Monday, April 9, 2018

Hey! -- a discussion of language


image from NTU Magazine


Did that "hey" get your attention? Today is H Day in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and although there are many H words and topics, I settled on Hey! I've always been fascinated by the variability of the English language. It changes from country to country and region to region within countries that pride themselves on having English as a common language.

I grew up in Oklahoma which is in the South Central United States -- Southern enough that we were taught in school that the Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a gentleman and the Union General Ulysses S. Grant was not. But not so Southern that we ever referred to the American Civil War as The War of Northern Aggression.

Hey! was rude, a word used to get our attention and immediately followed by some accusation of an error on our part.

"Hey! You stepped on my foot!"
"Hey! She cut in line!"
"Hey! That's my piece of pie!"

If children used it just to get someone's attention, they were quickly corrected by any adult in the area saying "Hay is for horses."

Then I grew up and moved to Southeast Arkansas. Now that, by-the-bye, is truly Southern. Southern enough that the worst epithet you can hurl is "Yankee!" And the worst insult is the accusation "You must be from the North" which translates to "You rude, ignorant piece of white trash."

There the word Hey! was a friendly greeting, synonymous with "Hi" or "Hello." I lived there for a little more than six years and quickly established my own red line about being from the North. I was from a town in Central Oklahoma which is north of Southeast Arkansas, but I refused to be insulted. "Typical Yankee, she doesn't even know she's being insulted. Bless her heart."

I did not, however, live there long enough to be shouted Hey! at without cringing. And I never did take it up as a greeting. I still have an instant of defensiveness when someone directs Hey! at me. Even though now, Hey! is a friendly greeting throughout the United States. Perhaps it's global like okay. I don't know.

But, Hey! I guess that's a good thing.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Facebook and Google -- Opinion

image from newsmobile.in

Yesterday was Day F in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge and today was G.

With all the news these days about loss of privacy and security because of our presence on social media F and G were easy--Facebook and Google.

Am I willing to give up Facebook to protect my security. To avoid being manipulated by advertisers and political operatives?

Apparently, I started on Facebook in July of 2008. I'm sure there's a way to find out exactly, but I couldn't figure it out. It's not really that important exactly when. Why is more important.

I was taking cake decorating classes and the instructor said it was easier to share photos with Facebook. She posted pictures of the cakes she did and I wanted to see them. Soooo....

My daughter Grace, a teen at the time helped her internet-illiterate mother open a Facebook account so I could see my cake decorating instructor's pictures of beautiful cakes.

In less than a week I received a friend request from a person I went to high school with. She hadn't said ten words together to me in high school so I couldn't imagine why she wanted to be my friend anywhere, much less on Facebook which could come into my home willy-nilly via my computer screen.

I didn't know if she would be notified if I rejected her friend request. And what would I do when I saw her in Walmart? Our town was small enough that that was possible. Would she be mad at me? Confront me? Vandalize my car? Well, no she wouldn't do that! So I accepted the friend request to avoid any possible unpleasantness.

Then a couple days later that same woman's ex-husband sent me a friend request. He'd never been particularly friendly to me in high school either and I surely didn't want to get in the middle of those two.

The only thing to do was to get Grace to cancel my Facebook account. Cake decorating be damned.

Grace, being slightly more rational than I, reassured me that I could just unfriend her and ignore his request. And that they wouldn't get any ugly public announcements that I had rejected them. She said that they, in fact, would probably not notice and if they did they'd just chalk it up to my flaky inability to hit the right keys and not take it personally.

She talked me into keeping my Facebook account. And I am so glad I did.

My daughter-in-law posts photos and videos of my grandchildren's activities. They live hundreds of miles away from me, and I could easily feel left out of their lives. But, just like tonight, one of my grand's team won first in their state Destination Imagination competition and will be going to Globals next month. Within minutes I could see for myself through the photos and video she posted. Color me included and proud of those beautiful, brilliant, creative young people.

Plus -- my brother lives more than a thousand miles from me. We talk on the phone, but the photos he shares via Facebook make me not feel so far away from him.

And my cousins are scattered hither and yon. We grew up together and were almost as close as siblings but I don't know their children or their spouses or their children's children and spouses very well at all. Facebook has helped me get better acquainted with them.

And my husband's family. Again we live very far away from them, but we're getting to watch the littles grow and keep up with the grown-ups.

My daughter and her partners are our only family close at hand and that will end this coming August when she marries and moves to Houston for grad school. We'll still talk on the phone, but I'm sure I'll depend on Facebook to ease the separation.

And Google? Well I'm sure Google also sells my info to businesses for all kinds of purposes. Like I heard a commentator comment "If it's a free service, my information is a commodity."

I'm a writer and like all writers I need access to information -- all kinds of information. As much as I love my local library, and as extensive as the collection is, it is still limited compared to the world's information. It is still a drive across town while my laptop sits on my desk and my cell phone is in my pocket.

I must admit, that I feel a little uncomfortable when ads for hotels in Washington, D.C., pop up because I've been researching online for an upcoming trip. Or there are ads for dining places that show up because I'm using GPS to find my way. But then access to these kinds of information when I might want to use it is very convenient.

So what can I do? I can take standard precautions -- I keep my antivirus software up to date; change my passwords regularly; turn off the location on my devices when it's not necessary for what I'm doing; avoid apps that request access to my Facebook friends and my email contacts and hope they do the same for me.

I research information for veracity. I even looked up the website that was the source for the image I used at the top of this post. It's a news agency in India.

I don't open forwarded emails. I don't open emails from sources I don't know.

And when I do mess up one of my devices as I have and probably will again, I take it to someone who knows how to clean up after me. And yes I do backups regularly.

I know, the world is a dangerous place. There are bad actors out there who will search out and take advantage of weaknesses. But I will not be cut off from the world. Or the people I care about.

So I'll keep using Facebook and Google.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Deviled Eggs -- Flash Fiction


Without looking up from her laptop, she chirped "Here's one! Ham and egg lasagna. Twelve hard-boiled eggs, ham, Swiss cheese..."

"We had egg salad sandwiches for lunch," he put his tablet aside and got up from the couch.

"I know," she said. "But we need to use them up."

He went to the hall closet.

"The kids had so much fun hunting eggs. How about pickled eggs?" She called after him. "Eight boiled eggs, a jar of beets ...." She sent the recipe to the printer.

He came back through the dining room carrying his favorite day pack. He hoped they'd found them all. He didn't relish finding boiled eggs with the lawn mower weeks down the road.

"Bill? Did you hear? Pickled eggs?"

"Um hum. And beets," he said as he headed for the kitchen.

"I'm glad we didn't get plastic eggs," she said. "Here are a whole bunch of recipes for deviled eggs," she cried. "You like deviled eggs!"

He opened the refrigerator door. "I think I'll take Buddy for a walk."

Hearing his name and the magic word walk, the old Lab padded happily into the kitchen after his man.

"Buddy will like that. Greek deviled eggs. Italian deviled eggs. Mexican deviled eggs."

"Yes, dear," he said filling the day pack from the fridge while Buddy waited patiently at his feet.

"Crab stuffed deviled eggs. Real eggs are just so much more nutritious. Instead of all that chocolate for the kids."

"Nutritious," he echoed with an aside to Buddy, "For the coyotes and foxes and crows and coons."

Buddy pranced a bit in anticipation as Bill closed the refrigerator door and zipped the back pack.

"I just love Easter," she enthused as Bill and Buddy headed to the back door. "The kids do so enjoy dyeing eggs. Avocado Ranch deviled eggs." She hit the send button again and he could hear the printer spitting out yet another recipe for deviled eggs. "And they were so pretty."

"Yes. Very pretty," he said and snapped the leash onto the dog's collar. "They'll look very pretty indeed. Scattered in the pasture south of the neighborhood.

*   *   *

This bit of flash fiction is my piece for Days D and E in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge for which I was too late to officially enter. So I'm just shadowing.

Technically, one is supposed to post a blog every day in April (except Sundays) and each post is supposed to be about something that begins with the letter for that day. April 1 was A, April 2 was B, and so on.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April Blogging Challenge

  


Today was  Day in the 2018 April Blogging Challenge.
But Alas, I Belatedly Comprehended
that April had Begun and I Couldn't sign up.
Tomorrow will be D Day
Dammit.




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel -- a Review


It is wonderful! It is marvelous. The costumes! The costumes are so Audrey Hepburn. The music is so Broadway. The street scenes are so New York! The humor! The humor is so funny! I love it!

The only caveat I have is that if you have tender ears, the language may be too coarse for you. But, then considering the current administration is also from New York, maybe it's just a sort of New York accent.

If, however, that is of no concern to you -- it is wonderful!

1958 New York City -- our vivacious, innocent (relatively,) enthusiastic heroine has graduated from Bryn Mawr, has been married to Mr. Right for four years, has two children (one of each,) and lives in a palatial apartment on NYC's Upper West Side (just a couple of floors down from her parents.) She follows the correct beauty regime, has the right kind of friends, is a wonderful cook, and is very supportive of her husband's dream to be a stand-up comedian.

What could go wrong?

Oh, my goodness. I want to tell you so bad. But I have this thing about spoilers. Suffice it to say, everything that goes wrong is surprising and great material for a stand-up comedy routine. And I don't mean HIS. Kudos to the creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino along with Daniel Palladino.


Rachel Brosnahan is our Miriam "Midge" Maisel. She's already received a Critics' Choice Award and The Golden Globe as Best Actress for her performance in the series. And she is perfect.

You will be forgiven if you alternate between remembering Audrey Hepburn and Marlo Thomas's That Girl. Add a dash of Marabel Morgan's The Total Woman and a great dollop of Joan Rivers and you've got The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

There are even shadows of Downton Abbey -- The Weissmans (Midge's parents -- he's a professor at Columbia and she's a doyenne) did not raise their daughter to work!



Is she an exaggeration? I don't know. Maybe. Probably. But I do remember that my own mother did not grow up expecting to work outside the home. And, although we lived in a very small town in the middle of a fly-over state, she always dressed to go into The City. That meant hat, gloves, and matching bag and shoes.

Oh and the characters around the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel! The most perfectly WRONG kind of friends.


First and foremost Susie, played by Alex Borstein, who does not live on the Upper West Side, didn't go to Bryn Mawr, and who grew up in a family that didn't give a damn what she did. But Susie gets Midge. She recognizes talent when she sees it. She can imagine a STAR.

Borstein was nominated for a Critics Choice Award as Best Supporting Actress.


And Lenny Bruce! Yes, THE Lenny Bruce.

When I asked my daughter Grace and her friend if they knew who Lenny Bruce was. That drew blank looks.

"Was he a writer?" she asked.

Books and writers. Bookstores and libraries. These are the things that I've raised my children with.

"No!" I said. "He was a comedian!"

She and her friend Spencer broke into the lyric from Rent's La Vie Boheme, "Lenny Bruce. Langston Hughes. To the stage!"

That got a blank look from me. I have seen Rent and I do like it. But I don't know the lyrics, for heaven's sake.

Spencer immediately googled Lenny Bruce on their phone. "He was prosecuted and convicted for obscenity."

"Yes! Yes! That was him," I cried. "A comedian."

They had no idea.

"You probably don't even know who Bella Abzug was, do you?" I accused. "Feminist? Congress Woman from New York?"

"No but we know who Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan were," they responded.

 At least that's something. However, none of these women have anything to do with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

I did suggest that perhaps Grace and Spencer were not old enough to enjoy the series.

Grace pointed out "You enjoy Downton Abbey and you're not that old."

Well, that did rather burst my bubble. Having spent my fervor, I admitted a couple of anachronisms that a good editor would have caught. Things that should not have been in the scripts because they didn't exist yet. Keeping in mind the story is set in 1958. There were musical nods to later Rock and Roll.

And "Midge mentions 'pantyhose' which we didn't start wearing until the mid-60s," I said.

Blank looks.

"Remember girdles and garter belts?" I asked.

More blank looks.

Maybe not as old as Downton Abbey, but oh my. When did I get this old?

Never mind.

Watch it with Google close at hand. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is available on Amazon Prime.

P.S. The second season starts filming in March. (Filming? They probably don't use film anymore. "Starts production" I should say to cover whatever it is they do these days.)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Women's March

from the Denver Post

Two weeks ago yesterday people all over the country took to the streets. Denver's 2018 Women's March was more than 50,000 strong and I was one of them.

Last year I couldn't participate, because I was between knee surgeries. This year I could and did. My friend Lou and I caught the light rail at Federal Station, the second to western most stop on the  line. Waiting at the station were people of all ages and genders. A good number of marchers were already on the train. As we got closer to Denver the train filled nicely. My daughter Grace and her fiance Bob joined us at the Sheridan station. Along with many others on the train, Grace and Bob wore pink pussy hats. (Well, technically Bob's was a Pokemon hat, but it was pink with ears. Close enough.)

We stopped for breakfast, then took one of the 16th Street Mall buses to Civic Center Park. The Regional Transit District added cars to all the light rail lines and were running extra buses on 16th Street Mall.

Even so, the buses were packed. There were a few people on the bus who were trying to get to work. You should have seen all the jockying around and stepping off and back on to let them out. (Reminded me of those videos of the Japanese trains where uniformed transportation folk push and shove, packing riders into the train.)

Luckily Lou and I were able to get seats. It was a good thing, too. Even with our new knees the milling around in the park before the walk and then the walk were tough tests of our endurance.

         
                                   Grace and Bob had hats              I didn't, so I wore pink hair!

Early in the week, the weather forecast for The March was, cold and cloudy with snow flurries. By the day before The March, the local meteorologists were promising sunshine and no snow until after dark. It was still pretty chilly, so most everybody was layered up.

We got to Civic Center Park early. As you can see,
we had bluebird skies.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a sign!
Some determined

   
            Several men and children carried these           And a bit of a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt.
             with their arrows pointing to all of us.

There were signs supporting a grand variety of Civil Rights Issues -- "Women's Rights are Civil Rights," "Girls just want to have fun-damental rights," "Black Lives Matter." Signs supporting DACA. Rainbows to include the LGBTQ members of our community. My favorite was "This is what Trans looks like" (carried by a very tall trans woman.)

 Many were anti-'rump and quite witty.    
   

                                   
 

Some of the anti-Groper-in-Chief signs were in (shall we say) questionable taste and I didn't take pictures of them. There was one I wish I had. It said "Grab him by the mid-terms." And to that end there were people everywhere registering people to vote, though I think that most of us there, who were qualified to vote, were already registered.


There were so many people in the park that once it started, it took us more than an hour to get to the ACTUAL starting line. Grace described The March as more of a Shuffle. Between the sun and all that body heat we were coming out of our jackets.

The ACTUAL starting line.

By then Lou and I were about tuckered out, so we peeled off and headed back toward 16th Street Mall and somewhere for lunch.

All the eating places from sidewalk to upscale indoors dining were crowded with pink hats and signs!



There was no way to get on a bus to make our way back to the light rail. Too crowded. Sooooo, we walked  -- 22 more blocks, to be exact.

Next year, we're not going to wait in the park for The Women's March to begin. We are going directly to the ACTUAL starting line. And you can bet we're going to vote this fall.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Post -- A Movie Review


          Real -- Then              Hollywood -- Now   
                             


Real headline from June 18, 1971, "Documents Reveal U.S. Effort in '54 to Delay Viet Election"
First of a Series
By Chalmers M. Roberts
By THE WASHINGTON POST

Real headline from the Denver Post which picked up the story from The Washington Post,
"Fitness devices expose troops"
By Liz Sly
By THE WASHINGTON POST
January 28, 2018 at 6:04 pm

A striking similarity, don't you think?

There are differences. The first headline was on a hard copy of a newspaper. Perhaps the tactile nature of the bearer of bad news made it all the more shocking. Not to mention the fact that newspapers, printed using Linotype machines to produce lines of type then set into the printer, left ink smudges on your breakfast hands.

The second headline showed up on my laptop as I read my digital edition of The Denver Post this morning. (For the curious reader. No printer's ink smudges here.)

Steven Spielberg has done it again. Another excellent movie. The Post staring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks is about a newspaper that prints information the United States Government (You know, that government "of the people, by the people and for the people") would rather "the people" not know.

Actually, just as there was more to those days than the Vietnam war, there is much more to this movie. Women's rights, a mega-defensive President. (At least Nixon's expletives were deleted.)

What the movie got wrong. Not in the opening scenes where the soldiers pushed through threateningly quiet, dense jungle, unable to see their enemy. Or the soldiers amid the noise and chaos of injury and loss following a battle. And maybe the soldiers would have referred to the "long-hair," Daniel Ellsberg instead of "that old guy." What was wrong in the opening scenes was that the soldiers looked too old. The average age of American soldiers in Vietnam was 22 compared to WWII and Afghanistan when they were 26. Four years difference is not much, is it? They're all too young.

What The Post gets right is Robert McNamara's glasses and the part in his hair. And the times.

Meryl Streep's portrayal of Katherine Graham is stunning. She gives us a woman who grew up in luxury and privilege. She married. She raised children. She gave the best parties, attended by the best people, including Washington's great and powerful. A woman who lived like she was supposed to until her husband died. Worse yet. Her husband committed suicide and left her to run a newspaper.

As publisher, Graham was certainly not responsible for the business on a daily basis. She had a Board for that. All men. She had an Executive Editor responsible for the newspaper's content. Also a man.

Tom Hanks gives us the editor Ben Bradlee. His character is not nuanced. He's the gungho newspaper guy. His first concern is to beat the competition -- The New York Times. Which brings up the question of the Constitution's First Amendment right to a free press.

That, in turn, brings up the fact that Bradlee's Big Boss is a woman.

For my money, the absolute best scene in the movie is when Bradlee's wife describes for him precisely what Graham's situation is. She is not prepared by her background or her sex's recognized position in society to shoulder the responsibility of defending Freedom of the Press. Such a decision would require her to abandon her loyalties to friends high in the government. To that government itself. Not to mention the very real possibility that she could be imprisoned for publishing classified information from what would come to be called The Pentagon Papers.

Worst case scenario, Bradley might do some time in prison. He might lose his job. He would definitely become high-profile in the world of journalism and would be in high demand for another job.

Graham, on the other hand, could lose her family's business. Their income. The jobs of hundreds of people who worked for her. Her position in her community. Her friends. Her father and husband's legacies.

SPOILER ALERT!!! In case you weren't born when all this went down, were still doing your hippie-dippy drugs, or living your own life safe and secure oblivious to your country's crises of faith ....

She did decide to run the story. The audience where I watched the movie broke into applause. And that's not all. The movie ends with a night watchman calling in a possible break-in at the Watergate office building.

Here we are folks -- 2018 almost half a century later. Less than a week before I saw the movie I took part in the Women's March. More than fifty-thousand of us in Denver. We were of all ages and ethnicities and genders and preferences. And there were many thousands more across this nation as we endure another crisis of faith in our country.

Freedom of the Press is included in the First Amendment to the Constitution for good reason. Remember:  “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, ... it expects what never was & never will be. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”  -- Thomas Jefferson