Hide and Seek
Dining and / or Reading in the Dark
End the Species
Silly Team Mascots
Episode 50: It's Dark in Here, No Difference – Shel We Read a Poem?
British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem?
Russ: Hello all and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem. I’m Russ.
Lauren: I’m Lauren.
Russ: What’s your beverage of choice today, Lauren?
Lauren: Oregon rosé.
Russ: I don’t know why I laughed at that. But maybe it’s the combination of rosé and pink hair. I don’t know.
Lauren: I really rosé. I don’t like red wine. I like white wine and I don’t like red wine, but I do like slightly red wine.
Russ: Who could possibly be cross after a nice glass of rosé?
Lauren: I mean, that’s why people drink it, I think. Rosé all day, stay in a good mood. Whatcha drinkin?
Russ: This is Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Russ: Out of a fancy mug.
Lauren: Oh, how interesting.
Russ: Heineken? Fuck that shit. Pabst Blue Ribbon. As Dennis Hopper would have us remember from Blue Velvet.
Lauren: Well, you’re usually drinking some kind of highfalutin beer. And today it’s Papst?
Russ: Nice PBR.
Russ: Sabor de soledad. Well, what are we talking about today?
Lauren: Well, I am going to do “It’s Dark in Here.”
I am writing these poems
From inside a lion,
And it’s rather dark in here.
So please excuse the handwriting
Which may not be too clear.
But this afternoon by the lion’s cage
I’m afraid I got too near.
And I’m writing these lines
From inside a lion,
And it’s rather dark in here.
And I really like this picture. It is a very fabulous floofy haired lion with an arm sticking out of it with a pen. And the hand is trying to write on some paper that is outside the lion’s mouth. And the lion has not eaten this person’s shoes. The shoes are by the lion’s tail. The lion looks extremely pleased with itself and kind of sleepy.
Russ: What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the dark?
Lauren: I mean, lots of games. We used to play this very high intense version of hide and go seek that we called werewolf, but really it’s like the opposite of hide and go seek, where one or very few people hide. And the other ones try to find them. But the job of the person who’s hiding is to scare the absolute bejesus out of people. And we had one friend who was older than all of us. And he was a very well trained martial artist. And so he would just sneak around like some high level rogue and just scare the bejesus out of you. You could go into the room that he was in… like, I remember going into the bathroom, where he was hiding. And I was looking around the dark. And I saw the shadow moving in the mirror behind me. And I turned around and nothing was there. But it turned out it was him just sliding out of the bathroom.
Russ: I like this story.
Lauren: What about you?
Russ: Just before COVID, I went to one of those dinner in the dark restaurants. I’m sure you’ve seen them online or whatever. But for anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept, it is a restaurant where you eat in pitch blackness. And the serving staff is generally, in my experience, they’ve all been visually impaired. And I mean, it’s it’s pure gimmicky, and it’s the kind of thing that you know, the same people who enjoy apple picking do this kind of thing. Why are you going to eat dinner in the dark? Because it’s a different thing. And but I found that I ended up mashing my face sort of into the plate until food got to my mouth.
Lauren: That’s what I often do with food anyway. Because my proprioception is so terrible, I’m often just kind of like hoping that my face and the food meet.
Russ: Rolling over in bed and letting the Cheetos just fall in.
Lauren: I hate Cheetos.
Russ: It’s an interesting concept. And you know, I should look up if that restaurant still exists. I’d like to, you know, go back just for the pure terror of it because what am I putting in my face?
Lauren: Oh, it was scary?
Russ: No, no. It was purely interesting. But you know, you don’t have any relation to anything. I ended up leaving my hands in the same place the whole time just knowing where things were and so like I could reach over and touch my glass, and there that is, and if I move back there’s my plate. For anyone who’s ever seen me in person, I talk with my hands a whole lot and I wasn’t doing that at all. Like moving was pretty terrifying, as it should be.
Lauren: Yeah, I’m really clumsy. Well, other than where my body is in space, which I’m bad at, I have pretty good hearing and a sense of smell and other things like that. So I have some capability of—especially I would think with food—I would be like: Okay, I can smell it. I can smell what it is. I can smell where it is. And I can get an idea of it from the texture of my fork hitting the food. I can have an idea of what it is.
Russ: There was nothing that was particularly exotic or surprising that I remember. But you know, it would be little things. It’s like: Oh, those weren’t carrots, those were parsnips or, you know, something like that.
Lauren: Oh, yeah. That would be a little harder to tell just from a sniff and poke. When I was younger, I could see in the dark pretty well. And I remember I would always get—and I still get this sometimes—my grandmother, especially, would crab at me for reading in dim light and people will still crab at me sometimes we’re reading in dim light, but I just don’t understand it. Why is this an issue? I can see.
Russ: When I was a kid, I would do the same thing. And my parents and I think grandmother would tell me that’s how you got styes. Really, like reading in dim light would give you eye infections.
Lauren: Yeah, that’s, uh, that doesn’t make a lot of sense there, Granny.
Russ: I have an eye infection, right as we’re recording this.
Lauren: What kind of eye infection?
Russ: It’s a sty. I get them all the time.
Lauren: I get them pretty rarely.
Russ: This one’s big and gross and so I have foundation on it right now. So it doesn’t show up on camera that well, but it’s right there.
Lauren: You are triggering my compulsion to pick at things. You can’t pick at these things. You can’t pick at them. They’re on your eye.
Russ: Well, this one’s also internal, so there’s nothing to pick at. Like I would have to turn my eyelid inside out. Shudders.
Lauren: I think—Of Shel’s drawings, I think this one is probably my favorite just because all the visible faces just look so content. The only visible face is the lion.
Russ: There’s only one visible face.
Lauren: Right. It’s the lion.
Russ: The thing doing the eating.
Russ: Well, thematically, we’re working on the same plane, here, because I am reading “No Difference” today.
Lauren: Oh, good. One of the problematic ones.
Small as a peanut,
Big as a giant,
We’re all the same size
When we turn off the light
Rich as a sultan,
Poor as a mite,
We’re all worth the same
When we turn off the light.
Red, black or orange,
Yellow or white,
We all look the same
When we turn off the light.
So maybe the way
To make everything right
Is for God to just reach out
And turn off the light!
Lauren: I’m sure I liked this poem as a children… as a child.
Russ: As a children.
Lauren: I’m sure I liked this poem as a child.
Russ: If Shel is describing a species extinction level event by “turning out the light,” I’m gonna agree with him.
Lauren: Alright. Yeah, I can see that.
Russ: Other than that, there’s no fixing it.
Lauren: So there was… You know, it’s the beginning of February and we had Groundhog Day and then there was the groundhog in New Jersey that died, right beforehand.
Russ: That was so good.
Lauren: I know. And I was like: Oh, that means six weeks of nuclear winter.
Russ: We’re here we are, everybody! It’s 2022. We finally turned the corner on that whole COV… Oh the groundhog’s dead. Oh god. Oh, god. The groundhog’s dead.
Lauren: What if it had COVID?
Russ: What if the groundhog died of COVID?
Lauren: I know. I know some rodents can get it. Even the groundhog died of COVID!
Russ: Remember everybody, it’s 202…2.
Lauren: Yes. Oh gosh.
Russ: I have been in a misanthropic mood, I think for the last six months.
Lauren: Only six months, Russ?
Russ: I should say a steadily crescendoing, misanthropic mood.
Lauren: You’ve always been pretty misanthropic, Russ.
Russ: Today we have the Flu Trux Klan convoy is… Well, it’s not the convoy itself, its supporters of the convoy, are bucking around Vancouver today. And right now it just sounds like one guy, but he has a really loud horn. And he seems to be making a circle around these few blocks near me, just imitates honking and in the same way that dogs, I don’t think, tire of barking. It’s kind of the same thing.
Lauren: Laughs. I was seeing that they’re planning to do one in the United States.
Russ: What are they protesting? In the United States, I mean.
Lauren: I guess the same border mandate, or just that some places you’re supposed to wear masks. Some places you need to be vaccinated. I don’t know, very few.
Russ: Imagine being that scared of needles. The supporter text I’ve seen is to the effect of: Well, nothing should be mandated. And, you know, the whole libertarian angle on things, which, of course, is nonsense, lots of things should be mandated.
Lauren: Right. And they think that things that that they like should be not mandated and things they don’t like should be policed.
Russ: Of course.
Lauren: Like the Supreme Court, which is like: Nobody has to wear a mask, but you have to give birth if you’re pregnant, because wearing a mask is such a much bigger deal than having a child.
Russ: I like that you call this poem problematic. Because, I mean, “No Difference.” There’s lots of differences. And “we’re all worth the same when we turn off the light.” Like I kind of get what Shel is going for there.
Lauren: I mean, as a child, I was all about this. But it’s a very childlike way of thinking.
Russ: I wonder at what point, and I mean, it won’t happen in our lifetimes, of course, but… How can I say this without sounding like I’m espousing eugenics? Will we ever reach a point where we realize that human life does not have inherent worth? It’s a very feel good thing to say. A lot of our laws are based on the idea, but we’re not worth the same, objectively.
Lauren: I don’t know how you can say that, because there’s no objective standard.
Russ: Well, there is. No. I mean, like, there’s lots of objective standards, like net worth is one tool.
Lauren: There are lots but there’s no one.
Russ: I know. What do we make? Well, what would be the one? I mean, it already pretty much is net worth.
Lauren: Maybe cooperation. I don’t know how you measure that, though.
Russ: Well, and that’s another slippery slope, because then you get into like the China social credits thing. Hmm. fun idea. I was reading a thing the other day about—the phrase I’ve been hearing a lot is “weaponized incompetence.”
Lauren: Yes, I’ve heard of that.
Russ: And people that are unwilling to learn things, using that as an excuse. And the example that I was reading about was old people and technology. It’s like: Oh, I don’t understand that technology stuff, and then just sort of hand waving it away and being pains about it. And so like going into a restaurant, and all the menus are QR codes, and individuals causing a stink because they had to be shown how to use a QR code. And everyone knows how to use a QR code. My grandmother is 90 and change at this point. She FaceTimed me today. Anyone can be taught to use technology. But the whole ” the world is moving on without me. And I’m just not going to do anything about it. And I’m not going to change for the better.” That Venn diagram between that and the people in the trucks right now is a circle.
Lauren: Oh, I mean, not everybody should be expected to jump through hoops just to have simple things.
Lauren: Well, I mean, for example, people who are disabled. They shouldn’t be expected to find their way up a couple stairs, even if it’s only a couple stairs.
Russ: Sure. But this wasn’t people who didn’t have a phone or weren’t able to touch a screen. These are just people that wanted to be pains about it.
Lauren: Yeah, there are some people who maybe just want to be pains about it. But I don’t love categorizing everybody who doesn’t want to do something just as being pains about it. Because if you have to learn new skills whenever you try to do something, it takes up all of your time.
Russ: Hmm. I was going to make some pithy joke about reading in dim light, and then old people using their flashlights in restaurants. But then I was like, No, that’s pretty valid.
Lauren: Right. If you can’t see, like, that’s actually, you know, good. Like, if you can’t see, use a tool. The poem’s problematic, not only in its simplicity, but also talking about people in terms of like red or black or yellow, or all those sorts of very awkward phrasing we don’t use anymore.
Russ: I went… Oh, my god. So I want to show you… We we can mention this on the podcast, but I have recently developed a tiny obsession with obscure sports teams. So think like minor league baseball teams, and their funny mascots.
Lauren: We have Portland Pickles.
Russ: Yes. When I visit there, I’m getting one of their ball caps, just no for no reason. But you know, like the Albuquerque Isotopes and my mom kind of caught wind of this and when I went home for the holidays, she got me two T shirts. Okay, so here’s the first one. And this one is not particularly offensive. This one’s just funny.
Lauren: Okay. Okay. Elon College with some sort of fighting person with a wand or something. I don’t know.
Russ: Oh, no, it’s just part of his hat.
Lauren: What? No. He’s got like a baton or something in his hand. Oh, it is a hat. Oh, god, it really is. Okay.
Russ: That is the Elon College Fighting Christians.
Lauren: Okay, so very crusades.
Russ: This one’s also out of date, because they’re not the Fighting Christians anymore. I forgot what they are now. But they discontinued this mascot in the 90s. So, oh well, but here’s the tshirt. Now. That’s not the offensive one. Take this one.
Lauren: Oh god! Oh god. Oh god.
Russ: I live in Vancouver, BC. And there has recently been, oh golly, some very newsworthy and terrible happenings about dealing with residential schools and the mass murder that occurred at them. And so my mom, as a joke—there’s some quote-y fingers around that—bought me a shirt for the St. John’s Redmen. Oh, dear.
Lauren: And the drawing is super offensive, too.
Russ: It’s that old… Yeah.
Lauren: Oh, god.
Russ: So haven’t decided what to do with that shirt yet.
Lauren: I don’t know. It… uh.
Russ: I was like, “What are you thinking?” She had previously—before the holiday—she had been to Vancouver and she’s like, “What is with all the orange in the protests?” I was like, “Oh, these are people that are protesting the mass murder that occurred at residential schools and the recent discovery of all the bodies.” And she’s like, “Wow, that’s terrible.” I was like, “I know.” And then it’s like… that was in one ear out the other there. Wasn’t it?
Lauren: Wow. Wow. What St. John’s was this?
Russ: They’re now called the Red Storm.
Lauren: Okay, but where? Where’s the St. John’s? Is it the one in Annapolis, or is it…?
Lauren: Okay. Wow, where did your mother even get these?
Russ: Where did she get that? I have no idea. That’s 100% a shirt you would wear to like an antivaxx protest. Amazing.
Lauren: So an internet acquaintance encountered in a suburb, a bunch of Blue Lives Matters protesters on the side of the road. And so he decided… I don’t know, I guess he just carries poster board and markers around with him. But he wrote a sign that said “40% of cops beat their wives” and went out and stood with them. And they got so upset about being associated with him that they all left in six minutes.
Russ: Laughs. Oh, man. That’s just good.
Lauren: It was really clever.
Russ: The best anti trucker protests I’ve seen are “Honk if you love Trudeau.”
Lauren: “Honk if you love Trudeau” is interesting, because I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t love Trudeau, but they know that the truckers would be incredibly incensed to be associated with that idea.
Russ: Oh, yeah.
Lauren: But somebody was pointing out that their hashtag #HonkHonk starts with two H’s and maybe is therefore akin to Heil Hitler.
Russ: I mean, it’s Q so…
Russ: Everything means everything. What’s so funny is you see a lot of Trump flags with the truckers. And what’s funny is they’re just anti Trudeau. There’s not a cult of personality around anyone here. And it’s like, no one’s going to… Well, I mean, Aaron O’Toole was just ousted as leader of the Conservative Party. But no one’s going to like build a cult around Aaron O’Toole. They don’t have anyone that they worship, particularly. It’s just this guy: bad.
Lauren: They probably do worship Trump.
Russ: Yeah, but that’s the thing. What is he going to do in Canada?
Lauren: Maybe they think he’s also the legitimate president of Canada.
Russ: Well, I mean, it is Q, so that wouldn’t particularly surprise me. The name of the individual who replaced Aaron O’Toole as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is named Candice Bergen. Famously one for publicity—I don’t know if this was intended as a publicity photograph, but it is now—is her in a MAGA hat. So that’s on brand.
Lauren: Yeah. I think in a lot of times, that would have been an issue. People would be like: Why are you representing the disgraced former leader of another country? But…
Russ: It’s like me running for office and I’m wearing an Idi Amin tshirt. What’s your story?
Russ: Getting back on topic after a long segue, Shel’s solution—if it is species ending extinction level event—that’s the only solution. Because I would read that 40% of Americans don’t believe in evolution. That’s like saying you don’t believe in the sun. It’s not a matter of belief. It’s a demonstrable fact. You can’t reason your way out of incompetence like this.
Lauren: It’s so weird during the pandemic… I mean, even before the pandemic, I did not really spend a whole lot of time to waste on people that thought things like this—but with the pandemic, there isn’t even a chance for me to do that. I can’t encounter people like this just randomly, because I’m only selectively hanging out with very few people. And so it’s hard for me to believe they exist even though I know they must.
Russ: And they vote.
Lauren: Well, yeah.
Russ: Well, another uplifting episode of Shel We Read a Poem.
Lauren: Yeah, well, I do have to say color blindness is not the answer, Shel.
Russ: Color blindness is not the… Meteor? A meteor is the answer.
Lauren: Meteor maybe. Color, like being colorblind is… Or “I don’t see color” is…
Russ: I don’t see color. Was that ever a thing? Surely it must have been.
Lauren: Totally was. No. Growing up, it was a really big thing, that is “see people not the color of their skin” or “see people not color” and things like that. And so… ugh. It was a way to try to say, “Hey, we need to treat everybody nicely, but let’s not account for any of the damage that we’ve done.
Russ: Yep. We need to have one episode where there’s no downers. Just like one episode where we just talk about kittens.
Lauren: Oh, I can give downers about kittens.
Russ: Oh, you’re doing it wrong.
Lauren: Working in animal rescue stuff…. I mean, not “working,” but doing volunteer animal rescue stuff, I can give you plenty of downers about kittens.
Russ: Today we’re gonna learn how to express anal glands.
Lauren: I’ve never done that.
Russ: Do kittens have anal glands or is that just dogs?
Lauren: Cats do have anal glands. I have definitely gotten the gland before. Russ laughs. It happens often when you scare them. It’s almost like a skunk. You scare them, and it’s something like: Whoa, anal gland.
Russ: Oh, the geese are back.
Lauren: I haven’t been down near the water.
Russ: I left my apartment today. And there they were. They were waiting. They’re just sitting on the sidewalk like they own the place. These are especially bold. You can walk right up on them and they just give you a dirty look.
Lauren: Have they chosen violence yet?
Russ: Not yet, but I want to pick one up. How much do they weigh, like 30-40 pounds?
Lauren: What? No, they’re birds.
Russ: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know how much things weigh.
Lauren: No. They don’t weigh very much at all.
Russ: Is a 40 pound goose a terrifying prospect?
Lauren: Yes. That would be enormous. Oh my god. Like human size probably.
Russ: I saw a bird getting weighed the other day. It was like 197 grams.
Lauren: They have hollow bones. And a lot of their volume is feathers. Minerva’s starting to shed and so I think she’s going to lose about a third of her volume.
Russ: Her volume. Yeah. Have you had her for a summer yet?
Russ: No, I guess not. Yeah, this will be the first summer.
Lauren: I have had her for a summer, but I haven’t had her through a year. She came to me in the spring, so I haven’t dealt with a shed yet. But I can tell you she was a lot smaller when she got here. Some of that is food but a lot of that is fur. She hit me in the head yesterday when she was jumping. We miscalculated. She was jumping and I was leaning back and it was just like thump! Eleven and a half pounds of cat impacting my head.
Russ: I bet a goose would weigh about 11 pounds wouldn’t they?
Lauren: I think? Well… No, I think that’s still a bit big. But let’s look it up. I don’t think it’s a ton big but I think it’s a little big.
Russ: Oh yeah. 12 pounds.
Lauren: Okay, okay. I thought it was maybe a little bit much but I was gonna guess maybe nine.
Russ: Yeah, there abouts. They seem to vary pretty wildly.
Lauren: Well, there are subspecies of geese and some of them are smaller than your average Canada Goose. We have a subspecies in Oregon called the cackling goose.
Russ: Do they cackle?
Lauren: They do sound different and they are shorter.
Russ: I’m gonna need some false advertising on that one. Well, I have your uplifting thought for today.
Lauren: You need something more uplifting than a goose called the cackling goose?
Russ: Yes. Before this summer is over, I’m going to pick up a goose
Lauren: Okay. But do it when they’re not violent. So now?
Russ: I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Lauren: Do it now. Or, like pretty late in the summer.
Russ: I’m gonna wait until no one sees me, because they would yell at me. But I’m going to pick up a goose. I’ve always wanted to.
Lauren: I think people would be too surprised to yell at you.
Russ: I’m not gonna do anything… I’m not gonna hurt him. I’m gonna pick him up and put him down and that’s what I’m going to do.
Lauren: Well, just make sure you do it before mating and nesting season or way after that.
Lauren: Threatening geese.
Russ: Watch me come back with a broken arm.
Lauren: You’ll be okay.