I always wanted to be a political activist (Or, can someone recommend a good pair of vegan walking shoes?)

I don’t usually post on the blog two days in a row, but I have a lot on my mind, as do many of us. My blogpost from yesterday (Why isn’t there any tofu in The Hunger Games?) got lost in the excitement of the US elections, but I did happen to mention the similarity between a Trump presidency (gag) and The Hunger Games. I hope I’m wrong.

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While there is a part of me that wants to flee the country (any Norwegian language tutors out there?) or just pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for four years, the rest of me is looking for motivation to keep moving forward and keep working for change in the world. My kind of change, not his.

In order to get myself moving today, I’m making a mental list of all of the reasons it’s still a world worth fighting for and things I have to be grateful for:

Kittens.

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The sun is shining today where I live.

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I live in a blue state.

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I have a job that I love.

 

I have a roof over my head.

I know many people who feel like I do and we aren’t going to spend four years sitting on our asses crying and complaining; we’re going to stand by our commitment to make the world a better place.

Did I mention kittens?

 

There are plenty of books to read when I do want to sit on my ass and cry.

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I have plenty of healthy food options and water to drink. Don’t take that for granted! If we enter The Hunger Games, I live in one of the better districts.

 

Puppies (hey, I am not a speciesist). And squirrels. I love squirrels.

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Coffee. Gonna need lots of it!

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Chocolate. See coffee.

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And I live in a country where I am (at least for now) able to disagree, dissent, protest. People around the world give their lives for that right. And I plan to exercise it.

So, anyone got that recommendation for a good pair of vegan walking shoes? I am going to need them for the protests I’ll be going on.

And again, did I mention kittens?

 

As always, peace and hugs.

Why isn’t there any tofu in The Hunger Games?

I figure I won’t survive any kind of zombie apocalypse. Not even sure I’d want to!

I’d try to save my pets, but really I’d be a goner.

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Don’t think I won’t…

And the dystopian future of The Hunger Games? Definitely not my cup of almond milk latte.

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I’m a peaceful person who spends most of my waking hours (and sleeping too sometimes) surrounded by cats and dogs and visions of sugar plums (if they were made of dark chocolate).

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Not me, but it could be!

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I have been a vegan for about 1-1/2 years, vegetarian before that since 1995 and on and off vegetarian for years since about 1975. A teenage phase at the time maybe, but it did eventually stick. I’m also a very non-confrontational, shall we say pacifist, introvert with people-pleasing tendencies. I would not survive the arena or the zombie horde.

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Not in The Hunger Games, anyway.

The only thing vegan I can recall from The Hunger Games is the nightlock berries that will kill you in a gruesome way if ingested. What is author Suzanne Collins’ problem with fruits and vegetables, anyway?

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Premiere Of Liongate's
Suzanne Collins, where is the tofu in The Hunger Games?!

So why have I been obsessed with reading the trilogy of The Hunger Games books recently?

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As I have mentioned before (City of Oakland, You Suck! (Or, a Tale of a Valiant Fight against a Parking Ticket), part of me wants to be a warrior like Katniss, as long as I get to be the Jennifer Lawrence version.

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I’ll pretend she’s aiming at a block of tofu.
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Vegan Hunger Games humor.

Maybe because of the political climate right now, I do have a certain fear of the United States turning into a country like Panem, ruled by a President Snow style dictator.

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I grant you that Donald Sutherland is much better looking than the other Donald.
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But there is a similarity…

Check out the post by Margot Harris on  Distractify:

10 Reasons President Snow and Donald Trump are basically the same person.

Or maybe it’s for the same mysterious reason that I watch shows like Making a Murderer, or that seemingly normal people like horror movies. It’s disturbing, yet we can’t stay away. They access some part of our emotions that perhaps makes us feel better about our own lives. I don’t know.

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I also like sad songs and melancholy singer songwriters. And movies that make me cry? Yes, please!

From left, the earliest movies I can think of that made me cry: All Mine to Give (1957), The Yearling (1946), and Shenandoah (1965). I watched a lot of late night television when I was a growing up in the 60s and 70s.

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Tom La Brie, host of La Brie’s Night Comfort Theatre on Sacramento television in the 1970s. He owned a waterbed store.

And of course, by the time I was watching Tom La Brie’s late night movie choices, I was in my first vegetarian phase. Which brings me back to tofu. It’s delicious! All you tofu haters out there, have you ever even eaten tofu?

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But maybe I would survive the zombie apocalypse precisely because I eat tofu! Hmmm. Guess what happened when I Googled vegan and zombie?

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There is even a Vegan Zombie website, blog and cookbook!

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Vegan Zombie cookbook

Theories about vegan survival in the zombie apocalypse abound. Some are more humorous than others.

So I am going to keep eating my tofu and hoping for peace so I don’t have to find out whether I make it in that dark future.

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Hugs, y’all.

City of Oakland, You Suck! (Or, a Tale of a Valiant Fight against a Parking Ticket)

I don’t get angry very often these days. I used to be more moody and volatile but I generally present a sunny disposition to the world.

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Just call me Little Mary Sunshine. Only Genevieve, not Mary. It’s my name.
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My angst years have given way to my rose-colored glasses days.

But the City of Oakland has succeeded in crossing a line and getting me riled up. I’m as mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore!

Yes, this is about a parking ticket. I am a law-abiding citizen. I pay my taxes. I have never been pulled over by the police. I return library books by the due date and if I don’t I happily pay the fines. I dot my i’s and cross my t’s. I PAY TO PARK WHEN IT IS REQUIRED.

Monday, Otober 10, 2016 was a Federal holiday for Columbus Day. Where I live, the holiday is celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day. I’m fine with that. Monday is a day off for me anyway; my weekends are Monday/Tuesday in my new job.

columbus-day2indigenous-peoples-day-posterI did try to put money in the parking meter just down the street from Ultimate Grounds Coffee on Park Boulevard. I inserted my debit card but the meter wasn’t taking money. Then I saw the Meter Holiday sticker. Well, it seemed clear to me. The machine was telling me that I didn’t need to pay. BUT I WOULD HAVE IF REQUIRED.

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All I wanted was a chance to relax over coffee with my friend Ann.

Ann was the one who noticed the City of Oakland Parking Patrol out writing tickets. So we ran outside to talk to the rather grumpy gentleman. He walked down to where he had already ticketed my car. We showed him the meter with the sticker. He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t get the day off so as far as he was concerned it wasn’t a meter holiday. But he did suggest I send photos of the meter sticker to the City of Oakland with my online submission for a wrongfully issued ticket. Which I did, right away.

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Right there between Labor Day and Veteran’s Day.
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October 10, 2016. Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day.

Yesterday, I received in the mail (how primitive, snail mail) the decision that the ticket was properly issued and valid.

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Properly issued? Valid?

Now this is the part that really gets me–in order to file an appeal, I have to pay the ticket, then have a hearing, then, if I am vindicated, get a refund. I think they are counting on me not having the time or gumption to fight it. They bet wrong!

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They’ve pushed me over the edge!

It’s really not about the $58. Yes, it’s a lot of money for me. I don’t make a whole lot more than minimum wage working in animal rescue. I’m in it for the psychic rewards, not the material ones. This is what my work days are like.

 

I could do a lot with $58. Donated to an animal shelter, it would do a lot of good for the animals: toys, food, microchips, towels, blankets, there’s always need.

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So I am going to fight tooth and nail for the $58.

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City of Oakland, watch out. You don’t know who’s coming for you! My inner warrior has been unleashed and she is a mighty force. At least I think she is; it’s my first time meeting her. I’m picturing Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.

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Or Melissa McCarthy in Ghostbusters. Whatever.

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Who you gonna call? Me, that’s who! I just have to see if I have postage stamps because it’s a mail hearing. Snail mail. Sigh.

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Is there a cure for earworms?Or, Help! I Need Somebody…

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I have what is arguably one of the stupidest pop songs EVER written lodged so firmly in my brain right now that I am on the verge of scheduling myself for brain surgery to have that place where earworms go and NEVER DIE surgically removed.

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Looks like earworms were particularly bad in the late 1940s.

By earworm, I mean the “musical” kind, not the kind on The Twilight Zone that really eat your brain.

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Right now, I’d rather have that kind. Because then I might finally have SILENCE from the insipidness that is the song Midnight at the Oasis (David Nichtern, 1972, performed ENDLESSLY by Maria Muldaur).

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In case you are lucky enough never to have heard this song:

Midnight at the Oasis

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows painting our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven’s holding a half-moon
Shining just for us
Let’s slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
Till the evening ends
You don’t have to answer
There’s no need to speak
I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik

I know your Daddy’s a sultan
A nomad known to all
With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him
Jump at his beck and call
But you won’t need no harem, honey
When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
Till the evening ends
Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows painting our faces
And traces of romance in our heads

No, it’s not Shakespeare, it’s not T.S. Eliot, it’s not Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan. It’s not even Dr. Suess. It’s just BAD. No offense, David Nichtern. And I am sure you and Maria Muldaur did quite well from this song. Can you invest the money in a cure for earworms, PLEASE?

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David Nichtern, probably a perfectly nice man, but I will never forgive him.

I have NO IDEA why this song has been on an endless loop in my head for 4 long days (and sleepless nights). It is not on the playlist on any of my devices, except for the hard drive that is my tormented brain. I am happy to share:

This is one of the images that came up when I Googled “friendly cactus”; it makes me laugh. That’s good.

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I don’t listen to the radio much at all anymore. My listening of choice for drives longer than 5 minutes is whatever audiobook I have going. Currently, it is book two of The Hunger Games. If there is a connection, I have no idea what it might be.

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If I do listen to the radio, at home it’s more likely to be NPR and in the car, the dial is set to, I hate to admit it, I Heart 80s.

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I am much more of a 10,000 Maniacs girl than an anything-1973 girl.

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My gift to you:

Yes, there was good music in 1973 (Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night, Dr. John, Pink Floyd…). But I was 12 years old in 1973. The music I remember is more like Tony Orlando and Dawn, Helen Reddy, Karen and Richard Carpenter. And Maria Muldaur and her blasted camels and friendly cacti.

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The earworm phenomenon can happen with music you love, yes. But that gets to be its own kind of torment. The last time this happened to me in a really bad way was with the beautiful Damien Rice song The Blower’s Daughter (aka I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You).

The Blower’s Daughter (Damien Rice, 2001)

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky

I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes

And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We’ll both forget the breeze
Most of the time
And so it is
The colder water
The blower’s daughter
The pupil in denial

I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes off you
I can’t take my eyes

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off you
I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off you
I can’t take my mind off you
I can’t take my mind
My mind, my mind
‘Til I find somebody new

Please listen; click here:

I already had a thing for Damien Rice and was playing O (on CD, it was back in the day of ancient technology like compact discs) a lot.

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I love a good brooding singer-songwriter.

Then in 2004 I saw the movie Closer. Supposedly the stars of the movie are Julia Roberts and Jude Law. But I think the movie belongs to Clive Owen and, most of all, Natalie Portman. She broke my heart in that movie.

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The opening scene:

haunted me for days. And the beautiful song lodged itself quite snugly in the deep, dark part of my brain where earworms live and it would not shut up. I started to worry about my mental health. I started to hate Damien Rice. Not really, but I would’ve liked some peace. I didn’t get any sleep. But at least it’s a good song!

Now, Midnight at the Oasis. It is not a good song. I have tried replacing the earworm with another, but no worm so far has been able to defeat it. In the arm-wrestling contest (if worms had arms), Maria Muldaur beats Damien Rice every time. I need an intervention.

So I am going to bring in the heavy hitters. First up, Todd Rundgren. Here:

he is in a 1973 clip performing Hello, It’s Me (1968, released in 1972), one of my favorites and one whose earworminess I can attest to.

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Hello it’s me,
I’ve thought about us for a long, long time,
Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong,
There’s something here that doesn’t last too long,
Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine.

Seeing you, or seeing anything as much as I do you,
I take for granted that you’re always there,
I take for granted that you just don’t care,
Sometimes I can’t help seeing all the way through.

It’s important to me
That you know you are free,
‘Cause I never want to make you change for me.
Think of me,
You know that I’d be with you if I could
I’ll come around to see you once in a while
or if I ever need a reason to smile
And spend the night if you think I should.

It’s important to me
That you know you are free,
‘Cause I never want to make you change for me.
Think of me,
You know that I’d be with you if I could
I’ll come around to see you once in a while
or if I ever need a reason to smile
And spend the night if you think I should.
Sometimes I thought it wasn’t so bad.
Sometimes I thought it wasn’t so bad.
Sometimes I thought it wasn’t so bad.

Maybe Todd can finally bring Maria down off the throne. If not, I guess I’ll just ride my camel off into the desert, like Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, toward that oasis with the friendly cactus.

Peter O'Toole In 'Lawrence Of Arabia'
Peter O’Toole with his camel in a scene from the film ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’, 1962. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)