2021

Strange & Stranger

As the world around us gets Strange & Stranger with good news intermingling with bad – and even much badder – leaving us all in a sea of information that engulfs us to the core, we all need to step away from all that occasionally and find our Zen moments in order to replenish and revitalize ourselves. My favorite escape mechanism has always been reading. Recently though, and with all the turbulence, chaos and noise swirling around me, I have not wanted to read anything other than light and fun books to amuse me and transport me away to a totally different world than the one we are all living in. So, here are four delightful titles written in a seemingly effortless (it isn’t) no-nonsense style that were my refuge during the past few months.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

While the first three were entertaining and amusing, the Arthur Pepper book was an absolute joy! I fell in love with Ove when I read: A Man Called Ove, then with Hendrik after I read: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, and now I have Arthur! All three gems!

However, I remain an avid political junkie and I follow the News and Views regularly, even though I criticize all of our pathetic talk shows, as well as most hosts and journalists!

Since I posted my last blog, a virtual forum conducted from the White House occurred on Earth Day, which was on April 22nd., with an array of Heads of State promising that they will take steps towards climate change and saving our Planet. Well, I thought! If NASA succeeded in converting CO2 into Oxygen on Mars – what an extraordinary achievement! – then I am very hopeful that our children and grandchildren could live a healthy and uncontaminated life right here on our precious Earth, while Elon Musk, whose genius borders on a touch of madness, happily dwells in his Mars condo?! Quite exciting and interesting as the upcoming Inventions in the fields of science, medicine and all else promise to be quite amazing! Caveat: only if we are serious about fixing our Climate and making Peace amongst the nations of the world so as not to blow the Planet up in the meantime!

Amongst the Strange & Stranger occurrences was one that hit me after I saw a full page Camel Cigarette advertisement this month. Huh? I thought that cigarette ads were banned in 1971? Apparently, that law, just like so many others, has outlived its life, and R J Reynolds is now running their Camel ads in Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated magazines. However, there is now a ban on Menthol Cigarettes, because, presumably, they are more lethal! Who and What decides when Anything is deemed Lawful, or Unlawful? More importantly, and after creating such a Huge Hullabaloo from 1971 and to date about how damaging, dangerous and lethal cigarette smoking is, what makes Any Cigarette okay now? Can Anyone Explain this Unexplainable bullshit?!

Another Strange & Stranger issue is that of Police Shootings, especially after we all heard the encouraging verdict that came about as the George Floyd court hearing ended: Chauvin was found Guilty on all three counts.  For me (Pollyannish as it might be) it is once again a beautiful affirmation that our Democracy Works – most of the time, anyway! The fact is that most Police Men and Women are decent, honorable professionals doing their much needed and dangerous job in the best way that they know how, and within the parameters of the law. I respect and appreciate every one of them! Some are very bad apples, racists, criminals and corrupt. We shouldn’t really be surprised about that since they are part of humanity where amongst us there are Good and Wicked people and everything in between, as well as within all professions! Hopefully, and as this trial has drawn attention to, there will be a weeding out process, as well as new laws that will check the atrocious and criminal behavior that sadly happened with Floyd, as well as with so many others. The Police really do NOT have to shoot to kill. They can, and they must, try everything else before murdering people. This is just sensible and humane, but then, what did you expect, America, when you send your police to train in Israel where they shoot first and ask questions later as the dehumanized and demonized Palestinian men, women and children – children! – can tell you? Not that our vaunted MSM will ever inform you about this. After all, Palestinians are a mostly taboo subject with them in case they ruffle extremist feathers! Talk about Truth and Journalistic Integrity! Frankly, this asset is becoming Rare and Rarer!

Nevertheless, all is not lost because there are terrific things happening in these United States, many of which, again, the MSM do not even mention. I bring you one that vindicated me to the nth degree, and that took a woman  – Acting FCC Chair: Jessica Rosenworcel – in command to get the long-overdue job done! I hope the culprits are all fined and hauled off to jail, especially that many of them these days are corrupt Inside Jobs! Please read!

https://www.engadget.com/fcc-robocall-mitigation-database-182723864.html

However, the news from many corners of our world remains disconcerting, and the tragic situation in India leads me to believe that this Virus we are all dealing with has unveiled so many things about Political Leadership and Corruption at the highest levels, as well as pathetic Human Behavior. Foremost is the fact that there seems to be so much more Ignorance in our world than many of us believed! This Ignorance is perpetrating the Virus and sickening and killing too many human beings. It is also further proof that unless we collectively begin to Inform, Educate and Elevate girls and women, especially, Ignorance will continue to permeate our Planet, and dealing with future Pandemics and other World Catastrophes will be even worse than it is now! Pretty sad!

Yes, good news intermingling with bad and making us all wonder how much Strange & Stranger could it possibly get, especially since those Extremist Bullies in our Senate and Congress seem to be the dominant voices in our political discourse, and are propagating that very Ignorance pulling us all down and back to the Dark Ages! How bizarre! Vote them out, America! Out!

2021

Falling Apart?

We celebrated Easter on April 2nd. as per the Western Calendar (Orthodox and Eastern Christians will be celebrating first week of May). It was, of course, another Virus celebration and unlike the usual way we used to celebrate when joyful friends and family filled the house. Nevertheless, I recalled an Easter some twenty years ago when my grandson was about five years of age. My daughter wanted her son to attend a church service, so we all went as a family. The sermon was all about Jesus’ Life and the events that led up to his Crucifixion. It also mentioned his Baptism and how that ritual cleanses us of our Original Sin. After we came back home, and as my daughter and I were preparing for our Easter meal, we heard the water running in the upstairs bathroom. It was surprising, because only my grandson was up there. What was he doing? We ran upstairs only to find him having taken off all his clothes, sitting in the bathtub and pouring water over his head and body.

“What are you doing?”

“I am baptizing myself so that I’ll become as good as Jesus.”

My daughter and I suppressed our laughter, told him that he was a good boy, that Jesus loved him and that we loved him. With that, his mother helped to dry him off and get him into his clothes and we proceeded to enjoy our Easter meal. It was a hilarious moment, but also a beautifully innocent moment of a child’s interpretation of Baptism.

I also recalled another Easter about nine years ago when my husband was getting more frail as dialysis and his other health issues weighed on his body. Over the preceding few years he had become more religious than he had ever been and had expressed a desire – which we fulfilled –  to go to Church, Confess and take Holy Communion. Studies show that many people become more religious with age. Is it fear of what awaits us in the afterlife? Is it a sense of awe at a Power up there who orchestrated life as we know it? I have no idea! In any case, and being that it was getting close to Easter, I took my husband to Church. The Priest, seeing that he was painfully trudging along with his walker, suggested taking his confession in the office, which was close to the entrance, as the distance to the Confessional, as well as kneeling would have been next to impossible in my husband’s case. I waited outside until they came out. We then attended Mass and left.

“How thoughtful of the Father for taking your confession in his office,” I said.

“Son of a bitch,” responds my husband angrily. “Do you know what he asked me?”

“What?”

“He asked me if I (a very personal sexual question that I am even embarrassed to write down!)”

I was stunned, shocked that a Priest would ask such an explicitly lewd sexual question from an old and sick man!

“Are you sure?”

Fuming, he almost shouted: “Yes! Of course, I’m sure!” He was obviously so perturbed and disappointed!

In a sense, I wanted to laugh, to snicker, to opine of what I thought of Organized Religion and all who wear “the cloth,” so to speak. I wanted to rant and rave that irrelevant of what religion, or what sect anyone follows there are corrupt leaders within all these religious institutions, pedophiles, lewd abusers, thieves, liars and ego maniacal figures, etc. etc. who prey upon the fears, vulnerabilities and piety of people. And, especially these days, during this time of Easter, and as I look around the world and see  extremists from every religion; discrimination; vile racist rhetoric; uprooting, killing and hatred against anyone who is “Not Like Us” and the wicked divisiveness all around, I cringe with revulsion and horror. I confirm to myself that the unholy alliance that has always existed between Politics and Religion has now become a more dangerous mix, especially when we add television, radio, print and social media to that concoction. We can pretend not to see, or to downplay, or to dismiss all this fascistic behavior and words as “fringe.” However, they are real, tangible and becoming more treacherous every day and in quite a few places across our miserable world. So disgusting! So irreligious! So uncivilized! But, here I am, preaching to the choir, because the “extremists” from whatever religion, sect, ethnicity, nationality or other, would not read anything even remotely like my posts, or listen to any reasonable voices. Frightful!

Anyway, these past two weeks have been “newsy,” to say the least. Of course, our mainstream media, and as usual, highlighted the trivial and underplayed the important. No surprise, is it? However:

Headline News: Trouble in the Jordanian Kingdom!

We, the people, do not know what was really going on in Jordan during that first week of April. We may find out, or we might never do so as we continue to wonder whether it was Palace Intrigues that rattled the Kingdom and the airwaves? Sibling Rivalry? A “Cherchez La Femme” scenario, where the modern, trendy royal wives – one a Queen, the other, who has dubious connections, feeling jilted out of the title? Or, is it their Royal Mothers stirring the pot? Or, is it plots, conspiracies and geo-political issues that have caused this stir? Whatever the story, I believe that it was a perfect moment for another Oprah scoop where she could interview the concerned characters, open her eyes wide and form her mouth into that artificial “O” as she unveils another salacious, gossipy factoid a la the Meghan and Harry interview that was played nauseatingly over and over and over again by television, radio and print press reporters dumbing down the viewers even more than they normally do in order to distract us from the ominous background of a world that is Falling Apart? My, oh my!

In any case, I was not the only bright star who thought of the Oprah connection. While scrolling on Facebook I saw a post that had a simulated, photo-shopped  picture of Oprah and Hamzah, the Royal Prince, talking in that same garden where the Meghan/Harry interview happened, with the Prince saying: “And they even confiscated my TikTok account” as Oprah forms her mouth into that aghast “O!” Exquisitely Hilarious!

All this as the world is having a serious meltdown, a nervous breakdown whereby there is an “Active Shooter,” “Serious Incident,” “Unwarranted Police Shootings,” or Citizen Protests and Upheavals every single day, somewhere or the other and for one reason or another. Is it all The Virus and “Pandemic Fatigue?” Is it Incompetent Leadership? Is it our damn Ignorance as Humanity? Or, is it that people have had enough of lies, corruption and injustice from a political class that can adjust the laws willy-nilly to serve their purposes and to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages, such as what the Republican Party is aiming to do in the US, as well as occurring in other places across our world? Disconcerting! Foreboding! Extremely dangerous as the voices of the billions of good people are being outweighed by the wicked!