Friday, November 27, 2009

Big ticket consumer goods are really aliens from another galaxy come to conquer us

I am always interested when a group, of small or large size but preferably a group that had no idea they were grouped, get an idea, wrong, right or just a matter of taste all in line with no apparent source or reason.  No I do not mean Fox News or Ralph Nader or anything like that, besides grouping deliberately, they are more about a collection of opinions than any actual ideas.  I am thinking more along the lines of apparently small, usually unintended ideas that make big changes.

The Disney movie 101 Dalmations was released in 1961 but before it was a successful movie it was a successful book.  It was so successful that only about five years elapsed between the time the book was printed & the time the movie was made.  Compare this to the decades+ that elapsed between the book2movie of most Disneyfications.  I do not just mean Beauty & the Beast et al, there is also Mary Poppins, published in 1934, movie 1965.  Even A Life in the Woods was published in 1926, almost 20 years before Bambi appeared on the big screen; well over ten of which Disney had already been making full length animated films.  Something about The Great Dog Robbery was so strong that it grabbed the money-lenders-in-the temple by the throat & they could not wait for the author to die & try to slip a bastardized version of the story by a well-funded copyright review board; they had to have that movie right away.  Because it is not how much you spend, but how much you make.  & make they did.

One of the unintended upshots was the jump in dalmation purchases.  I say unintended because I am sure had Disney been aware this would happen, they would have cornered the market on dalmation puppy mills.  In the days before movie product marketing, this would have been hard to anticipate: it would be hard to find a dog less suited for families with small children than a dalmation.  Unless it was a cocker spaniel a la Lady & the Tramp.

Flash forward to 2009: the influence of 101 Dalmations is so strong that earlier this year a woman (who must be 20+ years younger than I am; our only connection is her adult-acquired step-mother is a friend of mine) was at my house picking out chickens & when she saw a crevecoeur & asked the hen's name.  When I said Perdita she said she KNEW that was what it had to be.  After all, what else would anyone call a female black & white spotted anything?  Unless it was Missus Pongo.

It is also from this vantage point that I can see quite clearly another upshot:  the death of the fur coat industry.  The last generation of must-have-a-fur-coat women were already adults in 1961 (except behind the iron curtain women, where it is often colder & there was no Disney).  Do not even start to tell me that this is an extension of animal rights activism & awareness.  If that were true there would have been no upswing in the purchase of leather coats, which have been steadily climbing for three+ decades.  Ask meat-eating, leather-wearing women why they do not want fur & they will tell you:  there is just something cruel about it.  They will actually use the word CRUEL.  PETA can take all the credit they like, I am convinced it was 101 Dalmations.

Which makes me wonder what the next big accident might be & I think I may have found it:  Transformers.  Check back in 30 years & see if indeed the new grown-ups are not fairly certain we do not need all that multi-tasking gadget crap.  Much better to keep everything to a single function so they will be more easily defeated.

& Happy Black Friday.

// The author of The Great Dog Robbery (which I am sure is a charming little volume, although I have never read it) also wrote what I think is one of the must-read books of the 20th Century:  I Capture the Castle.  I am 99.9% sure there are no dogs in it.  Read it anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Working hard might be hardly working

Many moons ago, I wandered into a job interview that was like none I ever had before. The boss was out of town, but his wife's former secretary was working for him (while they were both on a rare vacation together) & she was doing what I would call a pre-interview. But it wasn't a pre-interview: by the time I got home, the offer was on my answering machine.

These were my interview questions:

I see you just got married, congratulations. What was the entree at your reception? My answer: vegetarian lasagna.

Do you have any pets? yes, two cats. What are their names? Barley Corn & Epiphany.

& I am sure these questions/answers were the ones that did it because she later told me so.

I realized early on that this was an office with 'personality conflicts', nothing else explained the personality test I was given. What is funny about these two is they left her with the impression I was a recovering alcoholic (I am not, I suppose I might be an alcoholic but I do not think so, therefore I am certainly not recovering) & vegetarian (which I am also not, we had meat appetizers, but all she asked about was the entree). I am also quite sure these were the impressions she got, because she later told me that as well. Why this got me the job I do not know; 

F**** was not an alcoholic, at least I don't think he was & not a vegetarian-that I am sure about. He was from Brooklyn though & I think the indulgent Southern culture was wearing on him. He was ready for someone driven regardless of the direction I might be headed.   

What she never asked me was if I could be any kind of tree what kind would I be. A Hartford insurance company once asked me this question when I was interviewing for their payroll department. My answer was a willow, so I could hang out near the water & have really cool hair. I have not heard from them since

My boss was 'high strung' (a specialty of mine, I don't know why). He sometimes had trouble with the reality that his name was on the door & mine was not. He was never outwardly angry, but he often paced & practiced his golf swing with an imaginary club in the hallway. I once had to ask him to go home (he came in with pink eye & the rest of the staff said it was him or them). His previous assistant record was 18 months; I worked for him for more than ten years.

The reality is I worked as his assistant for less than four months. At least in technical terms. I moved around a lot. I do not mean I changed offices or even chairs. I would not even use that corporate speak "changed hats". As far as I was & am concerned the job that was my job was the job that needed to be done next. Whatever it was. I once sat in the car next to another consultant sewing a button back on his cuff while he drove to a meeting. This was an appropriate division of the job at hand; I cannot tell left from right & only know NSEW if I can see the sun (or a shadow & know what time it is).

I have a friend from high school, better educated than me by any measure, geographically better placed for real success, better manners, the whole package. & every job she ever got she 1) refused to make coffee because she believed, as a tea-drinker herself, that coffee-making should be done by people who drink the coffee. I once asked her if this included potential clients; should they make their own coffee, too? She did not get it. 2) was chronically late. Or early. But usually late. There was no explaining to her that working an hour past time does not make up for that first 10-20 minutes when the phones are ringing off the walls, everyone is prepping for that early status meeting, etc. She just kept repeating to me she did not see what the big deal was: she could prove she got more work done in the hour after closing than anyone else ever did first thing in the morning. I did once say no-sh*t-sherlock, ANYbody can get more done when they are not being repeatedly interrupted while working on a 15-minute deadline. That is when I realized her ignorance was willful. Flash forward- for many years she has not had a job outside her home & last time I spoke with her she was shocked, SHOCKED when her daughters teachers told her the other homeroom moms did not want to work with her because she 1) cherry-picked only fun assignments & 2) did not respect anyone else's schedule.

I have had more opportunities than most to observe people at their work. For many years that was actually part of my paying-job, watching how things got done, identifying the holes, identifying the traps, identifying the wasted effort. Most people would rather play than work, but not all those that would rather work than play are worth employing. The trick is saying I know this is work, I know it needs be done, I will learn to enjoy it for it's own sake & for the opportunity it gives me to do the things I want to do. That opportunity might be a paycheck, it might be farm-fresh eggs, it might be anything at all. Eventually the work itself just feels good.  & being able to learn that just might be the thing I am most thankful for.  

Happy Thanksgiving.

//an apology to all Southerners who are offended by the slacker implication but compared to the average New Yorker/New Englander, you do relax a lot. I am not saying Northerners could not stand to relax more, I am saying the many of you who are keeping munchkinland hours make some of us think you are just a bit lazy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Die you pumpkin bastard

Last week I picked up our first CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription basket & in it was the sweetest little seminole pumpkin.  I looked at that pumpkin all week long, thinking how I was going to stuff it a la vegan thanksgivings past & how wonderful it was going to be.

I got sidetracked, naturally.  First I needed to deal with the more perishable produce in same basket.  Also, I have had a bad cold so... 1) cough cough cough , which just sucks the motivation out of me & 2) I have not-much sense of smell & no sense of taste, which sucks the inspiration right out of me.

But Friday night I decapitated the little monster & Oh. My. G*d. that was the thickest rind I have ever seen in my life. I cut & scraped & gouged.  It was like mixing cement in a teeny-tiny bucket with a very narrow opening.

Then I made the stuffing (pumpkin & onions & carrots & some spices & cornbread), stuffed the pumpkin & cooked for 45 minutes.  Then cooked for another 45 minutes.  Because I forgot one of the fundamentals of stuffed pumpkin:  the thicker the rind, the more water it is holding.  We ate much later than usual & then had nachos.  For dessert.

Once it had cooled a bit, I scooped the goo into a fridge-container & will re-cook it tonight, outside the pumpkin, to go with baked chicken.  Saturday morning I took what was still a very sturdy pumpkin shell to the henhouse & dropped it on the  ground where it split & the ladies gorged themselves on it.  I went in the house to get the camera to take a picture of the colorful birds eating that orange orange squash & when I got back out it was GONE.  Just the littlest bit of a stain was left.

When I make it again, I will lop off quite a bit more from the top, cook uncovered & make a few other recipe changes (no need to add vegetable stock, maybe saute the onions in white wine, add some apples, you know: CHANGES).  First though I will need to grow some.  Which is why I saved the seeds.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Judging books by their covers & whatever else

I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs-Awful Library Books when in the comments on a book not about clowns but with clowns skiing on the cover I came across a reference to a publishing house that piqued my interest: Tutis Publishing.

If you went ahead & hit the ALB link, you know that Tutis uses public domain art on their digital cover art, in many a random way.  My first visit to the site revealed this gem front & center:

I am not familiar with the translation of Homer that ties into bi-polar disorder, epilepsy, Ménière's disease or whatever-the-hell Van Gogh had, but I highly recommend every high school in the americas get their hands on a copy; bored students everywhere are ready to hear this version of the death of Achilles.  Also, I would imagine there is no more trying to tell the Ajax apart because they are probably the same guy with a split personality.

Just for fun I did a search on Jane Eyre.  & the second item to come up (the first was indeed Jane Eyre) was Persuasion.  You know - by Jane Austen.  Because Charlotte Bronte & Jane Austen are both...? Listed 3rd was another book by Jane Austen; 4th - Persuasion again.  With a different cover.  Did I mention the first cover?  It featured a couple in renaissance dress on a garden bench, the man appearing to plead with the woman.  Why would anyone want to top that?  Even if they did lay their hands on a different translation?  Am I the only one who did not know Jane Austen had to be translated into english? Or that Persuasion was about one of the three musketeers, if he were a ships captain?

There was no place left to go but the self-help section, where I found four books:

The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie with a microphone on the cover
Quit Your Worrying! by George Wharton James with a pea flower on the cover
Talks on Talking by Grenville Kleiser with foldling chairs in an open-air amphitheatre/lawn type place on the cover & last but not least
How to Succeed by Orison Swett Marden with an eagle tearing apart a snake.  Or is it a two-different-headed dragon?

Success is overrated.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday block party

A few weeks ago I asked to join & was accepted to the Friday Block Party blog.  Then I got sick & did nothing but cough & moan for 10+ days.  I am feeling more myself & getting back into the swing of everything & have started to retrace the block party blocks.  I am going to try & keep up with the blocks going forward (I am jumping in at week 46) & then, whenever I am caught up to the current block, work my way backwards, starting with week 45.

I am hoping to get some new techniques out of it, learn to accept techniques I hate (Y seams-BLECH) & just in general see what falls out of the sewing basket.

Without further ado, please join me at the block party for my first post.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Collectible collectives

I admit I live in my head. So does A; it is a wonder we ever meet. Or ever even met.

While I was still a child (well teenager) I started collections that could not be taken away: words that mean the opposite of themselves but are spelled the exact same (my favorite was mother & mother, well actually it was catholic & Catholic but I am told the capitalization does constitute a spelling change. That's right, there are rules); women who made their ex-husband's names famous as their own (Dorothy Parker, Susan Sarandon).

While getting an english lit degree I collected opening lines (When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow). All it takes is a piece of paper & you have a collection. If you keep that paper with you & memorize it in spare moments, you can learn to encapsule anything, ready to be released when you read your list aloud.

Everyone knows someone who collects exes. C****** likes to gather musical covers. If I am remembering correctly, she once did a school project on covers of Twist & Shout. I am not all that interested in exes (although I DO like Twist & Shout, Twist & Shout & Twist & Shout).

When I was in my 20's, I began trying to take myself out of my head. Or at least to empty my head 'on the stage' so at least some of what I did had some context. That is when I began collecting collections. There is nothing that delights me more than whatever someone else has seen fit to gather. That is not true of course; I am most delighted by what no one ever meant to gather, or at least the gathering was not so much a goal as a symptom or even a side effect but when that collection is the backbone of something else entirely.

& that is when I began collecting collectives. The first one I realized was a list of so-called subversive & fringe groups that all recognize the international symbol for anarchy. Give it a minute.

Since that day I have made notes on all unintended groupings. Used books stores are fun. Somehow they always seem to have themes that emerge, often quickly, that are obvious to any new customer & invisible to any regular visitor. The used bookstores that sells silver jewlery at the counter-very heavy in the sci-fi department.  The one with the vegan cafe within its walls:  not so much on car repair.

Artisans guilds can be interesting too. I had a ring-side seat (no I was never a member) when one of the local groups had a 'political restructuring'. The theme of the new concept could be summed up in the words of one former board member "I do not care how many G*d damned kids you have, hire a babysitter or leave them home alone, but do not bring them here when you are supposed to be working".  Last time I checked a lot of guild members were child-free.

Farmers markets are another favorite of mine. Less diverse than other markets as they are self-limiting (after all if you are going to grow your own food & then sell it you are probably not doing it to gain entry into the world of industrial food), but still there is variety. The heirloom turkey breeders do not always see eye-to-eye with the vegan soap makers.

There is a new collective in town. A food co-op is trying to form in our area. I could not be more pleased. I like the idea, I agree with the philosophy & I am sure that like minded & agreeing people will provide much discussion & conflict for years to come. & yes, I think that is a good thing.  In the meantime a CSA has formed & we joined.  Every saturday we pick up our basket at the farmers market & go home & try & figure out what to do with what we got.  At last, something to do with all those obscure cookbooks I have been collecting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quilters quiz me vis à vis quips & quackery

Apparently some of my friends were astonished that I agreed to do a brief presentation of my string quilts to one of the bees (the Miniature Quilt Bee to be exact). While it is true that I have called the guild that sponsors these bees the Symbionese Liberation Quilt Guild the fact remains that I do still have friends there & when they ask me to do something that does not involve anything from me but to be listened to & admired, I am pretty much willing to do it. It helps of course that this group does not meet before noon. Finally, the SLQG was not actually charging for me to be there while I was expected to donate my time & that was indeed the clincher. No it was not; it has been the clincher in the other direction (group charge but me not get paid). This time the clincher was J*** asking so elegantly if I would "be so kind as to" & of course I said yes.

This is how I happened a few afternoons ago to be standing in the community rec center blathering on about foundation free string piecing. Again.

The group theme is mini-quilts: those small scale replicas of larger quilts, with tiny patterns on tiny bits of fabric held together with tiny stitches. Whereas I consider a 4' by 4' quilt to be on the small side. They have been making mini-string quilts last month, this month; mini-quilts take longer than you would think.

For me, this meant getting together at least some of the string quilts I have made & then flung to the far corners of the US. I wanted to say earth, but although I have sent strings, sample blocks & patterns to Australia & Iraq (they asked for them, no really) that seemed an exaggeration. Although now that I think about it most of my string quilts are in Florida & New England, which are actually the closest corners of the US. Whatever, it meant tracking them down.  Some were just across town, but others had further to travel. 

& track them I did, with varied success.

While not the first I ever made, this is the original pattern.  Concept, too as there were many many classic pooh scraps left over from something.  The first is, I am sorry to say somewhere in limbo.  It left here in March 2008 to be given as a mitzvah for one of my niece's First Communion (yes, we like to mix things up).  & there it has sat, still pending for reasons I am not sure I understand but...I digress.

My sister sent the quilts she & her daughter got one year at holiday time.  Guess which one belongs to the grown woman & which belongs to the child who just painted her new bedroom weirdly orange-red? 

From my mom the first string quilt I made.  I think.  The scraps were from a much larger project & we needed to use them up & clear them out.  & I showed a few others but they are either pretty routine or their pics have already been shown on this blog so Iwill spare you.  As I look over my left-overs though I am realzing I could use some freshening.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Today & tomorrow are known to some as The Night of Broken Glass.  In March 1938, Austrian citizens welcomed with parades & celebrations the German 'invaders'.  I do not actually expect that anyone who reads this blog is under the delusion that Nazi atrocities never occurred, but as to the Austrians celebrating, I know there are those who insist it was not true.  So I give you Ann Shapiro: she was a friend of my mothers (& her son wrote a book about her gardening skills sort-of, that is not really germane to today's blog entry).  She was quite sure of what she saw & would have been happy to refer you to many of her relatives who also witnessed it but... they are all dead.

On October 28, 1938, more than 12K Jews were expelled from Germany, with almost no notice, just a few hours at most to pack one suitcase (leaving the rest of their belongings to looters AKA neighbors).  The son of one expelled family shot & killed a German embassy official.  In Paris.

In response, the German government coordinated attack on jewish neighborhoods in Germany & then acquired Austria.  Because of their attempts to defend their homes & families, there was now good reason to:  prevent Jews from owning firearms, publishing newspapers, attending school, gathering in large numbers & just plain being allowed to live among decent people. 

To be specific: a lone gunmen, who did not flee or even deny that he was responsible for the shooting, was held by police in another country, the country in which the shooting took place, but to be on the safe side, the German government (or according to the German government, the German people) thought it would be a good idea to attack ethnically similar people living in their own neighborhoods.

I think I am going to stop here, actually.  If you really truly want to read more about this almost unrecognized day (& by virtually unknown to mainstream US society), there is more material out there than I could ever list here.  There is so much material that my own bookclub has twice had accidental nazi books; books we choose because they were about one thing but turned out to be about nazis. 

I am stopping because I am, frankly, sick of nazis.  Aside from all the good reasons to be sick of nazis, I am just plain sick of the word. I would like to offer a new (old) word:  pogrom.  A pogrom is a little like a fatwa only instead of originating in a religious community it begins in a political one.  It is an organized riot, a coordinated attack on people who have been prevented from defending themselves; it is the targeting of a group of people over whom you have mastery for the purposes of destroying them quickly & completely.

//If you are curious, the accidental nazi book were:  Pink Slip by Rita Ciresi about an Italian-American working at a pharmaceutical company in 1980s Long Island which actually features the very scene one member asked that we avoid & tomorrow's quite-by-coincidence selection:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  We still recommend both of them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The December 2009 block swap block is up & I am still getting "but wait a minute" messages/calls so I thought I would just walk anyone who cares through the steps.

First a disclaimer:  the block (& idea) are from an old Fons & Porters Magazine & can be found at that site under 'Quilt Guild Bingo'.  Maybe.  I was told the site is not cooperative & then I had some trouble myself.  So I sent everyone here.  But it does not have actual step-by-step directions.

Let's just begin.  We are making a 5x5 grid of 2.5" unfinished squares.  Each row is a different color.  The colors are red, blue, green, orange/yellow & pink/purple.  The color rows can be in any order so long as the center square (the 3rd square in the 3rd row) is black.

There are also pattern categories.  The categories are:  batik, dots, floral, geometric, heart, leaf, metallic, holiday, novelty, paisley, plaid, solid, star, stripe, or 1930's print.  You can only have a particular category once within a single color but you might have the same category in different colors.  For example: it is OKay to have a red stripe & a blue stripe but you cannot have TWO red stripes or TWO blue stripes.  The original idea was for 'red stripe' to be called out as B-5 might be in an actual bingo game.  There would never be two B-5 squares on the same bingo block.

Which brings me to another clarification point:  we are not actually playing bingo.  I am not aware of any guild or group that plans to use these blocks in an actual game.  There is nothing wrong with that if someone wants to make enough for many players & then swap so they get back more variety (please send me a message though if you plan to send more than five sets of five blocks),  but I swear I am not using the block swap group to make bingo cards for some party not everyone is invited to.  We are however sticking with the rules, mostly to keep things interesting.  After all who wants a 5x5 grid of nothing but striped fabric?  Well, OKay that might be cool, but that is not what we are doing this time.

Because we are not actually playing Bingo, we do not need to be sure that every block is different so you can speed things up by strip piecing. I cut 2.5" strips of (from the top) blue dots, blue floral, blue holiday (or metallic or stars), blue plaid (gingham is plaid, right?), & blue novelty.  You can see that there is another color of each of these:  a red star & a red novelty; an orange/yellow stripe, an orange/yellow plaid, an orange/yellow, an orange/yellow floral & an orange/yellow holiday; a pink/purple dot & a pink/purple novelty; & a green plaid & a green novelty but no repeats of any category within the same color strip.

If it seems like I am harping on this it is because I am.  Everytime I have done a workshop or program or swap or anything to do with this block there is always at least one person who says there are not enough categories for each 2.5" square to be unique.  & for every one person who complains about that, two people turn in a block with category repeats in the same color.

Once your 5-strip piece is made, press the seams in one direction.  Do not press to the dark or open or this way & that way.  Press all seams in one direction.  This will make it easier to sew to the other colors.

Then cut this piece into 2.5" strips.  Repeat for all colors.

If you have pressed all the seams for each strip in one direction, you can flip them when you stitch them & they will lock together. 

Finally assemble five strips, one of each colorway.  It does not matter what order the colors are in so long as the center square -the 3rd square of the 3rd row- is black.  It can be solid or patterned or whatever so long as the primary color is black.

Putting these colors in any order is a variation from the original Fons & Porters pattern.  The last time I did this project a handful of people were making these for a much larger group & one of the ways we made the smaller variety of fabrics make a larger variety of bingo cards was to mix the colors.

It is perfectly OKay to put your color strips in different order for the same swap.  It is OKay if you use different fabrics in each block.  If you look at these three blocks you will see one has a different pink/purple novelty than the others & one has a different mix for the red row.  This is because I was using up scraps & not all the strips were of equal length.

As always, I am collecting 6th blocks-you send your set of five blocks & get back five blocks & you can send a 6th block which goes to a community project quilt.  Anyone who participates in the current swap & has participated in at least two previous swaps can ask for the 6th blocks, they just need to commit the blocks they themselves get back in this swap to the project & to put up pictures on the Facebook group of the quilt(s) that get made within ?6? months as well as some other fairly loose guidelines: the quilts made need to go to the quilt user, they cannot not used as a fund raiser so no raffles or auctions; this should be part of a larger quilt drive with other people not associated with this swap also making quilts.  These are just to avoid quilts ending up in limbo when the quilt is completed but not delivered, or being redirected to a more personal recipient.  This is a 'random acts of kindness' sort of thing, not 'my neighbor's preemie grandchild really needs a quilt' sort of thing.

Project Linus has already received four 6th block quilts, so I would like to see another group get these blocks.  As it was a Pennsylvania PL chapter, other chapters could certainly ask.

Finally if you are not currently part of the Quilt Block Swap Group but would like to be you can:
  • go on FaceBook, search Quilt Block swap Group & ask to join
  • leave a comment to this posting asking for the info that includes your e-mail & I will e-mail you the directions

We swap every other month.  It is up to each swapper to get their blocks in on time with a SAS envelope to return their swapped blocks in.  This particular swap is due-to-me the last Saturday of December 2009, which is 12/26.

Last but not least- a picture of a quilt made from 16 bingo blocks, using what regular readers of this blog will recognize as the reconciling the disparate sashing:

Friday, November 6, 2009

The women who stare at chickens

I have tried to read The Men Who Stare at Goats, I really tried.  But it is just too close to Joyce's stream of consciousness style for me to be able to stick with it.  It is like that scene in Ghostbusters where you must not cross the streams would be bad.

Once upon a time & a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...  Callie says the dairy barn adds a new ice cream flavor every semester but they almost never keep them through the next semester. 
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass; his father had a hairy face.  Whatever is left after finals they sell but they never make any more.
He was baby tuckoo.  The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: wasn't Betty Byrne one of those lady pirates?  Or was that was Mary Kelly?  No, Mary Kelly was on of the Jack the Ripper's victims.  She sold lemon platt.  Wait, what?

You can see how this would lead to a very different understanding of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man than my classmates, making my exams answers a bit off.  I still maintain that mine were more Joycean.

I can actually see how goat-watching would make you think you are accomplishing something.  After almost a decade of staring at chickens I am almost certain I can direct their actions, except when they resist me.  Which they often do,  Stoopid chickens.

A would like to see the MWSAG movie at the theaters but alas it is playing at the bad theater.  This theater used to have - & may still, I would not know - a baby gets in free policy.  That's right, so long as the baby is small enough to sit on your lap, you do not need to pay anything for baby's ticket.  Because everyone knows that the most disruptive thing a baby can do in a movie theater is take up space.

By & large it was the later movies that were a problem.  People seem more likely to bring their babies to movies after 8pm.  Which is interesting because that is the date-movie market.  I have a theory that this is why people are not getting married anymore.  Think about it, you meet someone interesting, you go to a movie, there are babies taking up all that seating & after the movie all you can talk about is....all those babies.  Neither of you remembers much of the movie.  There was a time when you actually had to HAVE a baby for baby talk to dominate an otherwise baby-free after-movie conversation.

The only way this date ends well is if both of you vow to never have any babies.  I suppose it would also be OKay if you both agreed to bring your future babies to the movies because it was such a rollicking good time, but I have never heard of that happening.  Usually one of you says "all babies must die" or the slightly more reasonable "all parents must die" & the other says  "not all parents are like that; you are judging all parents based on a self-selected group & that is not fair".  If you are still going to movies-on-a-date, you are way too early in the process for the That's Not Fair defense & well, it is a relationship killer, every time.

So, what was I talking about?  Oh yes, chickens.  I like to watch chickens.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martin de Porres

I have been watching the education arguments for & against extending public school unfold & it seemed like a good time to introduce Martin de Porres, the patron of public schools (& some other timely patronages which we will get to when we get to them).

I think it is only fair to lay my bias right out there, just in case anyone is new or somehow missed it: although we have no children, we are big big believers in public education. Not because A is a professor at a public university. Once upon a time he worked in the private sector & still believed in public education. While I would agree with Bill Maher that if you want the village to help raise your child you should check with us before you reproduced, once the kids are here we have to deal with them. In this & so many other ways I find myself in direct opposition with anti-choice abortion activists; as far as I can tell once those kids are born they are someone else's problem, but I digress.

Every day I marvel that our culture expects to go into debt to get a car or a more upscale roof over their heads (I have relatives who actually took out a loan to pay for their wedding), but an education should be paid for out of taxes people are proud to cheat on. The arguments my kids are already through school/go to private school/I don't have kids just will not fly with me. Last time I checked it was a good thing when the cashier at the pharmacy could read, that the day care center attendant could do basic math, that the traffic cop could write legibly. Yes, even that last one is a good thing. Whether or not you are or were a direct consumer of public schools, you are an indirect consumer every day of your life & probably a few after you are gone &/or before you ever got here.

Which brings me to today's feastee: Martin de Porres. Trust me you are going to love him.

Martin de Porres is the son of a Spanish noble & a freed slave. Now would be the time to mention he is the patron of bi-racial & mixed race people. He went to work at a young age where he begged professionally. The sites call him an almoner, but the definition has changed since the 16th century. In Martin de Porres's time the almoner was expected to raise his own funds. The money was then distributed to the poor & he is the patron of poor people. He was so effective at this, so unrelenting in his work ethic that the Dominicans decided to drop the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our Order”. This is also how he comes to be represented symbolically as a broom. A new broom. A new broom sweeping. Are you hearing me?

Martin de Porres established an orphanage & a children's hospital in the slums of his hometown (Lima, Peru) & is also the patron of public health. He went on to set up animal shelters for the cities stray dog & cat population. Another of his official representations is a dog, a cat, a bird & a mouse eating from the same dish.

Martin de Porres is invoked by those seeking social justice as well as those seeking inter-racial harmony. He is also patron of some less explicable things: television, hairdressers & Biloxi, Mississippi. Oh & those seeking public option health care, they pray to him, too.