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Imagine this:

You've just found out you're pregnant.  Your hormones are all over the place, you're nauseated all the time, food doesn't taste good, and you can barely make it past 7:30 pm before you're falling asleep sitting upright on the couch.

Sounds like a lot of fun, right?  Let's keep going.

Not only are you pregnant, you're a non-traditional student (aged 29) and just started your second semester back at college.  It's really important that you do well, and since you're majoring in English, you think a class on Charles Dickens might be just the thing for you.

Then you start reading Bleak House and Nicholas Nickelby, and wonder why you thought this was a good idea.  "Bleak" is now forever associated with feeling nauseated, flat, and tired.

Finally, you also work full time, so your Dickens class is from 6-9:30 pm.  Your professor, though really nice, is also a boring lecturer and has a habit of turning the lights out to show scenes from some of the movie adaptations of Dickens' books.  It's embarrassing, but you fall asleep in class most of the time.

Christmas was a few days ago.  You probably read or watched A Christmas Carol.  It's traditional, quite possibly one of Dickens' most well-known stories, and you're wondering how in God's name I could possibly not like Charles Dickens.

I'm sure you guessed that I was the pregnant, bored student reading Dickens too late at night.  Maybe it's unreasonable to not like an author because of these types of associations.  True.  I've thought of that.

Maybe the most important reason I dislike is this: he prattled.  Why say something in fifty words when you could write it in 500?  Over and over and over again.  In the same book.

I adore a long book.  I have several books on my shelves that are at least 500 pages, and some of them are 1,000 or more.  It's not the length of the books that matters, it's that the story is actually being advanced by all of those words filling the pages.  J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, and Victor Hugo are all verbose, but when they could write something in fifty words, they wrote something in fifty words.

Dickens needed a good editor.

Dickens sucks.

I hope you've enjoyed the "Things I don't like" series.  It was fun to gripe about silly things instead of politics.  Any thoughts or comments on this series?  Is there a series of ideas you'd like to see me explore in 2017?  Please let me know in the comments.

This month's crazy thing I dislike is another movie: The Sound of Music.

When I was little, TSoM was shown every year during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, I think on CBS.  When we were smaller, my brother and I would sit together in our dad's arm chair and watch it.  I don't ever remember my parents sitting down with us to watch it.  I don't know if one of us chose it or if one of our parents turned it on for us.  What I distinctly remember thinking every single time I watched it was, "Isn't there anything better on tv right now?  Why do we have to watch this again?"

In hindsight, it was probably the most intelligent thing on tv, as these were the days before we had cable.  The pickings were slim back then.

Now when I'm faced with the commercials for the yearly showing of this classic, this is what I sing:

the hills are alive

"How do you not like an entire state?" Jeff asked me.

"I mean, come on, it's OHIO," I replied.

I will admit that of all the dislikes I have in this series, this one is probably the most irrational of the bunch.  I have only been to Toledo, and of those three times, two were in the middle of winter.  First of all, Toledo is not a winter wonderland at the beginning of January; it is a harsh, bitter land of never-ending cold and despair.  It's also an industrial hell.  Industrial landscapes have always seemed really dismal and bleak to me, and Ohio from Cincinnati to Toledo is a lot of empty space with spots of bleak industrial hell holes.

The other time I went to Toledo was in May, and it rained all weekend.  Imagine a gray sky to highlight the gray of all the industrial-looking buildings.  Yuck.

I'm sure Ohio is lovely and that the people who live there are quite nice, but honestly, I never want to go there again to find out.  And I live in the state that elected Brice Rauner as governor, so you'd think anywhere would be better than here.  But no.  Ohio, this is my space.  That is your space.  Don't invade my space and I promise I won't invade yours.

I can hear all of you right now: how the hell do you not like art? Ohmygod, you're what's wrong with this world!

Now that I've sucked you in, let me explain.  I love looking at art.  Anything done in watercolors makes me unbelievably happy.  A friend of mine gave me a piece of art she'd made with red and gold leaves on an ivory background in a driftwood-type frame.  Liam and I have decorated his room with different drawings and paintings he has made since he was about three.  If I had my way, I'd have way more art hanging on my walls.

But creating art?

In fourth grade, we had to make those pictures where you colored a white sheet of paper in lots of different colors, then color a really thick layer of black over the colors, then make the picture by scraping the black crayon off the paper in any design.  I was bored.

When I was in first grade, I remember coloring in a Barbie coloring book one day before school.  I was bored.

In eighth grade, we had to do negative space drawings of a fern.  Have you ever tried to draw negative space?  It's a pain in the ass.  I remember getting really frustrated with it and wondering "what's the point?"

When I reached high school, we had to take at least two years worth of fine arts.  I chose chorus over art class.

I don't know if it's the repetitive motion of art, or if my brain just isn't wired that way, but trying to draw, color, paint, or sculpt makes me nuts.  I get bored after about twenty minutes.

Adult coloring books are wildly popular right now.  I have several friends who love to post pages they've colored on Facebook.  They say coloring is therapeutic.

In November 2015, we made a road trip to St. Louis and stopped at Dick Blick on the way home.  Liam loves drawing, coloring, and painting, and he needed more art supplies like I need another ear piercing, but he bought some anyway.  Since I love watercolors so much, I bought some watercolor paper and watercolor pencils.  I hadn't ever used the pencils before, so Liam showed me a couple of ways they could be used and I began to color.

Twenty-five minutes later, I remembered why I don't color.  I don't like it.  It's not therapeutic for me.  It's just boring.

I admire those of you who create art in any form.  You have the patience of saints and buttloads of talent.  Sometimes I wish I had that talent.  Then I just laugh at myself and go back to my book.

pablo

July here in the northern hemisphere is grilling weather, and steak is the King of the Grill.

Before I became a bad vegetarian, I used to like steak, and when I first quit eating meat, I craved steak almost daily.  The first few years, I really started to hate grilling season because Jeff would put hamburgers or brats on the grill and I could smell them, but I wouldn't eat them.

After I'd been a vegetarian for about six or so years, we were out to dinner somewhere--Alexander's, maybe--and Jeff was eating a really nice steak.  It looked wonderful and smelled delicious, so I asked him if I could have a bite of it.  He consented and cut a small piece for me to try.

It had no flavor.  It was bland.

I said so to Jeff.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind.

Since then, I've tried bites of steak every once in a while with the same result.

I know y'all like steak, and logically, I get that.  I used to like it too.  I used to crave it.  But now when I think of beef, especially steak, all I can think of is that it's just dry and flavorless.  Blech.

I'm 42, and I've not yet really learned how to drink alcohol like an adult.  Back in February I talked about how I don't like red wine.  But I don't like most white wines either.  I tolerate them a little better then reds, but not by much.

When we were first married, Jeff had me try different drinks with marginal success.  I think White Zinfandel was the first attempt.  The first sip was sweet enough that I could do a second and maybe even a third swallow, but after that, it was too dry for my tastes.  I kept trying from time to time, but never really acquired a taste for it.

Me trying Chardonnay for the first time was a disaster for my tongue but made Jeff laugh quite a bit.

After we'd been married several years, he brought home a Riesling and told me it was a sweeter white wine.  The first sip wasn't too bad, and I could get through a few more swallows without making funny faces or needing a drink of water.  However, it was more difficult for me to get through a full glass of it.  I managed, but just barely.  And then we'd have almost a full bottle of Riesling left that would remain undrunk because neither of us wanted it.

Fortunately, someone had the good sense to have me try Saracco, a sparkling Moscato, a few years after that.  Success!  It was sweet, bubbly, and light.  It didn't have a lot of alcohol in it.  It didn't taste like vinegar or sour grapes!  Hurray.

After that I tried a still Moscato and liked it too.

Before you think I've solved my wine-drinking problem, you need to see this:

moscato

Yes, this is a picture of three unopened bottles of Moscato.  I've had all of them for at least a year, and two of the bottles may have been in the pantry for about three years.  I took one of them out of the refrigerator, where it has been for about three months because I thought I might have a glass.  Three months ago.  And I still haven't opened it yet.

What's worse is that last week we went to dinner and I ordered a glass of moscato.  It wasn't a very good moscato, and I had trouble drinking all four ounces of wine.

And this, my friends, is why I will never be a wine connoisseur.  Or even a wine snob.  Or probably even a proper adult.  Oh well.

 

ETA: If you're viewing this in Safari or Firefox, the picture of the wine bottles is upright, as it should be.  If you're reading this in Chrome, the picture of the wine bottles is sideways.  My camera was oriented the correct way when I took the picture.  I can only conclude that Chrome hates me.

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I turned thirteen in 1987, a year after Top Gun was released.  The only other movie I'd seen with Tom Cruise was The Outsiders, and I watched it mainly because I'd read the book first ("Stay gold, Ponyboy.")

I didn't see Top Gun in the theater, but we rented it for my birthday party.  While some of my friends were making googley eyes at Tom Cruise, I was unimpressed.  I didn't care for Maverick and really wanted Iceman to beat him senseless.

Something about Cruise just rubs me the wrong way.  Part of it is that smug or cocky men really bother me.  I know he's an actor, but it seems like every time he has a new movie coming out, something is written about him that only reinforces my image of him as smug.

And then there was the incident in 2005 when he publicly criticized Brook Shields for taking anti-depressants for postpartum depression.  And then he criticized all people who are on anti-depressants for anything, as if we are weak for being mentally ill.  He put his own beliefs ahead of science and medicine.  And yes, he apologized to Ms. Shields, but have his beliefs about mental illness changed?  Since his beliefs are based on his religion, my guess is that they haven't.

I could be very wrong.  But smug men who think they know about women's health better than women don't generally change much in that respect.

Needless to say, I'm not a fan.

How is this funny?  How are any Dilbert comics funny?  Or is funny even the point?

I have a pretty good sense of humor.  Calvin and Hobbes is still my favorite comic strip.  Monty Python's Meaning of Life makes me laugh every single time I watch it. ("Fishy, fishy, fishy, fish!")  Sheldon Cooper geeking out will always be funny. ("Do you know what I can do with Leonard Nemoy's DNA?!?!")

I've never found Dilbert funny.  At all.

Jeff has tried to get me to laugh at strips here and there over the years, and when I just look at him like the whole thing is completely stupid, he says, "Oh, come on! That was funny!"

All I see when I read Dilbert is a comic strip that is way too much like real life at an office I used to work at.

What am I missing?

 

If you haven't noticed, I'm a girl.  So it only makes sense that I have a problem with misogynistic bullshit, right?  Right.

Rolling Stones, enter stage left.

Have you really listened to their songs?  I mean really listened?  The total disregard they have for women is apparent in every song I'm going to list here.  I'll start with "Under My Thumb" because it's the one that first made me say, "What the hell?"

It's down to me. The difference in the clothes she wears. Down to me, the change has come, She's under my thumb.... The squirmin' dog who's just had her day. Under my thumb A girl who has just changed her ways. It's down to me, yes it is The way she does just what she's told... Yeah, it feels alright  Under my thumb Her eyes are just kept to herself. Under my thumb, well I, I can still look at someone else.  It's down to me, oh that's what I said The way she talks when she's spoken to. Down to me, the change has come, She's under my thumb.

So basically, this dude has taken this girl and changed her into a total submissive.  He compares her to a squirming dog and says that he can look at any woman he wants, but she has to keep her eyes to herself.

Another delightful set of lyrics, from "Stupid Girl:"

Look at that stupid girl The way she powders her nose, Her vanity shows and it shows She's the worst thing in this world.... The way she talks about someone else
That she don't even know herself. She's the sickest thing in this world. Well, look at that stupid girl Well, I'm sick and tired And I really have my doubts. I've tried and tried But it never really works out.... She's the worst thing in this world. Well, look at that stupid girl. Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up.

So he thinks she's vain, doesn't know herself, a gossip, the sickest and worst thing in the world: dude, we get it.  You don't like her.  Do you have to make a whole song about it?

Honestly, I can only do one more set of lyrics because this is really pissing me off.  From "Brown Sugar" we get sexist and racist.  Joy:

Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields Sold in a market down in New Orleans. Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright Hear him whip the women just around midnight. Brown sugar how come you taste so good? Brown sugar just like a young girl should.

Please, tell me I don't have to go on.  OK, I know it's my blog and I don't have to go on.  Just, please, tell me I don't need to do any more to convince you. But if you do need more convincing, take a look at The Ten Most Sexist Rolling Stones Songs  over at Diffuser.

And please.  For the love of all the women in your life, quit listening to these guys.  Ugh.

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pablo

Jeff and I have been married almost twenty-three years.  At least once in each of those years, we have a conversation that goes something like this:

Jeff: Here, try this wine.

Me:  It's red wine.

Jeff: Just try it. :::hands me his glass of wine:::

Me: :::smells glass of wine, then takes a moderate sip:::  Eugh! ::makes horrible face and swigs water:::

Jeff: You didn't like that?  How do you not like that?

When other people find out I don't like red wine, the reactions span the range of blank looks to gushing about how red wine is wonderful, goes with everything, and how can you not like it?

It tastes like vinegar.  I don't understand how y'all can drink a full glass of something that tastes like vinegar.  I don't think God invented grapes for that purpose.