Monthly Archives: December 2017

Quitting ‘cold turkey’?

Don’t most of us use expressions that mean nothing, that can’t really explain why those combinations of letters come to mean something we agree on but don’t always know why?

I’m referring to the archaic expression “cold turkey.” Where did that come from? When I smoked for 25 years about 33 years ago, friends, family, doctors and others advised me to “quit cold turkey.” By that they meant I wasn’t to hide an emergency stash of Salems in the trunk of my car, or to allow myself just one cigarette in the morning upon arising and just one more at night, or to simply stop buying those cancer sticks.

Although cold turkey has no doubt worked for many, a great number of smokers choose to “taper off.”

I think quitting, when I did, in 1984 was as difficult as trying to ferret out a reason why the term “cold turkey” ever came about. I used to hear it a lot — mostly from adults whose bellows and exhalations filled our house. All eight of us Trujillos smoked for a time. Mom smoked Luckies, Dad smoked pipes and Roi Tan cigars. Uncle Juan bought a pack of Camels every day, and the rest of us smoked — my late brother, Severino, was a smoker, as was I. Our three sisters were no strangers to cigarettes, although my recollection is that they smoked small quantities, and not for long. Continue reading

Snippets of things past

My mom, the late Marie Trujillo, was certainly not a woman of limitless patience. And proof of that were the smiles on the faces of new-car dealers whenever Mom called them to complain that the car wouldn’t start . . . or that the car was out of windshield washer fluid.

The salespeople immediately thought “here comes a sale.”

I knew her for more than six decades (her being some 28 years my senior. I don’t think of her impatience as a detriment, although I never made a big issue of it and merely chalked it up as a way of getting things done.

Many are champions of revisionist history. Notice how those snippets of things past arise, usually when we’re all seated for a Thanksgiving meal.

Here’s one example: Turkey Day usually brings together friends and families who might not have seen one another in months, or years. That reunion makes it necessary to make conversations, to engage in the remembrances of things past, and for all of us to have a good laugh over the exhumed tales of things we did decades earlier. Continue reading

Got to be carefully taught

A 1949 Broadway musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, “South Pacific,” contains a profound song lyric.

The song is “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught.” A few lyrics follow: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear; you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear; you’ve got to be carefully taught.”

The highly successful musical then lists things we need to hate and fear: “People whose skin is a different shade,” “People whose eyes are oddly made,” and also, “You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are 6 or 7 or 8, to hate all the people your relatives hate . . .” The words, clearly, are ironic.

I first heard those lyrics around 1950. Even at age, 11, I wondered why the lyrics hinted at prejudice — maybe even encouraging it. Hammerstein’s lyrics offended some, particularly music lovers from the Deep South. That didn’t deter the composers, who faced the issue of racial prejudice by keeping “Carefully Taught” as a major part of the musical. Continue reading

Just the tip of the iceberg

Las Vegas, N.M. — where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Well, maybe that’s not the perfect description of our Meadow City. But the shock waves are as palpable as if they originated here.

That topic ­— and others of that ilk ­— took up part of the time we news personnel devoted to the increasingly frequent reports of various sexual improprieties around the country.

It’s not solely the province of athletes and other superstars; the names that emerge include celebrities and politicians.

A recent report involves Garrison Keillor, he of an enormously popular program, “Prairie Home Companion.” That avuncular, 75-year-old purveyor of clean, wholesome wit and wisdom, is now gone from his Saturday afternoon PBS radio broadcast. Keillor called the reasons for his dismissal “all kind of bewildering.” Most snippets on the firing are sketchy at best, the most common reason given as “improper behavior.”

It saddens a slew of people who’ve set their radio dial on Saturdays to NPR and laughed at some of the comments of the well-known wordsmith.

I joined with fellow members of the Optic’s editorial board to discuss this strange phenomenon in which so many people in the news suddenly face charges of inappropriate conduct.

This isn’t an attempt to be comprehensive but merely to ask whether the plethora of scandals is merely the tip of the iceberg.

And we needn’t go all the way back to the Bill Cosby matter ­— an issue which needs no further explaining.

There’s the recent Alabama matter in which U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is determined to stay in the race despite some damning allegations that he molested girls in their teens, when he was in his 30s.

Of course Moore denies the allegations. The almost-even split between those who plan to vote for him, as opposed to his Democrat opponent says much about party loyalty as opposed to doing what’s morally right.

And there’s Matt Lauer, who was fired from his position as host of the “Today” show, amid accusations of sexual harassment.

And also Bill O’Reilly, the erstwhile promotor of whatever is extreme right in our country.
Reports reveal Fox News gave O’Reilly a big contract after he was sued for $32 million by a colleague who threatened to sue him for alleged sexual misconduct. Continue reading