Archive | March 2013

Because Easter Is Not Complete Without . . . .

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Peeps!  I know you thought I was going to say Jesus, but hey. There are various contests going on around the country, but the Peep Co. has all of them listed on their website. Below are a few favs.

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I think the Seattle Times has the best Peep contest, but I say that having never seen the annual “Classics versus History Marshmallow PEEPS Diorama Contest” at Mcalester College in Minnesota.

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What can I say? I love my Classics and my History. Those two departments are my major . . . peeps.

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See the full scale best Roman gladiator & Forum Peeps here. It’s amazing! I can only show the small version. Note the audience detail — they are all wearing togas!

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I really wish I could go to Minnesota. I love the cold weather and the warm people and I’d love to see the Peeps diorama gallery and the Peeps-a-pult!!! on Old Main’s 3rd floor, as well has have delightful Peepsfreshments on the 4th floor.

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Plus it would be great to get some curling in. I love curling. Yeah, I’d totally rock those rocks. But  Canada v. Sweden? Sorry, mes belles canadiennes. You know nobody beats the Swedish Ladies Curling Team!

Breakfast with . . . friends?

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I’m not a morning person. But the other day, I rose with the sun.

As I stood at my stove heating up my favorite brew, I looked out at the fence to see my hawk friend in the pink-gold sun, glowing in his russet regalia. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I broke out the field glasses for a better look and . . .
in one expert bloody rip, toss and gulp, she swallowed down a large, long, pink rat tail.

I set my glasses down. It takes a lot more than that to ruffle my feathers. Squeamish is not my thing. The kettle whistled. I filled my cup with aplomb.

I didn’t have a rat anymore! And with luck, that gopher in the front lawn would be toast by tea time!

When Docudrama Becomes Comedy

Photo credit: History | Left to right: Adam Segaller as Andrew Carnegie, Eric Rolland as J.P. Morgan, Tim Getman as John D. Rockefeller and David Donahoe as Cornelius Vanderbilt star in "The Men Who Built America."

Photo credit: History | Left to right: Adam Segaller as Andrew Carnegie, Eric Rolland as J.P. Morgan, Tim Getman as John D. Rockefeller and David Donahoe as Cornelius Vanderbilt star in “The Men Who Built America.”

I recently caught a couple of episodes of  “The Men Who Built America – H2″ It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in years.

In theory, this series purports to be a serious study of the period from the Civil War to WWI, which focuses on John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan, i.e., “The Robber Barons.” But Robber Barons is a term History Channel never uses. And there’s a good reason for that.

This series has a number of prominent modern American “tycoons” (almost all men) who periodically pop onto the screen to glow with admiration for the Robber Barons and gleefully tell you how “it’s all about the game and money is just a way of keeping score.” Those segments keep my laughing for hours.  Here’s why . . .

The MWBA are all, to a man, thoroughly bad, horrible, evil, immoral, almost sociopathic individuals. These men did terrible things and never thought of anyone but themselves, their petty ambitions, and their petty revenges. They didn’t care who they hurt (including their own employees), who they destroyed (including the US Economy, several times) or even who they murdered (including their own workers).

Knowing what terrible men these individuals were, you would think any astute, self-aware commentator with some sense of morality would point up how bad they were. But do these modern American “tycoons” (who feel their lives have paralleled the Robber Barons) do this? Oh no. Instead, they gush over the Robber Barons in a way just short of a girl with Bieber Fever.

I know I should be shocked and saddened (and I am), but it’s just so funny. I mean, at least the Robber Barons knew they were bad people doing bad things. This is why they went around donating things later in life. So they wouldn’t be remembered as the horrible people even they knew they were.

Carnegie went so far as to try and write a self-justifying book to silence his conscience, but all it really proves is his total moral meltdown. The book is called the Gospel of Wealth. Take a moment and think about this. He says it’s a Gospel. It’s a replacement for his Christian religion!

 In the book he argues that the life of a wealthy industrialist should comprise two parts: Part 1, the gathering and the accumulation of wealth — by being a total sociopath. Part 2, the subsequent distribution of this wealth to benevolent causes — trying to redeem yourself.

If you’re picturing some modern tycoon and thinking . . . oh yeah, he got rich by all sorts of questionable means and then he made that charitable foundation to help the poor (whom he helped to make poor while he was getting rich) . . . you’re right to do so. Carnegie’s book is still required reading in some US Business degree programs. How bizarre is that!?

But what’s even more bizarre is the fact Carnegie felt philanthropy was key to making life worthwhile!

If he really felt philanthropy was the key to making life worthwhile, why he didn’t believe people should live their whole life as good, honorable, philanthropic people who extend kindness, justice, and fair treatment to everyone without any regard for the accumulation of wealth?

See what I mean? Classic sociopath. No self-awareness. No moral compass. And that’s what so funny. The History Channel’s tycoon commentators are just like the 19th-century Robber Barons they happily praise. They don’t even realize they aren’t the modern version of the men who built America. They’re simply the reincarnation of the men that almost destroyed it.

[The series premiered in Oct 2012. It may have been a pre-election GOP-sponsored “Capitalists like Mitt Romney are needed” thing. It’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for the series existance.]

Fling at the Fairmont?

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Fling texted me the other night to say he was giving up Paleo dieting. I though it was weird but since I was sitting there eating a cake I’d just baked, I didn’t ask questions. I should have.

The next day, I got an Instagram — of him lying in a hospital bed. He didn’t look as though he’d been in a bar fight, so I was worried. I called but I couldn’t get a hold of him. Eventually a Colleague of his called me, on Fling’s behalf. Fling had spent the weekend in hospital.

Too many long-haul flights had led Fling to deep vein thrombosis a while back, which he’d never told me before. He thought he was ok. But he woke up on Friday unable to breathe. He thought he had contracted pneumonia so Colleague drove him to the local ER.

Turned out Fling’s clot hadn’t vanished, it had just moved to his lung. And, if he’d waited a couple more days to go to the ER, he’d probably have died.

Fling’s out now, at Colleague’s house, recooperating for a couple days.

He sent me an email this morning saying he’s not sure if he’ll be flying back at the end of the month. He may  have to spend the next 6 weeks where he is, taking blood thinners, before he gets a doctor’s ok to fly.

Of course, me being me I immediately thought of our upcoming trip to the Emerald City (that would be Seattle not Oz). We are  supposed to be going to see the Treasures of Kenwood House exhibition at the SAM, along with many other Seattle favs.

If I wait for Fling,  the exhibition might be gone to its next stop — in Little Rock. I’m sure Arkansas is very nice, but . . . .

I certainly hope I can have Fling at the Fairmont, but if not, I’ll just take someone else who doesn’t mind a good lie in on sateen weave, 500 count, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets!

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The Art of The Cover

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The other day, I happened to see a Gainsborough.

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Then I saw a John Singer Sargent.

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Then I saw portrait which Sargent had intentionally painted the style of Gainsborough (per the buyer’s request).

Ah, fatal flaw.

One should never ask an artist to imitate another artist.

That is folly.

And for a artist to agree to imitate another artist?

That is the quickest way to ruin.

Being one’s self is the only way to achieve greatness.

The sooner you learn you were born to add a unique voice and vision to the world, the greater you’ll be.

Dear Emily Post, You Stink!

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It’s mime, so I’m keeping it!

Dear Miss Post,

My etiquette question relates to the proper response to a visiting family member informing one that’s one house smells of excrement. “Thank you” seemed incorrect, as did so many other phrases that leapt to mind.

Said family member’s concern was touching, even if said member arrived at 9-ish (when I was not yet risen), used an emergency key to enter, decided that my house was malodorous and (on the hottest day on record for March, 95 degrees) kindly opened all the doors and windows (so that my sensitive wooden musical instruments might crack and explode).

I did not make an issue of these events, as I understand that being concerned only for one’s own comfort is not ideal in a hostess. But I must confess, by the time said visitor departed to an air-cooled home in the mountains, and my own home was wretchedly hot and only to grow more so, all thought of hunting for any offending odor had left.

Instead, I sprawled upon my fainting couch, my mind a sea of bitter hatred. This bitterness only intensified after I confided my plight to another visiting family member, who politely suggested “etiquette dictates a guest is always right — even when wrong.  But in this case, some Airwick wouldn’t hurt.”

I have always lived by the “open door” policy. But these events have strained the limits of my hospitality as well as my Lenten Christian forgiveness. Guest or relation, one may not be both. I do grant the existence of a minor aroma, but were they not rude as self-designated “guests” to have commented? And more rude still as “family,” who did not bother to lift a hand after lifting a nostril?

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So, dear Miss Post, I appeal to you.

I wish to remain a model of manganimous hospitality, but I fear changing the locks at this juncture might be taken as rebuff and cause a familial rift. Perhaps closing the house altogether and going abroad for a few months to Italy on pretext of visiting the new Pope would be best?

Your advice in this matter would be most welcome.

With highest regards,

Indra Anderson

PS I grant that my upset would have been less had I not, for the previous two days, been trying to track down the source of a toxic, burning, electrical smell. The source of the aroma, I thankfully discovered later that evening, in the study. A large surge protector battery backup was melting down — a gift from the first visiting relation, whose sensitive nose was apparently not able to distinguish excrement (which was not there) from a toxic electrical meltdown (which was).

Half full, half empty, or just right?

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Half empty or half full?

Why are you obsessing about the fulness of a glass?

Stick the same water in a smaller glass and it’s full.

Put it in a larger glass and it’s nearly empty.

This is not about the glass; it’s about the water.

A fish never asks if the glass is half full or half empty, only if there is enough water in which to live happily.

Stop obsessing about your glass, check your water level.

Live happy.