This song was number one on February 18, 1975.
This song was number one on February 18, 1975.
I love this, you know. I love it so much.
And lots of other people do, too. I feel they are my tribe on this big strange planet.
I feel a little bad about it, but my favorite is the only one on here sung by a man; the Polish one. I just do respond to a man’s voice, and I like his. I mean, I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t good. But for me, he’s almost the new version of original Dutch Guy, except Polish. Very pleasing.
(This is original Dutch Guy.)
My new favorites otherwise are: Arabic, because the language is neat fitted into that space and there’s extra groovy harmony, Chinese (Mandarin,) because she is awesome and could sing me into a calm dreamy place, plus there’s a fun vocal background bit, and Czech, which is maybe how a woman would sound good to me if I were attracted to women.
Apparently, the German version is also sung by a man. Let’s hear it.
Ooh, these lyrics are way different than the original German version. They make a lot more sense now for the show, though the original sounded pretty fun.
The Latin American Spanish was also left out of the collection.
That’s pretty cool. I like the pacing.
Speaking of obsessions and my tribe, the Wall Street Journal posted a fluff piece on how people are going out in winter with no socks on. As it was posted at Facebook, naturally there were people snidely decrying others who do things purely in the name of fashion. Like, your choices are facile and stupid because they aren't the ones I make.
But then I saw this and responded, and the world felt better, and then the DuckTales thing turned up, so today is not too bad so far. (I removed the names even though it was a public post, since people have odd illogical ideas about how that works.)
I do own socks. First, my oldest daughter sent me a couple of funny pairs that go up past my ankles and are just right with boots, and then one of my sons gave me a large package of thin, cute, “no show” ones for Christmas year before last, which are good for the suede oxfords that need light cushioning and for when I have a cold or etc. Between these two sets I am set for a long time to come.
In general, though, ugh. Socks are the clothing equivalent of crumbly meat mixed into in smooth food or raisins in cookies, or bubble tea. Life is far more enjoyable without them. The person who mentioned foot odor should probably just take better care of her skin or shoes or both. It’s generally avoidable.
I was thinking about the nature of pop music and how it changes a lot from time to time, by which I don’t mean instrumental trends, or what kind of beat or who’s laying it down, but the formula itself, which changes less often than those little details.
Bearing in mind it hasn’t been my primary form of music since I was a child, I still think, looking back over it all, that what I did sing along with in the 70s was not materially different than what my oldest daughter (again, briefly,) sang along with in the mid-late 90s. But when I overhear a “top pop” song lately, it’s something else altogether. I first noticed it when the neighbor next door would have on what seemed like a station that played only Disney Channel interstitials, while the kids were in the pool. The formula was even more basic and narrower in scope, and super artificial.
I would have accepted this:
But what they played is what kids around my youngest son’s age (20) on down to around 10 will have adapted their ears to, unless they grow up, as he did, never really hearing it at all. At least there’s a lot more variety for their parents to share with them and for them to discover on their own through the internet. Some will develop broad tastes swiftly, others wlll settle into one thing or another and stay there, at least for awhile. My son listens to: Radiohead, Interpol, David Bowie, and some classical music. But he’s pretty young, and might add in another band some day.
When a song comes along like “Funk You Up” did a few years back, everyone pays attention because they got it just right, combining new and old elements that most of us respond to; in this case it was nostalgic with a contemporary edge. But that isn’t happening very often lately. I don’t think that means it won’t anymore; this era is just not one of the…better ones for it.
My middle son listens to current alternative music and that has recently taken a rather banal turn, to my ears. (Sorry, Brendon.) That waxes and wanes, though. The youngest millennials, like him, probably take comfort in it. I’m waiting it out.
Back to me! I listened to pop music most heavily from ages 3-13, and you know, during one of the best eras for it; 1968-1978. It would be silly for anyone to dispute that, so we won’t try. It had everything pop music was meant to have, and the best examples of it are still good to listen to now. The novelty songs from that time haven’t aged so well, of course, nor the ones meant for what were then called “teenyboppers.” I liked some of those at the time, because I was a child. They weren’t the ones I obsessed over, though.
Here are some songs that I either craved hearing as much as possible, or that I did own and so I would put the record on and let it repeat for an hour or more, with brief explanations as I remember them now. Laugh as much as you like.
"Reuben, Reuben," by whoever…(but this is a hilarious version featuring Patsy Cline)
When I was 7, my grandma gave me a record player for my birthday, with a box of children’s records. It was a green and white carrying case, and you opened the lid to set it up to play records. I had it til I was 16. I adored the song "Reuben, Reuben," and played it over and over again. Also, "Buffalo Gals." Such fun to sing along to.
"Brandy," by Looking Glass (turns out the lead singer would have been cute if he got a proper haircut)
I think this is one of those deals wherein the band played something different from their usual repertoire, it hit big, and they had to suffer with it thereafter. Too bad. I related hardcore to this song at age 7 or 8, and pretty much all along for years afterwards. If I confess I also had a thing for "Delta Dawn," you might just feel sorry for me or think I was a strange child, and as that was established long ago, let’s leave it.*
I grew up thinking I would wear a braided silver chain and mourn happily for the man who loved me briefly and then went away. I just now realized I’ve sort of written it into my NaNoWriMo stories about Lena Spano and Lily Palm. Hmm. Well, anyway.
"On and On," by Stephen Bishop (this was an okay haircut for back then; at least it framed the face well)
I had the album containing this song when I was about 12. But mainly I played this one song on an endless loop while lying on my white ruffled organdy canopy bed, thinking about what it would be like to go somewhere with a beach and be very alone and sad, alone in the middle of a vast space with an atmosphere that seemed just right for it. Also, it made me Sinatra-curious. It's a more clever song than you might have noticed.
You Should Be Dancing (live) by the Bee Gees (this is not the same recording, which was better; is contained in link below)
The live version from Here At Last…the Bee Gees Live, which I played while dancing on the stair landing in our house, with my neon disco light flashing that I earned through the junior high magazine (or maybe the wrapping paper) sales they forced us to do. The stair landing was about four or five feet square, so, you know, about the size of a real disco floor in some places, and it was my special spot. I snuck down to it to watch Carol Burnett when I was supposed to be in bed when I was 8 or 9, and it’s where I fell asleep with the new puppy, Monty Python, when we first brought him home when I was 11, and where I answered the phone when I won tickets to a Royals game from a radio station, which started me and Mom going to games regularly for about three years starting when I was 13. It’s likely I was listening to this song when I took the call, but I did love a lot of the album, and learned to love the rest of it later on.
"Anybody Wanna Party?" by Gloria Gaynor
I was about 14, and played this for an hour at a time on my parents’ cheap stereo in the living room, until my mom asked me to stop for awhile. It was the 12 inch “disco version,” and I’d dance to it at first, then lie under the speakers and just let it move through me.
There’ve been other songs I obsessed over since then, but the last pop hit that caused "emotions" was about 20 years ago. I listened to it when I was alone in the car, and sang along until I was sobbing.
But now I’m back to thinking about what kind of man I’d enjoy loving from a distance while wearing my cool silver chain with the locket and serving up drinks to a mostly faceless crowd. I suppose it’s who I was always meant to be, at least until we get to have androids made to order.
This weekend I am reading the Lord and Lady Hetheridge series by Emma Jameson for the third time.
I needed to be able to picture Tony in order to appreciate the story better, so I have decided to see him as Anthony Bourdain, only shorter. If he looked in formal wear like Bourdain did at the 2016 Emmys, it would explain a lot about why Kate is able to overlook their extreme age difference so easily.
I was never particularly interested in or knew anything about Bourdain, by the way, until he died. His death was certainly a real tragedy, and I learned a little about him at that time, but not much; it seemed too sad.
The main reason I’m rereading this series this time is because I want to get back to the Doyle and Acton series by Anne Cleeland. I read the first five, maybe the sixth, don’t perfectly remember, and there are eight in total. So I requested six-eight from the library and will pick up with them in a few days when they arrive.
These two book series have a lot in common, and they also are both clearly influenced by Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series, and maybe a bit of P. D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh series, as well, though that one belongs more to the "lonely widower detective" genre, which is totally a thing in case you didn't know. Of course, it all starts with Lord Peter Wimsey, but that's for a longer piece of writing than I intend to do.
Those two series are rather more cerebral, but they both feature a police detective who is a member of the British peerage, and that aspect of his character factors into the plotlines and how others see him. Inspector Lynley works with a female sergeant who is from a lower class background, and that is the element both the Cleeland and Jameson series share.
In both these newer series, the bond between the young woman and her “guv” develop rapidly, the people around them don’t fully understand it, and the ensuing tensions are explored amidst the solving of murders. Overlaying that basic setup are two very different atmospheres. Lord Hetheridge is straightforward and fairly transparent. He’s confident and has a certain amount of innate power, so he uses that to solve crimes, build relationships, arrange life to his satisfaction. He’s wholly a good guy, though with some of the same feelings we all have from time to time that could lead to ethically ambiguous decisions, but generally don't. We see the stories develop from his point of view, but also from Kate’s, and the other member of their team, Deepal Bhar.
If you like “light” crime reading with a bit of romance, and don’t mind a few inconsistent minor details, you might like this series. It doesn’t go nearly so deep as the Inspector Lynley series, and a lot of cliched ground is covered, but the characters are people to root for and the crime plots are fairly interesting. I suppose they're what people like to refer to as "guilty pleasure" more than anything else. I enjoy them without guilt, don't need things like this to be more than what they are. If the basic premise sounds good, but you want to stick with something more deep and absorbing, have a look at the Elizabeth George series, instead.
The other series, about Doyle and Acton (I searched for far too long for a good list or review that was also spoiler-free, which is how I started the first book; this is the closest I could come) is another matter. It began, I think, in 2013, and I expect if Cleeland tried to sell the beginning of it now, she’d have to change a lot about it; Acton's personality would displease quite a few people. As it is, I read she had a tough task selling her publishers on a couple later entries. The stories, mainly from (Irish and therefore intutive, don'tcha know) Kathleen Doyle’s point of view, follow a similar progression to the Hetheridge ones, but with more moral ambiguity and some sinister twists, revealed in measured electric shocks as the plots unfold. I appreciate that a lot in fiction, which allows us to explore the darker paths we’d never take in real life. It’s often mentally arousing.
But not everyone can enjoy fiction that both mirrors real life and disrupts our basic understanding of good guys and bad guys. I think that’s one reason people like fantasies set in made-up times and places; the characters in them sometimes get to behave intriguingly in ways that we could not accept in a setting that looks and sounds just like our own. To that end, if that's you, I'd say go back and read the old Adam Dalgliesh books for thought-provoking crime stories with more literary merit and fewer moral dilemmas. I enjoy Doyle and Acton's dialogue, but am not sure to whom I'd recommend the series. I might reevaluate that statement after I read the remaining books.
And it’s possible someone else could write this premise as a series and do it better, but would they? I kinda figure that since stories are told by the people most interested in telling them, they are pretty much told as they’re meant to be…but I don’t want to get any more existential than that, because I meant to talk today about songs I was obsessed with from ages 10-15 or so, and here we are, instead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Valentine's Day paragraph breaks brought to you by screenshots I took from a Buzzfeed page the other day; they don’t link to anything because, honestly, you'd just get distracted.
A. Specific Person For Whom This is Written, But Likely Also Others: you should know that if you stop using apostrophes entirely, except when forming contractions, you’ll be correct more often than you are now, sprinkling them in whenever it takes your fancy or you’re worried you aren’t being fancy enough.
I used three in the sentence above. They were for contractions: two words squeezed into one. This just requires understanding how our speaking habits translate into written ones. You will = you’ll, you are = you’re, are not = aren’t. The apostrophe takes the place of the letters that are removed when the squeezing takes place.
Two contractions people tend to get wrong more commonly since the internet came along are would’ve and could’ve. If you read those aloud, you hear the problem from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t read or write much, or at least didn’t until the driving need emerged to share an uninformed and/or emotionally-wrought opinion on every gotdamned thing in existence. (More on that, again, another time, perhaps after drinks.) So anyway, those stand for would have and could have, not would of and could of, which are meaningless phrases.
B. The other apostrophe uses are strictly for possessives, and they are trickier, but wholly logical, if you just think it over carefully. First, assume that if you are adding s or es to suggest more than one item, you do not also need an apostrophe. Plural does not mean “possessive.” It just means more than one. There are some slight exceptions to this, but you won’t use them very often. Hang tight and I will explain.
Possessive means ownership, plural means more than one. Apostrophes are for ownership. You might need a mnemonic device to help with that. I’m not the best at those, but possessive has an o, as does apostrophe. Plural contains no o, so it doesn’t have an apostrophe (nearly always.) Um, an apostrophe is a trophy, and you can’t possess a trophy without an O. Maybe that will work for you.
Here are some examples.
“I bought some sweet pajamas with cats on them.” Pajamas, of course, refer to two pieces of sleepwear. The cats are not actual cats, just images of some.
“These cats pajamas are the cat’s pajamas.” These pajamas have multiple cats on them. They are so cool, it’s like if a cat possessed them. I have no idea why, but it is a fun old expression.
Bob’s bed: a bed which belongs to Bob. Bob’s friends are Carol, Ted and Alice. He possesses more than one of them.
Bobs I have known: a list of Roberts, including my brother, my uncle, Bob Crane, and the lead singer of The Cure, the best band in the world except for maybe Earth, Wind & Fire.
—Uncle Bob’s unlabeled jar of powdered “creamer” that he brought with him everywhere he went back in the 70s: a plastic jar he possessed which contained mysterious off-white powder for his coffee.
—Bob Crane of Hogan’s Heroes: eponymous member of the funny heroic group portrayed on TV when we were little. Incidentally, Hogan’s first name (the name he possessed) was Robert.
As to hers, well, do you ever add an apostrophe to his? Of course not. So you never would with hers, either, unless Her is the last name of someone owning something you wish to mention. But I think that’s generally spelled Herr. So you might see Herr’s Fine Meats or some such thing, suggesting the meats possessed by Herr.
C. Now, Specific Person, where you get hung up is in thinking that words already ending in S are more complicated than they actually are. First, again, if it’s just friends or pajamas or Roberts, no apostrophe.** (Note: one of the rules I’m about to cover is slightly different in British English. Sorry, if that’s you.)
The Brown Hotel in Louisville is famous for Hot Browns, a plain name for a fairly plain food. No need for apostrophe there.
The Browns ran this hotel before we were born. Their name was Brown and there were more than one of them.
White’s Club in London was frequented by elite male members of society. It was started by one man called White; he possessed the club, at least initially.
In the possessive instance, no preceding “The” was needed; that might be a clue for you. If you said “The Whites” you’d be talking about two or more people named White, not about something one of them owned.
What if someone’s last name ends in S? Let’s use Don Simmons as our example. First, leave his name alone; don’t go sticking an apostrophe before the S; that makes his name Simmon, which is rude of you to do. Next, if you are talking about his lack of soul, you might write it either, “Don Simmons has no soul,” or “Don Simmons’ soul is missing.”
In the sentence above, I used soul as an object and then as a subject. When someone possesses a subject, they usually have an apostrophe attached to their name. And if their name ends in S, the apostrophe follows it. If their name does not end in S, you’ll add one after the apostrophe.
Let’s pause so you can think that over. Possessive apostrophes are for ownership of subjects. Add an S to the name if one isn’t present, leave the person’s name alone if it already has one, and just stick that apostrophe on the end.
Over there is the Simmons house.
This is the Simmons’ house.
The first one is a little old-fashioned, but we still use it sometimes. We’re naming the house for the people who live there. The second sentence is like, “Yes, this is where we turn in, the Simmons own this place.” Never add an apostrophe to their name unless you are referring to a subject they possess (it can be a conditional subject, like their collective anger or something,) even if you are talking about more than one Simmons.
Don’s office is upstairs.
Simmons’ office is upstairs.
Did you see Don Simmons’ gloriously soulless performance of that old Carpenters tune at Karaoke night? It was once Richard Carpenter’s favorite composition.
Oh, the Carpenters. Their name is just Carpenter. If one of them wrote the song, it was Carpenter’s song. If both of them did, it was the Carpenters’ song.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
It’s a Girl’s World
The Boys Are Back in Town
A Boy’s Life
The Kids Are All Right
One Kid’s Mission To Travel the Universe
The Kids’ Choir
The Children’s Choir (S added because children was already a plural term.)
**It’s in the starred sentence stood for “it is.” At no other time do you ever use an apostrophe with its, unless you're referring to Cousin It’s hair; the hair possessed by Cousin It. Generally, things can’t possess nouns, only people can.
The other day I was listening to my iPod and “Stuff Like That” started playing, and I started thinking about things and reminiscing, which got me to marveling, as I always have, at the divine voice of Nickolas Ashford. Not to say Valerie Simpson and Chaka Khan were not the vocal key to the awesomeness of that particular song. How cool is Quincy Jones? The coolest.
So, thinking about the wonder of Nick Ashford's vocals, and that time period in general, I was going to make a Super Sexy Seventies playlist, but the fact is, I don’t own a whole lot of music I’d add to it, and so I’ll need to make an online sort of playlist, which is more work and thus less fun to me. When I was a kid, I didn’t go in much for love stuff, especially if it was slow. I didn’t understand why any kid would, but of course, some of them did. People, you know, and their different ways. Thus, what I've collected in my iPod memory bank mostly reflects my tastes at that time.
I didn’t like much sentimentality unless it was accompanied by (really, secondary to) a strong bass line and a good beat, or maybe an adorable hook; if it was good for harmonizing to or dancing to, etc. Gosh, if I’d been a child in the 90s, listening to yodeling “divas” on the radio, I’d have lurched even more swiftly into the past, or whatever I could find as alternative. Anyway, so the songs I liked back then that we’d think of as sexy still mostly “had a beat and I could dance to it.”
Where was I? Somehow I found myself thinking next about the music played at the skating rink on Friday nights. Everyone went to the Friday night skate for awhile, at Landmark Skate Center on the outskirts of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It’s still there! But no longer outskirts, I guess. I loved skating nights, though I was never part of a crowd of kids. It was nice, people were mostly nice, and having fun, and skating was one thing I could do reasonably well, having learned it for a Girl Scout badge.
I was never great at it, because I feared falling down. Some years later, I took a tae kwon do class at the church, for some exercise and social time, but he could never get me to practice falling the way everyone else seemed able to do. My brain says, “No, falling is a bad thing. Don’t pretend to do that.” So I didn’t master much tae kwon do, or skating backwards, though I could manage it if necessary. (About like driving a manual transmission: only if an absolute must. Car transmissions have advanced pretty far, you anachronistic driving elitists.)
But we’d skate around and around, and people who could do fancy things stayed in the middle, and sometimes we’d do the Hokey Pokey or the Limbo. Mostly I was there for the adrenaline and the fun music, and to feel like I was a part of things, which is something I rarely felt. Now and then, the DJ would call for a “couples skate,” and we’d have to sit down while a boring song played and people skated while clutching each other, though a few always put on a nice dance-skate show.
this is the epitome of a 1978 couples skate song. i'm sharing it because the video shows us everything we wish to forget about that period of time.
All the girls wanted a boy to ask her to couples skate, so I did, too, but also did not. First, no boy would ever have asked me, anyway, so why pine too much for it? I was repulsive to boys who had just discovered girls.* Second, I’d have had to skate backwards more than I’d like. Third, the music was, you know, love stuff. So during couples skates, we’d go to the refreshment stand for a drink we called “Suicide.” It was three kinds of soda mixed together. I’ve never been a great fan of sweet soda, but the Suicide was the drink to order, and so I did.
And then a cool song would start again and we’d all rush back onto the rink. I decided to collect the ones I remembered hearing during that time into a playlist, limited by what I already own on my iPod, and factoring in the other place I went to sometimes on Saturday nights, Skateland USA in nearby Grandview. They had a slightly broader crowd, and slightly broader music. Skateland closed about ten years ago, it seems, because it was drawing a rough crowd, causing area problems, and driving away the family friendly appeal. But I liked going there now and then when I was in 8th grade.
In junior high I became very fashion-forward. And in 8th grade, narrow jeans came in style, finally, and I had them before or as early as anyone else. My mom converted the dumb flares to them, and I got a pair of Levis I just worshipped. But when a woman ran into me on the skating rink I did nearly the splits trying not to fall, and though I weighed nearly nothing back then, maybe 100 lbs, I tore those pants open! Yes, in back! So I had to sit at a table the whole rest of the night until my friend’s mom arrived to bring us home. I had people to talk with sometimes, and was happy to laugh at myself about it, for some reason? But it grew boring and frustrating. I think maybe that was the last time I was at that skating rink. And then in high school, I stopped going skating altogether. Still, when I hear certain songs, I tend to think of them as “skate songs.”
i don't know if this was a skate song where i lived. it would have been one in the city. you know, how things were/are. but I played it some evenings at home for an hour at a time and so it should count.
So I made a list of top skating songs that I own and remember (I’m sure my memory is the faultiest aspect of it,) and put it in a Google spreadsheet with links. I thought of making it a YouTube playlist, and maybe I still will, but I like spreadsheets. I’m going to add more notes and more alternative recordings, but it’s otherwise complete for now, and you can access it here, if you care to.
*I think I’ll cover this soon. Who would be a kid in the early teens again—anyone? It’s the worst, even for the people who looked to everyone else like they had it easy. (this was not my bedroom, which was at all times both very cute and even messier than my brother's.)
Going forward, all my images have hover text. The news clipping has a link to more info.
Today I read a recipe for “Peruvian chicken,” in a British newspaper, which wanted me to use “American mustard.” I had to think about what that is. I remembered how much my mom loved mustard when I was growing up. She loved German mustard most, I think; the grainy kind that tends to come in round glass pots, on a hot dog with sauerkraut.
And there was English mustard, very sharp, French mustard, brown like German but smoother, Dijon mustard, mostly the same as French, to us, and then later there was a sweet-hot one that started to appear at delis. And “beer mustard,” of course, which I think people liked with pretzels. This was back in the 70s, before all the boutique flavors.
I concluded they must mean yellow mustard is American mustard.
If here (and apparently Canada) is the only place that’s sold, it makes sense. I thought I didn’t like mustard much at all til I had the sweet-hot kind, because I’d tasted only yellow and German and Dijon. The yellow was sort of briney (like if Chinese mustard was very mild,) and I didn’t like the texture of the German. Dijon was okay in a chicken dish. But these days there is yellow mustard here at the house; it’s okay with a hot dog or ham sandwich, and one of my sons likes it. He likes all mustards, though, like my mom, and now as an adult, I do, too, mostly. I also have champagne mustard in there, a beer one, and Dijon, currently. There might be a grainy brown one in there, too, but I never hear it called German anymore; just brown or "deli." I made some a couple years ago, and I think the recipe just said, "homemade mustard." I think I might try this recipe for spicy beer mustard next, cut down to size.
So if you’re reading this from another country, in case you’re interested, we have many mustards, just like you probably do, since you also live in a culture that was created almost entirely through immigrant migration from every part of the world. And in one of the Carolinas, I never remember which because I guess I don't care enough being from Kansas City, they add it to their barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is different everywhere you go, but I’ve been to two decent restaurants that serve a good variety. One of the restaurants was near Times Square in New York, the other next to a motel in an industrial area of St. Louis, Missouri, 950 miles away (roughly 590k; two days into your six day driving trip across the country if you don't stop for anything but food and sleep, which would be silly.) I think it was this place. But barbecue, like mustard, comes in infinite varieties, for infinite personal tastes. Condiments are life.
I think something everyone should realize is that what you see of our culture in ordinary grocery stores is usually just the cheapest and easiest to transport, and it's the same for what we see of yours. But if this is the only country (besides Canada!) that serves mild yellow mustard regularly, certainly that does make it American. At the same time, we have hundreds of different ones we can buy, in various regions. Jungle Jim's here in Cincinnati has a huge selection. And look: there is a National Mustard Museum!
On another note, I read that Dutch and Belgian people have an "American" sandwich spread which resembles steak tartare. The person mentioning it didn't understand why, because "Americans hate that." No, ma'am, they do not, at least, not all 300 million plus of them. They just don't see it as often as they did long ago, because trends come and go here, as they do elsewhere. My grandma used to make it for herself, having the meat ground at a butcher the same day, but I just get it at one of my favorite restaurants here in Cincinnati, as an appetizer. If someone still wants to make it at home, it just takes a bit of nice sirloin (from a good local butcher if possible, but not necessary,) partially frozen and diced by hand. And of course you need a delicious farm-fresh egg for the top.
Here is the first in a series of blog posts that will be partly serious and partly crazy, culled from my hard drive (LCARS) as I attempt to put it in some better order, and also just get rid of some of it. There will be no theme, no order, and little to no sense to the imagery. There will be photos and materials extending back at least to 2003.
The text here is from February 16, 2017. Little has changed in two years. The photos and images were taken or collected in 2011. The photos of me are from February, so just about eight years ago, shortly before I would leave my east coast home for...this place, and also shortly before peri-menopause began. All indications point toward that being over after exactly eight years, in June. A lot of me has changed since then, but I plan to at least get my 2011 figure back by the end of summer.
"Last night when I pointed out one small but important distinction between our former president’s immigration policy in 2011 and the one employed this weekend, the reply, from a complete stranger with whom I’d had no previous discourse, was “you hate trump so you want to believe wrong things!” That’s nearly an exact quotation. Probably you said a different word than things, which is a habit word of mine.
"To my way of thinking, this is akin to me saying, “Well, some ketchup doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it,” and you replying with, “you just hate hot dogs!”
"At first I dismissed the idea that we could have any sort of rational conversation, you being a little keyed up and unwilling to consider some middle ground or examine motivations objectively.
"But what if we could do that? Here are some ideas and points I’d like you to think about and consider.
"Suppose you learn of an important event in world news and you want to learn more about it, so you Google it and see a list of links to read. If you are an objective curious person, you’ll choose several of them, and not just the one at the top, as someone likely paid for it to be there. But you won’t just launch into reading the page. First you’ll see who wrote it, and who sponsored that writing. What do you know about them? What is their background in policy education or journalism? And then as you read the material, you’ll think about whether they are citing what we call “primary sources,” with links to those sources, or whether they are repeating words written by someone else who got them from someone else.
"You’ll also think about whether the language in the piece is objective, or whether emotional or inflammatory words and phrases are used. Is the writer attempting to make you believe something, or is he or she stating facts backed by primary data? Has the writer also drawn from more than one source of information? Are conclusions drawn at the end of the piece, or has the writer concluded only with a summation of what he or she presented? If there are conclusions, do they logically reflect the information offered? Do they insist that you draw the same conclusion, or do they leave it for you to decide on your own?
"In reading the several pieces you’ve chosen, do you find yourself searching for a point of view you’d like to see represented? Do you automatically dismiss writing which indicates either a different point of view, or facts that would negate the one you wish to be correct?
"How do you decide who to trust? Are you generally a trusting sort of person, or do you tend toward suspicion of others, particularly others with a different point of view from your own?
"There are two very general reasons people mistrust others. First, because the others make them uncomfortable. This might be due to previous experiences that ended badly; we’ve all had our share of those. The brain employs a defense mechanism when it perceives a threat, warning us against it, and that is a good thing. But sometimes our brains are kinda superficial excitable organs, picking up inessential details and forming a picture with them that isn’t really very accurate or that doesn’t leave room for variables we don’t yet know. It’s being overprotective, and that isn’t a good thing. When that happens, we have to slow down our words or actions and make sure we’re not letting confused feelings get in the way of critical thinking. But how do we recognize when that’s happening? Back to that in a minute.
"The other general reason people might be mistrusting of others is because they have a habit of being untrustworthy themselves. It’s not nice to say, but it is a reality. If you steal things or tell lies, you will decide other people do, too, because you want to not be the only person who does these things, and also because you spend a lot of time covering for your words and actions, and you are always looking to see if anyone else is suspicious of you. You become suspicious of them, as a result. You might even end up seeking out other people who do lie or steal, because you’re more comfortable with them. Then as a group, you might collectively decide that’s just how most people are. We prefer to think most people are like us, because we want to like ourselves as we are.
"I would prefer to think most mistrustful people are like the first group, instead. I like to think well of people. I don’t think poorly of people because they look different than me, as a simple example, and I wouldn’t want them to think poorly of me for looking different from them. I can understand that if someone who looks different hurt you, the scared overprotective part of your brain might wish to assume others with a similar appearance are also dangerous, but you have a rational side, too, which should tell you that different appearance wasn’t the reason you were harmed.
"Knowing that, rationally, would you choose to harm someone merely because they look different from you? We know the sad truth is that people sometimes do. It is an irrational behavior.
"So how do you recognize when you’re letting emotion or your brain’s overprotective prejudices override critical thinking? I’m not an expert in these matters, but I’ve thought about it a lot as my kids grew up. We have likes and dislikes, formed from what we’re exposed to, what appeals to our senses, and our natural inclinations, of course. We don’t think about why we love a certain food; we just do. If it’s a “treat food,” which is how I’d describe it to a child, we know as adults we should have only a certain amount of it, or at certain times. We negotiate with ourselves; I will have a piece of cheesecake because I ate a great kale salad and a hearty but lowfat soup for lunch. Most of us don’t always get it right. We’re impulsive, and easily enticed by the sight and/or smell of something rich-tasting, but nutritionally unsound.
"If you are biased, as we generally all are, you will, just like the liars and thieves, seek out others who share your bias. Do your biases lean toward negativity or positivity? Then so will the mood of the group you’re sharing them with. But if you are also committed to objectivity, you will seek out others who try to be that way, as well. And those are the people who can and maybe should influence your biases the most. You must be honest with yourself for this to work. You must be prepared for the point of view you prefer to be sometimes wrong or even harmful to others, and you should be willing to change your mind when that occurs. It requires a degree of humility."
So here you go, this is what you're going to get from me for the next little while, though mostly on not at all serious topics. I just had that one sitting nearby and wanted to attach it to something. Maybe it'll help you talk to someone or idk, anyway.
A. This post is mostly about uninteresting things, but I needed to get it all down, and maybe it's good for something for you, as well. Mostly, future posts will be only about half this long, or less, and I have an idea that I should strive to make them entertaining.
I was organizing various files and computer elements in recognition that Google Plus is ending after nearly 8 years, because you were too lazy to use anything but Facebook or Tumblr by 2011, unless you’re one of my Google Plus friends, in which case you weren't, but know just what I’m saying, and anyway, I decided it was time to freshen the blogs.
I used them less, and less as I wanted to because of G+, and that’s my only real negative point about it, other than how people treated it who weren’t there every day enjoying it. There are two blog sites, and each one has a subblog. (When I first got them, there were reasons for that, too dull to go into.)
So I have the main blog which is currently just a link page, more on that in a sec, and the poetry/writing page. Then I have the actual main blog where I write this stuff, and this has a subpage for talking about cooking and sewing and such things, which I hope to update more going forward.
The main blog had posts going back to 2003, from when I used Dreamweaver and uploaded everything to an FTP server. Then I had Live Journal, Blogger, Vox, and finally Typepad. So the older posts were not all formatted well, and some of the images were lost, but I kept it all as a sort of History of Ridiculous Me.
In 2015 I wanted a fresh start, so I moved over to the second main page, but kept the first one as an archive.
It’s not fine literature. Some of it is rather stupid. But I like looking back at Younger Me and saying, aw, you. And some of it is rather good, though I do say so myself. Better still, sometimes I was even funny, before life got to weighing me down so much. At least, I amused me, and that was fine.
I tend to pick up on certain kinds of things before they become trendy, and the old blog was a chaotic catalog of some of that, as well. But now here I am, starting over, a far different person in some ways at 53 than 37. Gosh, being in your late 30s is grand. Don’t take that for granted. Anyway, so now I’m going to switch to a new scene for a few minutes and tell Angela about the fire dreams, since I can’t just send her a link to what I thought was a hilarious denouement of a lifelong mystery. Skip way down to C. if you just want this to end swiftly.
B. I dreamed of fire as a child, nearly every night sometimes, with occasional rests, from ages…3 or 4 or 5, to 17. Less frequently after that, but I still do, a few times a year. Fire that burns and burns, but never quite consumes, or of a fire-ravaged aftermath. No one is ever hurt, there is never much drama, but I would wake up hot and terrified and certain that the electric wiring in the walls was slowing burning its way to the outside, or that lightning had struck a tree outside one of my three bedroom windows, or that the fire in the fireplace downstairs hadn’t been extinguished properly.
I was terrified to leave my bed, so I’d watch for smoke under the door, and sometimes, after an agonizing wait, carefully go over to see if the door was warm. I can picture it now; when I was in kindergarten, we took a trip to a place called something like Santa Claus Lane, and I got a little Santa sticker I slapped on the middle of the inside of my door. It could not be fully scraped away later, and was always the first thing I saw when I woke each morning. So there was the little Santa, and maybe there was fire behind it, but I couldn’t hear anyone, and I’d call quietly for Mom, Dad, both, and raise my voice a little at a time til they either heard me, or heard me too loudly to carry on ignoring.
When I was a little older, I’d make it out of my room into theirs, because I just could not go back to sleep in my own bed, not knowing what might happen. Even though I knew nothing would.
You know, I sleep in a huge bed, and I always say I’ll never give it up because I like the heater in it, and also the sheer extravagance of spreading out my books and things all over it. But Mom and Dad’s bed was also very large, and so I did fit between them, probably not all that comfortably from their point of view, yet we were not crowded against each other. I would lie as perfectly still as I could, to not disturb them further, but I would worry for hours, falling asleep at dawn.
I sleep very well now, or would if the schedule allowed for it. And I do like all this space. Maybe, though, it feels secure, like that part of childhood.
When the dreams didn’t haunt me every night, something would trigger one; smoke on the horizon, a thunderstorm, things like that. But I never feared actual fire; it fascinated me. Fire is awesome when it isn’t destroying something we’d like to still have around.
Sometime I’ll write again and describe the dreams themselves, but one of them I had so often when I was a child seemed like the starting point, and I wondered for many years why I dreamed it. I concluded at some point I’d seen a scene like it on TV or in a movie, as my parents were just the worst at censoring scary or violent material from my young eyes.
(The truth is, they never intended to have me after the third and fourth pregnancies ended sadly, and they were not doing all that well with each other, though they kept trying, and so I grew up being both adored and “spoiled,” and left to my own devices, kind of in the way of what all the older people wanted to do or enjoy or brood at each other about. It was odd being taken to see The French Connection, but also being told I couldn’t stay up after 9 to watch Carol Burnett. But that’s enough digression.)
No one could remember any event that might have started this dream problem, though there was some serendipity to it initially that I’ll also rewrite some other time.
When I was 17, my mom and I lived in a townhouse and our old house was featured on the TV news as it burned to the ground because of poorly stored paint cans and an abysmal volunteer fire department. I’ve had a few dreams over the years of wandering through it in a half-burned state.
Four years ago, I looked for the dozenth time for clues on the web, thinking maybe it had to do with a Night Gallery episode featuring that guy who played John Boy being a sin eater, and licking butter off his fingers as he consumed a meal laid out on a dead guy. I bet you didn’t watch that when you were 7 or 8, did you? But I did. And I never forgot it, Mom.
You know, it’s a good thing I found it then, because the way Google searches (don't) work now, I think I never would.
The main scary dream involved a girl laughing at her mom in a bed as flames rose up around her and she could not move. That’s all the detail you need, but I can picture it still. Because it is in this disaster of a movie that apparently re-aired on TV when I was about three years old. Yes, the mom in my dreams was Zsa Zsa freaking Gabor. Laugh as you wish. It’s okay. But anyway, now you know why I never watched Emergency! when I was a child. I self-censored; someone had to. I never saw Towering Inferno, either, until a few years ago. Funny how that movie played out like my dreams, fire just slowly, slowly taking over. Anyway. Here we are. Here is the entire movie, if you want to watch it, and certainly you do.
C. I turned the original blog into a link page to reach this one and the other two, and my Twitter account. But now that I want to use them all more, I want to be funny again, and silly, and also sometimes serious, and yes, much less long-winded, generally. I haven’t figured it out yet, though; I could go in any direction, or just back over all the same topics again. Your thoughts on that are welcome, and you don’t even need to sign in to leave them. I just gleefully delete stupid or mean ones, so it works out fine.
PS: I found the original blog post about figuring out the fire dreams. But it's kind of long-winded, even for me. It's more complete and more visual and I think it's interesting, but then, I would, wouldn't I? Read it only if you're, uh, completionist about the naval-gazing things I sometimes write.
There are so many levels to our personal realities. For me right now, right here, some of them are too difficult to speak about, or even to think very hard on. But whatever I do write or share online is fully real, whether beautiful or messy. I can never be disingenuous; it would be like slapping my own face.
This is a little long, so I've broken it up in easy-to-digest chunks.
1. I’m back on some 3:30 am drives to take my middle son to work. He can drive. But he never gets enough practice to take the license test with its odd maneuverability portion that must be passed, which replaces the parallel parking portion found in places where that comes up more regularly. When I took my test many years ago, I was not required to pass that portion, and in fact I did not. But experience made a better teacher than the pressure of test failure, and so I’ve made out all right since then.
these things are collector's items now, with their big engines. that amuses me more than I can say. click the pic for details.
It’s this whole annoying thing, anyway, getting up in the middle of the night to drive him. Probably I would like the drive itself if it didn’t destroy my brain’s longstanding idea of how days and nights should work, and if I didn’t have to feed the dog and cat by 8 am. But anyway, I couldn’t find my lighter jacket this morning, and took an unclaimed one from the closet. I was concerned initially about the irritating sensation of fleece against my skin, but instead it had a slippery lining which, whenever I moved, sounded just like the noises that reside in my head.
2. I’ve sometimes mulled over whether I'd rather lose sight or hearing, and as much as I've immersed myself in music, and love to hear certain things, like the way my son describes a customer at work, or the cat telling me the dog wants in, or like how French people list things, plus all the Sinatra, the Cure, etc. I'd still miss seeing more, at least from an emotional standpoint. I could still hear all those things in my head, but I think colors would be harder to retain, and I wouldn't get to smear canvas with thick bright paint anymore, or watch the tomatoes ripen. It’s only recently occurred to me how important color is to me, how much it speaks to me in my quiet hermitage and brief ventures out into the noisy world. I'd greatly mourn the loss of that.
And maybe the noises in my head would stop if I couldn’t hear anymore. It would be one tiny benefit to a very sad circumstance. Oh! Plus imagine not having to hear the drone of electricity anymore. But I expect it would also be somewhat claustrophobic.
3. Today I read in a headline what my doctor told me in 1978, when I was 13 and diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia. He said avoid all the simple fast-burning carbs and have only complex slow-burning ones. Then you’ll process things better and so forth.
That's a no from here.
Now, according to NPR and others, “science” says so, too. Science always did, you know, at least as far back as I can remember. It’s to do with how your body uses and stores energy, and how it converts different types of foods into it, and what it does with what you don’t use. None of this is new. But it is good to be reminded now and then. Something you might not read this week is that you’re more likely to get beneficial fiber from slow-burning carbs, and that’s better for your blood sugar, your heart, and your colon. Nature already knew this and has been offering you a bounty to choose from right along.
Sweet potatoes are our friends.
The part that I think is most different for everyone depending on age, schedule, activity level and so forth is how often to eat and how far apart each day. When I was growing up, and when I was supporting babies, it was a certainty I needed several small meals throughout the day. These days I’m pretty sure I do better to just have a couple, in late morning and early evening, with only a small early or late snack if the scope of the day dictates it. So I’m working on that.
4. Okay, the subject I meant to cover first but have avoided is Smirking Kid. You should know (because people online are exhausting) as a disclaimer that one of my favorite casual restaurants, Frida 602, is in Covington, which is roughly ten miles from my house, in a really neat area called MainStrasse. I love going there and immersing myself in the atmosphere, which isn’t as atmospheric as it would like to be, but is earnest in the effort.
A few blocks south of there, or maybe I mean west, you'll find several bourbon bars, and there’s a sign in the median there telling us about a woman who tried to cross with her family from slave-holding Kentucky to freedom in Ohio.*
click on the picture for the story
However, the Cincinnati area is much more segregated than the areas in which my kids grew up, so I suppose if you’re a kid here in one of the little towns outside the middle, and your parents are not of the exploring variety like my kids’ parents or my own, maybe you are easily led into wrong-headed ideas about other people. But I can’t speak authoritatively on that.
What I can say is this, in a much more broad sense. Pause before you hit send. Always pause before you hit send. I have a few friends who might not like me to say this, but they want to believe things are how they want to believe they are. My friend who believes zygotes are people is sure these kids aren’t the jerks they seemed at first. My friends who take up liberal causes the way my cat chases a stink bug are pretty sure they are.
And while I know them to be clever good people who have more formal education than me, and thus know more about things I didn’t know to know, I think they are at times slightly emotionally irrational about issues laid before them. If what you believe about people is first dictated about what you want to believe about some issue or other, please press pause and think, very carefully, before you press send. Be fully honest with yourself; are you painting what you truly see, or mostly what you believe to be there? My friends are awesome at wanting the truth and so I see the wheels turning in their heads as they try to work this out. But some of you have rusty wheels that you need to oil. We have a lot of stuff these days that needs fixing, and this requires a higher degree of unity, not endless arguing and nitpicking and purity testing and all the rest.
5. *It just occurred to me though not for the first time, how often I’ve lived near state lines. Right now I’m ten minutes from Kentucky and about an hour from Indiana. I lived in New Jersey for awhile, and at one point was about twenty minutes from Pennsylvania. Before that, we could go up to the beach and look across a long bay to Manhattan.
Our first home in Michigan was about a half hour from Indiana, and on extremely clear days, once in awhile, you could just about make out the distant shore of Chicago on the other side of Lake Michigan. And I grew up in the Kansas City area, which straddles the Missouri-Kansas line.
I like that. I suppose it’s the closest I’ll get to the idea of hopping borders from one country to another in Europe. Our states are made of different flavors, even just over the bridge from each other, some subtle, some more profound. But we’re still mostly all the same, as well.
6. Also, I was just reminded that without ever meaning to, I go through a period at the beginning of the year when I listen to virtually no music at all. Which is super weird to realize, considering what a huge part of my life it's always been. But this has happened for at least three or four years, during which the most noise I apply to myself is having a marathon of some old detective or crime show that just runs in the background like gentle rain on the window on a Saturday afternoon, or a bit of news or comedy on the radio. Is it that I get overloaded and need to tune everything down for awhile? I cannot honestly say. It does seem to correspond with my musings over what life would be like if I could not hear at all. I have two current physical quirks to monitor; one can lead to profound hearing loss, one to sight loss. But the odds of either happening are very low. I think? Odds are funny things, anyhow.