Jun 292016

Sitcom and motor oil commercial cutie-pie Leah Remini is working on a series exploring some of Scientology’s less pleasant aspects (particularly its effects on families).

You may recall that Remini was in the news a little while back when she wondered rather vocally what had become of Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Shelly Miscavige has not been seen in public since 2007.

I’ve written about Scientology on BoWilliams.com occasionally (here and here). You don’t have to look very deeply into it to conclude that it’s quite bizarre. The established narrative includes extraterrestrials, a universe far older than any respected theory accounts for, and so forth. It’s basically what you’d think a religion thunk up by a science fiction author would be like. Hmmm.

Remini is to be encouraged in her efforts to shine bright light into the dark corners of Scientology. The Church of Scientology isn’t that big, but it’s well-financed and extremely aggressive with rhetoric, litigation, and actions against its members and detractors. (Go read about Gold Base sometime. Ask yourself if it sounds like the United States.)

 Posted by at 10:16 am
Jun 202016

Apparently chewing gum in middle school is a much smaller deal now than it used to be. My sons report that, while they can’t chew gum everywhere on campus, there are some classrooms where it is just fine.

When I was a kid, it was verboten everywhere at school. If you were caught, you just hoped you would have to throw it away and that would be it. Sometimes it was a go-to-the-office offense. And sometimes, the teacher would make you stick your gum on your nose and sit in class that way for a time.

bubblegumgirlSo there wasn’t much gum around during the school day, but a lot of kids wanted it. It was sweet, and it was forbidden. About halfway through eighth grade, I started acting productively on that.

Lunch was $1. Generally my mom gave me a dollar bill before I went to catch the bus. Most days the bus got to school a full 30 minutes before I had to be in class. So I would walk to the grocery store (yeah, try that today), where I could buy three packs of bubble gum for 96¢.

There were three brands of premium bubble gum: Bubble Yum, Bubblicious, and Hubba Bubba. Each came five pieces to a pack, and in different flavors. A piece of gum for which I’d paid a little more than 6¢ before the school day started was worth 25¢ in the middle of study hall.

So several days a week, I turned my lunch money into $3.75 in bubble gum. On a perfect day I went home with $2.79 in my pocket (after eating lunch). Usually it didn’t work out that way, because a) I didn’t often sell out; and b) I rarely had the discipline to stay out of my inventory myself. (If only I’d seen Scarface.)

I was getting a $10 allowance every other week by this point, but it was tough to build a music library (almost all I spent my money on) with just that. My illicit bubble gum trade definitely helped.

photo credit: Hubba Bubba via photopin (license)

 Posted by at 11:47 am
Jun 032016

This is casu marzu. It’s an Italian cheese—Sardinian, specifically. Do you know what makes casu marzu special? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a strong cheese, but it’s not just fermented. It’s partially decomposed. How does that happen? So glad you asked. It’s deliberately introduced to the cheese fly, which lays eggs in it. When they […]

 Posted by at 10:20 pm

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