Monthly Archives: September 2018

Random Photo Round Up

As I go about my life, I often come upon random things that make me pause or laugh or think it would make a good blog. And then weeks later when I’m looking for the alleged good blog idea, I realize it’s a one-second gag that even my superior BS skills can’t spin into something more substantial. But that’s OK — these are short and to the point. No sustained attention needed! And let’s face it, this week the bubble got pummeled more than usual. Enjoy!

  1. We fished this out of a small stream on our canoe camping trip on the Delaware River. We were walking and saw something clearly man-made. My friend said “I see boobs!” And I saw a high-heeled shoe. This could be interesting, I thought. He had to wade into the river to free her from the rock she had been pinned under, and then we were like…whoa. I flashed back to curse Tiki statue from the Brady Bunch and every other bad TV show about weird cursed objects that lay in wait for some poor saps to fish them out and then they wreak havoc on them. This one also had a high school tassel from 2014 attached to it, so now I was adding a bad teen horror movie to the mix. Or, maybe she was just a wise old woman with eclectic fashion taste. Sure, we laughed, but nether of us wanted to take her with us, so we told her we liberated her from the water and gave her a better view from a tree. Please don’t come get us.

scarywitch

2. The second entry in the “Yikes, what the hell?!?” category is this guy or gal. I was writing at my computer, which looks out a second story window. As I was staring out the window, you know working very hard thinking about what I wanted to write (you can’t prove I wasn’t), I happened to notice a beautiful spider’s web. I congratulated myself on being present to the world’s beauty and thinking about the miracle of life, and how amazing spiders are, until she/he suddenly scuttled into view, and I screamed. That sucker is 2 inches long, front leg to back leg. Gaaahhhhh! Why does the miracle of life have to be so creepy and scary??

giantspider

3.  And now for something completely petty. I’ve done this round up before, and I almost always have a fashion photo. Or what shouldn’t be fashion. My only defense is that I’m pretty clueless about fashion, so if I notice what you’re wearing seems off, you are either too cutting edge to live in Boston, or it’s really, truly bad.  However, this little number took me in a whole philosophical direction while waiting at the crosswalk. Exhibit A:

My first thought was, I see fishnets, did you forget those when you were changing out of your dominatrix outfit this morning? Or has the stereotypical sexy fishnet costume, like much fashion these days, de-evolved into too much casual comfort? Or does she have black lace and leather under that frumpy outfit? And because the walk sign still hadn’t come on at this point, I thought, or am I the weirdo for thinking you can only wear fishnets as an accessory to a sexy scenario. Who am I to say that fishnet stockings don’t go with sensible work attire. I mean, you know, the zebra flats are kinda working. Maybe this is her way of saying who she is from the safety of being tucked under her desk. Who am I to judge? Well, I really tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but as the walk sign came on, I had to accept I’m just too old-fashioned; fishnets should always be in the presence of a whip, high heels, and an outfit containing no more than a cup of fabric.

4 & 5. To make up for my shallow, one-track mind, here are photos from a cool outdoors exhibit called Fog x FLO, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. It’s by a well-known Japanese artist, Fujiko Nakaya. There 6 spread out along the Emerald Necklace Parks in Boston. I’ve seen 2 so far. They are really cool. Nozzles on scaffolding spray fog into a natural area. These two are from Jamaica Pond. Light gray version of the Smoke Monster in Lost, anyone?

smokemonster

Then it envelopes you…

fog

I saw the second one last week at Franklin Park. It’s set up in the Overlook Shelter Ruins, and the fog moving over the stone is very ethereal and peaceful, even though there were two ladies chatting away the whole time. The fog in this one appears more frequently than the one on the pond, so I saw it multiple times in about 20 minutes. The pond one only goes off on the hour and half hour, just for a few minutes. And sorry for the video. I can’t really say what I did towards the end, um, fancy camera work? But you get the general idea.

And here is more info about the ruins: “Sitting lonely and overgrown in Boston’s historic Franklin Park, these puddingstone ruins were once one of the only buildings ever designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, whose egalitarian ideals set the standard for public parks as a place equally accessible to anyone and protected from private interests.”

6. And because my stats always go through the roof when I post pictures of animals (and really it seems like any animal — you people are indiscriminate on this topic!) Here is something to humble anyone who does yoga and who may be getting to attached to comparing themselves favorably against others in the class. So, you can do badass down dog pose? Can you do down squirrel pose, upside down, on the side of a tree? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Namaste!

downsquirrel

 

Raise a Glass

There have been many funny episodes in my life that involve alcohol, and a fair number of embarrassing episodes, and I’m not admitting to any pure straight up dumbass ones.  Plus, you have no proof of those — let’s hear it for coming of age before social media! Alcohol has also played a part in two of my prouder achievements.

But before we get to that, we have to go back to a job I had many years ago at the nonprofit Boston Center for Adult Education. You know, adult education, where people in their 20s pretend they’re “expanding their horizons,” with tai chi, or how to make a business plan, or making sushi, but they are really just looking to find other singles. And the joke is always on straight women, because most of the classes are filled with other straight women. Or was that just me? Anywho, this was way after the “Mad Men”/5 martini lunch era and way before start-up beer in the fridge and Foosball tables in the conference room era. Do you see how we Gen-Xers were completely left behind as far as alcohol in the workplace? Well, the BCAE, as we affectionately called it, created my noble desire to leave no alcoholic beverage behind. It used to be housed in an old mansion, so wedding reception rentals provided an income stream. Fortunately for us, our archaic old-ass Puritan Massachusetts laws prohibited the couple from taking any leftover alcohol with them. As a result, we always had a stash of wine and other spirits that were kept in the “wine closet.” That was an actual thing in my workplace. Of course my office supplies were kept in a built-in sock drawer and I worked in what had been the master’s bedroom (the house mrs. slept in the room nearby), but that’s a whole other blog.

All I’m saying is, when you are a Gen-Xer and 30 years old making essentially less than the minimum wage of today, but it’s OK because you are helping people, having wine at work was pretty damn exciting. And so every once in a while the education director would check the wine closet situation on a Friday afternoon and in no time we would have a beautiful spread of wine, cheese, and nibbles, fit for a wedding reception.

I vowed to leave no alcohol behind, so I knew what I had to do at my next job at a health newsletter publisher (remember those? So cute, those print newsletters, aren’t they?) When I got there, there was already a cruise director of sorts who organized movies at lunch and company outings. I didn’t want to step on his toes, so I waited patiently, and when he left, there was a wide open space. Apparently most people don’t like to organize fun at work. Who knew? I started off slowly with “tea time” — with tea in a real teapot and little teacups and cookies and little yummies. Once I had them enjoying that, it was a short leap to “wine time.” That was very cool until we got bought out by another company that seemed to prohibit alcohol in the workplace. Wha?

I say “seemed” because, ever the resourceful employee dedicated to the vision of drinking at work, I carefully scoured the fine print of the employee manual and discovered this fateful phrase: that alcohol was allowed at “company sponsored” events. Score! Just to be on the safe side though we referred to the “company sponsored” events as “tea time.” What can I say, our headquarters HR lady would visit once a quarter and we called her Catbert.

I eventually left the company, and that satellite office closed less than a year later, but a group of us continue the ritual in the more traditional venue of a bar after work. Now we get to call it a drinkfest, a nice name for my favorite work achievement.

My second alcohol-related achievement is that I got my mother to drink with me. Truth be told, this would be the second time her children have persuaded her. I believe my sister had the first honor when she came back from college a beer fan and got my mom on board. Having gone to an all girl high school and trying to be a nun after that before she got too sick to continue, my mom had missed out on a lot of teenage shenanigans. So it was up to us to make sure she made up for it in mid-life.

Fast forward to her recent move to assisted living. The two items in my mom’s fridge right now are beer and prune juice. And I think at age 88, that pretty much covers the bases. When she moved we tried to help her keep her rituals from home, one of which was every Saturday night she had beer and pizza. Her assisted living doesn’t have pizza that consistently, so she stopped drinking, can you imagine? When I told her to drink a beer after dinner on Saturday anyway, she said she doesn’t like to drink alone. Which is funny, because she drank by herself at home, and there weren’t even 100 assisted living neighbors within 20 feet of her, just my dad hanging out in another part of the house.

After couple of weeks of that suggestion being ignored, and she still wasn’t drinking in her apartment, I knew I had to act swiftly and hatched a plan. We FaceTime with each other every Friday night, and I always have wine on Fridays (and Mondays and Tuesdays and…but I digress), so I invited her to drink with me. Sure enough the next week she was hoisting her beer with me. This week she even finished hers before I finished mine. It was a proud moment.

 

“Get Out”: A Spoonful of Sugar

Apologies for the title. I’m sure there is a special place in hell for white writers who use white people references when talking about Black culture, but I’m pretty sure I’m going there anyway, so what the heck. I’m still very much a newbie in my quest to be an agent of social justice and learn about Black culture , so I’ll use what I know until I can use Black culture references appropriately.

Are ya still with me? Mary Poppins! Mary Poppins! OK, that’s better.

I had seen the ads for the movie “Get Out,” but I am a big weenie when it comes to horror movies. Between the violent bloody parts and the unbearable tension created by slasher music and white teenagers always going into the creepy house to have sex or drink, I find the whole thing disturbing and annoying. That is until the crazy person/spirit/monster comes out of nowhere with an ax, and then I’m cowering in my seat,  yelling, “Is it over?”

I’m kidding, I’ve never actually sat through a horror movie; I can scare myself in the dark for free in a fraction of the time. But I made an exception when my friend Sonia said I had to see “Get Out.” The movie is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, who, if you don’t live under a media rock like I do, you may know him from his acting work: 5 seasons as a cast member on Mad TV, starring with Keegan-Michael Key in the Comedy Central ketch series Key & Peele, and a recurring role in the first season of the FX anthology series Fargo. 

Halfway through the making of “Get Out.” Jordan Peele realized the story he wanted to tell: A horror-thriller for Black audiences that delivered a searing satirical critique of systemic racism. It is definitely a cleverly written social commentary on being black in America, and he tucks in some humor along the way while he plays with the genre. If you’re white and love horror movies, and even if you aren’t really looking for any deep meaning in your movies, I’d still encourage you to see it. It’s a quality addition to the genre; you will be entertained and surprised and terrified.

But it’s even better if you take a few minutes to see it from a Black perspective.

I put it on my viewing list, but I rarely stay awake long enough to watch movies, so I didn’t actually get to watch it until I visited Sonia a few months ago. It was 100 times better than me watching it by myself for several reasons:

  1. I would’ve missed most, if not all of the social commentary and symbolism that is embedded in the movie.
  2. I would’ve have had anyone to tell me when it was OK to unplug my ears and untuck my head from the pillow to deal with the bloody horror junk at the end.

If you’re sensitive like I am, invite a horror movie loving buddy to watch it with you, preferably one who doesn’t think it’s funny to say, “It’s safe to watch now!” just when the ax is in mid-swing.

The premise of the movie is that the main character Chris is a Black man meeting his white girlfriend’s family for the first time, of course at their house, which in typical horror movie fashion is in the middle of nowhere. He soon realizes there is something strange and creepy about their obsession with Blackness; their maid and gardener are Black, and at a party later, there is young Black man who is married to an older white woman. He tried to connect with the Black people, but they are all placid and vacant, but showing brief moments of desperation that he doesn’t understand.

This is a condensed version from “We Need to Talk About All of the Symbolism in Get Out” from VH1 News.

  1. On the way to the girlfriend’s parents’ house the couples’ car hits a deer. When the cop arrives, the scene re-enacts what happens commonly across country. The cop demands Chris’s ID, even though he wasn’t the one driving. Indignant, the girlfriend argues with the cop about why that is necessary, while Chris tries to calm her down and comply. The scene emphasizes that white privilege gets to argue with a cop without serious consequences. Chris can’t take that chance.
  2. Once at the parents’ house, Chris’s girlfriend’s mother offers to hypnotize him to help cure him of his nicotine addiction him. Of course nastier things are afoot. She actually taps into a traumatic experience from his past to put him into a psychological “Sunken Place” where he’s falling in a hole and can’t move. From the VH-1 website: “This out-of-body experience represents the greater narrative of Black America. It’s a theme we’ve seen play out again and again in American history – from slavery to the Tuskegee experiments all the way to mass incarceration…the idea that terrifying and denigrating things come from white ownership of Black bodies.”
  3. The mother uses the clinking of a silver spoon against a teacup to control when Chris goes to the sunken place. In addition to the symbolism of the being born with a “silver spoon” equating with wealth, is also calls to mind Black servants serving tea to wealthy white people.
  4. The movie is not without its funny moments. Chris’s friend Rod had misgivings for Chris’s girlfriend from the start. When Chris’s calls from the parents’ house get stranger and more worrisome, and then finally stop, he takes action. He’s a goofy TSA agent and plays his seriousness about his job and his melodramatic take on what’s happened to Chris for laughs — his theory is that some white people are kidnapping Black people and making them slaves. Which all the people in authority that he tells laugh at, so he uses his TSA training to max to launch a rescue.
  5. Chris finds himself tied to a comfy chair in the basement. The sound of the tinkling spoon puts him in and out of the sunken place, and there is seemingly no escape. However, in his anxiety, he starts picking at the arm of the chair, freeing, what else, tufts of cotton. He uses it to plug his ears so he can’t hear the hypnosis signal, and is able to free himself when they bring him food thinking he is incapacitated. As the VH-1 website perfectly said, “This might be the only time where a Black man picking cotton has been a lifesaving task.”

There are more references, so check them out. Think of it like Schoolhouse Rock — you get to be entertained and learn something at the same time. If you can’t deal with the horror, I get it. I’m working on finding other options. Stay tuned and meanwhile hum, “Conjunction, junction, what’s your function?