Taking Refuge in Lake Wobegon

 

 

(from cardcow.com)

 

“Chocolate cake.”

Until last week, those had been two of my favorite words. Hearing them spoken by  The Wearer of Ferrets as he discussed the moment during a dinner with China’s President Xi when he gave the green light to bomb Syria put a considerable pall on them. I may never be able to eat either again. If there is a positive, the sound of his voice echoing around my mind is aversive enough to keep me away from both as efforts at weight loss continue.

While desserts have their charms, taking refuge in them too often is not a good idea at all. Just ask my jeans.

Where, then, does one turn to escape the rampant insanity ? I’ve tried to keep the TV off with mixed success. Two PBS shows I love run late morning, and then there’s the midday news that a couple of minutes of won’t hurt, then perhaps a couple more, and next thing I know it’s 1:00 and I have to ice down my middle fingers from overuse. Not a good idea.  Limiting time tuned to WCPT  (independent progressive talk) and NPR to short bursts in the car helps somewhat as well. Somewhat.

In times like these, we need refuge from current affairs to prevent a collective slide into madness. I find mine in visits to Garrison Keillor’s fictitious hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Blessed be the tuneIn app that delivers the stream to the Sonos system that fills the house with his soothing baritone, gentle wit, and delicious sense of absurdity.

There are days when one needs to hear stories of hair raising escapes from fishing sheds as the ice breaks beneath one’s feet (especially when the shed in question is an RV). There are days when one needs the tale of a homecoming parade inadvertently but rudely interrupted by the queen’s father’s front loader that just excavated a septic tank. And there are days when one needs a slice of rhubarb pie and fresh coffee at the Chatterbox Cafe.

Based on the quick news summary just now on WFMT with the sabre rattling, I think I’ll take the pie, please. And if there’s any vanilla ice cream, a scoop of that on the side would be most appreciated.

 

 

 

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Monday Mashup: Media Edition

No, we do not have cable, nor do we have a dish. We never will, either.

Despite our distance from Chicago proper, some 50 miles, the elevated antenna and converter box built into our DVD/BluRay player pulls in the signals from the four major networks, providing us with hours of amusement, or at least background noise. We have Netflix. We have DVDs. We have access to two PBS stations and their respective substations. Make that three under certain weather conditions.

That’s all I want or need. Except for the monthly Netflix bill, donations a couple of times a year to the PBS stations, and a few shekels to NPR and another public station, it’s free.

I don’t know if it’s a function of age, or taste, or growing consciousness, but the last few times I tried to watch network TV (“Big Bang Theory” reruns the one exception), disturbed me. The quality or lack of was bad enough, but I started wondering if there was some validity to the conspiracy theory that mass media is being used by the Rothchilds to keep the masses down. Do viewers really know what they’re watching?

Comedies routinely present verbal abuse as strength, continue with varying shades of sexism and racism, and involve verbally castrating men or portraying them as weak and inept. News flash: we will not settle the patriarchy score by female characters ripping male characters. The last couple of seasons of BBT have started the slide down this slope.

I can’t really comment on dramas because nothing has held my attention long enough in years.

Reality TV is a plague upon the soul of the planet. Back in medieval times, the nobles had a rather nasty form of entertainment called “dwarf parades.” Little people and other subjects who were differently abled would get trotted out at court occasions for the amusement of the lords and ladies. That people give a precious hour of their lives to shows like “19 Kids and Counting” or “Here Comes Honey BooBoo” or one of the countless court or “talk” shows glorifying intense shades of dysfunction proves that we haven’t grown very much as a species.

One notable exception: ABC’s “The Quest,” a replacement from last summer. Ten contestants were chosen to defend Everealm from a villain. The show focused on teamwork and ability, and eliminations were based on evaluating the participants’ strength and weaknesses, not on arguments that sounded like the spewing of sugared up eighth graders.

Ironically, a TV character said it best: Mr. Spock once informed a subordinate that “there are always alternatives.”

What will it take to get the world at large to see that and maybe start picking up books again?

A Trieste on Music

A person could be deceived into thinking Midwestern winters are not that bad today. The sky is a cloudless, cliche-ridden blue. The ground is another story, however. The stiff wind bringing tonight’s anticipated storm and arctic cold from the northwest sculpts the snow already on the ground like Martha Stewart trying to get just the right ripple effect on a cake’s frosting. 

A pleasant distraction is in order. This evening’s entertainment will be “A Prairie Home Companion,” just as it has been most Saturdays since I was in high school. As I create the cauliflower-crusted pizza (http://detoxinista.com/2012/01/the-secret-to-perfect-cauliflower-pizza-crust/ and it works just as well with plain ol’ mozz in the crust instead of goat cheese–oh, and you can mix the cooked drained and dried cauliflower, egg, cheese, and herbs in the food processor), I will be listening to performers who do what they do out of love and a deep desire to keep traditional music genres alive and well.

 

I need to have music as I cook. Sometimes it’s jazz, others classical, and there’s something about folk music and Saturdays that mesh just right. Classic rock (from the Police on back) is mostly for driving. But whatever I’m listening to and whatever I’m creating, the ingredients and the tunes have to be real.

Tonight, I need a serious palate clearing. The Grammys are on tomorrow night; the last two days have been filled to the brim with coverage of Justin Bieber’s latest act of stupidity. I am left unimpressed by the artists featured in the clips promoting the former and disturbed that the mainstream media has lost its collective mind over a marketable but questionably talented teenager who’s on the fast track to be a victim of his his own excesses.  

I’ve been spoiled since college by friends who are musicians, and who by rights (extreme prejudice warning here) should have been on “Prairie Home Companion,” but some things just don’t work out they way they ought to in a perfect world. I’ve also dabbled in singing lessons here and there, and been in recitals, and I will tell you, Dear Readers, there is a lot more to the preparation and execution of a performance than looking pretty and enticing fans. 

My own performance experiences have made me quite the demanding critic, just as my cooking has made me quite the pain in the butt over restaurants. I don’t want technotronics, fancy lighting effects, or plates arranged like tableaux from art museums. Just give me the best of either, and plenty of it,  and I will be a happy girl. 

And if we can send Justin back to Canada and get Gordon Lightfoot in exchange, I will swoon in ecstacy.