controversies, music, religion

I didn’t know “Mary, Did You Know” offends some people…

Most people who know me well, know that I am very passionate about music. I love all different kinds, from classical to country to R&B. I have an enormous music library with songs from almost every genre you can think of. Even though I’m not a very religious person, I have a lot of religious music in my catalog. That catalog includes a large number of different interpretations of religious songs, many of which are usually enjoyed during the Christmas holidays. Music helps keep me sane, and before I was married to Bill, it kept me company.

Back in the fall of 1990, when I first started attending what was then Longwood College, I took a voice class for my degree. The class was taught by an adjunct professor named Ann Ory Brown, who also taught at the University of Richmond. Because my parents were involved in music in my hometown, Ms. Brown knew my dad. Her mother was once a concert pianist, and Ms. Brown’s mother directed some locally run choral groups that counted my dad as a member. I, of course, did not know these people at all. I was mostly uninvolved in music when I was growing up, mainly because I didn’t want to do what my parents were doing. But then I took Ms. Brown’s voice class, and she told me I should consider studying voice privately with her. I ended up taking private lessons from her for three semesters, until she stopped teaching at Longwood.

At one point during our time together, Ms. Brown gave me a copy of a Kathleen Battle CD. I don’t remember why she chose to give it to me instead of one of her other students. I remember a voice major who was in my studio actually asked me to give it to her, instead. I chose not to do that, and fell in love with Kathleen Battle’s beautiful, distinctive, crystalline voice. I started collecting Battle’s music, and sometime in the late 1990s, I acquired a Christmas CD she made with a classical guitarist named Christopher Parkening. On that album, there was a song called “Mary, Did You Know.”

Ahh… so pretty.

This was the very first version of “Mary, Did You Know” that I ever heard. I thought the melody was very pretty, especially coupled with Parkening’s intricate guitar playing. It never occurred to me to be offended by the lyrics of this song. I didn’t know anything about the songwriters, Mark Lowry, who wrote the words in 1984, and Buddy Green who wrote the music in 1991. I just enjoyed the music for what it was to me– peaceful and appealing. The whole album, Angels’ Glory, was just relaxing and good for studying, which I was doing at the time, as I was a graduate student when I first bought it.

Some time later, I came across another version of “Mary, Did You Know” done by The Isaacs, who are known for performing bluegrass, gospel, and spiritual music. I love Sonya Isaac’s voice, and she does a gorgeous rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” with her family members– mom, Lily, sister Becky, and brother, Ben. Lily’s ex husband and the father of Sonya, Becky, and Ben, Joe, was a member of the band until 1998, after he and Lily divorced. Last year, The Isaacs were invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.

According to Wikipedia, Lily Isaacs’ parents were Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors; she was born two years after they were liberated from a concentration camp and two years later, they moved to New York City, where Lily’s musical talent soon became evident. She got her first recording contract in 1958, when she was just ten or eleven years old. In 1970, Lily married Joe Isaacs, and they became Christians after Joe’s brother died in a car accident. Their group exclusively performs bluegrass gospel music.

A live version of The Isaacs’ rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?”

There have been many different interpretations of this song, done by a huge gamut of performers. Kenny Rogers did a version with Wynonna. Dolly Parton has also sung it.

A more pop country version of this song…
And the grande dame of goodness, Dolly Parton, has also sung it.

And so has CeeLo Green!

It’s a long way from his big hit, “Fuck You”.

By now you can see, this song has been recorded to great success by MANY fine musicians, coming from an array of different racial and musical backgrounds, and even representing a broad array of genders and sexual orientations.

Clay Aiken has sung it…

Most of the performers have sung this song earnestly, with great emotion and warmth. While I can’t say that this particular Christmas song is my favorite, I have generally enjoyed most of the versions I’ve heard. It never occurred to me to be affronted by this song. Until last night, that is… when I ran across a very active post on Father Nathan Monk’s Facebook page.

Yikes!

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’m really getting sick of people trying to tell other folks what should or should not offend them. I’m no fan of mansplaining, which regular readers of my blog will probably notice, but honestly, I have never thought of the lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know” as offensive in any way. I certainly never thought of them as “mansplaining”! Maybe it’s because the versions with which I am most familiar are sung by women! To me, the lyrics express wonderment and awe. They aren’t about trying to school Mary, the mother of Jesus, about how special her baby is. I’m quite sure Mary knew very well. It probably started with that whole immaculate conception thing, followed by her talk with the Angel Gabriel, and the Magnificat. It’s the regular rank and file people who didn’t know about Jesus… and to me, it would make sense for them to ask Mary if she knew. In the song, Mary doesn’t answer. I picture her smiling serenely and nodding, not getting pissed off and offended that a man would ask such questions. I think Mary would be above being offended by mansplaining. 😉

As one might imagine, Father Nathan Monk’s post blew up, with many people opining. Quite a few people heartily agreed with Father Nathan Monk and Jezebel Henny (aka Ally Henny) that this song is “offensive”. Ally Henny, herself, also weighed in, clarifying that the tweet originated in 2019, and that Lowry deleted the tweet without apology.

Does Lowry owe anyone an apology? Maybe he was offended, too, for people trashing and misinterpreting his song.

I totally understand that when someone puts something creative out there– be it a song, artwork, a film, or even a blog post, they invite criticism. I’ve gotten some pretty salty remarks on things I’ve written. In fact, until quite recently, I used to occasionally get nasty comments via this blog’s now defunct Facebook page. I disabled the page because I was tired of getting abuse for simply expressing myself. I don’t mind having respectful dialogues with people who might disagree with me, but I don’t feel like I should have to abide threats, rudeness, or disrespect. Maybe Lowry’s retort to Henny was a bit snarky and rude, but he’s human. I’m sure he was annoyed that she reduced his song to simple “mansplaining”. I would be, too. Like any human, prick him and he’ll bleed. I saw many people referring to Henny as a scholar, and I’m sure she has an impressive intellect, even if I didn’t necessarily discern it in her tweet. I had never heard of her before last night, though. I’m sure Mark Lowry hadn’t, either, when he retorted to her criticism. Maybe he didn’t know he was supposed to be deferential to her. He probably made that comment off the cuff in a flash of irritation. By most people’s standards, his song is an enormous success. I can’t blame him for responding with annoyance, even if it’s not the best look.

Mark Lowry’s version of Mary, “Did You Know” with help from Guy Penrod and David Phelps.

I don’t think Mark Lowry sings his song like a mansplainer would. There’s no hint of condescension when he sings… just wonderment, reverence, and awe. The above interpretation is a bit dramatic, and that could possibly annoy some people, who might think it’s too over the top. Others will find it uplifting and inspiring, as Lowry tries to convey the miracles Jesus will deliver during his brief lifetime. There is no accounting for taste. One of the lovely things about being human is that we can each have our own perspective and our own preferences. Many people love “Mary, Did You Know?” and would never see anything about this song as “offensive”, no matter how many supposedly more evolved people tell them their opinions are somehow “wrong”.

Bear in mind that Mark Lowry is also a Christian comedian. In addition to “Mary, Did You Know”, Lowry also wrote and sang a song called “Hyperactivity”. Someone on Father Nathan Monk’s post was upset about that one, too, claiming he was “making fun” of neurodivergent children. I had not heard of “Hyperactivity” until last night. To me, the song sounds like Lowry wrote this song about himself, not all neurodivergent children. It’s supposed to be funny. Not everyone will find it funny, which is the nature of comedy. Personally, I think “Hyperactivity” is kind of an annoying song, but I can see why some people like it. I wouldn’t presume to tell them they shouldn’t enjoy Mark Lowry’s song about hyperactivity, even if it sounds, to me, like he’s trying to copy Weird Al Yankovic.

Interesting song.

Here’s one about overeating… Weird Al had “Eat It”. Mark Lowry has “I Can Eat it All”.

This doesn’t offend me, but some people probably think of it as fat shaming.

I am a big fan of personal expression, particularly when it’s politically incorrect. I think people should be allowed to speak their minds, even if I might not always like to hear or read what they have to say. Some of it might offend me. I might even take a vow not to use certain language myself. For example, I refuse to call someone a “karen” or a “dependa”. I don’t use the term “douche” as an insult, just as many people don’t use the n-word or the word “retard”. I think it’s important to allow freedom of speech and expression. That does also apply to criticism, of course. I just wish people would stop insisting that others share their views, because that’s how we end up with dangerous megalomaniacal people like Donald Trump in the White House.

There’s a large contingent of people in the United States who like Trump, because he freely says what they’re thinking, but feel too intimidated to say out loud. They’re so enthralled with hearing Trump stand up for the “conservative values” that some sanctimonious people are trying to quickly bury, that they excuse and ignore the really awful things he says and does. Then they show up and vote for him at the polls, and the rest of us are stuck with him and his toxic brand of fascist “leadership”. I think if some of the “woke brigade” took things down a notch, lightened up a bit, and showed some respect for other people’s differing values, they would get further in changing hearts and minds. People don’t like to be lectured or shamed.

Anyway… getting back to Father Nathan Monk’s post… I noticed this comment just now and was left a little bit puzzled…

What was racist about Mark Lowry’s comment? I saw no reference to race in what he posted. However, I did see a lot of people making presumptions about him based on what he posted. All I can see that he wrote was “I wasn’t asking you.” Is that a racist comment? Did I miss something?
Wow. I think some of these comments are pretty offensive. Especially the one about Lowry being “in the closet”. It doesn’t seem like a very “woke” thing to say.

I can see that a lot of people commenting on this thread don’t like Mark Lowry’s music or comedy. I see that some people, like me, didn’t even know who he was until they read the above thread. Now they’re describing him as “execrable”, “in the closet”, and “a turd” in a thread about how he “mansplains” to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It’s very strange to me, because some people are quoting the Bible and demonstrate actual knowledge of theology when they present their arguments. Others have just resorted to character assassination and name calling, having only been exposed to ONE song by the man. I am not a big consumer of contemporary Christian music or comedy. I only know what I like. And I sure as hell don’t need other people telling me that I’m wrong for enjoying what I like. I would feel a bit nervous, though, to add too many comments to this thread, lest someone call ME “execrable” for daring to disagree with them. 😉

Actually, I DID leave a couple of comments. It was to a well reasoned dissenter’s observation. Behold:

Yeah… this is pretty much my view of “Mary, Did You Know?”. I have no problem with people criticizing the song, but when people resort to personal insults toward the songwriter, they lose out on the moral high ground they’re clearly trying to take.

One woman wrote the below comment, which I think is pretty respectful. I mostly liked her take, but I was disappointed when she seemed to doubt herself for liking the song. There’s nothing wrong with “checking” oneself, but this response read a bit like a disclaimer. She’s not wrong to wonder if the lyrics come across as mansplaining when they’re sung by a female singer like Dolly Parton or Kathleen Battle, who is not only female, but is also Black. Would I call either of them “mansplaining”? Would I question their choices to sing this song? Neither of them are slouches when it comes to making music, that’s for damned sure!

What an interesting discussion!

I always hear the song from the viewpoint of a mother. I could personally not imagine all of the joys, trials and tribulations my sons would experience and bring me as their mother. I thought about how a theoretical mother of god could not possibly conceive of her future either, even knowing what the score was upfront.

Then again, I can be a little naive about intentions. And yet again, my demographic has me pretty experienced in receiving mansplaining.

I also didn’t know that Dolly Parton did a version. She is pretty much a feminine divine voice IMHO so even though she isn’t the male composer, I would have to hear it differently from her.

But “I didn’t ask?” Humph. When you put art in the world that’s what you risk: criticism and interpretation.

Another person, a guy calling himself a “musician”, wrote this derogatory comment:

Mostly, that song just sucks. As a musician, that is among the WORST and least fun, festive, or even touching or emotional Christmas songs. It’s just a boring list of stuff Jesus did with a weak contextual premise. If little kids don’t like it, and/or it doesn’t touch you emotionally, it’s trash.

Um… lots of bonafide and highly accomplished musicians would totally disagree with the above comment. And plenty of people are “touched” emotionally by “Mary, Did You Know”? Does the fact that the above musician isn’t moved by the song negate other people’s experiences listening to it and overall opinions of it? I don’t think so. And there are a lot of songs I might think of as “trash”, but that’s just MY opinion. I only get one vote, even though I am pretty musical myself. 😉

This whole controversy reminds me a bit of the huge uproar a few years ago about the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” In the wake of the “Me Too” movement, people were saying that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” promotes date rape. I wrote a blog post about my annoyance about that, since “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written decades ago, during an era when it was considered improper for women to stay unchaperoned with men. The song was written by Frank Loesser and his ex wife Lynn, meant to be a “parlor song” for entertaining their dinner party guests. It has nothing to do with date rape. But people sure want to project their modern sensibilities on classic songs and “cancel” them. Is the world really a “better” place without so-called “rapey” songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” polluting the airwaves? I don’t think so. I think the world is a better place when people consider context, original intent, and history, and stop trying to impose 2022 values on songs that were written decades ago. Even “Mary, Did You Know” is a pretty old song. It’s 38 years old! And the world was very different in 1984, right?

If people don’t like certain songs, they have choices they can freely make. They can choose not to listen to it, sing it, or buy albums that have it on the playlist. They can listen to and promote songs that are more to their tastes. They can even express why they don’t like it and invite a dialogue. Or, hey, here’s a novel thought– they can try to write their own, more “appropriate” song! But please don’t tell ME that I shouldn’t like a song because of how YOU interpret it. I’ll try my best to show you the same level of respect for your individual opinions and taste. And please don’t try to qualify yourself as a “musician” and declare someone else’s song as “trash”. Lots of musicians, most of whom are more famous, successful, and acclaimed than you will EVER be, completely disagree with your assessment.

I’m getting real tired of people– especially total strangers– insisting that there’s only one way to look at something. I’m tired of people telling me to “stop” doing something because they don’t approve, or that I should do something because it’s the “right” thing to do. I’m over being told how and what to think, especially by people who claim that their freedoms are being infringed upon. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s time more thinking people spoke up about it. If we really live in a free society, then people should be allowed to create things freely without fear of being canceled. Yes, it’s fine to criticize creative pursuits, but when you resort to personal insults and character assassinations, you risk falling off that moral high horse and landing at the bottom of the pit with the rest of the lowlifes. I’m just saying.

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communication, social media

The old American double standard…

The featured photo was shared on Janis Ian’s Facebook page. I think she might want to consider if maybe she, herself, falls into the “easily offended” category… And before anyone comes at me, I hasten to add that I know I can be a bit prickly and easily offended about some things myself. I am human, after all.

Some years ago, I heard George Carlin talk about what he referred to as “the old American double standard”. His exact words were:

It’s the old American Double Standard, ya know: Say one thing, do something different. And of course this country is founded on the double standard, that’s our history! We were founded on a very basic double standard: This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free.

As I sit here on a Monday morning, eyes barely cracked open after a busy few days, I’m remembering George’s wise words. In fact, I was talking to Bill about them this morning, as I read a scolding Facebook post by Janis Ian. A few days ago, as I was eating Quiche Lorraine in Ribeauville, I noticed a post Janis put on Facebook. It was a quote. For some reason, even though she is a critically acclaimed songwriter, Janis Ian likes to post quotes by other people. And somehow, when she posts quotes, the comment section goes south, and she ends up chastising someone and/or closing comments in apparent disgust.

One of the contentious posts on Janis Ian’s page. She turned off commenting.

Janis had posted the above quote that some people thought was misattributed. Someone left a comment pointing out that she was “spreading misinformation”. The person’s remark was a little bit rude, and Janis responded in a rather pissy way. I happened to agree with the commenter that people should be more careful about sharing quotes and making sure they are attributed to the right person. In fact, one of my most popular posts is about how people misattributed a quote to Betty White that she specifically stated she never said, and never would say in a million years.

Again, I do think it’s important to get quotes both correct, and credited to the right person. As a highly acclaimed songwriter, it seems to me that Janis Ian would agree. I mean, how would she like it if someone made a meme using a line from “At Seventeen” or “Society’s Child” and attributed it to Carole King, Joni Mitchell, or Janis Joplin? My guess is that she wouldn’t like it… and if someone dared to share it on her page, she would call it out. Below is one of the more civilized exchanges on the post in question. I cut and pasted it, because the poster and I agree that there’s a bit of a double standard going on here…

I didn’t comment on the post myself. I’ve followed Janis’s page long enough to realize that she doesn’t always concede gracefully. I continue to follow her, though, because she’s often funny. I also appreciate that she appears to do her own social media, something I find refreshing and interesting. I like her music. However, I have a feeling we probably wouldn’t get along if we were to meet offline somewhere.

This morning, I was reading her page again, when I noticed this:

Do people really stop to read up on the people whose quotes are shared online? My guess is that most of them don’t… just like they don’t read news articles before commenting on the headlines.

I don’t know anything about H.L. Mencken, but I do know something about Sunday School. I was forced to attend for years. I didn’t find it to be particularly awful, since I grew up in a mainstream Presbyterian church, but I do know that there are a lot of toxic religions out there that do a lot of damage to people. I’ve written about quite a few of them in my blog.

On the above post, I noticed a lot of people were sharing their experiences. Some people were agreeing with the quote from Mencken. Others were apparently offended that Janis Ian was posting about religion. Some pointed out that Ms. Ian is Jewish, so what would she know about Sunday School? I think that could be a valid point. I could also understand why some people felt offended by the quote, since they are, themselves, religious.

I didn’t find the quote offensive, but I do think how people will take it depends on their own perspective, and there are so many of them to consider. And unfortunately, there are a lot of jerks on the Internet who get off on trying to pull “gotchas” on people. On the other hand, sometimes people are simply trying to prevent misinformation. If, for instance, I posted that Dolly Parton wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”, I would expect people to correct me. If I truly believed she wrote it, maybe I’d get a little pissed off by having my pride insulted by a well-deserved correction. But in the long run, it’s better that I know the truth, right? That way, I don’t look foolish later, telling people something that is obviously wrong.

I think there’s a fine line between being a jerk trying to make someone feel small, and honestly trying to give credit where credit is due. And while I agree that some posters were less than gracious in their comments on Janis’s page, I also think that Janis isn’t always as even-keeled as she could be. I’ve noticed that she has a tendency to scold people, sometimes when I don’t think they necessarily did anything to warrant such a response. It’s possible she does this because she’s a sensitive, creative, artistic person. Or maybe she’s a little narcissistic, as narcissists are often the type to shame and scold. Either way, it’s an aspect of her online personality that I don’t particularly like very much. Like I wrote up post, if we were to meet offline, I sense that we wouldn’t like each other. But then, if that turned out to be true, and Janis didn’t like me much, she’d be one of many people. 😉 I’m the kind of person people tend to love or hate. 😀

A recent post by Janis… I see her point, but her point is one of many that could be presented…

Janis Ian often posts quotes by people she apparently admires, even if they weren’t “good people”. I actually applaud her for discouraging the ever popular “cancel culture” that a lot of people think is justice today. People are complicated and complex, and sometimes brilliant people say and do shitty things. It shouldn’t necessarily negate everything else they do in life. On the other hand, if you’re going to post something for public consumption, chances are good that someone is going to be contrary or inappropriate.

If you’re a famous person, it’s even more likely that someone is going to take a dump on your post. I know it’s annoying. It even happens to me sometimes, and I am not famous at all. But one thing I would like to ask Janis is, why is it up to her to decide what should, or should not, offend other people? If someone is offended by Picasso, shouldn’t they be free to state that? Isn’t that how productive discussions in free societies get started? Wouldn’t it be better to just take a breath, validate the person’s viewpoint, and then try to have a civilized chat about it, rather than just dismissing them as being “too easily offended” and scolding them for being “argumentative”? Why post this stuff if it just leads to exasperation and shutting down the comment section?

I will admit that the comment sections on my own blog are set to shut down after a certain time. I don’t do that on the travel blog, because most of the stuff posted there isn’t controversial. I do it on this blog, because sometimes people find old content and try to stir up shit on subjects that are old news. I don’t get enough productive comments from people on old content to justify leaving comment sections open, although I’m always open to re-evaluating my policies. I prefer to let my regular readers be the ones who comment, though, and they usually do so on posts when they’re new. Troublemakers and spammers hit the old stuff.

I try not to be hypocritical, and while it can be hard, when I’m wrong, I do try to admit to it. I’ve been wrong about a lot of things. I’ve also been right about a lot of things. I think it’s best to try to stay open-minded about most topics, although I can agree that sometimes people can be so open-minded their brains can fall out. Or, that’s my opinion, anyway.

I guess my main point is that opinions run the gamut. As my favorite uncle, Brownlee, used to say “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one.” I know he didn’t come up with that quote, nor did he come up with the follow on… “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one, and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks.” I think that’s pretty accurate, don’t you? I just wish people who claim to be open-minded and desirous of discussion would take a moment to examine their own behaviors before pointing out other people’s bad behaviors. Because chances are, the speck you’re trying to remove from someone else’s eye is obscured by the plank in your own. And yes… I know that’s a concept that comes from the Bible.

Maybe I learned something in Sunday School, after all. Praise be!

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music, politicians, politics

MAGA meltdowns are hilarious… and don’t tell James Taylor what to do!

It’s been kind of a lazy morning here at Chez knotty… Bill and I had a bit of a “lie in” this morning, even though the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day. We were both kind of tired. I woke up early, but then had no problem dozing after doing my morning routine. Arran’s constant ass licking is what finally got me out of bed. Sorry… it’s gross, but it’s the truth. We humans will never know the obvious pleasure dogs get from that particular habit, will we? Well, at least those of us who lack flexibility…

I’ve been enjoying the news for a change, especially the headlines that scream about the Democrats keeping control of the Senate. I love the fact that election deniers, by and large, are being voted out of office. It gives me some much needed hope for the future, and maybe the reassuring knowledge that Republicans got taken down a peg. It’s entertaining to see Lindsey Graham about to burst into tears as he whines about Herschel Walker, too. It’s so obvious that Walker is nothing more than a political pawn for Georgia Republicans. He is not suited to be a politician, and getting him to run is an insult to people of color in Georgia.

Wahhhhh!

I like what Jamal Bryant had to say about Mr. Walker…

I love this! We don’t need a walker, we need a runner…

It’s very entertaining to watch people melting down over the humiliating, history making poor showing by Republicans in the midterms. Trump has ruined the Republican Party, and it’s going to take some doing to fix this. I have said it before that I’m really not a staunch liberal at all, but the MAGA version of the Republican Party is just not going to be a winning strategy. Unfortunately for the Republicans, they got into bed with a notorious malignant narcissist, and he is not going to stop until he’s dead or so disabled he can’t function. I hope they enjoy the bed they made, teaming up with “Trumpty Dumpty”, who probably acted like an ass at his daughter, Tiffany’s, wedding yesterday.

Speaking of beds… It seems that James Taylor has really needed to be in one for the past week. He finally got COVID-19, and was required to isolate and rest. He’s been on a European tour for months, and it is now coming to its conclusion. But thanks to COVID, last week, he had to cancel his shows in Zurich, Berlin, Antwerp, and now, Randers, Denmark. He initially postponed his shows in Zurich and Frankfurt, and he managed to reschedule the Frankfurt show for this Saturday night (the 19th). The other shows, sadly, had to be cancelled, as I guess the halls they were scheduled for were already booked, and James may be booked for other dates.

Bill and I have tickets for the Frankfurt show. We’re looking forward to it, even though we already had plans to be in France. If he’s well enough to perform on Saturday, we will come home early to see James play. I figure he knows what he’s capable of doing. He’s 74 years old, and of sound mind. He doesn’t need my advice on anything, especially regarding his health and career.

You’d think his fans and followers of his Facebook page would respect James’s judgment, too. After all, these cancellations aren’t just about disappointing fans and losing revenue. They also affect a lot of rank and file people with jobs. From the people in James’s band, to the venue operators, to restaurant and hotel owners, a lot of people are hoping for the show to go on. This isn’t just because it’s a showbiz adage, and James loves to perform. It’s because many people are depending on the show to go on because their livelihoods are at stake.

However… with every new announcement of a concert cancellation, more and more people are chiming in about what they think James should be doing. Lots of people have posted that he should just cancel the rest of the tour and go home to his own bed. Some are even posting as if they’re giving him permission. I find that especially funny, since some of the people giving him permission to cancel are folks who already got a chance to see him this year. I’ve seen a few people leaving advice for James… or even sharing their own stories about COVID recovery, and predicting that James will (or won’t) recover in a similar way.

Personally, I think the most appropriate message to leave for James is one that wishes him a speedy recovery. He obviously hates to cancel his shows, and has said as much in a video he posted on Facebook and Instagram, as he walked around Lake Zurich. That video was posted a few days ago, and he looked and sounded pretty good– not as if he’s on death’s door. He’s had excellent and competent care by (probably) Swiss physicians. If one is going to get sick, Switzerland is a pretty damned good place to do it, especially if one is wealthy, as James is. So I think he’s going to be okay… and he can decide what the best course of action is for his health, and the good of his band.

I did see one very angry comment from an American servicemember (or retiree) living near Kaiserslautern. This guy, who was apparently himself a musician, was fuming that the show was postponed again, and commented that James should find someone to “sit in” with him, so the show could go on. At the time that he made that comment, it wasn’t known that it was James who had COVID. He went off about how “wealthy musicians” took money from regular folks, only to cancel or postpone. Lots of people piled on to tell him what a “jerk” he is. I could understand his frustration, although having been a JT fan for so many years, I know very well that he loves to perform. I know he wouldn’t have called off the shows unless he had a really good reason.

When the news came out that James was the one who was sick, fans went freaking nuts! Some even lectured everybody about wearing masks and getting vaccinated. I just don’t see the point of those kinds of posts, especially now. This is apparently James’s first go with COVID, so he’s done pretty well to stay healthy. He even said in his video that he felt guilty for not being “more careful”, although he quickly added that he didn’t think he could have been more careful than he was. The sad reality is, COVID is very contagious, and most of us are going to get it no matter what. And a lot of us are tired of the lectures from the sanctimonious and self-righteous. So I say, just shut up and let the man play, if he’s up to it. If he’s not, he knows what to do. He doesn’t need your advice or input… but I’m sure he’d appreciate good healing vibes. Because even if it wasn’t obvious that James loves to play shows, he primarily does this for the money. So just STFU and let him do his job. 😉 (Yes, I have authority issues.)

That being said… if he can’t play Frankfurt after all, it’s not such a bad thing to spend another night in France, as we planned…

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animals, Ex, songs, true crime

Powerful explosions, pesky varmints, and pearl necklaces…

Special thanks to SurryJohn on Wikipedia, who has granted permission to share his photo of a marten and provided today’s unedited and unaltered featured photo. I have never actually seen the marten who has been digging in the backyard, but my guess is that it looks somewhat like the one in the photo.

Welcome to Wednesday’s post. I’m pleased to report that although Arran woke us up at about 3AM, there weren’t any other big bangs this morning. I am, of course, making reference to the huge boom we heard yesterday morning at about 3:45 AM. Bill and I were actually awake at that time, thanks to Arran and his Prednisolone urges to eat. Poor guy woke both of us up a few minutes earlier; I distinctly remember looking at my iPad for the time. I’m glad we weren’t awakened by the sound of the nearby explosion, because that would have been pretty scary. Of course, there were also emergency vehicles and their blaring sirens interrupting the peace a short while later.

I mentioned yesterday that the explosion came from the sound of some criminally motivated asshole blowing up the ATM at our local REWE (grocery store). Apparently, that’s a thing in this part of Germany (and probably other parts, too). Certain people have taken to blowing up automatic teller machines, likely in an attempt to steal money. I’m actually sure trying to steal the cash is why they do it… but perhaps they also enjoy playing with explosives. In any case, when Bill mentioned this turn of events to his co-workers, he was told that there were similar explosions in their towns, too. Naturally, the idiots who are doing this do it when no one might be hurt… or be able to describe them to the police. On the other hand, they also cause people like me to lose out on beauty sleep.

Not long after the explosion, I was in the backyard cleaning up Noyzi’s poop, when the ground suddenly gave way under one of my feet. That was when I was confronted with the small sinkhole. I had considered that perhaps a varmint was in the yard, but then thought maybe it was an issue with limestone in the soil. Bill spoke to the landlord, who came over and inspected the deep hole and said he thought it was the work of a marder. Marders, otherwise known as martens, are basically like weasels. They like to dig holes and climb into car engines when the weather is cold. They can do pretty serious damage to vehicles. However, even though they damage property and dig holes, it’s illegal to kill them in Germany. The landlord said he would come over and fill up the hole today. Now that I know there are martens in our neighborhood, I now understand why I’ve been finding strange looking poop near the front doorstep. I found a nice sized pile on the doormat the other day, noticing that it was full of seeds… probably from the bushes in the backyard. I’m now assuming the dung came from our wild, backyard, weasel like resident.

And finally, a word on the humble pearl necklace… This is another R-rated Ex related anecdote, so if that’s not interesting, move along…

Still with me? Okay…

My friend Susi shared this short video from a Facebook page called Johnny Rambo…

I suspect the above video may eventually become unavailable, so here’s a brief description. The woman in the video is wailing about being forced to wear handcuffs. She appears to be a victim of domestic violence of some sort. Or, she is at least claiming that her husband lied and victimized her, and she’s upset that she’s been arrested and is in handcuffs at a hospital. She yells that her husband is the one who’s been in jail, and yet she’s there in handcuffs.

I don’t know a single thing about what happened, other than what I can see is in the clip, and what she yells at the nurse who is trying to help her. The nurse tries to explain that the cuffs are for the safety of the woman, the cops, and the medical staff. I remember reading about how, when she was rescued from her kidnappers, Elizabeth Smart was placed in handcuffs. At the time, I was horrified for her, but now I realize that cops really don’t know what a person’s mental status is. Still, handcuffs are very uncomfortable and, in some ways, kind of inhumane. Last year, I had problems with my shoulder being impinged. I kept thinking about how it would be agony to have to wear handcuffs. I couldn’t reach behind my back or raise my arm without significant pain.

Anyway, the woman in the video, drops to her knees in prayer, then snarls at the nurse who suggests taking her blood pressure, saying that she’s been checked all over. “See if I’m pregnant at 66 years old!” she seethes, as the nurse says that’s a possibility (pregnancy at 66!!!). The woman is very dramatic in an over-the-top way, which tells me that she probably gives as good as she gets. She seems outraged and indignant, rather than shattered.

Then she yells, “I know it is. He’s put it in my ear, face, and put it all over me! How would you like to have cum poured all over you?!”

The nurse tells her to stop talking about that, as there’s a child nearby, and the woman snaps, “Well, maybe that child needs to hear about it”, as the video ends. I notice that the lady is well dressed in a charming pink ensemble and she’s wearing a pretty pearl necklace. I like pearls. The pearl is one of my birthstones. As Bill and I were watching this video short, I was suddenly reminded of a story he told me about his ex wife, back in the day. You see, they both went to the same Houston high school as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top did.

One day, Ex was talking about the song “Pearl Necklace” by ZZ Top. Apparently, she was a fan of the song. I must admit, although I am familiar with ZZ Top, I am hearing the song for the first time this morning…

Apparently, Ex didn’t know what this song was referring to when she was enjoying it…

She came to Bill enthusiastically talking about how great the 1981 song “Pearl Necklace” is… and Bill started to chuckle, because she obviously didn’t realize that this was a song about something other than actual pearls… See the lyrics below:

She’s really upset with me again

I didn’t give her what she likes
I don’t know what to tell her
Don’t know what to say
Everything got funky last night
She was really bombed

And I was really blown away
Until I asked her what she wanted
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She gets a charge out of bein’ so weird

Digs gettin’ downright strange
But I can keep a handle on anything
Just this side of deranged
She was gettin’ bombed

And I was gettin’ blown away
And she held it in her hand
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace

She’s so cold
As pure as the driven slush
And that’s not jewelry she’s talkin’ about

It really don’t cost that much
She was gettin’ bombed
And I was gettin’ blown away
And she took it in her hand
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace

Ex then got a clue and was supposedly horrified by the song’s reference, even though she is quite experienced in such realms… much more so than I am. I have never had that kind of pearl necklace, and Bill would never give me one, even if I was interested. I know… that’s super gross, but I swear, when I saw that video and heard that poor lady in her pearl necklace talking about being cummed upon by her husband, that old story popped right into my sick mind. God forgive me.

Well, that about does it for today’s blog post. May your day be without random explosions, critters who shit on your doorstep and put deep holes in your backyard, or the wrong kinds of pearl necklaces. Oh… and by the way, Facebook let me out of “jail” yesterday, because they realized that the video below isn’t “sexually suggestive” after I complained. However, they evidently don’t have a problem with a guy sharing a video about a woman talking about being cummed on by her husband. Crazy.

Yes, sharing this video got me put in Facebook jail for a day. There is nothing inappropriate about it. It’s just weird.

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communication, musings, social media

Dining on fresh food for thought, and not “incorrecting” people…

I woke up this morning to an interesting post by Father Nathan Monk, a dyslexic former priest and author who has an impressive following on Facebook. This is what he wrote:

I think this makes a lot of sense.

Naturally, the above post attracted a lot of feedback. Many people made points that I thought were entirely valid, even if they didn’t agree with Father Nathan Monk. Some people protested that abortion is always a terrible thing, but a private decision that is sometimes necessary to make for one’s own well being. Some were on Father Nathan Monk’s side, and congratulated him for his words of wisdom on an experience that he will never personally face. Still others pointed out that the word “abortion” has wrongly been turned into a bad word that needs euphemistic language to get around the taboo with which it is associated.

Personally, I agree with Father Nathan Monk that abortion isn’t a dirty word. I’ve even written about that topic in this blog. But I also agree with people who have emotional responses to the term. Some people have no emotional connection to abortions. They don’t see it as anything other than a medical procedure. While many people associate abortion with tragedy, others have experienced immense relief after having one. Some have experienced gratitude that the procedure was available to them when they needed it. Reactions to the abortion experience run the gamut. No one’s reaction is “wrong”, because everyone has their own story.

As it so often happens in comment sections on Facebook, some people got on a soapbox, and the topic segued a bit into discussion about other societal issues. As the discussion developed, I noticed some tension. Some people took issue with other people’s opinions and felt the need to “correct” them. I especially noticed it when someone used a term that another person found objectionable. More than a few of them responded to other posters with condescension, hostility, and criticism, rather than measured consideration. I noticed that many people chimed in on comments that were directed to other people, and they often did so with a certain haughtiness. And some went into ass kissing mode, although overall, I agree with what this person wrote…

Dearest Father Nathan Monk I totally support your comments.

Furthermore, I know you are a gifted wordsmith but for a moment I’m going to take full on offense at the cretin level witlessness of the individual who took it upon themselves to *correct* your wording.

Dear Sir or Ma’am I suggest that you desist lecturing a published author on their use of words. You can take your insulting remarks and trot right off the end of that short dock over yonder. Yeah that sketchy one that’s probably going to dump you right back into the swamp of self-righteousness that you seemed to have crawled out of at some point.

Sheesh people. Give it a rest with the gatekeeping.

Alrighty. I’m done.

Carry on my friend. And my deepest apologies if I’ve crossed a line.

After the above comment was made, someone else wrote this:

On a related note, I saw a stand up comedian a few months ago give a great response to unwelcome corrections:

“Thank you for incorrecting me”

Apparently, that quote was from comedian, Steve Hofstetter. I have never heard of Mr. Hofstetter, but maybe I need to look him up and see if I find the rest of his observations so astute. People do have a tendency to “correct” other people when they disagree with them. I think there’s a certain arrogance in assuming that one’s perspective is absolutely the only “right” one. As I mentioned up post, everybody has a story, and those stories can affect how people view things that aren’t cut and dried. It’s a barrier to communication, and ultimately, learning new things, when people come at others aggressively for saying something they assume is wrong, or just “politically incorrect”.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Years ago, I was part of an online messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. In that group, I sometimes used to post about how Mormonism had affected our step situation. It was a valid issue, as within Mormonism, there is a strong emphasis on spreading the faith and encouraging people within a family of maintaining their common belief system. For example, Mormons typically exclude non believers from their weddings, which usually take place in a temple (though some have civil weddings and then do the religious ordinance later). Mormon temples are only open to people who have “temple recommends”. The only exception is when a new temple is opened, and there’s an “open house”, which is for a set period of time. So, the fact that my husband’s daughters were converted and raised LDS, and Bill had left the faith, was a legitimate issue within the family.

There was a Mormon woman in the group who used to get very offended when I dared to bring up this topic. She insisted that I was being disrespectful to her. She claimed that I “misunderstood” and was confused by her religion, and that my “negative” comments were destructive to her. She was not receptive to “hearing” what I was trying to communicate. Instead, she focused on what she thought was my “bashing” her religious beliefs. In short, she basically labeled me a bigot, because I said something negative about her religion that she found offensive. She wasn’t willing to see it from my perspective. She just wanted me to shut up and color.

Honestly, I don’t give a shit what people’s personal religious beliefs are. It’s when your beliefs affect other people’s lives that I have a problem. The fact the Ex had decided to convert to Mormonism and raised Bill’s children LDS was a real problem that affected us, because Bill and I aren’t LDS. To be fair, I don’t think Ex is LDS anymore, either. But, back when the girls were still kids, the fact that they were LDS caused issues, because their perfectly good father was portrayed as “less worthy” simply because he didn’t have the same religious beliefs they had. It didn’t even have to be Mormonism that caused this problem. The girls could have been raised Orthodox Jewish or Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness, and that could have been an issue. I was simply trying to point that out, and being specific about how the LDS religion caused steplife issues for us. This should have been okay in an online support group for second wives and stepmothers, but instead, it was a “taboo topic” that I was strongly discouraged from discussing because one person found it “offensive”.

For the most part, I think people should be heard, even if they say something that seems “wrong” on the surface. And if someone does say something that seems “wrong”, it would be really excellent if more people would simply take a deep breath and hear them out… or at least try to respond with civility, instead of rudeness and snark. Being self-righteous and condescending is not how you win hearts and minds. And if you’re not trying to possibly change someone’s perspective, what’s the point of making a comment? Especially if you’re so insufferable that they block you.

A few days ago, I made a comment to someone about how most Americans have no idea of what we tolerate. They haven’t lived anywhere else, and they’ve been fed a bunch of horseshit about how “great” America is. I wrote that if more Americans experienced living in Europe, they might be outraged by what is normal here, and not normal in the United States. I was going to specify Germany, but I realized that there are a lot of countries in Europe that offer affordable healthcare, childcare, and education. As it was Facebook, I didn’t want to make a list, because that would make my comment too long and convoluted.

I then got a somewhat hostile comment from someone in the Czech Republic, who groused about how Europe isn’t so great, because medical care in her country isn’t “good”. I hadn’t addressed this person, but she chimed in on my comment to someone else, so I explained further. I don’t think I did so in a condescending way. I simply explained where I was coming from, and she came back with swear words and rudeness, as if I had insulted her intelligence. Her point was that not all European nations are created equally. My immediate reaction was “duh”, but that’s not what I wrote. Instead, I posted that I had originally considered writing only about Germany, but realized that much of the continent is similar and I didn’t feel the need to type out the countries for a Facebook post. I added that I did that because I didn’t want to wind up in a rude exchange with a stranger. Then I finished with, “but I see that’s happened, anyway. Have a nice day.” I was surprised she didn’t come back with more snark. I probably shocked her by calling her out for being unnecessarily offensive.

One of the things I really love about my husband is that we can have conversations about anything. He’s thoughtful and considerate, and he hears what I have to say as I flesh out a thought. He doesn’t react with indignation, or break out the red pen, wanting to “correct” my opinions. He doesn’t always agree with me, but he’s always willing to listen. I think we’re both better off because of that. We learn new things, and dine on fresh food for thought. Just as a new food can be exciting and interesting, so can a considering new perspective. But it’s hard to access that “fresh food for thought”, if you are preoccupied with correcting someone else for their opinions that don’t align with your own.

Now, when it comes to abortion, I can certainly understand why many people find it a sad and abhorrent thing. I understand why some people, having had an ectopic pregnancy that necessitated termination, can’t bear to think of that action as having an abortion, even if that is technically what happened. But I can also see how someone might find abortion liberating and even exhilarating. Father Nathan Monk’s post spells out how it can be a huge relief for someone to have an abortion. It should be okay for people to be honest about their feelings without fear of being shamed. We should be encouraging respectful communication, rather than trying to squelch things we don’t want to hear or read. Imagine how much more interesting life would be, if we could consider things that are “taboo” without feeling ashamed or threatened with censure.

I imagine that we might even have fewer Trump supporters if more people could stop themselves from being holier than thou toward others. I suspect that a lot of people like Trump because he’s not “PC” and doesn’t insist that people be “PC”. I think a lot of people like it when a loudmouth jerk like Trump says what they’re thinking, without any shame or hesitation whatsoever. This isn’t to say that I think people should be going around being deliberately offensive, but more that people might not be so compelled to be deliberately offensive if they felt heard and understood, even if the other person disagrees. A basic level of respect can be a great lubricant for productive discussion and– dare I say it?– a broader perspective on life, a keener intellect, and a more interesting existence outside of an echo chamber.

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