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November 2023

December 2023

End of Year Gifting and Giving Ideas

It's that time of year again...time to buy co-workers you don't know very well mugs with cheerful sayings on them or bland lotions or candles for the Holiday Work Party/White Elephant Gifting Season.

Sure, other more optimistic or generally less grinchy people than your friendly neighborhood Citizen Reader might call this the "holiday" or "Christmas" season. I just call 'em like I see 'em, folks, and a lot of what goes on at this time of year looks like sending holiday cards and pictures to relatives you don't know (my favorite is my annual one from a random friend of my mother-in-law's with whom we once shared an awkward Christmas Eve meal in an Applebee's, when we had to add a bit more to the tip to make up for our Baby Boomer parents' Scrooge-like frugality) and buying stocking stuffers for work get-togethers.

But I'm a capitalist born in a capitalistic system, so of course I have something to sell you too. Know anybody who enjoys British TV? Not only would I like to meet them so we could discuss all my favorite Brit shows and actors and gossip (like why is Matt Lucas co-hosting The Great British Baking Show holiday specials rather than Alison Hammond?), but if you need to buy a gift for them, might you consider either of my books on the subject?

Word searchFirst there is Bingeworthy British Television, a guide I co-wrote with my British friend Jackie Bailey to give you synopses and the entire run times of more than 100 popular British dramas, historical dramas, miniseries, police procedurals, and sitcoms, which Amazon currently has priced at $15.49 (the cover says $19.99, so you will look like you splashed out even more!). Also included are recommendations for hundreds more programs. Make 2024 your Year of British TV!

This past year I also published a new book of word searches and crossword puzzles based on British TV and slang. That book is titled The Best of British Television: Word Searches, Crossword Puzzles, and Fun Facts, and is currently priced at $8.95 (perfect for Secret Santa gifting when you don't want to go over $10 per gift).

Likewise, if you are looking for excellent charitable causes, I have a few favorites to suggest. 2023 was the year I pledged never again to give to institutions, but rather to give directly to indviduals. In that vein, here's some ideas I had. They all go through GoFundMe, which I realize is not perfect as a fundraising platform, but the individuals in these appeals are all worthy of your consideration (I believe).

Shannon Nelson Go Fund Me

Shannon is a writer at Medium and Substack who I have followed for a long time. She has had a lifetime struggle with undiagnosed Lipedema and Lymphedema and has more stories to tell than I can bear about unsympathetic and clueless and unhelpful medical personnel who don't know anything about her complex and debilitating diseases and who basically just keep telling her to lose weight. I have donated to her before and she is always very transparent about the very important health and activities of living items she uses such donations for. Mostly I just like her and I have a lot of sympathy for others who have been ignored and belittled by health care professionals. That's happened to me too, on a much tinier scale, and it makes me very angry.

UW-Madison Assault Survivor

In the fall of 2023 some poor woman was just trying to live her life in Madison, Wisconsin, and somebody horrifically assaulted her in a way that will impact her the rest of her life. This could have been any one of us, because even when we try to be safe, sometimes we women have to walk around by ourselves in the world. (I know. The fucking NERVE of us.) Please donate to this woman; her fight to survive this attack is far from over.

Cristina Balan Go Fund Me

I have written twice now about Tesla whistleblower Cristina Balan and her brave struggle against Tesla and Elon Musk for nearly a DECADE now. As if fighting to restore her work reputation and be compensated for numerous years when she has been unable to work in her chosen field (because nobody hires whistleblowers) wasn't enough, she was also diagnosed with cancer last year.

Cher Scarlett Go Fund Me

Cher Scarlett is another whistleblower I've written about who went up against Apple (for trying to discuss wages at the company with other workers) and who, of course, is now finding it hard to find another job in tech (because, as noted above, nobody hires whistleblowers). She has legal fees to pay and is having difficulty working in her field, simply because she dared question her Tech Company Overlords.

After all that, let me just say, whatever you celebrate this season, if anything at all, I hope it is a very peaceful and healthy and happy one for you. As always, thank you for reading. Here we come, 2024.


The Football Grinch Has Come To Town.

As I polish off my forties, I gotta be honest with you, I'm just DONE with a lot of things.

Football is one of them.

Football2I recently sat through a PTO meeting at my kid's middle school, and we talked for some time about how to raise five thousand dollars from a fun run/walk that we have the kids do. We do use the money for actual educational "enrichment"--we invite teachers to ask us for specific tools and resources they can use in the classroom--but still, the event is a lot of work and I'm not sure the kids enjoy it. Then, after we were done fussing about this five grand, our school superintendent came in to give a presentation on the state of the school district.

You know what she had to share? She's really pleased that the district has already raised $1.3 million to refurbish the high school's football stadium, and the district "only has to raise $1.7 million more."

(Yeah, I know. Don't worry. I've already tendered my resignation as PTO secretary and will be done at the end of this school year.)

In all honesty, I've been done with football since I read Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity. But I've always wanted to read Steve Almond's Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto, so last week, I did.

It's a good read. I'll admit I've always had a soft spot for Almond, but I like the way he admits he is a lifelong football fan, and yet still...it's getting harder for him to look at the game. You'll learn a lot of information in this book--about how the NFL is a tax-exempt nonprofit that makes billions of dollars a year, about how athletes are suffering from brain injuries, about how everyone looks away from the violence and racism that run through the sport's many and various levels.

You might also get a laugh. Here's the section where Almond discusses the derogatory emails he got after wrting a New York Times Magazine article questioning the moral complexities of football, most of which included references to his vagina:

"I swear to you, nearly every piece of hate mail I received made reference to my vagina, which was usually characterized as very large.

As the son of two psychoanalysts, I suppose I am obligated to speculate on this odd size fixation. Fine. On one level my correspondents simply wish to convey the exaggerated nature of my femininity (i.e., larger vagina = more feminine). Still, it's hard to ignore that a large vagina suggests an unconscious fear of male inadequacy. Is it possible that merely asking these guys to examine their motives for watching football made them feel small?...

For the record, my vagina is slightly smaller than average." (pp. 98-99).

Yeah, I like Steve Almond a lot. If you're starting to question our nation's maniacal focus on football, you might find this an informative read.