Consent Degree

Bullies surround us. Always. All of us, 100 percent. Accept it, you know it’s true, and choose your battles. Making dark jokes helps. Also, they’re not always on the prowl.

Two young antelopes spar or play in front of elephant
Credit: StockSnap

This isn’t about bobcats or coyotes. Although like humans, kitty cats and puppy dogs if the predator instinct remains strong and they’re given the chance play with their prey. Sometimes human bullies feel a need for something their victims have, but often enough it’s more gratuitous. While compulsion is strong, humans have more power of choice than other animals.

This is not to say all of us are victims AND all of us are bullies — maybe just latently cruel or maybe just sometimes. I don’t see that in myself and others. Some people are bullies, and the majority of us have to deal with that.

But 100 percent of us can do ugly things.

Among bullies, some are lifers. Sickos keep at it year after year. Others bully a few times or within a span of a few years — late childhood or early adulthood — then seem to retire from it.

Louis C.K.’s stand-up never has done much for me. The routines (culture, family, relationships) are more provoking than funny. But I relished his sitcom Louie. With overlapping plots and major and minor characters, he covered much of the same ground, with greater impact. Thus, I hope to someday see I Love You, Daddy, his film satire whose release got scuttled with his expose.

The hashtag #metoo has been a digital key this fall inspired by journalism reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual threats by famous or successful people. The victims in these cases often are not typical victims in terms of helplessness but at times ambitious and with early successes in their own right. What these victims have done best is bring the type of bullying that beset them — sexual — to light. Light, air, candor, specifics.

I read in social media the #metoo’s of people I know. If every person could in full confidence post #metoo, it’d be 100 percent. Surely every girl gets the talk from someone: Be careful with men. The threat’s universal. Continue reading

Positive Developments, at Gunpoint

Sign on Maple Street in the University of Arkansas, still up after Sept. 1, 2017. Ben Pollock photo

Shy of a Load: Guns, Memoir and Comedy

Sign on Maple Street in the University of Arkansas, still up after Sept. 1, 2017. Ben Pollock photo
Sign on Maple Street, University of Arkansas, still up Sept. 10, 2017.
Ben Pollock photo

It’s been nine days since guns became technically legal at Arkansas colleges and universities (and some other places) when carried by holders of enhanced concealed weapon state permits, and no one’s been shot on campus. That includes a major football game. Heck, professors already have assigned papers to write, books to read and problem sets to solve. Mixers have been held on weekend nights, and the hapless failed to, er, mix.

“Technically” is the key word.

Those folks need 8 more hours of “enhanced” training for campus concealed carry, in addition to the 6 now required for general carry. Good news: Training hasn’t begun, so no enhanced permits yet. The State Police began figuring out what’s to be taught Sept. 1, the same day the ASP was allowed to begin determining the other particulars of the new weapons laws. Better news: The officials have up to 120 days — that is, no later than Dec. 30, 2017 — to ink those regulations. Then people legally can begin wearing bulky jackets for another reason besides that it’s December.

Sign reading r'Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium - Home of University Tabletop SportsFortunately, the Legislature added an examption to continue weapons bans at sporting events. This makes me bulletproof as I am declaring my academic office an athletic facility. I could be threatened from the door of my table sports arena, but the shooter would be in big big trouble.

I’m rating this good news, what with natural disasters and divisive politics. There’s more to praise.


Yeah, as if my praise means anything in the greater concept of the world. So let’s herald approximately three other bits.

Sherman Alexie this summer published his latest, the memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. A memoir generally is autobiographic, but the “you” her is his mom, Lillian Alexie, so the book circles around their relationship. Continue reading

Q: WTF? A: Hi-dee Hi-dee Hi-dee Ho

“Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications director, is making the rounds on TV next week. Scaramucci will be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. Then he’ll appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS on Monday.” — CNN.com

Treble clef symbolFolks, here’s a story about Tony the Moocha’
He was the red-hot Scaramucc(a)
The roughest, toughest gym-ripped male
Ain’t no way is he gonna end up in jail

(Call and response chorus)
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi (hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi)
Whoa-a-a-a-ah (whoa-a-a-a-ah)
Hee-dee-hee-dee-hee-dee-hee (hee-dee-hee-dee-hee-dee-hee)
He-e-e-e-e-e-e-y (he-e-e-e-e-e-e-y)

Anthony Scaramucci
Anthony Scaramucci, Wikimedia Commons

Mooch took the call, sold stocks, his wife just gone
Fame’s ahead — what could go wrong
Left the Street named Wall for an Office that’s Oval
Won’t bury Caesar, but he packed a shovel

(Call and response chorus)
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi (hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi)
(Similar scat improv for lines 3 and 4) Continue reading

Crystal Clear Strategy

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — “All it takes is patience, Ben. When you’re right, sooner or later the world sees things your way,” Crystal Britches said of Fayetteville.

I set up an interview to hear what she thought of the football stadium’s new clear bag rule.

We were sitting on the steps of the Walton Arts Center, just renovated after 25 years of hard culture. We’d walked our lunches over from food trucks. I wondered how she’d keep from marring her usual transparent plastic pants on the white concrete then saw she was sitting on a scarf.

She spotted my glance.

“You know it’s to keep the slacks from abrasion, not cush’ for my tush, honey,” the elder stateswoman of progressive locals said. “I’m never out of shape. I spend 15 minutes at the barre in my den every morning, then of course yoga and meditate.”

Illustration of bags permitted at University of Arkansas football games
“Each ticketed fan is permitted to bring in only one clear bag and/or a small clutch purse. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, know which items are prohibited and avoid bringing a bag, if at all possible.”
University of Arkansas NewsWire

On Aug. 4, the University of Arkansas announced in the “Clear Bags Offer Razorback Fans New Game Day Flexibility” news release that conventional sacks, purses, packs and the like would be banned from Reynolds Razorback Stadium allowing only see-through bags and not too large at that. This flexibility begins with this coming football season.

Crystal is a former ballroom dancing champion, from eons before the TV contests, which she mocks. Indeed her legs are her finest physical attribute. We began to bond, in an eccentric aunty to gentleman way, upon my reporting on her in the aughts. I had told her my mother felt the same way, proud of her gams into her 80s. Mom did dress far more traditionally, after all she was a Fort Smith girl.

This wasn’t exhibitionism on the part of Crystal Britches. She still expected and got admiring looks — from all ages and several preferences — when she strolled through the Farmers Market on the Fayetteville Square on most Saturday mornings. But she held on to the decades-old theory of humidity improving skin tone and overall health.

How’s that? Think steam baths.

She figured out how she could live in steam for hours with plastic jackets and slacks. I’ve been covering her since 2008 in the Chronicles of Crystal Britches. Continue reading

What’s the Deal, Dill

Soup, cooled, is a smoothie. A smoothie warm is soup.

This blog in recent years has focused more on food. Those mainly have covered recipes. A few posts have explored the thinking, how my preferences developed.

Pureeing soups as a trend began the decade before last. They’re still hard to avoid. I like to see then eat a multitude of colors, textures and shapes. Can’t tell the carrots from the broccoli when you whiz everything down to pulp.

There are exceptions, like potato-leek soup. Both were among the first homegrown produce available at the Fayetteville Farmers Market weeks ago. Leeks pack a lot of onion flavor with little bite. Yet even the tender white part of the stalk is fibrous. Whirring up helps. Cooking in red lentils or adding canned white cannellini beans hide plant protein with a minute of an immersion stick blender, add creamy body, too.

Served at room temperature or cooler it’s called vichyssoise, oo-la-la. I spruced up leftovers with kale, simmered then re-pureed. That’s when I beheld a vegan green power smoothie.

I had been mocking smoothies all this time. I did enjoy Tropical Smoothie last year,  been meaning to go back.

) ) ) )

Jar of pickles illustration from openclipart.orgWhile no pickle freak, a jar in the fridge is handy for snacking. Finally finished that jar a while ago. It and the one before that though just weren’t as tasty, and they were from top companies, too.

Puckery cukes are tricky to find in my city’s new Whole Foods Market. What look like them are labeled “fermented cucumbers.” This no doubt is due to renewed interest in the benefits of kraut, kimchi and the like — as opposed to brining in salt or soaking in vinegar. But I sought a regular affordable reliable pickle.

Continue reading