteer military and reinstate the draft and/or some form of compulsory national service.

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really. Do you think we’d still be ass-deep in the AfghaniRaquPakistania quagmire if every American family had to face the possibility of their age-appropriate sons and daughters serving in the military?

Once again, I digress.

My intention for this segment was to honor a certain generation [2] for What They Did When They Did What They Had To Do. [3]

Six years ago my father, Chester Bryan (“Chet the Jet”) Parnell, had military honors at the graveside service following his funeral. The honors consisted of a brief observance involving a color guard, a gun salute, and presentation of an American flag to my mother, along with the “thanks of a grateful nation.” It was a ceremony Chet’s usually-not-impressed-with-such-things second born daughter [4] found very moving.

Although he never left the US of A during his military service, Chet was credited with serving in a combat zone. He and his fellow Army paratroopers stationed in Alaska were training for the inevitable invasion of Japan, and were also tasked with guarding the Aleutians, which the Japanese, as part of their Aleutian Islands campaign, were determined to invade and occupy. [5] Thus, Chet was eligible for “full” military honors at his funeral. Although Chet was proud of his WWII service he’d let us know in advance he didn’t want the full treatment (whatever that would involve – military flyover? Invasion of a small island in the Pacific?), out of respect for those soldiers who had engaged in active combat.

One day many years before Chet’s death, when my family was down in SoCal for a visit, Chet asked if MH could copy, enlarge and clarify a photo Chet had discovered while cleaning out his desk. The picture – actually, a small, wrinkled, time-worn copy of a picture sent from a paratrooper buddy – was one the few pictures Chet had from his Army days.  MH put his computer wizard /Photoshop skills to use, and was able to earn Son-In-Law Of The Year ® honors by providing Chet with a cleaned-up enlargement.  MH also had the enviable [6] task of informing Chet about a certain aspect of the picture, what I think of as a Photo With Benefits.  By enlarging the photo, a gesture made by one of Chet’s fellow soldiers – a “military salute” common among paratroopers but heretofore obscured by the photo’s size and lack of clarity – was clearly revealed.

At the time the picture was taken Chet of course was facing the camera, and had no idea how the other guys in the photo had posed. He got such a hoot out of it – which came as no surprise to me.  What was a wonderful surprise was how much my mother enjoyed the photographic revelation: she giggled like a schoolgirl who’d just understood her first A nun walks into a bar… joke  [7].

 

Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).

Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).

 

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Department Of Some Phone Calls Are Harder Than Others

And getting through some 12 minute phone calls can seem more exhausting than running a three hour marathon, when I’m constantly “on guard” during said calls, with a pins and needles/jaw clenching concentration, giving myself a headache that lasts the rest of the day, reminding myself of what to say as well as what not to say when the only truthful/logical response to what my elderly mother just asked would be to give the correct information….

However. I have learned from Compassionate Communication With The Memory-Impaired and other resources that when dealing with those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions which beget memory-disabilities, compassion must trump rationality and logic. And even truth.

My mother’s truth, her reality, can change from day to day. I am well aware of this; still, the ups and down sometimes catch me seemingly unaware. This week I was pleasantly surprised by her lucidity and higher-than-usual energy mode – I’m always the one who calls, but she called me on my cellphone (she’d remembered– with a caretaker’s reminder – that she’d been napping when I’d called the previous day)! We were having a nice if boring conversation, and in a normal (for her) voice she asked how long it had been since MH’s father had died (Hey, she remembered he died! I silently rejoiced). When I answered her question about the relative suddenness of my FIL’s passing (Well, he’d been living with Parkinson’s for many years…), and she reacted with shock and horror to a fact she’s known for over a decade.

“No!” she gasped. “No!  How awful! I had no idea!’

I gently tried to steer the conversation to another subject, which led to the inadvertent revelation that she’d forgotten MH’s sister is married and has a 14 year old son. Her overt change of atone accompanied the implied, painful, fearful accusation: Why have you/has everyone been keeping this information from me?

And during our phone conversation next week she may well remember what she’d forgotten…and then forget something else. Like the existence of my children.

Her sudden plummet into the memory abyss hit me harder than usual this week. I found myself sitting in my car in a parking lot, fighting off a crying jag, holding my cellphone to my ear and nodding reassurances to someone who wasn’t there.

“Old age is no place for sissies.”
Bette Davis

elderly bird

*   *   *

Department of Can You Run A Tab At An Urgent Care Center?

Speaking of children I do remember, Belle is back to practicing with the UPS Women’s Rugby team, although she will not be playing in any league games until next semester, due to her broken finger and resultant surgery. Last week she took a hard blow to the chest during a practice. A visit to the Student Health Center and subsequent x-ray confirmed her coach’s fear: Belle had suffered a separated rib.

Belle’s (severely) broken finger occurred during a practice in early September. Last year’s injuries included a cracked rib and…I forget what else. Going through the mail last weekend, I told MH that it just isn’t a normal week unless we receive yet another Explanation of Benefits form from our insurance company, along with a bill from a doctor or a physical therapist or an urgent care center….

 

Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!

Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Need I Say More?

Happy Belated Exploding Whale Day! Forty-five years ago, yesterday, a day that put Oregon on the map…and gushy whale parts on anyone standing within a quarter mile range of the event:

*   *   *

May you remember and appreciate the service (and “salutes”) of others;
may your fondest memories be as fuzzy or clear as time permits;
may you find beauty in unexpected places and sights (and rodents);
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Another clichéd phrase I loathe.

[2] No, not “the Greatest” generation, and damn you, Tom Brokaw, for that well-meaning but inaccurate description…which Andy Rooney, bless his atheist heart, tried to counter at every opportunity.

[3] Which was actually Steven Spielberg’s first choice for the title of his epic WWII movie (okay…actually…not). Can you believe Saving Private Ryan won out?

[4] That would be moiself.

[5] They succeeded in occupying two: Kiska and Attu.

[6] In my opinion. MH was a little hesitant to reveal what he’d found, thinking it might be embarrassing (“Uh…will they – meaning my parents – be okay with this?”).

[7] A nun, badly needing to use a restroom, walked into a bar. The place was hopping with music and conversation, and every once in a while the lights would briefly flicker off and then go back on, whereupon the patrons would erupt into cheers. However, when the crowd saw the nun, the room went dead silent. The nun approached the bartender,and asked, ‘May I please use the restroom?”

“Sure,” the bartender replied, “but I gotta warn you: there’s a statue of a naked man in there wearing only a fig leaf.”

“Thank you; I’ll just look the other way,’ said the nun.

The bartender showed the nun to the back of the restaurant. After a few minutes she came back out, and other patrons stopped what they were doing and gave the nun a loud round of applause.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said to the bartender. “Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?”

“Well, now they know you’re one of us,’ said the bartender. “‘Would you like a drink?”

“No thank you,” said the puzzled nun, “but, I still don’t understand.”

“You see,” laughed the bartender, “every time someone lifts the fig leaf on that statue, the lights go out.”