Death Cafe and talking to strangers

“how not to be real”

Death CafeBack in 2018, I wrote about a concept called the Death Cafe. Here’s the website

“At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives”

Although I only attended a single event in person, I’ve been to about a half dozen sessions remotely. I’ve even facilitated a couple of breakout sessions since one wants no more than 4-6 people in a given virtual room.

The last session organized by the Albany group in may had people from New York City and central Europe. It is one of those rare events that, arguably, might be enhanced by Zoom.

One relays stories, largely to strangers, which is oddly therapeutic. I might tell of some specific disappointment about an absence at a recent funeral. It might be easier to share the story there than in this blog.

Food

I could talk about the tons of food that were brought to my parents’ house after my father died in August 2000. I specifically remember that someone came by at 10:30 pm, my mother looking exhausted from the day.

Conversely, almost no food was brought to my MIL’s house in April 2020 after my FIL died. It wasn’t just different norms between North Carolina and upstate New York, plus the passage of time. There was a pandemic, so the extended family wasn’t at her home. On the other hand, a pair of my wife’s friends brought us some food, delivered appropriately in a socially distanced manner.

Back in 2012, Jaquandor reviewed Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie by Beth Howard. It’s a lovely reflection, which you should read.

Ken Levine on the sudden death of his friend Arlen Peters: “Order the pie.  You never know.”

My  May 31 post has a few more examples.

AmeriNZ

One of those food narratives was linked from Arthur’s blog, He’s been writing a LOT about death, bravely and quite insightfully. For instance, he wrote about people being very good actors. “We learn what to say, how not to say things, and how to present ourselves in a way that the people in our lives expect. We learn, in other words, how not to be real.”

Or finding the right words. “I’ve seen many people dealing with profound grief who say that they stop talking about their grief journey because they sense that the people they talk to don’t want to hear about it, or else they’re visibly uncomfortable. In such cases, the grieving person will, essentially, adopt what they see as the socially expected behavior: Silence.”

And there are others.

My point in linking to these is that talking about issues surrounding death doesn’t glorify death. It contextualizes death in this world rather than making it a verboten topic.

If you’re so inclined, check out a Death Cafe. There will be an in-person one (finally) in Albany County very soon.

Death Cafe Flyer June. 30 2021

Nov. rambling: the Opposite of Déjà Vu

The djt library

set_in_the_present_2x
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DNA evidence proved Lydell Grant’s innocence

John Green – On Immunity, Inoculation, and Individuals and Hank Green- How We Teach: Individualist Stories

BP Evaluation and Treatment in Patients with  Prediabetes or Diabetes

More than anyone, Tom Heinsohn was Mr. Celtic

Golfer Jon Rahm Bounced a Ball Over Water to Get a Hole in One

Miami Marlins hire Kim Ng as MLB’s first female general manager

An Atlas of the Cosmos

Why Do Airline Dress Codes Still Exist?

Ken Levine’s podcast: Episode 200!

An Oral History of Marge vs The Monorail

How to Brace Yourself for Disappointment

Single foster dad adopts five siblings so they won’t be separated

60 Minutes Australia: John Cleese interview

What is the Opposite of Déjà Vu?

Word Genius: Most Beautiful Words  in the English Language

Food Waste in America in 2020 and Guide to  Food Storage for Healthier Eating

Animals

Meet The New First Dogs of the Country

The Angler Fish: A Mystery of The Deep

World’s Last Known White Giraffe Gets GPS Tracking Device

Woman the hunter: Ancient Andean remains challenge old ideas of who speared big game

Fire in The Pig Barn   at June Farms

After A Whale Dies, What Happens? and 50 Years Ago, Oregon Blew Up a Dead Whale. With Dynamite. On Live TV.

3 men banned from Yellowstone after trying to cook chicken in geyser

Ken Spears, R.I.P. Ruby, and Spears, who created and/or supervised some of the most popular animated characters ever on television including Scooby-Doo.

Commercials starting Alvin and the Chipmunks and David Seville

TREBEK

They learned English — and how to be American — from watching him

Tribute to a Travel Hero

Alex Trebek and Truth

Fordham benefactor

Choose Presence Over Judgment

TIME

Contestants’ Most Hated Word:  Preemption

Who Could Take Over as Jeopardy! Host. Maybe LeVar Burton?

Winners and Losers

The djt library

Can I Get Over Donald Trump?

THE REAGANS Proves Just How Closely Trump Followed an Old GOP Playbook

His top scandals

Over 220 LGBTQ candidates celebrate election victories

The Gap’s Deleted Post-Election Tweet Shows Just How Uninterested Many Americans Are in Unity Right Now

Germany calls on its young to be the Covid heroes  of 2020

Dilbert: Banana Is Not An Apple

Now I Know

A Long Way to Save a Few Quid and The Doctor With a  Vision for Vision and The I’m Not in Washington Defense and How Did the Squirrel Cross the Road? and The Pothole Vigilante

MUSIC

Paula White’s Re-Election Prayer For Donald Trump Ft. Lil KC Remix – WTFBRAHH

Violinist Hilary Hahn, performing Beethoven’s Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra. Leonard Slatkin conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Coverville: 1331: Sometimes They Come Back… and 1332: The Divine Comedy Cover Story and 1333: The Neil Young Cover Story III and  1334: Cover Stories for Graham Parker, Kim Wilde, and Björk

Les Miserables song One Day More

Vaughan Williams: Nation Shall Not Lift Up A Sword Against Nation/Glory To God In The Highest, from Dona Nobis Pacem

Tradicion from Fiddler on the Roof, performed in Panama

Medley of old  TV theme songs – Josh Groban, 2008 Emmy Awards

Bad Moon Rising – Julien Neel

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

Sing – Carpenters

I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog – Peter, Paul, and Mary (25th Anniversary Concert)

Baby Shark – PINKFONG Songs for Children, Watched over SEVEN BILLION times

Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift 

Wendy Carlos doesn’t need THIS biography

 

Music throwback: Stax food choices

The Astors also spent 2 1/2 months performing on tour with The James Brown Review.

I was listening to one of my Stax-Volt box sets, which I usually do in the summer, in honor of the label’s co-founder Jim Stewart’s birthday. (His sister Estelle Axton ALSO belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, BTW.) I’ve written about Stax before, including its complicated relationship with Atlantic Records.

I noticed that some of the Memphis soul label artists, especially the more obscure ones – we’re not talking Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas – had tracks with food-related titles.

This is not to say that some of the name artists didn’t ALSO choose a musical culinary route. Booker T and the MG’s had a song about popcorn, e.g. But I picked three songs to highlight, two of which may give you tooth decay.

Candy – The Astors. Composed by Booker T & MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper and Isaac Hayes, this is the only one of the Memphis group’s songs to chart. #12 on the R&B charts, #63 on the pop charts (Billboard) in the summer of 1965.

“As ‘Candy’ moved up the charts, The Astors performed on shows at the Uptown Theater in Philly, the Howard Theater in D.C., The Regal Theater in Chicago, and The Apollo Theater in New York. The other performers on these shows included The O’Jays, The Coasters, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, and Redd Foxx to name a few. The Astors also spent 2 1/2 months performing on tour with The James Brown Review.”

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Sugar, Sugar – The Mad Lads (1966). The song was composed by Alvertis Isbell and Eddie Floyd, the latter a name artist, but, as far as I can tell, the song did not chart. The group is from Detroit.

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Hot Dog- The Four Shells (March 1966). “A Chicago group recording licensed to Stax, produced by Jerry Butler and Eddie Thomas.” I cannot find any chart action for this either.

Listen HERE or HERE

Despite their relative obscurity, these all sound vaguely familiar, as though they were regionally popular, even if they were not always national hits.

August rambling #2: Mamihlapinatapai

Mamihlapinatapai

Lynn Mabry, Sheila E., the niece Rebecca Jade in Philadelphia. We saw them Aug 18 in NYC!

Hymn: A New Poem by Sherman Alexie. The author addresses the hatred currently plaguing the United States

Children of Catholic priests live with secrets and sorrow

Salt Lake County Mayor posed as a homeless person

How we talk about ‘ethnic’ food matters

Why top chefs are starting to give dishwashers their due

The Symptoms of Dying

Questions for Me About Dying By Cory Taylor

Etiquette and the Cancer Patient

Female Lawyers Can Talk, Too

Actually, I was biologically designed to be an engineer

The Many Lives of Pauli Murray, an architect of the civil-rights struggle—and the women’s movement

For ‘Little Mermaid’ star, a rude awakening in Middle America

A study of the 1947 short Don’t Be a Sucker suggests old attitudes about fascism in America have never gone away

Mark Mishler: WE WHO WILL DEFEAT WHITE SUPREMACY

With teamwork and hustle, Toledo Blade dominated after Charlottesville attack

Robert E. Lee was against erecting Confederate memorials

Is there a Confederate general in my lineage?

Yorkshire Pudding of the UK wrote: “My initial definition of ‘trumpish’ is “egotistical, arrogant and boorish, having the capacity to swat away all criticism and blunder ahead in the unsophisticated manner of the 45th President of the USA”

HOW DONALD TRUMP AND ROY COHN’S RUTHLESS SYMBIOSIS CHANGED AMERICA

He’s A Racist In Public, And ‘In Private.’

He has a fake Civil War monument at his golf course and Lies About His Reaction To Charlottesville

The Real Story Behind All Those Confederate Statues

Silence is complicity; ‘support’ is collaboration

John Oliver: North Korea

Scott Pruitt Is Turning the EPA into the KGB

Border wall at National Butterfly Center violates property rights and worse

David Letterman Reflects on Harvey Pekar

The World’s First Robot Lawyer

Upstate New York is waiting for the next eclipse: April 6 2024

The Moral History of Air Conditioning

How (not) to memorise mathematics

The Meaning of ‘Mamihlapinatapai’

Yes, Your Manuscript Was Due 30 Years Ago

A Social Media-Fueled Bestseller List, of Poetry

Notes from a Baby-Names Obsessive

Albany’s Nipper the dog history

Safe and Healthy Formulas for Your Feline Friend

The day Captain Kangaroo visited Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Will Disney stop publishing Marvel comic books?

TV’s Original SPIDER-MAN Breaks His Silence

Woman Sues Cap’n Crunch Because ‘Crunchberries’ Are Not Fruit

Now I Know: A Penny (or 2,500) For Your Misdeeds and The Man Who Liked Himself So Much, He Went to Jail and The Balloon Expedition to the North Pole That Was a Bust and LEGO’s Grayscale Color War

MUSIC

Sheila E. Stands Up for Freedom in ‘Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America’

Pachelbel’s Canon in D, scrolling score

Rubber Soul

Back Alley Oproar

i got music, part iii: i like my hands (and will not cut them off)

Food and home

Expect something major to break in the first year.

homer-simpson doughnutsY’ know I have several Ask Roger Anything questions, but these from SamuraiFrog struck my fancy:

What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of donuts? And if you don’t like donuts, what is your favorite pastry? And if you don’t like pastry… you’re no fun.

Thank goodness I am fun! There’s a place right across the street from where I work called Cider Belly Donuts. I try to go only once a week. I get a maple, usually. Historically, donut-wise, I generally will go for the glazed first.

I’m not that fond of filled donuts, usually because I bite into them and hit some dry donut when I wanted the jelly. I’m also not crazy about powdered donuts, although Spaulding Krullers, from my growing up days, was miraculous in that the powder did not come off.

BTW, my spellcheck does not like the word “donut”; it prefers the word “doughnut.” Anything that prefers a spelling with THREE silent letters IN A ROW is REALLY no fun!

Are you a coffee drinker?

No, I’ve never acquired the taste. And here’s my major pet peeve: food entities that do not segregate their pitchers for coffee and tea. I went to a wedding once, and the reception was catered by a well-known local establishment. The food was lovely. But I had some tea, and I could tell INSTANTLY that the carafe had contained coffee in the past. Coffee-laced tea is VILE.

I should drink tea more often.

What’s your ideal breakfast? What’s your usual breakfast?

The ideal breakfast is pancakes, two fried eggs, and sausage. My usual breakfast is cold cereal, for which I mix two or three non-pre-sweetened items, such as Cheerios, shredded wheat, and raisin bran.

My wife inherited a house. What’s something she should know about homeownership?

I don’t know if you’ll be living there. Regardless:

1. Take care of the outside so that the neighbors don’t complain. Mow the grass periodically. (Or hire goats; I’m in favor of hiring goats.) It generates goodwill amongst your fellow homeowners.

2. To that end, I know it’s your house, but try not to paint it chartreuse.

3. Keep the walk shoveled. It snows in Illinois – assuming the house is there – and S-P-R-I-N-G is a lousy snow removal strategy. Maybe you can barter a service. Your wife’s a great artist, and you are smart and very detail-oriented.

4. Expect something major to break in the first year. For my wife’s first house, it was the water heater. For us, it was the clothes dryer; those hanging racks all over the bedroom got old very quickly.

5. If you’re not handy, find someone who is. Because you may not be able to afford to fix certain things, but some items – like a sewer pipe that threatened our basement and cost $3500 we did not have to dig up our front yard to repair – you can’t afford NOT to fix.

6. It’s never finished. The first thing my bride said when we bought the house is that we needed to update our kitchen. We moved in 2000; it hasn’t happened. Oh, we got a new kitchen faucet, the only thing we could afford the first year when my spouse was a grad student. We got a new floor because the old one was treacherous, and a new dishwasher, which I HATE – loading the silverware is a chore -and a new refrigerator.

But the aforementioned sewer pipe, and a new roof, a new front porch (lest someone put his/her foot through it – it WAS that bad), a new shed (the old one leaked, and was falling down), and FINALLY, a new bathroom, has precluded fixing the kitchen.

What’s your favorite newspaper comic strip ever?

I have books on Krazy Kat, Pogo, and other strips from before my time. I own collections about Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and a few others.

But I have the first four complete Doonesbury anthologies. I LOVED those early strips. I still read it in the paper, not nearly with the same passion. But I don’t think I read ANY strip these days with anything approaching a similar compulsion.

What was something nostalgic for you until you revisited it and the nostalgia wore off?

My 10th high school reunion rather sucked, although it was salvaged by the after-party.

I remember a guy named Charlie, whose hairline changed a lot in a decade. I didn’t recognize him, and he got all offended. Ten years was not enough time to get over all the petty BS of high school.

I went to my 32nd HS reunion and it was MUCH better. But I’m just not that nostalgic. Part of it is that I forget. “Do you remember the time…?” The answer is, generally, “No.”

I DO KNOW West Side Story isn’t as good a movie as I remember – it’s too long and too slow – but the music is SO good, I don’t care.