Fandango’s Provocative Question #18

And the question is one that has bothered me in the past and will probably continue to nag at me.

“When you learn about highly regarded artists being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, especially with minors, can you separate the artists from their art, or would you refuse to listen to, watch, or read the artists’ works?”

NOTE: I expand this to include all varieties of hatred and bigotry.

The easy answer and the one that requires the least amount of effort is that we separate the artist and his/her art. This is simply because it requires \no sacrifice from you. None at all — not even giving up listening to some music or a few movies.

There are more issues involved than whether or not you like the way the guy sings, acts, paints, or writes. There are values you claim as your own at stake.

I can’t — won’t — watch movies with Mel Gibson. Or with massacres of Native Americans. Or including blackface or other racially derogatory material. Garry used to ignore it (which I never understood), but he can’t anymore. At the very least, he fast forwards through those sections … or doesn’t watch the movie.

Many –especially modern — artists have been nasty people. Rapists and pedophiles. Racists. Bigots of the first water.

An awful lot more artists are fine or at least normal people. Everyone in the music business or Hollywood is not a sexual predator, racist, anti-Semite, or pedophile. If you extract the bad ones, there are plenty of movies and music remaining to which you can listen and view without compromising your supposed principles.

At what point do the values you claim to have actually matter enough to make a minor dent in your viewing or listening life? Seriously. You claim to be an honorable person, but rather than giving up listening to one child rapist’s music, you’ll “forgive him” because he’s such a great artist? Is he really that great? Or are your values that cheap?

At some point, if you have a set of values in which you believe, are you prepared to give up anything to live up to those values? You listen to their music and you watch their movies … and they make money from this. You are supporting them while deploring them.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Your values don’t mean much if you are unwilling to make any sacrifice — and this is a pretty small sacrifice — for them.

I have come to a point in life where the things I value are more important to me that a song or movie. #metoo isn’t just a saying . You either support it or you don’t. You are either willing to make some kind of actual change in your life — and this is a pretty small one — to support it or you don’t support it.

I don’t think giving up watching a few movies or listening to some songs is such a huge sacrifice. In fact, it’s not much and costs nothing. If I’m not willing to do that, then my values don’t mean anything.


What About Obama?  Huh? by Rich Paschall

You may have heard of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, aka the Great Debates of 1858.  Yes, this is history and there may be a quiz at the end so pay attention.

Abraham Lincoln and the incumbent Senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, held a series of debates around the state trying to sway voters on the important issues of the day.  Each hoped their party would control the state legislature, as US Senators were chosen by the legislature, not by popular vote.  Lincoln was well-received at the debates, but Douglas was elected Senator.

We know how it turned out for Lincoln two years later.

Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A . Douglas

Now Lincoln-Douglas debates are mostly a high school competition.  They are “values” debates where students often argue the greater good.

“Solvency” is not an issue.  A debater does not have to know how to implement a solution, just should be better for society.  Of course, he/she will attempt to bring into evidence material from authoritative sources to bolster his/her position.

One of the suggested topics for the coming year is Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.  There is no need to say how this should be applied, but that there are situations when it should or could be.  Historical examples would provide support.  Law and order arguments may be common on the negative.

These debates, like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, are one-on-one.  The first speaker has a set time. The second speaker a slightly longer period, then the first speaker gets a rebuttal interval.  Total speaking times end up the same.  The first speaker may have a plan. The second speaker may have a counter-plan or could argue that no plan is reasonable under the resolution.

Shouting, name calling, unsupported positions all result in a ballot for the opposition by the judge. Contestants must research, write, think, and propose.  Obviously, acting like modern-day politicians would not produce a winner.

So-called debate

Two man team debate, also known as Policy Debate, will propose a resolution where the tactic not only includes interpreting the resolution but also implementing a solution.  Some debaters may have so many points to make that they speak quickly.  The judge will usually take notes to be sure that the speakers arguments flow logically from point-to-point.  Both speakers on each side of the debate topic make a presentation, both are cross-examined.  Then each speaks in rebuttal.  In many leagues, constructives are 8 -minutes, cross-examinations are 3-minutes, and rebuttals are 5-minutes long.

You’d better come prepared!

A topic for next season’s two-man debate will be Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States

The topics for the debate season are often timely and include something prominently in the news.

Debaters must research both sides of the issue as they will be called upon to be on the affirmative or negative, depending on the debate or round within a debate.  In mid-summer, debaters are already starting to study the issues and gather evidence pro and con.  There will be no flippant remarks, insults of opponents, or made up evidence.  General and stereotypical comments mean nothing without support.  Judges will dismiss these comments. and opponents are wise to challenge them.

Because there are obvious “stock issues” implied with any current events topic, it is incumbent upon the debaters to deal with these intelligently.  Bombast and supposition will not do.  Instead, they must deal with the significance of the issue, solvency of the plan they present, the harms of the status quo or the affirmative plan, and the advantages of one side along with disadvantages of the other.

A key part of any debate is “Topicality.” With time to fill in rebuttals and possibly cross examinations too, it becomes important to stay on topic.  With an audience of debaters and judges taking notes, you can not stray into areas that are “Extra Topical.”  There are no random viewers waiting for a debater to pull out stock arguments on other topics or to launch into inane attacks on the opponent.  It’s just critical thinkers judging the merits of the debate.

Why do we bring you this small lesson in the fine art of debate? Perhaps you have noticed that debate is a lost art in the political arena, television news shows, and especially social media.  In the last election, you saw one party presenting something other than primary debates.  Even as an entertainment show, it was generally lacking in substance.  The other side had two candidates who actually seemed to study the topics, but they also found time to present “extra-topical” discussion points.

The presidential “debates” that followed frequently strayed off topic.  One candidate spent time talking about other administrations rather than what he would do as president.  The attempt to belittle your opponent through insults to family and associates may influence some viewers, but it would not work well with debate judges.

On my Facebook news feed, I see “discussions” of a social or political nature often degenerate into a series of personal attacks and Extra-Topical points.  One friend often posts news articles on current social issues.  A person I am acquainted with will usually make a comment on sanctuary cities.

If I point out the topic has nothing to do with these cities, he tells me to wake up!  For him, that is the only topic which really matters.

Another friend likes to engage me in a debate.  I try not to fall for it anymore.  If he says something about 45, I might respond (on topic), “As a former military man, how do you feel about Trump sharing military secrets with the North Koreans or Russians?”

The response is likely to be “What about Obama?  Huh?  You never said anything against him when he was president.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“You weren’t listening.”

“Well, what about Obama? Huh?”

There is no staying on topic sometimes.  It is particularly frustrating if you are a debate coach or judge.


Good morning! It’s a gray, miserable drippy day here in the heart of central New England. Where the rivers flow, the boneheads rule, and it’s always 1954.

sun and misty woods

The question has been asked if I live my life according to some kind of code. Do I have principles. Values.

On a Friday morning, this is a very large question. I am only in the middle of my first cup of coffee. Still, I am awake. I have already restored my computer from backup, re-installed my printer. Convinced the dogs to go out, even though it’s raining.

They do not like the rain. Poor babies.

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

Speaking of boneheads, such are those who populate WordPress’s upper echelons. They run the company. With whips in hand they drive the corporate horses into a frenzied gallop towards the Cliff of Destruction. I guess they so admire Microsoft and their extraordinary success with Windows 8 they have decided to emulate them. Nothing exceeds like excess.

As such, they are fine ones to be asking me about my codes, values, principles. They should take a look at theirs.

But I digress. Forgive me. Sometimes my irritation overcomes my commonsense.

Of course I have a code. Values. Principles. Everybody does, whether or not they know it, whether or not they’ve given any thought to the matter.

Each time you make a decision affecting how you interact with other people, it is a mini-demonstration of your codes, values, and principles. When you tailgate other drivers, carelessly talk or text on while you drive, you are demonstrating your lack of concern for the welfare of others. You are here for you and no one else.

light snow falling picture window

When you show up late for a dinner and the host and other guests are thoroughly inconvenienced, you tell them by your actions what you think of them. If you force others to clean up you messes, it says what you believe. It doesn’t matter if you go to church and profess pious religious values. Who and what you are is what you do. You are how you treat other people, how you live your life. The rest? Blowing smoke up your own ass.

There are so many assholes in the world and they seem to be in charge of just about everything, from corporate boardrooms to customer service. So, in an effort to retain whatever sanity is left to me, I live life simply.

“Shut up, Marilyn” is my motto.

When I read the moronic rants of idiots on social media, do I answer them? No. I click the page away. When I’m standing in a grocery store line and hear conversation between morons, filled with appalling ignorance and misinformation, do I try to correct their wrong-headedness? Not a chance.

“Shut up, Marilyn,” I say to myself. “Just shut up and butt out.”

Age confers wisdom and that is what I have learned. They don’t want my opinion. No one cares if what they spout is true. Most people believe their opinion is as good anyone else’s, whether or not it’s based on anything.

So I shut up. It may not be the best or highest-minded course of inaction, but it works for me.

Good book, bad title – Skinny Bitch in Love, by Kim Barnouin

Cooking, Food & WineLiterature/Fiction (Adult) 
Publication Date –  June 4 2013

I knew absolutely nothing about this book or the series to which it belongs and so came to it with no expectations other than a mild distaste based entirely on the title. I realize that the world is ever-changing and ways of speaking are among the most changeable aspects of life. Still, I don’t like the word “bitch” applied to women. Especially not me. I’m not sure when it became a sign of approval or approbation, but I don’t care for it.

But I liked the book. Bad title, good book. I liked Clementine, our heroine. She’s stubborn, opinionated, overly quick to jump to conclusions. She independent to the point of almost self-destructive. She’s also smart, determined, talented, and willing to work day and night to achieve her goals.

Clementine Cooper, raised by vegan parents on an organic farm is a vegan chef at one of the city’s top restaurants. Fired due to a colleague’s jealousy and sabotage, she’s left with only a few choices. The debacle that got her dismissed makes it nearly impossible for her to get a job at a good vegan restaurant … which is where she deserves and wants to be. Really, what she wants — as do most chefs — is her own restaurant. She’s got her eye on a great space right across the street from the modest flat she shares with Sharon, her good friend and housemate.

Clementine is having one of those really bad patches. Not merely does she get fired — unfairly — but the place she has been dreaming of is unexpectedly occupied and about to become — gads — a steak house! The new owner is sexy, handsome, smart, funny and very rich. She’s instantly attracted to him, despite his being a more than an occasional jerk. Worse, he’s a billionaire carnivore. The money is difficult for her to deal with. This is a young woman who is not for sale, not on any level or any way. But all that meat? Ew.

As she finds her way from discredited, dismissed, and despairing to a successful entrepreneur on her own terms, she is also navigating the rocky shoals of a treacherous relationship with a guy who is both her equal and opposite. The author is surprisingly perceptive in her handling of relationships. Perceptive, sensitive, witty, and realistic, Kim Barnouin doesn’t use simplistic answers to solve difficult problems.

The book is a fast read. It moves along at a nice, brisk pace.

Since the book is seriously food-centric, I spent all 320 pages drooling. I wanted recipes. It’s not fair to talk about food, cooking, eating, restaurants, cakes and everything else delicious and healthful and not even throw me one single recipe!

I had fun with this. You will too.

The book is available in hardcover, Kindle, and as a download from A good summer read and a surprisingly well-written novel that presents a heroine with good family values, a sensible head on her shoulders, a fantastic work ethic and a backbone. She’s no fool for love or anything else and I wish her the very best of luck. But I still would like a different title and recipes.