Friday Faves: Trumpet Trees

It’s pretty warm in Florida right now. Last week, while nearly the entire rest lower 48 was digging out from under ice, we had a cool snap with high temperatures in the upper sixties. This weekend, it’s going to be even warmer, with temperatures in the 80s. I’m not really a fan of 80s in February, so I’m kind of looking forward to our next “cold” front.

With spring just around the corner (Can y’all believe March 1st only 3 days away?), there’s a familiar site emerging around these parts. Every time I walk outside or drive around town, I am treated to the dazzling spectacle of pink or golden trumpet trees in full bloom, and I love it.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Truth is, we won’t really transition into perpetual daily warm temperatures until May. Temperatures will continue to waffle up and down for the next couple of months. Right now, walks outside are still pleasant due to more breeze and slightly less humidity. So I’m taking this opportunity to enjoy the early signs of spring.

Happy Friday, All!

Friday Faves: My Anniversary Cake.

We’re celebrating our anniversary this week; 27 years and counting. We almost never buy one another anniversary gifts. We prefer instead to channel that money into having an enjoyable experience together. We have a nice dinner, maybe go spend one night in a nice hotel somewhere, etc. In fact, that’s almost always our modus operandi for every occasion except Christmas. We tend prize experiences over buying things that gather dust and take up space. Our kids usually just say, “Happy Anniversary!” and then promptly set about their day. In other words, it’s a low key event around here.

However this year, the most amazing food blogger you’ve never heard of decided to surprise us with a very delicious and very cute cake. It was a 6″ vanilla cake with boysenberry filling and a lemon buttercream frosting topped with blackberries and mint leaves.

Being grateful for the love, rather than worrying about the fact that eating cake cuts directly against my current fitness goals, was the challenge. I rose to it, and I’m glad I did because this was a really good cake. It was an original recipe, too, which made it taste even better.

Happy Friday, all!

Word Nerd Wednesday: Problematize

Yes. Apparently, problematize is a word. I don’t like this word, and I like its meaning and implications even less, but I don’t choose words here solely on the basis of how they make me feel. The goal here, if I can manage it, is to learn something along the way. For those of you already familiar with the word, indulge me in my ignorance, and I hope the combination of my snark and enlightenment don’t bore you to death.

Before we get into the implications of the word and why the concept makes my head ache, we should define the term. So here goes, from the Oxford English dictionary:



  • Make into or regard as a problem requiring a solution.

    Example: ‘he problematized the concept of history’

Maybe I’m over thinking this, but when I saw this word used, and gave a bit of thought to its implications,  it occurred that our entire social fabric has been torn in pieces precisely because of this tendency. It has permeated every sector of our society and culture. We have problematized everything and the result has been disastrous.

Everything is a problem now. The names of our founding fathers on schools and government buildings has been problematized. Being white has been problematized. Being black is a problem, as is being a woman, a man or a child. Being a Christian is a major problem to a lot of people.

The Cambridge dictionary blog even discussed whether dictionaries, words, or indeed, language itself, is problematic:

However, English is the language of a culture that does often associate the colour white with things that are pure, with no dirt or no faults – with being “as white as snow.” And the culture also often associates the colour black with bad things, so there are many idiomatic expressions that use these positive and negative senses of the words white and black. (For example, white knight, someone who buys a company to save it, and black knight, someone who tries to take over a business when the owner doesn’t want to sell it.)

Since ancient times, many human cultures have associated day/light/white with perfection and goodness, and night/dark/black with danger and evil. That is not itself a racist thing. What is racist is taking this association of whiteness with purity and blackness with evil, and applying it to people – when people who happen to be paler see themselves as better than people who happen to be darker, and then use their power to treat darker people unfairly or cruelly.

The use of the words white and black to describe people’s skin (and yellow and red, which are offensive, and brown, which is often now used in a positive way to include Latinx people) developed independently from the use of colour words in idioms. But idioms that didn’t originally have anything to do with perceived race feel, to many people, as though they do – particularly the ones that associate a colour with either purity or evil. So it really doesn’t matter where an idiom came from: what matters is how it makes our fellow humans feel when they hear it. It is perfectly possible to find other words and phrases to express our ideas so that we avoid offending people. The language is rich enough.

Note that despite starting out with a relatively sane explanation of meanings and context and calling some common sense to this increasingly senseless hand wringing over nothing, they eventually capitulate. It doesn’t matter that these words and phrases are completely devoid of racial overtones. it only matters that some people feeeeel as if they do. And that, is a problem.

That’s the thing about problematizing things. Ever-shifting standards that reflect the whims and emotions of whomever, whenever, is a never ending source of angst and grief. We really need to get off of this merry go round.

Truly, there are plenty of genuine problems to solve without problematizing the benign because we’re too lazy, unimaginative, and entitled to make the hard choices required to actually change things for the better.

True change requires that we change as individuals, and most Americans are fully invested in the lie that things will get better if they can force you and I to change, to their benefit of course, while they contribute nothing but opinions, supervision and Twitter activism.

Happy Wednesday?


Reel Talk: Run, Hide, Fight

One of my favorite conservative media outlets is The Daily Wire, which is run by YouTube commentator Ben Shapiro. His Daily Wire partner, Jeremy Boreing, is a former Hollywood guy and evangelical whose worldview simply didn’t mesh with the dominant Hollywood culture, so he left. One of their stated goals, besides championing free speech, is reconsidering the conservative decision to cede the culture to the left.

One of the ways they propose to rectify this, is by using their knowledge and understanding of the film industry to produce feature films. Their first release, Run, Hide, Fight was recently released through the Daily Wire. Viewers lauded it on Rotten Tomatoes, while critics panned it. Politics has indeed infected every facet of American life. The official trailer is below, and my thoughts about the film will follow.

My general conclusion is that as a garden variety shoot ’em up action film, it was pretty well done. The acting was good, and the stunts and effects were done well enough also. It is a very violent, gruesome film, so be warned. The premise is that disgruntled students plan an elaborate armed heist to take control of their rural high school, and kill as many students as possible in the process.

The hero, 18-year-old Zoe, played by Isabel May, is an angry troubled girl, still reeling from the loss of her mother. Despite her father’s best efforts, she is impossibly hard to reach, and is basically ticking off time until she graduates, goes off to college, and leaves their home town for good. One of the things Zoe has allowed her father to teach her is how to hunt, shoot, and respect nature.

I’ll be honest. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, it bothered me that the hero was a girl. Not because I have an inherent problem with the hero being a girl, but because I hated that The Daily Wire felt the need to make the hero female. I understood why they did it, so I accepted it, but this was a lost opportunity. One of the ways -in my opinion- you fight back in the culture war is not only by making high quality films, but by using those films to challenge the dominant narrative. Since men have been all but eliminated as heroes in the minds of most movie watchers, making the hero a boy would have been to toss a live round right back into the middle of the current trend.

I’ll wrap this review up with another missed opportunity, but I think it’s fair to point out some of the things that I liked about the film. The acknowledgement that most school lock down plans put students more in harms way, not less, was subtle but unmistakable. The jabs at the social media juggernauts that often drive people over the edge, motivating them to do less than honorable acts solely for the sake of an audience, was also astute.

The other missed opportunity I noticed was to not to jump on the “nearly every couple in the film is interracial” bandwagon. Before I go farther, I want to be clear. I have absolutely no objections to interracial couplings. I am a firm believe in vetting potential suitors for faith, character, and work ethic before ethnic background unless that is something of supreme importance to you. If it is, I respect it. I truly just do not care about that one way or the other. I am a firm believer in the family of God trumping temporal characteristics.

However, I also don’t like being propagandized and pushed to view something as desirable and normative when it is neither strongly desired nor normative for most people. Don’t tell me what to think! Again, since the entirety of Hollywood is on this particular bandwagon, I was a bit disappointed that the Daily Wire guys didn’t make a conscious choice not to go there. Why not have the captain of the football team asked the blonde head cheerleader to prom, in more of a throwback to the days when films were a little less overtly political? Why does Zoe’s love interest have to be a black kid? I didn’t dislike the characters, but I was looking for this film to back away from current trends, not lean into them. I don’t see any other way to gain ground in the culture war, for those who purport to care about that.

Overall, it was a decent film, if you don’t mind the violence and you are not *triggered* by a graphic portrayal of school shooters. It didn’t however, appear to me to produce any kind of serious effort to reject Hollywood’s narrative trajectory. Actually, it was just the opposite.

3 out of 5 stars.