Eleven Things I Love That Begin with “F”

(I could be such a bad girl …)

Antony at Coming to the Quiet asked for volunteers to take a letter of the alphabet and name ten things we love that begin with that letter. He assigned me the letter F. (Here are links to other people’s letters and loves.)

Obviously, Fruitcake. I ordered my third one of the season from Gethsemani tonight.

Friends. For me, they’re family. I’ve had great friends “for a season,” long-time friends, funny friends, depressed friends, canine friends, complementary friends, soul friends — and I’m grateful for all.

“Fantasia.” Not the whole movie, really, but the scene with the dainty, pirouetting ballerina hippo (Hyacinth) in a tutu, and then the attendant ostriches, elephants, and alligators, set to Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” (audio clip here), is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. James Alison describes it well in the first paragraphs of his essay, “Blindsided by God: Reconciliation from the Underside.”

Fungi, photos of (and not as foodstuffs). So many textures, sizes, colours, shapes, groupings. Some are moist miniature umbrellas, others are perfectly formed Titleists, still others are hideous skin tumours, stacks of pancakes, fleshy moths. Boggles the mind. And they hold still while you take their pictures. (Some of my fungi photos here.) Along similar lines: filipendula, fennel, ferns, foamflower, fescue, fritillaria, fingerleaf Rodgersia, flax, and other fluffy, airy, grassy, variegated, and/or unusual plants.

Festivus (for the rest of us). Made famous in 1997 by its celebration in a Seinfeld episode. Mostly, I love saying “Festivus for the restivus” over and over, but my cynical soul also likes the way the festivities mirror what actually happens in many households throughout the land (the world?) at this holy time celebrating deep and transcendent peace. Which isn’t surprising since the holiday’s originator (the father of a future Seinfeld writer) says that “the only tradition that was made up by the [Seinfeld] show’s writers was the decorated Festivus pole — everything else was taken directly from his family celebrations.”  It’s celebrated on 23 Dec. (or any other day in December), with a simple aluminum pole instead of a Christmas tree, an “‘Airing of Grievances’ in which each person tells each and everyone else all the ways they’ve disappointed him/her over the past year, and after a Festivus dinner, the ‘Feats of Strength’ are performed. Traditionally, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned.”  (“I find tinsel distracting.” “I got a lot of problems with you people …”  “Stop crying and fight your father.”)

Fraud, David Rakoff’s witty, insightful, bittersweet collection of essays. I wrote this about it in a previous post: I recommend Fraud to anyone who likes David Sedaris (I think Rakoff’s writing is better but Sedaris is howlingly funnier), Sarah Vowell, and the PRI series “This American Life” in general. Some of the essays on the CD are about attending a self-help retreat at Omega hosted by movie star Steven Seagal, tracking down sperm he’d had harvested before chemo for the Hodgkin’s disease he contracted at age 22, a Japan travelogue, attending a Tom Brown Jr.  tracking course, the life of a low-paid NYC editorial assistant, looking for the Loch Ness monster, climbing Mt. Monadnock in NH in plastic Payless boots, etc.  He begins the book by saying that “the central drama of my life is about being a fraud, alas. That’s a complete lie, really; the central drama of my life is actually about being lonely, and staying thin, but fraudulence gets a fair amount of play.”

French literary critic and anthropologist Rene Girard, and the girardians who have followed, most notably for me, James Alison (who is a priest, so therefore Fr. James Alison, another F word).  I have already said a lot about their work on this weblog.

“Foul Play,” the 1978 comedy/thriller starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, with a nice role (presaging Austin Powers?) for Dudley Moore, too. It’s written and directed by Colin Higgins, who also wrote the screenplay for “Harold and Maude” (1971), and, as Wikipedia notes, it makes mild use of some Hitchcockian devices. Goldie Hawn is one of the few celebrities I would say I’m a fan of, and she’s super-cute in this movie. The best part, though, is that an albino, a dwarf (one dwarf — not the other one, who prefers the term “little people”), a Turk, and a Catholic Bishop are all trying to kill a librarian. Add in a door-to-door Bible salesman, a risque Scrabble game, a cop offering pot to the public, protracted chase scene through San Fran, The Mikado and a toe-tapping Pope, knitting needles as weapons, a man with a scarface, mildly kinky sex paraphernalia, a Turkish bathhouse, disco, senior citizens trained in martial arts and eagerly locked in mortal combat, and you get some idea of how over-the-top it all is. (“Beware of the midgets. They’re taking over the world.” “Monica drowned this morning.”)

Fur-Bearing Beasts. Mostly dogs, and also cats, wolves, panthers, jaguars, kangaroos, seals, tigers, sheep, bears, gerbils, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and animals with more hair than fur, such as elephants, rhinos, hippos, pigs, porcupines, deer, etc.  I’m not crazy about monkeys. My first word was “dog,” my mother dreamed about having puppies when she was pregnant with me, and I have been in love with dogs in the aggregate and in particular since as long as I can remember. The dog who lives with us is lying two feet from me as I type. She hates most of the other fur-bearing beasts I mentioned, at least those she knows about.

Forgiveness. Thank God for it. Not an offer of forgiveness that is really a way of accusing or retaliating on the part of someone who feels s/he is a victim, a sort of claiming of higher moral ground on the part of the forgiver, but the forgiveness offered by someone who recognises that s/he is forgiven, accepted, loved, liked, and who from within that awareness and experience of being forgiven joyfully forgives.

Forensic Science and Forensic Crime Novels.

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