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Apr 03 2006

Blaming Takes A Holiday

student protest against fucked up immigration laws, East Austin, March 2006
East Austin high school students marching down Manor Road in protest of asinine immigration laws. All the white people stuffing themselves with tacos on the porch at El Chile (of which I was one) cheered’em on with wild abandon. It’s easy to be an activist when you’re sitting in the shade in close proximity to a big bowl of ceviche.

Astute readers—and who among you does not at least believe herself astute?—may have perceived that I’ve been showing uncharacteristic forbearance with the old patriarchy-blaming of late. Instead of outrage over nutjob-pundit-defamation of kidnap victim Jill Carroll or chuckling over the Brad-Pitt-as-women’s-issue at Broadsheet, or immersing myself in the the above-pictured immigration law protest, I’ve been reading Airstream brochures, making tranquil potages, hanging around in public washrooms, that sort of thing.

This is not because there is a sudden shortage of horrific crap to blame the patriarchy for. No sirree bob. There is raping and pillaging aplenty. And there always will be, my young onions, for my lifetime and for yours.

No, I’ve been giving it a rest because even a spinster aunt can overdose on media T&A, misogynist legislation, and the dorky idea that when feminists disagree with each other it is somehow “hurtful.”

An example of the sort of thing an actively blaming spinster aunt must address: this morning I got an email from a woman who says her 17-year-old daughter has been reading I Blame The Patriarchy. The daughter is apparently troubled by my post on altar girls in India, wants to know whether nuns are being raped, and if so, why there isn’t “big outrage” over it.

The answer to these questions—that of course nuns are being raped, since they’re women, and that there isn’t big outrage over it because it is not the policy of any patriarchal society to exhibit big outrage over rape in general—leads to many unpleasant streams of consciousness originating within the Twisty obstreperal lobe. First I speculate whether the 17-year-old daughter is specifically worried about nuns—as opposed to, say, prostitutes, or housewives—because the cloistered bride of Christ occupies a place in the popular imagination somewhere next to baby bunnies, whereas hookers and housewives are fallen and uninteresting, respectively, making their rapes seem deserved or de rigueur, also respectively. Then I am moved to jokingly remark to myself that Bill Napoli would relish making an exception for a raped nun, as long as she was sufficiently mutilated in the process, and not too old, and that no priest would go to jail for it. Then I admonish self for being a sick fuck and why can’t I get this Napoli jagoff out of my mind. Then the notion that nun-rape is more popularly abhorrent than the rape of any other sort of woman morphs into a contemplation of the total weirdness of the practice of getting unmarriageable or politically inconvenient women out of the way by locking them up in convents and assigning them Godliness as a profession. This, in turn, makes me think about the Catholic church, and the untold ways in which it has totally fucked up the world, and therefrom, I begin to writhe in trepidation over the astonishing extent to which people have normalized—if you’ll forgive me using that geekism—oppression.

Then I have to lie down.

The mother’s email concludes thusly: “Sometimes I think the whole thing is irretrievably damaged. You know, that big round thing we live on.”

Ah, good news at last! The big round thing we live on is going to be just fine. How do I know? Well, the truth is, patriarchy-blaming is just the little self-destructive hobby I took up as a substitute for substance abuse. My real focus on humanity has revealed this: that we’re a virus, no better or worse than any other virus, but a virus all the same. It’s no use getting emotional about spotted owls or global warming or the rotten things humans do to each other. We’ll run our course, and the next big disease will step up, having evolved around the conditions we left for it, and the big round thing will carry on as if nothing ever happened. We’ll all be dead, of course, but c’est la guerre.

55 comments

2 pings

  1. Hogan

    Alexander Cockburn once had an article in Harper’s where he talked about, among other things, the variable news value of different types of people being killed in Third World countries (one student equals ten workers; one worker equals a hundred peasants). The special news value of nuns was represented by a story from 1960 or so, when a Reuters reporter in Brussels got into the middle of a group of nuns getting off a plane from the Congo and shouted, “Anyone here been raped and speak English?”

    (I’m having trouble these days making my outrage big enough to match the provocations. Maybe they’ll develop a pill for that.)

  2. Nia

    I have felt something dead and empty (yes, both dead and empty at the same time) inside me since Saturday when I told two male friends of mine about how my ex boyfriend raped me. They had a vague idea that my ex had been abusive, but they didn’t know any details, especially the youngest of the two.

    The oldest told me how it had been very difficult for him and his ex to have any sort of physical intimacy at all because her previous boyfriend had also used sex as an instrument for pain in ways very similar to my ex. The youngest told us that in his latest job, a coworker twenty years older than him had tried to convince him to masturbate him while both were smoking in the toilets. My friend was convinced that if he hadn’t looked very strong and muscular he would have been raped.

    Seriously. Do I know anyone, just one person, who is not a rape victim or a rapist?

  3. Ron Sullivan

    Never fear, Hogan; it sort of spirals as the outrage glands catch up with the provocations. In between phases, one develops a certain hollow laugh.

    When people start with the immigrant-bashing, I think of the implicit threat to cuisine and get really pissed off. I don’t even have to get as far as basic humane considerations anymore; it’s total hindbrain reflex. We used to have an immigration lawyer as a housemate, so I’ve seen some convoluted nastiness from the likes of INS and even FBI, and I’ve run through the repertoire of outrage a few times. And of course it’s all just agitating for horizontal hostility, to keep us busy whacking on each other instead of aiming at the (pardon the other geekiness) actual beneficiaries of oppression.

    You start to twig to that when you hear the same stock phrases you heard 20 years ago again and again, and they still don’t quite test out in the real world, they just sound all hoity-reasonable. I blame the parrotarchy.

  4. Sylvanite

    I hate to say it, but I’m just thrilled to hear that a 17-year-old has been reading IBTP.

    Your last paragraph reminds me of the many conversations I’ve had regarding the need to “save the planet.” Silly people, it’s about saving ourselves. We’re nowhere near big enough to take on this planet and come out the victors. Right now humanity is kind of like a macho drunkard given an opportunity to wrestle a bear. The drunkard may think he can win, but we all know the bear will have him on his ass in 2 seconds flat as soon as he steps in the ring. (This simile is based on a true story. There is no depth of stupidity that you can’t get some drunk guy to stoop to.)

  5. finnsmotel

    Twisty sez:

    “My real belief about humanity is this: that we’re a virus, no better or worse than any other virus, but a virus all the same. It’s no use getting emotional about spotted owls or global warming or the rotten things humans do to each other. We’ll run our course, and the next big disease will step up, having evolved around the conditions we left for it, and the big round thing will carry on as if nothing ever happened.”

    I agree 1000%.

    George Carlin sez:

    “The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic…asshole.”

    Twisty is my own personal Patriarchy-blamin MarkTwainGeorgeCarlin (yeah, yeah, in female form ;-).

    Your blog rules!

    -finn

  6. marmelgabe

    I love that you’ve included a photo of Chicano youth protesting the impending draconian anti-immigration legislation that is being considered in Washington.

    The newspaper here in San Diego was surprized the kids could be “so civilized”, imagine that. This is the absolute best Latino demonstrations I’ve seen in a good long while. What thrills me is that is scares the crap out of the Patriarchy and that’s always a plus.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, I’m a big fan and read you everyday.

  7. CafeSiren

    Yeah — the L.A. protests got attention here, not because great groups of nonwhite youth had taken to the streets, but rather that they had taken to the freeways: in what may be described as daring or stupidity (both, in my opinion), they took their march to the slow lanes of a couple of L.A. freeways. Obviously, these kids know how to hit ‘em where they live here.

    Of course, in another typical L.A. moment, the protesters dispersed as soon as it began to rain. Whizzing freeway traffic? Bring it on!, say the marchers. But water falling from the sky is another matter altogether.

    Of course, I think this whole immigration bill is just Bill Frist, grandstanding, with visions of ’08 dancing in his head. And for Frist’s inexplicable popularity, I blame the patriarchy. (see? I knew I could get back to patriarchy!)

  8. Adrienne

    My father is always telling me that this planet could give two shits if we live on it. Destroy it, bomb it, it’ll recover in a million years and we’ll all just be poof-gone. No more humans. Of course all those cute Polar Bears will be dead but there will be no more humans around to care that they’re dead. So, dads lesson for the day: Earth will survive, humans will destroy themselves. The End.

  9. thebewilderness

    I think Napoli sticks in our minds because he articulated the patriarchy position on female victimhood. He described exactly where the bar is set and anyone failing to meet the standard is culpable. The Jill Carrol story is an example. She failed to meet the Napoli standard and even the supposedly news talkers went after her for failing to meet the standard. I think it continues to resonate because we always sort of knew in the back of our mind that there were only about five women on the planet that could satisfy the patriarchy standard of innocence or victimhood, and we are not one of them.

  10. kathy a

    i have a 17 year old daughter, and i never thought of telling her about IBTP. she blames pretty well, anyway, and doesn’t accept the “nun as perfect rape-victim” scale of outrage-worthiness.

    cafe siren — amazing protest in LA! but i grew up there, and am laughing about the rain. so true!

  11. Sylvanite

    I think Napoli should get into the ring with a bear.

  12. Christopher

    I’m having trouble getting Napoli out my head too. That statement just truly embodies the worst things about the patriarchy. I’d like to call him a sack of shit, but it would be insulting to sacks of shit.

    I have to say, the right-wing nitwit reaction to these protests is pissing me off. I’m willing to bet they don’t see any irony about writting an anti-imigrant screed in fucking english.

    My feeling is this: If you are going to write about lack of assimilation in the immigrant community, you had better be either so damn Native American that people shout your name when they jump out of airplanes, or really fucking humble and aware of the fact that giant swaths of your culture only exist because of some dickweed immigrants who did a lot worse things then march peacefully.

  13. Vibrating Liz

    I hope you’re not letting mean, spiteful comments on other blogs get to you. My mama always said, any time you raise your head up above the crowd, somebody’s bound to heave a brick at it. Sometimes the voices of two or three grumblers can start to sound like a huge angry mob in your head, rather than just a small handful of perennially vocal malcontents off grinding their own little axes. But if a holiday helps, take one (seems to be going around lately). Pure and impertinent speculation on my part, but I’d say at this point in your life you probably don’t need to be dealing with any extra passive aggressive bullshit, at all. Don’t forget to make a pilgrimage to Mitchell when you’re passing through SD, the town that boasts both the amazing Corn Palace (wingding polka dances!) and that holy shrine of all shrines, the Shelby Cobra museum.

  14. Twisty

    No fear, Liz. I am immune. Back when I was a widely-read yet somehow very unpopular restaurant critic in St. Louis, I used to get hate mail, including death threats, that would curl your hair. It turned out to be a matter of people not wishing to hear that their favorite restaurant was considered mediocre by somebody with a polysyllabic vocabulary. After my initial incredulity (“what’s the matter with these people? Can’t they see I’m trying to help them?”) I learned quickly to pity them and the superfatted banality of the lives they would lead within culinary horizons defined by deep-fried ravioli.

    It’s the same with patriarchy-blaming. Women don’t want to hear that the darling little feminine skills they’ve spent a lifetime mastering are actually dooming them, and men don’t want anything to potentially interrupt their supply of pussy. So they shoot the messenger. Same shit, different philosophical milieu.

  15. sybil

    During the last couple years I adopted the position I heard articulated by a prominent scientist or social scientist: “Yes I’m an optimist; it’s too late to be anything but an optimist.” Yet during this past year I’ve come to the we’re-just-viruses, aka, we’re-just-here-to-spread-our-DNA position. I’ve found myself happy that I’m in the second half of my life. When I see how primitive our *fellow* creatures really are, I hope to hell we can put a stop to all this DNA spreading once and for all. Let them eat deep-fried ravioli!

    Which is why this is my daily stop for black humor. Ron sullivan, I still owe you a drink for a few days ago. I’ll raise one now in honor of *parrotarchy*.

  16. Edith

    CafeSiren, as a fellow Angeleno/a, I believe you may be on to something. In fact, I think a bold protest move to stop, say, the Academy Awards, a Hustler convention, or anti-immigration minute men nutjob protests, might be to somehow get the power to control the clouds in the sky and make ‘em open up with torrents of water right on top of these events.

    If only the Greek gods were patriarchy blamers.

  17. Hattie

    It’s nice to see you in such a mellow mood, Twisty. Only kidding.

  18. Kelly

    Itis officially TWISTER season, here in Missouri….and, afterall, I’m a twister, you’re a twister…Wouldn’t they like to be a Sister2? Sorry, a bit spellbound…since I’m NEW to the loop. As I write to you from the great midwest this evening, I am PROUD to join w/ other online Blamers! For my first order of buzziness:
    THE WEATHER: Yes, blame the patriarchy for the weather.
    Yes, the weather. Currently it is “tornado season” in the midwest (as tho’a tornado is a fruit or flower). It is TWISTER SEASON….and thanks to global warming, you can bet the winds of Katrina weren’t limited to the Gulf as our season has started early this year, neatly coinciding with the meltdowns in places like far away Glacier Natl Park. Yes, this season proves to be one HELL of a challenge. It will simultaneously prove that white, black, hispanic, perhaps some lower class, mostly middle and upper class small towns people and urbanites alike will not go floating too far before help is on the way….unless there are tooo many twisters at once. Then what? Just a thought. Will the winds of the season prove that poverty is nation-wide? It could happen.And ya know, I’ve always called myself a “twisty-girrl” Well, “always” ever since I figured out….well, that’s another entry. Nice to meet ya.

  19. sybil

    oh dear, apologies for *black* humor. It took me long enough to remember that particular phrase; when in fact it would have been easy enough to have referred to twisted humor. And you know exactly who I blame for embedding the language with phrases ready to detonate and injure anyone around.

  20. terry

    I remember reading somewhere the following quote: “Someday the Earth will shake off humans like a bad case of fleas.” Such a favorite quote of mine, but I nonetheless like the virus analogy very much. And yet, still, I feel compelled to try and save the planet by some horrible, patriarchy-induced “rescue mentality” that so many women I know also feel. Thus, I have spent the last 1o years of my career working (off and on) on global warming issues.

    Although we will likey get a decent global warming bill through the Senate before the 2008 presidential election, it seems too little too late. Please, can we blame the patriarchy?

    Oh, and Twisty, with any luck I will have the opportunity to visit my ole college town, Austin, again. Back in the day, my favorite restaurants were Eastside Cafe, Kerbey Lane, and Trudy’s. While I follow your blog regularly and note many of your restaurant reviews, I feel compelled to ask for one or two recommendations, should you have the time. (One last thing, last week you recommended Big Fat Blog to me. Very, very helpful…thank you!)

  21. Ron Sullivan

    We’ll run our course, and the next big disease will step up…

    Careful, Twisty! Someone might report you to Homeland Security for that.

    OK, Sybil, hoist ‘em!

  22. Sunya Harjis

    Whenever I need to calm down, I look at pictures of pandas and kittens.

  23. R. Mildred

    that we’re a virus, no better or worse than any other virus, but a virus all the same. It’s no use getting emotional about spotted owls or global warming or the rotten things humans do to each other. We’ll run our course, and the next big disease will step up, having evolved around the conditions we left for it, and the big round thing will carry on as if nothing ever happened. We’ll all be dead, of course, but c’est la guerre.

    Except we are well on our way to permenently fuck up the biosphere beyond repair. And we’ll do it too, we’re craaaaazzzzy!

    Sure the ball with be there, but it’d be a big ol’ post menopausal ovary of celestial human folly rather than the pulsatingly throbbing ball of potential pregnancy scares we all know and love.

    venus is in practically the same orbit and is the same size as the earth, yet is a big ball of super heated, pressurised noxious gasses (imagine living inside ann coulter’s colon).

    Of course, on the plus side, when earth becomes a barren wasteland visited only by the occasional extraterrestrial MILF fetishistic, literal planet humper (stretching metaphor…stretching…), the patriarchy will be thoroughly thrown, unless life does somehow survive in the form of a colony of atomic tom delays, which would suck.

  24. rajmahall

    Can I blame the patriarchy for this e-mail I just received from our Dean of Students?


    To the Bard Community:

    Security Officers and Bard Administrators living in and around campus have noticed numerous cyclists, joggers and hikers using the beautiful and scenic Tivoli Bay area. While these activities are healthy and encouraged by all, there is a troubling reality that will forever loom in areas that surround the campus.

    For those new staff, faculty and students who may not be aware of the 1997 incident in the Tivoli Bay area, let me outline the incident: A young mother (graduate student) and her 7 year old daughter were both sexually assaulted while riding bikes through the bays. The rapist has never been identified or captured. This infamous case is discussed at every opportunity by the Safety and Security Department, Dean of Students Office, Residence Life and all who are involved in campus life. Periodic meetings with FBI profilers, Dutchess County District Attorneys Office and investigators continue to this day.

    It is imperative that everyone take steps to prevent a tragic incident from occurring to them. The dozens of women using the Tivoli Bay area, alone and unprotected, is more than disturbing to those of us acutely aware of the potential danger. The Bard Campus is seductive in its park like setting. The good works of security officers, administrators and staff help to keep community members feeling protected and safe, with few concerns for personal safety. Walking or hiking alone through a heavily wooded area in which a multiple rape occurred is very very foolish (an understatement).

    Imagine! Women daring to hike and jog! Don’t they understand that they could get raped? That it is very very foolish?!

    What a nasty, dumb load.

  25. darkymac

    We’ll all be dead, of course, but c’est la guerre.

    Indeed. The situation is resistant to short-term analysis.
    Sol has enough fuel for only another 5 billion years
    At around 4.5 billion which is around the same time that it has been around already, it will go giant and anything like what’s around Terra now will fry.

    Myself and other resource burners? For me it comes down to how bloody rude and inconsiderate and Vogon of any corporation, adult or child to degrade what I have to live in now – my neighbourhood – without either telling me of their intentions or asking if that’s really what I want to trade off for beads and blankets.

    Which I believe is what the patriarchy does so well.

  26. jc.

    I was going to point out that of course celibate nuns and priests is a historical solution for excess and/or poor women and men under feudal land owning and inheritance system (a sort of medieval welfare system)an economic reality that still exists in much of the third world. Then of course I realised that the system of priesthood often led to positions of power (major & minor) but for women it leads only to a dead end as nuns as women are of course deemed as unworthy to any real religious power or practice.
    I would however like to point out that nuns under any sort of Buddhist and hindu form are even more low caste and poorly treated as being the “unclean” sex.
    All religion is part of the patriarchy.

  27. vera

    This is not because there is a sudden shortage of horrific crap to blame the patriarchy for.

    That’s for damn sure. There’s never a shortage. There’s so much patriarchal crap that I get exhausted and then I can’t write. I have tried to be optimistic and write encouraging stuff to gently persuade people to notice the crap and stop swallowing it. But I have really felt beaten lately. I work on an open source project. Patriarchal crap is alive and well in the open source community. It poisons everything.

    What I’m saying is, I understand your mood.

    Is it possible to get away from it all? Feminist separatist community, anyone?

  28. larkspur

    I dream of a huge, freaky evolutionary leap, one of those inexplicable lightning-strike global events, and that it happens to golden retrievers, and that golden retrievers subsequently inherit the earth, because in addition to beauty, gentleness, lovingkindness, a frolicksome disposition, and endless optimism, they will develop the capacity for true benevolent leadership. A snausage in every bowl, fresh water to drink and to splash in, and always, always a passle of sweet cuddlesome littermates.

    How is Bertie these days?

  29. nebris

    I’m afraid we humans are like cockroaches and unlike to be totally killed off. I expect we shall migrate to other worlds, too.

    ~M~

  30. Sylvanite

    Take heart R. Mildred. Our Earth has two things Venus lacks – plate tectonics and life. These two things have provided the Earth with a truly remarkable resilience. Earth has withstood far greater disasters than we, including some that were caused by organisms (like the cyanobacteria-caused oxygen crisis). Nigh on a billion years ago, cyanobacteria started taking over, with their fancy photosynthesis, pumping oxygen into an anaerobic, methane-rich atmosphere, poisoning the whole planet’s anaerobic ecology. The oxygen also reacted with the methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, keeping the Earth warm, even though the sun was less potent than now. It plunged the Earth into a global deep-freeze. Yet, life did not perish entirely, and volcanoes helped to revive the torpid Earth. The oxygen-crisis paved the way for the rise of eukaryotes, and eventually, multi-cellular life forms.

    It’s tempting to overestimate human power. However, we truly are gnats. Even if we were to somehow destabilize the climate to the point that all terrestrial multi-cellular life was destroyed (I consider this very unlikely, if only because of the super-tenacious tardigrades) we won’t sterilize the planet. Only a nearby supernova or truly huge bolide impact could sterilize the Earth at this point.

    We certainly can make stuff very uncomfortable for ourselves, though! Possibly fatally uncomfortable.

  31. Annie

    Most excellent post today. I’m thinking that taking a break from blaming works out a lot like the old Carly Simon song she wrote about one of the pop music patriarchs, former husband, James Taylor, about whom she says: You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you. Ya know Twisty, I’ve just about come around to thinking that it’s the same for the patriarchy, I bet they think your blog is about them. I mean, after all, isn’t everything. I’m in an experimental blaming phase myself today, and I’ll bet it wouldn’t take but 5 minutes to figure that the tales from my crazy crypts are ripe for patriarchy blaming. I mean, even if I could blame myself, why would I? The patriarchy does it for me! So…I say enjoy your hiatus. Pretty sure my own blog will not rise to the refined and consistent art of blaming that you’ve achieved here, but calling attention to all the sick frigs in this world, patriarchs and subalterns of the patriarchal realms, is work we can all do. Take a vacation. Make some Yellow Gazpacho (see the recipe at Legal Seafood.com). There’s plenty of time and material for patriarchy blaming.

  32. Twisty

    R. Mildred, we can’t even kill kudzu. The planet’s gonna be just fine.

  33. The Goldfish

    I only wish I had found you when I was seventeen.

  34. Cass

    A year or two ago, I read a story about a student who started researching and collecting stories from victims of Japanese atrocities in China during the 30′s. The more survivors she interviewed, the more obsessed she became with their stories, and the further she sank into depression… until, finally, she ended up killing herself. The lessons I draw from this are:

    a. Empathy is one of the cruelest jokes ever perpetrated by the gods upon suffering humanity, and

    b. Everyone who addresses themselves to human suffering and cruelty needs to take a break every once in a while, and cultivate as much love and compassion towards themselves as humanly possible, always.

    And there’s no disgrace, by the way, in being compared to a virus. They’re some of the most elegant and ingeniously designed creations of nature around…

  35. Sara

    Ron, item 3: “When people start with the immigrant-bashing, I think of the implicit threat to cuisine and get really pissed off.”

    BWA HA HA HA HA

    Yeah. Think about it. If it weren’t for the vast diversity of immigration to this continent, American citizens would probably all be eating English food. Blood pudding and toad-in-the-hole. Spotted dick. Nary a taco, samosa, pot of goulash or bowl of pho in sight. Scary.

    Sybil, item 19: I might be terribly insensitive (okay, probably), but when I hear or use the expression “black humor,” I don’t think of “black” people, but rather of black clothing and crêpe, as in a funeral, or as in the darkness of the abyss. “Black” or “dark” humor is about making light of things that are tragic or horrific, the stuff of grief and funerals and scream-inducing nightmares, nothing to do with darker-skinned individuals — except insofar as they experience these things, too, of course. I could be wrong, and I’m probably starting another vortex of flamery by saying so (though I would refer anyone inclined to start one to the OED first, even though s/he may find adequate grounds there to correct me sharply), but I don’t think you need to apologize for using that expression.

    Meanwhile, Twisty, dear, I hope you get that Airstream, and I hope you and Bert and anyone else from your entourage whom you can stand for that long will come with you, and that you will somehow see fit to make a swing through New England. Lots of blamers here would love to hug you, if you can stand it, and take you out to eat. C’mon over. We can offend each other repeatedly over high tea at the Four Seasons, hot and creamy chowda at some tourist trap, or whatever other cuisine suits your fancy. And yes, humanity will still kill itself off, taking as many other species with it as possible, and women will still be treated as an underclass while it’s happening, and some of us will still dress “femininely” and live heteronormative lifestyles without shame or denial even knowing all the aforementioned to be true, but for a few hours, maybe several times over ’cause New England’s bigger than it looks, it would please all of us to show you a good time anyway.

    Please think about it while you dream and plan.

    Cheers!

  36. Ron Sullivan

    Sara, re: #35; ahem. Some of us are a mite touchy about Toad in the Hole. However, I would indeed dread a life of potatoes (and I love potatoes) and Drowned Baby. Though you have to admire the spirit of um grim determination to ingest one’s calories and grin that must give rise to the names of English dishes.

    Empanadas! How could we prosper as a nation without empanadas? And hamantaschen! Baklava! Those East Indian things that are just like funnelcakes but with a touch of rosewater in the syrup! Croissants, even! It ain’t just TastyKakes that fuel world conquest!

    I blame the pastryarchy.

  37. Sara

    Oh, no!!! Forget “black humor”; I have made an even worse faux pas. Ron, I’m sorry! How could I forget that your blog is named “Toad in the Hole”? I apologize for the lapse. Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t dream of eating the kind of toad you write about.

    Does it make you feel better or worse to know that Epicurious.com doesn’t have a recipe or definition for “toad in the hole” — or for anything with the word “toad” in its name? To amuse yourself, I recommend putting “toad in the hole” into their search box and seeing how their search engine reinterprets it. Or since I’ve already done it, you could just go here:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/find/results?search=toad in the hole&x=0&y=0

    Meanwhile, I think the goodies in rosewater syrup you were describing are known as “gulabjamun,” and they are luscious. I can forgive the pastryarchy TastyKakes, and even Little Debbie — and even http://www.funnelcake.com — when I contemplate gulabjamun.

  38. Crys_T

    Twisty: You actually got death threats while being a *restaurant critic*?!? Wow, I guess some people are seriously lacking in perspective.

    Sara: I’ve never seen gulab jamun with rosewater syrup, only plain sugar syrup (maybe some cardamom). I’m no expert on Indian cuisine, but rosewater syrup sounds more Arab-style to me. Then again, maybe it’s some sort of regional variation?

    Annie: I always thought that You’re So Vain was about Mick Jagger. Or maybe that’s just another urban myth. But I am pretty sure that she was married to Taylor for long after that song came out.

    You know, I’m way too tired to do any blaming right now myself. The trivial stuff is about my limit right now.

    But…..Yellow Gazpacho??!!? Such an abomination….I must go lie down.

  39. Cass

    “You’re So Vain” is about Warren Beatty… or so I’ve heard. Interestingly, Mr Jagger sings the backup vocal on that one, you can recognize his voice if you listen for it.

    And rosewater is indeed a Persian/Arab thing, but it got imported into Indian cuisine by the Muslim invaders.

  40. Crys_T

    Cass: Yeah, sometimes when you hear it on the radio, Jagger’s voice comes out loud and clear (and sometimes….not…don’t even want to speculate on why…). I always thought that was part of the joke, having him sing on a song that was basically cutting him down to size. But having said that, I think I’ve also heard the Warren Beatty theory.

  41. Cass

    I wouldn’t for a moment put it past Jagger to knowingly sing backup on a put-down song aimed at himself… he was always the ultimate ironist, as far as rock stars go. All the same I think it was aimed at Beatty.

  42. Annie

    Cass & Crys_T,

    I heard Carly Simon on an interview talking about JT. She was doing a little blaming for sure. I’ve never heard the Warren Beatty thing, though. Interesting. Anyway, she was pretty clear that “sweet baby James” has a few issues dealing with Reality (and not just because of his past drug usage). She said something like, “James likes to just pretend that history never happened…like we were never married.” Well,Carly, says I to my own dear self, I have never met a man yet who didn’t prefer mythology over Reality. It is the platform from which I do almost all of my best blaming.

  43. Pony

    We’re taking a holiday. Yay! But I thought we should have breakfast before we leave:

    Mme. Jehane Benoit’s Maple Tourlouche

    This is a must during the sugaring season in eastern Canada. It should be served warm with copious cold rich cream poured on top.

    1 cup maple syrup
    1 Tbsp soft butter
    3 Tbsp sugar
    1 egg
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/8 tsp salt
    ¼ tsp nutmeg or cinnamon (or to taste)
    ½ cup crème (this is not the crème for pouring on top when serving)

    Bring syrup just to a boil and pour into a generously buttered 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish. Let stand in a warm place. With a large spoon or blending fork, beat butter, sugar, and egg together until creamy. Mix remaining dry ingredients and add with the ½ cup crème to to cremed mixture, stirring until well blended. Place as four large balls into hot syrup in baking dish, then stretch dough with two forks until all balls are joined together. This is easy because the dough gets very soft when it comes in contact with the syrup. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, invert onto a platter or serve from pan, with crème poured on top.

    From Mme. Jehane Benoit’s Complete Heritage of Canadian Cooking
    http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/002001/f1/nlc008855-v6.jpg

    My favourite picture of Mme Benoit.
    http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/002001/f1/nlc009099-v6.jpg

    As you can see she didn’t fool around with minceur cuisine. She lived to be 84.

  44. Pony

    A handy dandy translation for *cuisine minceur. Exactly:

    “It is not because one has a few kilos to lose which should be satisfied to eat of soft white cheese and diluted salads! Today, mode should not be any more synonymous with sadness and the easy ways to lose weight all while being regaled are legions!

    By supervising its contributions of fat, by counting the calories a little and by reducing a tantinet the quantities, you must be able to lose these a few superfluous kilos without swallowing infamous mixtures. To eat must be a pleasure, unceasingly renewed, always in the search of originality! ”

    Now you know.

    *Cuisine minceur, as referenced in the Mme. Jehane Benoit recipe post I just made, which is hung up in moderation. When it comes up you’ll see why.

  45. Pony

    I’m sorry but it appears blaming can’t take a holiday.

    Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Arrested

    (on charges related to the use of a computer to seduce a child and transmitting harmful materials to a minor. )

    http://www.tampabays10.com/news/news.aspx?storyid=28229

    On many occasions, Doyle instructed the victim, whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, to perform a sexual act while thinking of him, and described explicit and perverse sexual acts he wished to have with her, in addition to sending her numerous obscene .mpg files (digital movies). He also had sexually explicit telephone conversations with a detective posing as a child on his office line and cell phone. He attempted to seduce the girl during their online chats, encouraging her to purchase a web cam so that she could send graphic images of herself to him, and promised her that he would likewise send nude photos of himself. Many of the conversations he initiated with the victim are too extraordinary and graphic for public release.

  46. Pony

    The recipe referred to in post # 43. Before I lost my appetite over post #44.

    Mme. Jehane Benoit’s Maple Tourlouche

    This is must during the sugaring season in eastern Canada. It should be served warm with cold rich cream poured on top.

    1 cup maple syrup
    1 Tbsp soft butter
    3 Tbsp sugar
    1 egg
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/8 tsp salt
    ¼ tsp nutmeg or cinnamon
    ½ cup crème (this is not the crème for pouring on top when serving)

    Bring syrup to a boil and pour into a generously buttered 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish. Let stand in a warm place. With a large spoon or blending fork, beat butter, sugar, and egg together until creamy. Mix remaining dry ingredients and add with the ½ cup crème to butter/egg/sugar mixture, stirring until well blended. Place as four large balls into hot syrup in baking dish, then stretch dough with two forks until all balls are joined together. This is easy because the dough gets very soft when it comes in contact with the syrup. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, invert onto a platter or serve from pan, with crème poured on top.

    My favourite picture of Mme Benoit.
    http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/002001/f1/nlc009099-v6.jpg

    Mme. Benoit didn’t fool around with cuisine minceur.

  47. finnsmotel

    “Annie: I always thought that You’re So Vain was about Mick Jagger.”

    I heard it was about Warren Beatty.

  48. Crys_T

    Re the Homeland Security guy: as the “14-year-old” he was trying to seduce was actually an adult, I’m laughing my ass off.

  49. Mark Early

    http://www.carlysimon.com/vain/vain.htm

  50. ozma

    I think I love you more every day.

    The big round thing. Ow. That was painfully funny. Why can’t everyone in the entire world read this?

    I just hope it’s not cockroaches. Seals. Why can’t it be seals? Or better yet, otters.

    But I think the mammals have had their heyday. (I say, though I am one those human lovin’, baby lovin’, earth lovin’, Jesus lovin’ types. Which is maybe why you always make me laugh so hard. The alternative world view you pose–it’s so coherent and downright compelling. It’s getting so there are few things I don’t try to see the Twisty way. )

  51. Sara

    Pony:

    Merci beaucoup pour Mme Benoit, et pour la tourlouche! (Le tourlouche?) Oh, la la! C’est magnifique! J’espère que je pourrai le faire dimanche.

    (Do they say “Oh la la” in Canada? In a footnote to one of my clumsy little essays, I once asked M. Basset, my French language professor at the Sorbonne, what was the French for “oy vey.” He thought this was so funny he read it to the class, and then told us with a strangely patient smirk “En français, on dit ‘oh, la la.’” Is this universal for all francophones? Do they say this in Algiers and Viet Nam?)

  52. Vibrating Liz

    I can’t speak for Canada, but when French Cajuns down here in southwest Louisiana mean “Oy vey!” they may say “Cho!” or “Oo ye yi!” or “Eh, la bas!” or “Poo-ye-yi!” depending on the finer nuances of the situation. Like the proverbial 4,000 or whatever words Eskimos are said to have for snow, Cajuns have about that many ways to say “Oy vey!”

  53. Pony

    It’s pretty much the same as Liz has said, Sara. I’ve never heard ooo la la,

    There is not *one* francophone community in Canada as there is in Louisiana. There are separate communities which have evolved their own dialects, with the Quebecois being the largest and best known. But there are sizable francophone communities in New Brunswick, north-western Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, each having a distinctive culture and dialect.

    The francophone community that is in Louisiana is actually from Nova Scotia prior to the Expulsion. The area was at that time called Acadia. So; Acadian, or ‘Cajun

    Most of the western Canadian francophone are Metis, or descended from Metis (although you won’t hear many admit it). Metis are “half-breed” Aboriginal and European. Most of the Metis francophone speak a creole that is called Michef, and is a blend of French, English and Cree. Since most francophones are Cathoic the swear words all have to do with the church. Heh. How we swear tells who we are: Anglais swear about sex, no?

    Moji cris tabernac is a favourite Metis swear. Take care where you use it.

  54. Sara

    Thank you, ladies! Now, the thing about “oy vey,” is that it only really has a negative connotation — “ugh!” or “oh, no!” or even “Jesus H. Christ!” if you will — whereas “oh, la la!” can either be all that or “Oh, my goodness” or even “Oooooh, lovely!” It’s sort of a multipurpose exclamation. Since at 19 I had only ever heard it in context with things like can-can girls and underwear, learning it could also be used like “oy vey” was actually very educational!

    Pony wrote, “Since most francophones are Cathoic the swear words all have to do with the church. Heh. How we swear tells who we are: Anglais swear about sex, no?”

    Yes. True. That and the universal excrement (“merde,” for example) comprise most of our curses, with the occasional good “God damn!” or “Hell!” as lesser expressions of outrage. It has always disturbed me — always, since I first became aware of so-called “bad” words — that “shit” is almost but not quite as bad a thing to say in English as “fuck.”

    That is some fucked up shit, no?

    I blame the Patriarchy, of course.

  55. shiv

    Parrotocracy?

    Wow.

    Yeah. Psittacines are responsible for human stupidity, lingual repetition compulsions, and lies.

    Not humans. Parrots. They’re bird-brained too. And hogs. And weasels. And cows. And bitches.

    Oh, wait, we can’t say bitches–it’s OK to put animals down in expressing contempt, but not women.

    And we must stand up for bipolar gender, while bewailing its effects–while ignoring the oppressive and fascistic effects of axiological thinking in general.

    Stanley Fish (his real name) used to say to people who asked him to talk, “You need to learn to think harder.” He may still do this; I’m gone from Durham a long time.

    shiv

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