Brief, but wonderful

30 July, 2015
Rat Fink

Here’s what happened, OK? ;-)

Daddy :-)

Daddy :-)

The construction congestion gods all got together and said Wouldn’t it be funny if….? The entire 11-hour drive was accompanied by orange barrels, I kid you not. But the reward for our struggles was sweet.

While it was not nearly long enough, we had a fantastic dinner and visit with Daddy & Kathy in Fulton, Mississippi (a quiet little town about 20 miles from Tupelo). We talked about music and family and work, then about music again. We even talked about planning a family reunion for Daddy’s side, which would be out of this world. Mavis and Kathy — the organized brains of the outfit — will need to get on the planning, and just give Daddy and me jobs to do. It might be outrageously fun, this reunion…

The single downside of the drive down here was its length, which honestly just wore the Thriller and me clean out. It probably didn’t help that I decided to wait until the last minute to clean my entire house before we left, but by the time we hit the Mississippi line, my spine was barkin’. We pretty much decided that our all-day-long driving sessions were over. We plan to split up the drive on the way back north.

Still, everything was worth it to see these great people. Can’t wait till the next time.

Today, it’s off to rainy, stormy, hot Biloxi. We hope to get a guided tour in before the craziness starts, but we’re playing it by ear. No pressure today, and the five-hour drive will be totally bearable. See you tomorrow, fiends. Thanks for following along.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

29 July, 2015
Rat Fink

Indeedy. We’re starting our Delta Odyssey this morning, soon as the coffee’s gone and breakfast dishes are done and last-minute items are packed into the Finkmobile.

It was actually pretty easy to get ready, which should definitely be the case, as road trips large and small have been a part of our life since the fall of 2009, when we got the bright idea we might like to navigate Route 66 from beginning to end. Big fun.

While this Odyssey will last only a week, we’re both happy to get out of Dodge and be wanderers for a while. Maybe it’ll give us a chance to talk about our most ambitious roady yet: driving to Vancouver. We really want to do it. But do we want to live like monks for the next 365 days in order to pull it off? Hmmm. Yeah, maybe. ;-)

Our first stop is Fulton, Mississippi, near Tupelo — about a 10.5-hour drive from Finkville. We’ll have dinner and chat the evening away with Daddy and Kathy, then crash at the hotel before heading out to Harrah’s on the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast for a couple of days of walking the beach, shopping, playing games, touring the city (we plan to take a guided tour of Biloxi and learn more about its recovery from the Gulf oil spill and Hurricane Katrina) and relaxing. After that, we point the car two hours east for for three days in New Orleans, where the weather is supposed to be pretty good. With those temps, it should only take the Thriller about 30 seconds of standing outside to look like he just finished a half marathon in Hades. We packed his standard around-the-neck hand towels — especially for the non-air-conditioned streetcars. But hey, it’s the experience, right? We plan to cram as much NOLA into three days as possible, including a stay at the gorgeous, historic Cornstalk HotelTrès excité.

A big-big thanks goes to my sister Mavis and her family for taking Pax and Remy for the week and spoiling them so badly they won’t want to come home, and for others in our family who are going to stop in and house-sit. You guys are the best! Love to all, and au revoir! I’ll check in with you tomorrow.

Resolved

25 July, 2015
Rat Fink

A “political” post at RtB is a rare occurrence. Why? Because this isn’t usually a place for discussion of such matters (see the link above called THE LAW — item 2). I don’t even know why I created a category for it, except for instances like now, I suppose. It makes me sad that some people might feel they can’t be a contributor or reader here if I disagree with their politics. It’s too bad, because my political opinions don’t define me as a friend. But, that’s the reality.

At any rate, today I resolve: The next person on my social media stream who posts some idiotic Chicken Little I-saw-it-on-a-meme-or-on-Whatever-News-so-it-must-be-true dang fool thing — gets hidden. And it’s not that I can’t handle differences in opinion; as a matter of fact, I’ve had several good “talks” with people over the years on Twitter and Facebook about the two biggies (politics & religion), and while my mantra is and always will be and no minds were changed, at least we can meet somewhere in the middle of “respect,” and just north of “at loggerheads.”

No, the stuff I’m referring to is on the lowest rung of the common sense ladder, to wit:

1. Mention the word “socialist” or “socialism” and some Americans lose control of their minds, their bladders, their grasp on reality. Y’know…I hate to break it to you, but democratic socialism — the kind that Bernie Sanders and his ilk support on varying levels — has been functioning in America, to the delight of its citizenry, conservatives and liberals alike, for over a century. Let that sink in. Do I agree with everything democratic socialism stands for? Please. There’s a place on the moon in June for people who think it’s possible (or worse, expected) that they love every last thought and opinion of any candidate or party. But back to the common sense ladder.

How about some examples of the dreaded socialism at work? Let’s see. Fire department, police department, public library, the MILITARY, the highway system, public schools, public parks, Social Security, city-county-state-federal government, the courts, the FDA, public transit…all of those entities — many of which we deem crucial to our daily safety and health — are taxpayer-funded for the public good. The fire department will respond to a call from the projects with the same speed and concern for life as they would a call from the gated community full of McMansions. As for arguing about which programs are worthy and which ones need to go, well — you have a Constitutional right to petition government for redress of your grievances. Have at it.

2. Some people throw around the word “fascist” like they know what it means. Could you define it right now? Probably, and it likely explains why you would never brand any American presidency — now or in the past — “fascist.” Yet, I see it all the time on social media; apparently, it just sounds/feels good to call the president (and anyone who isn’t in line with the caller’s personal beliefs) a “fascist,” when really, what they should be doing is thanking their God that we don’t live in a truly fascist country, where the leader who says “Obey, or you will be exterminated” really means it.

3. Hypocrisy is terrible, unless you’re doing it yourself. The writer of this depressing article about the underhanded selling off of sacred Native American lands sums it up perfectly:

If Oak Flat were a Christian holy site, or for that matter Jewish or Muslim, no senator who wished to remain in office would dare to sneak a backdoor deal for its destruction into a spending bill — no matter what mining-company profits or jobs might result. But this is Indian religion. Clearly the Arizona congressional delegation isn’t afraid of a couple of million conquered natives.

OK listen. Politics is based on economic and social theory, about which not everyone is going to agree. And the arrows I launched above could come back to sting me sometime in the future, because I am not above learning and adjusting my paradigms as new evidence emerges or times shift. Isn’t that what we do? For example, remember that one time, when women couldn’t vote, and child abuse was swept under the carpet as a “family problem,” or when black folks had to sit in the back of the theater or the bus? Remember when it was illegal to have a glass of wine in your own home? Thank God open minds with a view of society’s future prevailed. It’s my hope that they do it once again in the coming years.

And that’s all for my little rant today. I’m fine now. What’s truly troubling me at this moment is the decision I have to make regarding which of these two new books to dive into this afternoon. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. ;-)

Fink of the first-world problems

 

Review: Tut

23 July, 2015
Rat Fink

When I watch a series like this, I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief a bit. For instance, I’m totally OK with the fact that the Spike TV miniseries Tut wasn’t subtitled in ancient Coptic. Seriously, that was fine.

Dreamy-faced Avan Jogia as Tut

Dreamy-faced Avan Jogia as Tut

“Fine” could also describe the facial features of the actor portraying the boy who was thrust onto the Pharaoh’s throne at ten years old, after his father’s death. (Tut’s father Akhenaten has a fascinating story himself.) Trouble is, that’s not at all what forensic scientists discovered through painstaking research and digital reconstruction on the remains of Tutankhamun. Indeed, the more realistic visage of the boy king is decidedly less romantic, lending credence to the claim that Tut had many health issues, most likely handed down to him from centuries of inbreeding.

But hey, let’s consider Spike’s target audience. Tuff guys making short work of their enemies and squiring jiggly girls has been (until recently, with the addition of new programming to appeal to women as well) pretty much the benchmark of anything the network would sink this much promotion into, so no surprise there. I pretty much expected it going in.

Ben Kingsley as Vizier Ay, adviser (and treacherous plotter)

Ben Kingsley as Vizier Ay, adviser (and treacherous plotter), in one of 613 stony stares

What struck me most was my rather odd tendency to squint my eyes or narrow my brows at some of the silliness in what should have been serious moments. Brilliant actor Ben Kingsley (obviously doing someone a favor or needing to pay a gambling debt or something) had so many meaningful solo glances during this series, it got to the point of being rather funny. The thought occurred to me, in a bored, goofy moment, that he might as well just break the fourth wall and totally give up a Frank Underwood. Would that not have been cool? I ask you.

Of course, there were the obligatory jiggle parts and seemingly hours-long battle scenes, but what taxed me the most was the glossing-over of who Tut really was (according to historians): a kid pushed into leading his country, having no idea what he was doing, forced to marry his sister, not remotely blessed in the looks department, and vanquished as a nobody after his death, with everything he ever said or did erased from all records, until the accidental discovery of his tomb in 1922. Without giving up too much of the plot, suffice it to say that he definitely did not die the way the writers of the series claimed. Maybe a little too much suspension of disbelief here.

And can I just share something while in my state of digression? Why, why, why do directors allow the ridiculous shing! sound of metal when a character lops off a guy’s head or pulls a sword out of somebody’s breadbasket? It’s like they’re removing the sword from a sharpening stone instead of soft tissue. Is the music teacher from Ohio the only one bugged to no end by this? It’s right up there with a movie character getting kicked or punched, and it sounds like a cabbage being smacked with a hammer. (Oftentimes, that’s what it actually is.)

Back to business here. The female leads in the series (those of Tut’s sister and his true love, a common girl from an enemy tribe) definitely provide major eye candy, but I found them surface, contrived and tiresome. It will not surprise you to learn that the Queen, Tut’s sister, was a sniping, jealous, conniving witch, and that Lover Girl was gorgeous and independent, yet completely naive of the Queen’s machinations against her until it’s too late. Pretty formulaic.

Still, it was a somewhat entertaining tale, which, fortunately, I recorded, so I could FF through the dozen or so commercials at every break.

As for anything approaching historical agreement, it’s a laffer, but don’t let that stop you. Instead, watch it for Kingsley’s eyeballing, and the outrageously campy performance — the absolute best of the whole piece, in my opinion — of Alexander Siddig as the scheming priest, Amun: a definite funny highlight, right down to his doing his own guyliner in one scene, to losing his everlovin’ mind in another. Hilarious.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give Tut:
15cheez

Phoneless

21 July, 2015
Rat Fink

A forced experiment in phonelessness befell me yesterday morning. Rat Fink, Rat Fink…what a donkey.

When carrying a laundry basket, I need to use both hands to navigate the hairpin turn in my stairway without taking all the pictures on the walls with me. So yesterday, I put two items in the basket on top of the clothes: clean socks to wear, and my phone. I think it was finding a couple of towels to throw on top of everything last minute — combined with my mind being a thousand miles away — that made me throw the lot into the washer, add the detergent, and turn it on.

Boy, was that Galaxy clean when the Thriller brought it upstairs, saying, “Bad news: I found this in the bottom of the washing machine.” *gack*

My kneejerk reaction, of course, was to flip out and throw stuff. But this time, I refrained. Go me. Instead, I used some gray matter and researched what to do. My suspicions were confirmed: the rice thing (controversial as it is — some sources say it works, others say it’s a myth) works only if you retrieve the phone from the water in a matter of seconds, like when you drop it in a sink full of water or the swimming pool or the commode. How does one save a phone that’s been washed to a lovely wet shine, with soap, then water, then water again, ultimately whizzing about in a Rotor ride of centrifugal force during the spin cycle? Does it have a prayer then?

Apparently not.

So, for the first time in years, literally years, I was without a cell phone. In fact, as I write this morning, I’m still without it (although tracking shows it’s on the truck from Mansfield at this moment). And you know what? It’s OK. Fine, actually. Another Deception Destroyer of sorts comes to light:

I am not addicted to my device. Seriously, I thought I was, and admitted so, readily and often. But being “disconnected” isn’t so bad, since there are other forms of communication. And I can always borrow the Thriller’s phone if I need it.

I know there are people who don’t have a personal device of any kind, don’t want one, and don’t care at all. Not sure I’m quite ready for that level of neo-Luddism, but the last 26 hours and 10 minutes have proved that a day or so without the appendage is not a deal-breaker.

…which is not to say that I don’t have the UPS tracking page in another tab, ready to reload at regular intervals. ;-)