Histories: RUN AWAY!

Mamacita says:  I tell my students that words have histories, just as people do, and, just like people, some words have more complicated and even interesting and often disturbing histories than others.

We all have a history.

Our histories shape us, but sometimes the shaping is painful and unwelcome. I want my students to understand that they do not have to allow other people to shape them in uncomfortable and unwelcome ways. I want my students to know that nobody has a right to any part of them without explicit permission. Nobody. And I want my students to know that being a “tattletale” is sometimes the best thing to be, even though society tells us otherwise. Oh, and by “students,” what I mean is you. And me. All of us.

Stand tall, hit back, tattle, and name names.Don’t let anybody convince you that you don’t have the right to do so, or that nobody will believe you or listen. Somebody out there will. Keep telling until you find that person. Don’t let anybody talk you out of reporting it. People will try to scare you into silence. Speak out. Those who put that person above you are not people you want or need in your life. Run away from them. “Run away! Run away!”

Run away.

Even if it’s someone in your family.  Even if it’s a teacher, or classmate, or best friend, or sibling.  No matter who it is who’s touching you, run away.

As far away as you can get.

Quotation Saturday: The Arts

The Trump hat: clearly a work of art

Mamacita says:  Ah, the Arts.  Without them, we’d all spend our money on Flintstone mudflaps, gas station black velvet Elvises, Billy Ray Cyrus, Duck Dynasty fashion, Melania Trump anything, Donald Trump baseball hats, and anything with Lindsey Lohan, and think THAT was art.  Sadly, some people think so now.  (Be still, my achy breaky heart. . . .)

1.  Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands – and all you have to do is scratch it.  –Thomas Beecham (to a cellist)

2.  Pavarotti is not vain, but conscious of being unique.  –Peter Ustinov

3.  Wagner has lovely moments but awful quarters of an hour.  –Gioacchino Rossini

4.  Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o’clock.  After it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20.  –David Randolph

5.  All music is folk music.  I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.  –Louis Armstrong

6.  Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible as baseball in Italian.  –H.L. Mencken

7.  It is a pity that the composer did not leave directions as to how flat he really did want it sung.  –Anon.

8.  Mine was the kind of piece in which nobody knew what was going on, including the composer, the conductor and the critics.  Consequently I got pretty good notices.  -Oscar Levant

9.  Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.  –Frank Zappa

10.  “Classic.”  A book which people praise and don’t read.  –Mark Twain

11.  There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.  –G.K. Chesterton

12.  He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.  –Joseph Heller

13.  I don’t care what is written about me as long as it isn’t true.  –Dorothy Parker

14.  Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children.  Life is the other way round.  –David Lodge

15.  I’ve read some of your modern free verse and wonder who set it free.  –John Barrymore

16.  When I want to read a novel, I write one.  –Benjamin Disraeli

17.  Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.  –Raymond Chandler

18.  Critics are to authors what dogs are to lamp-posts.  –Jeffrey Robinson

19.  Yeats is becoming so aristocratic, he’s evicting imaginary tenants.  –Oliver St. John Gogarty

20.  What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?  –Gore Vidal

21  An incinerator is a writer’s best friend.  –Thornton Wilder

22.  I’ve just read that I am dead.  Don’t forget to delete me from your list of subscribers.  –Rudyard Kipling (writing to a magazine that had published his obituary a little too soon)

23.  Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales.  –Stephen Hawking

24.  I am the most spontaneous speaker in the world because every word, every gesture, and every retort has been carefully rehearsed.  –George Bernard Shaw

25.  It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you waggle your ears?  –J.M. Barrie (to H.G. Wells)

26.  The covers of this book are too far apart.  –Ambrose Bierce

27.  The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid stable business.  –John Steinbeck

28.  He directed rehearsals with all the airy deftness of a rheumatic deacon producing Macbeth for a church social.  –Noel Coward

29.  From the moment I picked your book up until the moment I put it down I couold not stop loaughing.  Someday I hope to read it.  –Groucho Marx

30.  An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.  -Benjamin Disraeli

31.  I have been commissioned to write an autobiography and I would be grateful to any of your readers who could tel me what I was doing between 1960 and 1974.  –Jeffrey Bernard

32.  I never read the life of any important person without discovering that he knew more and could do more than I could ever hope to know or to do in half a dozen lifetimes.  –J.B. Priestley

33.  They told me how Mr. Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right.  –Winston Churchill

34.  The humour of Dostoievsky is the humour of a barloafer who ties a kettle to a dog’s tail.  –W. Somerset Maugham

35.  The Compleat Angler is acknowledged to be one of the world’s books.  Only the trouble is that the world doesn’t read its books; it borrows a detective story instead.  –Stephen Leacock

36.  If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism.  If you steal form many, it’s research.  –Wilson Mizner

37.  Accuracy to a newspaper is what virtue is to a lady; but a newspaper can always print a retraction.  –Adlai Stevenson

38.  My favorite poem is the one that starts “thirty days hath September” because it actually tells you something.  –Groucho Marx

39.  There are only two styles of portrait painting:  the serious and the smirk.  –Charles Dickens

40.  Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing.  –Ralph Richardson

41.  The play was a great success, but the audience was a total failure.  –Oscar Wilde

42.  She took her curtain calls as though she had just been un-nailed from the cross.  –Noel Coward (of Edith Evans)

43.  We are paid to have dirty minds.  –John Trevelyan  (film censor)

44.  Shoot a few scenes out of focus.  I want to win the foreign film award.  –Billy Wilder

45.  There was laughter in the back of the theatre, leading to the belief that someone was telling jokes back there.  –George S. Kaufman

46.  Try the cock, Albert.  It’s a delicacy, and you know where it’s been.  –Helen Mirren, at dinner in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover

47.  I grew up with six brothers.  That’s how I learned to dance – waiting for the bathroom.  –Bob Hope

48.  I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions – the curtain was up.  –Groucho Marx

49.  A wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad.  –Sam Goldwyn

50.  Days off.  –Spencer Tracy, when asked what he looked for in a film script.

Old-School Blogger Here

Mamacita says:  Old school?  Me?  Yes. Thirteen years ago, in April of 2004, a former student told me that I should start a blog.  “You’ve got such a lot to say about the world,” he said.  “Who cares what I think about the world?” I replied. “Lots of people would,” he said.


I couldn’t imagine that.  I’m nobody.  However, Wes was an exceptionally wise person even back then, so in early May of 2004, Scheiss Weekly was born.   I still wondered if he was right. I was still nobody, and I still wondered if anything I had to say would be considered even remotely interesting to anybody else.

Since then, I’ve been to conferences all over the country, and spoken to crowds of people, both individually and on panels.  People seem to recognize me even before they see my name tag.  People tell me that such-and-such a post helped/spoke to them/influenced them, etc.  It’s really, really humbling.  And exciting.  And humbling. Who would have thought it?  Me, with a large readership and people who seemed to like me and take me seriously?  It’s like a dream.  The good kind, that comes true because you never dreamed it would be possible but it really did and you’re in shock and awe and Oz and Wonderland.  And Narnia and Hogwarts.  And the Tardis. And all the people who live in those places. And hanging out with people who knows what those places are, and who know who lives there.

Businesses found this blog, and liked my style.  Um, my writing style.  (My fashion style is liked by nobody, not even me, but I digress. . . .) (Oh, okay, I have no fashion style.  But I am one hell of a writer, and I know this social media stuff inside and out.  And I am good.)

People hired me, based on this blog, to represent their businesses online.  I love doing this, and I appreciate that trust more than words could ever express.  The clients I have now have become friends, and I would lie down in the road for them.  I use their goods and services and ideas myself, and everything I write about them is true.  But I digress again. . . .

Blogging is not dead.  It’s still alive.  It’s alive, and well, and thriving, and still as cool as it was in May of 2004.  It’s still a wondrous journey, and although I have no idea what the final destination might be, it’s the journey that’s the real experience, whether we’re headed to Disney World or Shoe World or Kroger’s or the moon or parts unknown.

I’ve met so many wonderful people during this journey.  Some of them are still virtual friends, while I’ve met many face-to-face, but I’ve also learned during these thirteen years that online friends can be as real as face-to-face friends.  Sure, there are creeps out there, but no more so than the number of creeps at the mall.

good and bad people online

I’ve learned not to be afraid of the world.  The world is actually pretty awesome, and it’s full of cool things and fantastic people.  Sure, there are fiery volcanic pits and treacherous waterfalls and cockroaches and tidal waves and tornadoes and school superintendents and vicious psychotic murderers and insane reality show morons who somehow become president and distracted underinsured drivers and fake friends who stab you in the back and people who lie, cheat, & steal, but there are also rainbows and sunsets and flowers and purring cats and awesome mothers and lifesaving dogs and Monk and clean sheets and cousins and people who are good, true friends.  The forever kind.  I have also learned, to my intense sorrow, that issues can cause some people to renounce friendship.  I would never do that to a friend, but I know now that there are people who do.

That I would still be here thirteen years after beginning this funky little blog is amazing to me, and yet, it’s also unthinkable to abandon it, as many are abandoning blogging for the shorter Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.  Oh, I’m on those, too, but this blog saved my soul alive thirteen years ago, and it’s done nothing but nourish me ever since. I am so grateful to the internet.  Really, I am.  It’s a world of wonderful people, a world that was always there, but we had no way of accessing it easily.  Now, we can travel anywhere, see anything, contact anyone, and work for a business that’s a thousand miles away, in our pajamas, at midnight.  We participate in the lives of people we could never have known before.  We watch their children grow up.  We know what they like best to eat.  We see pictures of their homes.  And they know us.

Thirteen years I’ve known this.  Before that, I was limited to a very small area, geographically and socially.  Now, there are no limits.

Thank you, dear readers, for making me feel special.  Thirteen years is as an eternity in the internet Hourglassworld, but somehow I don’t feel old when I’m here.  I’m happy when I’m on Scheiss Weekly.  I’m happy reading your comments.  I love visiting YOUR blogs. I love visiting with you on the other social media sites, too, but I don’t think anything could ever completely replace a blog.  In thirteen more years, I guess we’ll find out.

Also, I wonder if you really understand the title of this blog.  Scheiss Weekly.  Who speaks German? C’mon.  I tried to get Scheiss Daily, but somebody already owned it.  When I started writing here, I chose the title because it seemed like a pretty accurate and humorous description of what I did for a living: teaching in a public school.

That was in late April.  In early May, I wasn’t doing that any more.  For no fault of my own, I wasn’t doing that any more.

I was traumatized when I began this blog, and that is not an exaggeration. Thirteen years ago, I was traumatized, and I had been betrayed by people I had trusted, and my heart was broken and I was foundering, and the title reflected that.  I’m fine now, but the title keeps me humble.  And fairly sane, although my children might argue that fact.

Time marches on.  Time flies.  And yet, it really doesn’t.  Time stands still.  We march. With every blink of the eye, yes, and briefer even than that, our lives are moving ever swiftly towards their ends. It’s this middle that we must make the most of.  I am.  I hope you are, too.

Time flies

Here’s to thirteen more years.  At a time, anyway. A day at a time, and they add up to years.

I love you all.  Literally.

Politics and Me: The Opposite of a Love Story

Mamacita says:  I would really so much rather be known as a kind person, an educator, a nerdy science-y person, a person who loves people, and I believe that I am, as much as possible. I try, anyway. However, when it comes to politics, which I never used to concern myself about in the least – and that is not something I am proud of – I seem to be overcome by a need to try to get people to see the truth of what the beast in the White House genuinely is, to see what being undereducated and uninformed has done to us as a nation and as a now-ridiculed world power. One outweighs the other and as much as I try to stay out of it, I’m in. I still have many dear friends who are supporters of the current White House, but try as they will, they can’t seem to defend “it” without a comparison/contrast/mention of Clinton. They have no way of defending one except by putting down the other. If a president cannot be extolled or defended on his own prowess, what is he?

It’s more than important that people understand this. Please, my dears, think. Think without using the names of other people.

Think about this only in terms of that one person, the one with a tiny pudgy finger hovering over a red button. Leaving out all mention or consideration of anyone else, think. This is the educator and people-loving part of me beseeching you: think…

Rugby and Refs

Mamacita says:  When I was in college, I used to go to rugby games more because I loved the man who always said “God bless you, referee, you are badly in need of glasses” every time he disagreed with a calling, or whatever the proper name for a ref’s whistle-decree is, than for love of the game. Because there was no love of the game, just love for that gentle old guy and maybe for a player. Maybe. Also, we had to stand to watch because there were no seats because the was no stadium. Or seats. Not for rugby. But it had the half-blind refs we loved so much because we loved that guy, and after-game parties, which I will not tell you about because I’m too genteel.


Hoosier Persimmon Pudding and Weather Predictions

Mamacita says: Autumn is officially here, and it’s time to make persimmon pudding.  Most of you don’t live where there are persimmons, and I’m betting that many of you don’t even know what a persimmon is. That’s probably not your fault, because persimmons don’t grow in too many places; however, southern Indiana is a persimmon tree’s favorite home, and the trees grow healthy and prolific here. In this community, most people pick the persimmons 

Jane Goodwin, Scheiss Weekly, Mamacitaoff the ground and run them through a special grinder to make the pulp. We can also buy commercially frozen pulp at any grocery store here, but it’s not fit to eat that way, and it’s best to use pulp you made, yourself, or that someone else just made. It keeps in the freezer for several years. My fantastic and generous Cousin Carol gives me persimmon pulp, fresh from her parents’ back yard, and I make homemade bread for her family.  I think I get the better part of the deal.

That’s right.  In southern Indiana we just go out in somebody’s back yard and pick persimmons up out of the dirt.  They’re best that way, and we rinse them off before we grind them up.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Hoosiers use persimmon pulp for many delightful things, but the favorite by far is Jane Goodwin, Hoosier Persimmon Puddingpersimmon pudding. It’s a specialty. . . a delicacy, as it were, that you’ll seldom find outside the Midwest, and in southern Indiana, you’ll find the best of the best.

Hint: Don’t EVER taste a green persimmon, unless you like the sensation a blast of raw alum gives to your lips and tongue. Persimmons must be ripe before they can be used. VERY ripe. Asking someone you’re mad at to just “touch your tongue to this green persimmon for a second” is a fun, albeit cruel (depending on the age of the taster) trick to play on someone. Raw alum on the tongue. Yum. It’s a sensation vaguely akin to being turned inside out by the tongue.

On second thought, everybody should try that at least once. How else can you appreciate the fun of doing it to someone else?  It’s scientific.  Besides, until you try it, you won’t believe the sensation.  It’s really not easily describable.

By request (ask, and ye shall receive) here is my very own tried-and-true persimmon pudding recipe again. I’ve tweaked it over the years until it became perfection in a pan.

Hoosiers can be very protective and possessive of their persimmon pudding recipes, but I’m not. People always ask me for it, so here it is:

Jane’s Persimmon Puddingpersimmons

First of all, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. NO HOTTER.

Get out a very large bowl.

Put the following ingredients in it:

2 C. persimmon pulp (Use fresh or frozen; the canned stuff is terrible.)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 C sugar (I use Truvia)

1 C brown sugar (don’t use fake)  (It’s brown sugar, so there are no calories.)  (Shut up.)

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (don’t leave it out!!!!) (don’t use fake salt, either.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 C flour

2 1/2 C evaporated milk (not sweetened milk)

1/4 cup softened butter (not oil) (not margarine, either.)

Put everything in that large bowl and mix thoroughly. Use an electric mixer if you don’t think you can get it blended by hand. Get the lumps out.

Pour mixture into a large buttered baking pan.

Put the pan in the preheated oven. Set your timer for 60 minutes.

After the timer goes off, stick a toothpick in the center of the pudding. Clean? It’s done.

Let it cool just enough to slice. Most people like to top it with whipped cream. Non-Hoosiers often sprinkle nuts on it.

You can also add coconut or pecans or cocoa to the mixture, but then it’s not Hoosier Persimmon Pudding. Your call.

Oh, and by the way. . . the persimmon seeds are saying that it’s going to be a mild winter.  That’s what I said.  The persimmon seeds can predict winter weather.    Try it and see.. It’s as reliable as the weatherman and maybe more so.  At any rate, this method has been around a lot longer than the weatherman.

Persimmon seeds can predict winter weather. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Just to be on the safe side – no weather prediction is to be trusted -, be sure you put your snow shovel where you can grab it quickly.  Make sure everybody has warm coats and gloves.  If you put salt on your driveway or sidewalks, buy it now before the snow starts and the prices go up.  It’s also a good idea to make sure everybody at the office or factory or school or restaurant or whatever your place of business might be, knows the snow day policies.  I tell my students that if the weather conditions are dangerous, to stay home, no matter what the radio announcer is telling them the official stance is.  Nothing is worth a life.

However, if a student calls me at home and asks, I will always say “yes, come to class.”  Because they’ve been told how to find out and I didn’t take them to raise.  I also develop a mean streak when there’s a blizzard out there and someone phones me at 6 a.m. to ask me something that’s all over the radio AND on the syllabus AND was part of the lecture last week.

Oh, okay, I don’t really tell them that.  But I do snarl. At that hour of the morning, I can be very snarly.  How snarly?  I hope you never find out.