Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Paula Deen/Food Network Debacle

I don't typically comment on the real hot topics of the day... not because I don't care, or don't have an opinion, but because there are so many other sources of information and opinion out there that I choose to not add my thoughts to the already-huge pile. But this time, I'm going to.

I want to start by being upfront about a few things.
First, I am a BIG Food Network fan.  Food Network  (originally TV Food Network) was launched nearly 20 years ago, and I would guess I've been watching it almost since its inception.
Second, I am NOT a Paula Deen fan.  I find her southern accent to be annoying (really, is it real?), but more importantly, I don't care for her style of cooking.  No, I don't make most of the recipes I see -- although I have been known to peruse the Food Network website when looking for something new... but I generally watch programs that tend to be more like the cooking I do, and the foods I eat.

Now, having said that...  I am OUTRAGED at Food Network refusing to renew Paula Deen's contract, based on recent incidents.

For those who have been hiding under rocks  (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing) or are outside of the U.S.  (I suspect that this fiasco has not been deemed important enough to catch the attention of the rest of the world)...  let me summarize things for you.......
In the United States - as well as elsewhere - there are derogatory words that are used to describe people, typically according to race, or religion, or nationality, or gender.  Paula Deen is one of the Food Network personalities...  she has her own show, she cooks, she writes books, she has restaurants,  she endorses cooking-types of things... you get the picture.   As part of some recent litigation, Paula Deen  admitted that she used one of these derogatory words, once, many years ago. She allowed for the possibility that she may have used it another time or so since, but she was unable to come up with a specific time or place.  More importantly, (and this is really important)


I want to let that sink in for a moment.  

I'm not giving this woman brownie points for admitting she did something she shouldn't have done, and I'm not going to discuss whether her stated reason was valid, and I'm not even going to suggest that you should believe her story that she didn't do it again.  What I am suggesting is that -- if there was ANYONE out there who could credibly assert that this was a frequent and or/recent action on Paula Deen's part... do you really think they would not have come forward?

So.  Paula used a derogatory word ---- long before she was ever on the Food Network, and even before the Food Network existed.  She wasn't even a public personality at the time.  She denies using the word currently, or even recently, and no one is accusing her of doing so.  She denies being a racist, and no one is accusing her otherwise... forget about proof, no one is even ACCUSING her of otherwise.  And Food Network announces it will not renew her contract, because of this.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm sure the contract has some morality clause in it.. and it should... but we're not talking about her using the word on the air, or even using the word while in public, or even using the word during her employment with Food Network.  Many, many years ago.

Food Network ---  you've screwed up.  In my opinion, you've REALLY screwed up.  I suspect Ms. Deen will not be suing you for unlawful termination of employment --  after all, it sounds as if perhaps her current contract was due to expire shortly, and I'm assuming you have the right to choose to not renew an expired contract.  Perhaps you were planning on terminating her show anyway, and this seemed like a good bandwagon to jump on.  And perhaps in the future, someone might step forward and make a claim of more recent wrongdoing.  But as of now, that hasn't happened.

You screwed up, Food Network.  And those of you - the producers, or board of directors, or whoever - who made this decision should be ashamed of yourselves.  Because this was a really, really bad decision.

I'm so annoyed, I need a cup of tea.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

It doesn't have to match

I heard an amusing story that I want to share.

One day, the receptionist in my building  (I'll call her Jane) had someone point out that she was missing an earring. While these earrings weren't expensive, Jane liked the colors, and wore them frequently.  She checked all around her desk, in her clothing, on the floor, and even in the trash -- but to no avail. The missing earring remained AWOL.  Two days later, one of the attorneys in the building asked Jane if she'd recently lost an earring, and she acknowledged that she had.  It turns out that Jane had been putting together a fed-ex package for the attorney, which was then mailed to the court.  The court had called the attorney to report that the package they'd received included an earring... Jane's earring.  A short time later, Jane and the missing earring were happily reunited.  Alas, the reunion and happiness were short lived, as that same earring went AWOL again a short time later, and remains missing, to this day.

But the sharing of this story led to a discussion of how long is the appropriate length of time to keep the earring left behind, when the other one goes astray.

Come on now, ladies  (and perhaps some men?)....   admit it, you've all kept earrings left behind, long after there was any hope of the missing one returning home.

It occurred to me that there's an easy solution to this...  oh sure, I get it, the easy solution is to throw away the earring you have left.  But is that really fair?  That poor earring has already been abandoned by its soulmate, or perhaps I should say lobemate... and now you're going to throw it in the trash?  So perhaps instead of calling this the easy solution, I should call this the better solution.

What we should do is...   no, wait, let me lay the groundwork first.

I have some socks.  These aren't leftover socks, suffering a similar fate to the left-behind earrings, these are socks that were purchased in a 3-pack. Nope, not 3 pairs, but 3 socks.  My favorite pair - oops, grouping - is my pink set.  My pink set consists of one sock that's solid bright pink, one sock that is dark pink with bright pink polka dots, and one sock is bright pink with dark pink stripes.  There is no pair, just a grouping.  And those three socks are very happy, they all get along well with each other, and none of them has ever indicated the slightest desire to go on a clothes dryer adventure.  They happily take turns as to who gets to go out in public.

With that in mind, I think it is time that we move beyond the notion of a pair of earrings, and expand into the world of earring groupings.  There's no reason I shouldn't be able to wear my silver star earring in one ear, and

either my blue plaid star earring -
or my silver cat earring - in the other.  See what I did?  In one case, I matched shapes, and in the other, I matched colors.  Or, I could get really wild, and wear my yellow feather earring in one ear, and my black interlocking rings earring in the other ear.  You can buy mismatched earrings... why not be matchmaker to the ones you already have?   In this manner, we'd be able to remove the stigma attached to the poor, lonely, abandoned, left-behind earring, and turn it into a 'one-of-the-gang' earrings.  Stop putting those single earrings in that special place of shame, wondering how long to wait before -- aargghhh -- throwing them out.  Return them to the world of public display, proudly sitting on your ear.  Earrings are a fashion statement, let's be fashionable.  They don't have to match.

Whew.  I feel really good, having come to this realization.  I think I'll have a cup of tea -- after checking to make sure I haven't dropped an earring into the bottom.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Donkeys and ponies and mules (oh my!)

Recently, I was on the island of Santorini, Greece.  I arrived via cruise ship, which meant I came ashore at the bottom of an EXTREMELY steep cliff

.... with the cities at the TOP of the extremely steep cliff.  

There are three ways to get to the top...  you can take a cable car, you can walk, or you can take a donkey ride.  And while you're deciding, let me point out that the climb is a vertical climb of about 650 feet.  Still undecided?  Do you see that zig-zaggy line going up the middle?  That's the path.. so I have no idea what total distance is, but it's significantly more than 650 feet.  Still not sure?   Then let me point out that - should you choose to walk, the only path is the same one that the donkeys take.... and that path has no outhouses, either for people, or for donkeys.   

Right... that's what we decided...  we would ride a donkey up, and then at the end of the day we would take the cable car down.

Now, I grew up in the city... and while I've seen horses.. not just on tv, but actually in real life... I've never been ON a horse, or any other sort of equine, for that matter.  I'd done my research on the various places we'd be stopping on the cruise, of course, so I knew of the donkey rides... and in case I'd forgotten, as soon as we got off the ship, we were faced with a multitude of signs directing us to the cable car, and to the donkey rides.  

My husband was less convinced that the donkey rides were the choice to make, but he likes to indulge me  (and I like to be indulged!)...  But as soon as he saw the animals, he informed me that the animals we'd be riding were not donkeys, but rather were mules... that mules were much larger than donkeys.  Since he grew up on a farm with crops and livestock and such, I was sure he was right.. but as I pointed out to him  - 'donkey' is a funnier word than 'mule'.

In any event, we rode our faux donkeys to the top.. and not only is 'donkey' a funny word, but the entire experience was very funny.  We weren't allowed to hold the reins of our faux donkeys, just the handle-thingy at the front of the saddle... and while our faux donkeys clearly knew they were supposed to go up... they were just as clearly aware that they were in charge.  

I thanked my f.donkey when it came to a stop, as that gave me a great opportunity to take a few pictures.  

I did NOT thank my f. donkey when it suddenly decided to race to the front of the line, even if that meant squeezing between two other f. donkeys who were walking next to each other.  I laughed heartily when hubby's donkey decided to stop for a bite to eat, and hubby watched forlornly as the rest of the group passed him by... I quit laughing when hubby's donkey decided to catch up, and squished me and my donkey between it and the wall, as it strode by.

Now that I'm home and back at my computer, I'm wondering about the differences between donkeys and mules and even ponies and horses.  Turns out ponies are just little horses.. the major difference is how many hands they have, or how many hands they're tall, or something like that.

A donkey, however, is a different species from a pony or a horse, but for some reason, horses and ponies are able to breed with donkeys.  Since hubby had told me that mules were bigger than donkeys, I initially thought that a donkey and a horse made a .... no, wait...  a donkey and a pony.. hmmm, not sure what I thought, but I'm pretty sure it was wrong!

Turns out that a mule is the result of a male donkey breeding with a female horse.  (They can do it the other way around.. a female donkey and a male horse, but for some reason that's harder to do.)  
And there's actually a reason for doing this cross breeding, other than Mother Nature having a sense of humor...   Mules are larger than donkeys... but more importantly,  mules generally have the patience, even-temperament, and sure-footedness of a donkey, while at the same time having the vigor, strength and stamina of a horse.  

Now that I know all of this, it makes sense to use mules for that path up to the top of Santorini Island... but donkey is still a funnier word.

And that bit about mules being sterile?  While it's generally true, there are some rare exceptions... but that probably doesn't matter to anyone except the mule.   

And now......
Well it's time for tea, of course.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Magic of Hats

A couple of days ago, I had occasion to say to someone..    "that makes me feel
like Thing 1 and Thing 2, in The Cat in the Hat".

I think most of us are familiar with Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, and there is no question that the Cat's Hat was quite magical.

And then I came across some very interesting information.  It turns out that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel, in real life)  was indeed quite a collector of hats.. the more flamboyant and unique, the better.  Truly.  I'm not making this up.  He had a whole walk-in closet -- with a secret hidden door -- full of hats, and paintings of characters inspired by the hats.  And I don't mean a handful of hats... there were HUNDREDS of hats!!  He was said to have had this notion that hats had this wonderful quality, in that -- when someone put on a hat, it could amplify their personality, or even transform their personality.

In other words, Dr. Seuss had discovered the magic of hats.

By the way, Theodor Geisel's widow has made these hats available to the public, and there is an exhibition touring the country this year.  Sadly, the exhibition won't be anywhere near me... but perhaps you'll have better luck.

And all of this has had a special meaning for me, because - before I learned about Dr. Seuss' theory of hats, and his collection inside his hidden closet, I had occasion to experience the magic of hats.

My mother and my sister and I live many many miles from each other.  We get together occasionally, although not as often as we'd like... and often it's only two of us, rather than all three of us.  But recently, we were all three together.  We ended up in a store -- not really shopping for anything specific... just spending time with each other -- and we found ourselves in the hat department.
Not only did we find ourselves in the hat department, but we found ourselves being extremely silly.  None of us need a hat at the time, or even wanted a hat, but we proceeded to try on hats.  And we found ourselves laughing.  A lot.   Somehow, those hats did... something.  Something magical.

So the next time you're walking by a hat display... stop, and try one on.... the bigger, the more outrageous and flamboyant, the better.  Think of Dr. Seuss, and let yourself be transformed, even for just a moment, by the magic of hats.

And then, of course, go have a cup of tea.  I did.