Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are we all a bunch of fascists, or what?

Thor, Cool Cat Patriot
Photo by Don Graham via Flickr

I admit it freely. I don't get the uproar about Colin Kaepernick and Gabby Douglas. I don't get the craziness over kids not being forced to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Why do people care? Are we a cult? 

I think that's it. America is a cult. That would certainly explain a lot. Like public schools and Ronald Reagan.

I have to wonder about people who insist that other people make these particular gestures of national pride. And when people don't show enough of said pride, insist that said people "leave the country," or stupidly worse, "go back where they came from."

Where do they think Colin Kaepernick came from?

My father married a girl (she was younger than me, so, yes, a girl) from Thailand and one of the things she noticed most when visiting the U.S. with him was the flag. The U.S. flag is everywhere. Boy, we really, really love our country. From very early ages, we are taught that this is the greatest country in the world! And when we get older, if we say anything negative about our country, a lot of people will come out of the woodwork like roaches to shout us down. (It's much worse in the age of the Internet tubes.*)

At the risk of creating a meme or Internet law of debate, you know what other country teaches its citizens that it's the greatest on earth and punishes anyone who says different? North Korea. Just sayin'.

There have been suggestions of racism in all of this. People are pointing out that Gabby Douglas was attacked for not putting her hand over her heart, but neither did some hockey players, and nobody cared about that. So there. Riiiight. Like anybody paid any attention to hockey at the Rio Olympics. Remember the Dixie Chicks? Yeah, see, it's not so much about racism as it is about white nationalism. Those white nationalists will go after anybody who doesn't scream "AMERICA!!!!!" with enough pride.

I have two things to say about all of this.

One. Everybody standing up and reciting the pledge or singing the anthem can get a little bit creepy. It was worse just after 9/11. I will never forget attending this podunk church fair. You know the kind where they outsource the rides and game booths to what look like shady, criminal organizations? The whole family was sitting under the big food tent eating our fair food when the DJ put on Whitney Houston's (Yeah, I think she was still alive then) rendition of the National Anthem.

And everybody stopped eating and stood up and put their hands over their hearts. Except us. I was like, are you serious, people? We're trying to eat here.

First of all, we were not at a ball game. And second (and most important), it was Whitney Houston! Are we going to drop everything every time they play this god-awful abomination on the radio? No.

Just no.

All of this outward appearance of national pride is surface area only. If people really had pride in this country, they'd be championing Kaepernick (Gabby Douglas didn't intend anything). Because he's sitting down for something he believes in. They'd be telling school districts to stop forcing children into ridiculously hollow displays of nationalism and instead, petition the government to start making our schools teach our children things they need to know.

We pride ourselves on being rugged individualists and yet insist everyone conform. We have to all be rugged individualists in only the pre-approved ways: owning guns, flying Confederate (ie: loser) flags, crying whenever the anthem is played, and pledging to the flag.

That's right. All of this protesting and doing things your own way is downright Un-American! Seriously?

This country was supposedly built on freedom. That's what they keep telling us. But then they turn around and say, "Freedom isn't free, you know!" It's like a lot of people don't understand what the word freedom means. And they certainly don't understand what freedom looks like.

It's so stupid that I don't get it.

Which brings me to two.

Respect. These people don't understand respect any more than they do freedom.

I was at a family get together where there were some old people in the dining room and these old people were lamenting the lack of respect they were getting from the yoots of today.

"Back in our day," they said, "we were taught to respect our elders."

And I told them that respect has to be earned. You get young people to respect you by respecting them. When you treat others with respect, they will respect you in return.

As an aside, this reminds me of the time I was visiting my kids' school and I saw the principal and another adult or two trying to talk to an apparently misbehaving child. They stood over him, demanding that he explain himself. And he kept quiet. Poor kid. Get down on your knees, I wanted to say. Get on his level. Show him some damned respect and maybe he'll talk to you.

Anyway, it's the same with nations. Don't teach our children to blindly respect and honor this country. Teach our children to question and to criticize and to work to make things better.

When you think about it, it's kind of funny that many of the same people screaming about Colin Kaepernick not respecting this country, are the same people saying that this country isn't great anymore and needs to be made great again.

If they can say that by supporting the "Make America Great Again" candidate, why can't Colin say it by sitting out the National Anthem?

Oh, rightrightrightrightright. Because they want to make America great again by restricting the rights of others and Colin....okay.

I get it now.

*You see, the Internet is a series of tubes.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pigs N' Taters: not so much pigs, as pig-flavored...

The requisite cat picture at the top of the blog
Photo by amberaccb via Flickr

I like chocolate covered potato chips. A lot. Last Christmas, Grimaldi Candy Company, located here in Melbourne, FL, started selling their chocolate covered potato chips at Publix. I must have gone through a dozen boxes. (They should have more in them, if you ask me.)

A long time ago, back when Hubs spent a few months in Iowa for work and I visited him, and we took a vacation around those parts, I bought a piece of bacon covered in chocolate at some shop in the Mall of America. Let's just say I was more impressed by the mall than by the bacon covered in chocolate.

I'm a very big fan of chocolate. And a very big fan of bacon. But I didn't think they went together all that well.

Still, when I came across this chocolate bar at the Cracker Barrel* today, I thought I should give it a try.

That's "Milk Chocolate with Crispy Bacon Flavored Bits & Potato Chips."


It's impressively thick and smooth.

It doesn't look like anything's in there. But it tastes like...salty chocolate, with a hint of meaty, almost smokey flavor. It was just weird enough that I only ate a few of those chunky rectangles before I decided I didn't want to eat it anymore. I think they should have gone for actual bacon bits instead of generic bacon-flavored bits (whatever those might be). But maybe there's a shelf life issue there.

Unfortunately, the aftertaste was like spoiled, I had to finish off with a Dove Dark Chocolate.

It was tough, but it had to be done.

*Here's a question--Is the Cracker Barrel restaurant and store any relation to the Cracker Barrel cheese?

Nope. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (which a friend of one of my kids once didn't believe contained a restaurant) is not owned by Kraft, which owns the Cracker Barrel cheese label. They have apparently been at odds over some meat products that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store wanted to market using the Cracker Barrel label.

Whatever. As long as I have chocolate...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another rambling post by an unfocused bonkers writer...

Photo by Mon OEII via Flickr

Do you ever think you have no idea what you're doing? Ever feel like you're floundering around, gasping for air, like a big blob of fish on the pier? And everybody's looking at you, wondering what the hell you're doing and why don't you just flop over the side into the ocean and swim already?


Okay. Never mind then.

I haven't blogged in a while because I haven't felt like it. That's right. I just haven't felt like it.

I did write a really long blog post about this puffed up buffoon. A little bully child-man. I really hate that man. I didn't publish the post. But it felt really good to write it. I might still publish it. Hugh Howey pretty much gave me permission. He posted this on his Facebook page:

I know there are a lot of writers who won't speak their minds about politics or religion because they fear losing readers. My position was always that, if you're the kind of person who won't read an author's book because you don't like his opinions on politics and religion, you're not my target audience anyway.

And it's not like I haven't ventured into controversial topics before. I've talked about guns and the Confederate flag and feminists and misogynists and other things that bother me. But I've also talked about roaches and bananas and Epcot and The Easter Sunday blood and gore Peeps diorama competition...

I write about everything and anything.

This is the problem with being me. I don't have any real focus.

They say (they...the "experts") that your blog has to have a specific purpose, something readers are looking for. You have to show them something, or teach them something. Each post is supposed to be focused on that.

That's why a lot of writers have blogs about writing. How you write, how you publish, how you promote. Some people have blogs about books, or cats, or food. So, you subscribe to that blog because that's what you want to read about.

But not me. I don't blog that way. I just write whatever I feel like writing and if I don't feel like writing, I don't write anything. It's like, the Internet is my own personal diary space. I'm shouting out, into the void. Here's what I'm thinking at this particular time and if you don't want to read it, fine by me.

Clearly, this is not the path to the standard rich and famous contract. But that's just it. If the standard rich and famous contract has terms that say I can only write about this one thing, forget it. I'm a writer. Not a romance writer or a literary fiction writer or a fantasy writer or a non-fiction writer. I'm just a writer.

An unfocused, undisciplined, stubborn, bonkers writer. Works for me.

I posted my Red Velvet Cake recipe over on my personal website, if you're interested. I'm almost finished with the latest Dianna Dann downer fiction (aka literary) book. You can check out the cover at the Wayward Cat Publishing website. It's called Bury Me. Oh, what the hell, I'll post the cover here:

I bet you can't guess what it's about. Go on. Guess.

I have three finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. Bookish Meets Boy by Dianna Dann in the women's fiction category. Zombie Cats by Dana Trantham in the middle grade fiction category. And a flash fiction piece called Witness.

What's funny is that I only entered Witness because you get two flash fiction entries for the price of one. The entry that was my favorite--the one I thought could win--didn't make it to finalist. Wtf? I'm working on a short story now (and by now I mean it's started and I'll get to it again from time to time) that I plan to enter next year.

That's all, then. I'll get that post on buffoonery ready to go and slap you with it.* And I promised a post on sewing vs. writing. That's a winner right there! Everybody wants to read that! I'm not unfocused after all, see? That should be my blog: Sewing vs. Writing.

It'll only work if I can manage to tie in politics, religion, and bananas.

*I posted it. And then I deleted it. I can do that. Anyway, I just thought it was too emotionally charged. Suffice it to say that I really, really hate that man.