Monday, March 31, 2014

What the hell?

Things must be pretty slow out in the mission field.

I'm not usually one for poetry, but...

This is a pretty cool piece.

It pretty much spells out obsessive compulsive disorder.  It's funny, disturbing, and moving all at once.  On one hand, if I ran into a guy like this, I'd probably want to run the other direction.  On the other, this is so powerful because people with OCD can't help their obsessions and are so very human.

This recitation is equally powerful… I'm not sure the person is the poet who created this, but his performance is very compelling and believable.  It makes me want to find more poetry.  

This ad...

creeps me out…

Happy that a processed "wrap" gives her energy.  It just gives me the creeps.  Somehow, I think an athlete would do better to eat something better than Hormel Rev Wraps.  And why would you bring your "Rev Wrap" to the place where you plan to swim?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This is a truly tragic story...

I like to read The Daily Press sometimes.  It's the newspaper I grew up with and I used to read the paper version of it every day when I was growing up.  Today, I check it a few times a week to see if anything interesting is going on in the area where I grew up.  Today, there was a very sad story about a woman who made a very poor choice in husbands.  Now she and three of her four children are dead.

Fort Eustis Army Sergeant Crystal Ragin was an exemplary soldier who was going to go to school to become a drill sergeant.  She was well-known for being very good at her job, responsible, punctual, and very hard working.  A mother of four, she had been married to her second husband, John Moses Ragin, since 2006.  They met in South Carolina, when Crystal was a guard at the prison where John Ragin was serving a 15 year sentence for manslaughter.  He had killed his childhood best friend.

Once John Ragin was released, Crystal, who by then had joined the Army, was free to marry him.  She did, and he became a father figure to the three children she had with her first husband, Mike Burton.  Then Crystal and John had a child of their own, I'Kaos.

John Ragin was apparently a very jealous and controlling husband.  He insisted on Crystal calling him often.  He never wanted her to go out alone.  He demanded that she live according to his wishes, which included swearing off eating meat.  He was very suspicious of the men Crystal worked with in the Army.

On August 19, 2011, John Ragin had apparently had enough.  He brutally murdered his wife and her three older children, Sierra, La'Kwan, and Rasheed, stabbing them 74 times, and setting their home on fire.  Then he took I'Kaos and went back to South Carolina, where he was arrested the next day.

Ragin now may face the death penalty and his son is being raised by his maternal relatives in South Carolina.  What an awful thing for that family to have to deal with… and what a terrible legacy that little boy now has.

I'm sure Crystal Ragin was a wonderful woman, based on the article written about her.  I wonder why she was attracted to John Ragin.  I can't imagine finding a killer attractive, but I realize that these things aren't always based on logic or common sense.  Sometimes people can change…  or so they say.  I can't imagine I'd want to have my children around someone who had done time for killing someone, but I know that sometimes there are mitigating circumstances.

I just think it's very sad that this woman, who had four beautiful children and a promising career, ended up with someone who obviously couldn't control his rage or impulses.  I don't know what Crystal's reasons were for choosing to marry John Ragin.  It would be easy for me to blame her for being unwise.  But really, she just sounds like someone who trusted someone who was ultimately untrustworthy.  She and her kids paid the ultimate price for that choice.  Her young surviving son will now have to carry on with a father in prison or dead and a mother and siblings who were brutally murdered.

My experiences being Bill's wife have taught me that people sometimes make very poor choices when it comes to finding mates.  Bill made a bad decision to marry his ex wife and he paid a dear price.  But at least he's still alive and healthy.

Reading about this case reminds me of the old story about the scorpion and the frog.  A scorpion wants to cross a stream, but doesn't know how to swim.  So he asks the frog to help him.  The frog worries about being stung, but the scorpion points out that if he stings the frog, they will both die.  So the frog trusts the scorpion and halfway across the stream, gets stung.  As the doomed duo start to sing, the frog asks the scorpion why he did it.  The frog says, "You knew what I was when you picked me up.  It's nature."

With some of these people, I have to think that it's in their nature to be violent and controlling.  In some cases, no amount of love and understanding can overcome that.  I wish Crystal's family much peace.    


Breakfast bummer...

On the weekends, Bill takes a lot of pride in making breakfast.  He tends to get stuck in ruts, but what he knows how to make, he makes very well.  On Saturdays, I can count on a poached egg, prepared to my liking, grits boiled for about 30 minutes, a side of bacon or sausage, and a biscuit made from Bisquick.  He makes premium coffee and pours juice, usually orange but sometimes something else.

On Sundays, he often makes pancakes with a side of sausage or bacon.  This morning, we didn't have enough milk for the usual pancake breakfast.  So he came into my office and asked me what I wanted.  I get pretty irritated when he does this, even though I know he only does it because he loves me and wants to make me happy.  Then he gets peeved when I say I don't know what I want.  I hadn't really thought about it.

I think I get annoyed because it feels like I'm on the spot.  It just kind of highlights the differences between how the two of us handle dilemmas.  If I were the one making breakfast, I would have just gone to the pantry and found something else.  Maybe we would have had oatmeal or I would have made muffins or something.  But Bill wants my input about what we'll have for breakfast.  I should be glad he cares… but I would be lying if I said it doesn't sort of vex me in a mildly funny kind of way.    

He asked me what I wanted and said, "You know what I want?  Krispy Kremes!"

He rolled his eyes, because that means he has to get in the car and go pick some up.

I said, "I bet if you went to that gas station on the corner, you'd find something.  It doesn't have to be Krispy Kremes."  I have to laugh about encouraging my husband to go to a gas station for our breakfast.  Kind of brings new meaning to the term "gas station".

Then Bill said, "Or I could go to a real doughnut shop and get something."

"Exactly." I said.  I love that he's willing to do this for me, especially since he calls doughnuts "fat pills".

So he just went to get our breakfast.  He probably ought to go to the store and pick up milk, half and half, and whatever else we need.  Thanks to our trip to the growler station last week, we never did get around to our weekly commissary trip.  However, yesterday Bill did manage to swing by Spec's and pick up beer, though.

First world problems… and look!  He's just parked in our driveway.  Guess that means it's time for breakfast!

Saturday, March 29, 2014


This morning, I was watching a reality show about people who won the lottery.  As I was watching, I noticed the shitty background music most of these types of shows use.  They all seem to use the same generic background music, which probably made some nameless composer in the L.A. area very wealthy.  I commented that I hate the music they use on reality shows.  A friend then asked me why a reality show would need music…

And that reminded me of Muzak.  You know what that is?  I sure do.  Some people call it elevator music.  My dad used to listen to it all the time.  It's basically generic music piped into retail stores.  It's boring, bland, and utterly annoying to me.  While I guess I can understand why stores would play elevator music, what I never understood was why there was a fucking radio station with a playlist completely devoted to Muzak.  But there was and my dad used to listen to it ALL THE TIME.

I remember being in the backseat of whatever vehicle he was driving and he'd play that confounded "music" the whole time.  He'd sing or hum, which made me grind my teeth in annoyance.  Dad was considered a "good" singer back in the day, but not by me.  I think that was one reason why we've never gotten along particularly well.

For hours, he'd play the radio and that horrible, soulless music.  I was powerless to do anything about it until some blessed soul invented the Walkman and I was able to block out that shit.  My father has always said he was a music lover, but I don't understand how anyone who loves music can profess to enjoy Muzak.  To my dad's credit, he also enjoys classical music.

Muzak is actually kind of interesting, though… not because it's decent music, but because it's been experimented with so much.  It supposedly aids in employee production and manipulates people into buying things.  "Pleasant" music adds to a business's ambiance and may make shoppers shop longer.  My dad owned and operated his own business, but I don't think he cared about manipulating people to buy more.  I think he genuinely enjoyed elevator music.  And I, at the other end of the spectrum, loathe it.

An example of Muzak…

I can't bear to listen to this… but it did just give me an idea for my porno story.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bill is at his first job fair...

He left early this morning for Austin, dressed in one of his new suits.  It was weird seeing him dressed that way when he usually wears ACUs.  It sounds like a lot of the people at this event are from really big companies.  When he mentioned seeing people from WalMart, Amazon, and General Mills represented at the "ice breaker" last night, I knew it was going to be a rather general event.  I doubt anything will come from it, other than putting Bill in the interviewing mode and starting the circulation of his resume.  I think Bill will go for something more military oriented.

Newly tailored.  Such a hottie.

I think there might be some dental cement lodged between my teeth after yesterday's procedure.  The crown fits fine bite wise, but it feels a little tight and "pulls" a little.  I have a feeling the cement will wear off, though.  Hopefully, it'll be sooner rather than later.  I'm just glad to be rid of the temporary crown.  It was pretty gross when they removed it.  After three weeks, it stank like hell…  or maybe it was my tooth that stank.

Yesterday, I got a new Epinions sweatshirt and beer stein in the mail.  I ordered them from CafePress store Epinions ran before it went defunct.  I ordinarily wouldn't buy something like that, but I spent almost eleven years writing there and want something to remember it by.  That's the longest I've ever "worked" anywhere, though I couldn't so much say that Epinions was a job, per se.  It was more like something I did that was both fun and provided a small income stream.  I'm hoping it'll give me the confidence to try something more ambitious.

This must be the year for Web sites going dark, since I also found out yesterday that Television Without Pity is also closing.  I won't miss that site as much as I will Epinions, but it's still sad.  I loved going there to read about certain reality shows involving The Duggars and The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  ;-)

This morning, I'm going to confer with an artist about making a plaque commemorating my five rescue dogs (three of which are no longer with us).  It's probably something I don't need to be buying right now, but the conference is free and this would be a piece of art that we'd have forever.  Sticks makes really cool, whimsical furniture.  I first found them in 2004, when Bill and I went to Reston, Virginia for a strawberry festival that was held at an outdoor mall.  At that time, Artcraft had a store there.  I loved the furniture, but it was (and still is) insanely expensive.  That's because all the pieces are hand made and hand painted.  I'm not planning to buy something huge and involved, but I think we can swing a couple hundred bucks for something really cool.  When it's finished in a few weeks, I'll post a photo.

It's going to look somewhat like this, only there will be five dogs that look like mine and there will be a rainbow scene in the background…  I can't wait until it's finished!

Otherwise, I'm having a run of the mill Friday…  Going to do some writing and vacuuming later.  Hopefully, Bill will be home early and we can kick off a good weekend.

My review of Pat Boone's Twixt Twelve and Twenty...

I almost forgot about dear Pat Boone, patriarch of four very well-scrubbed daughters and author of his very own self-help book geared toward teens…

Pat Boone offers advice to young folks... circa 1958

Aug 16, 2013 (Updated Aug 16, 2013)

Review by knotheadusc in Books

Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros: Some interesting reading, especially about Pat Boone's upbringing. Unintentionally funny.
Cons: Out of touch with today's teens. A little weird.
The Bottom Line: I'd read this strictly for fun, not for its intended purpose.

I have kind of an odd obsession with Pat Boone and his family. It started when I was a teenager and read a book written by his daughter, Cherry Boone O'Neill, who had suffered from anorexia nervosa for many years. Later, I read his daughter Debby's book circa 1981, when she was 25 years old. Then, I read daughter Lindy Boone Michaelis' recent book about her son Ryan Corbin's traumatic brain injury. Having read all these books from the Boone family, I decided it was time for me to read Pat Boone's 1958 classic, 'Twixt Twelve and Twenty.

My copy of Boone's book is a second printing, which was published in 1973. It has a new introduction, written for the teens of the 70s. I got quite the kick out of Boone's chirpy foreword for the new generation. He writes on page 12:

"So pull up a chair. Turn down that Carole King, James Taylor, Seals and Croft, America, Chicago, or Elton John record-- and let's talk! We've a lot to say to each other!"

Really Pat? In the early 70s, did young folks really feel like you were the same role model you were in 1958?

The book's title is the same as one of Boone's popular songs from 1959. In 1973, were kids listening to Pat Boone? Maybe if their parents were. I know in the 70s, Pat Boone was still doing a lot of touring with his family. His daughters were performing with him and it was four years before Debby Boone became a household name.

What this book is about…

This is a book of advice for teens written by Pat Boone. Written in quaint, 50s era prose, the then young Pat Boone, was at that time barely 24 years old and already the father of four girls, born in about three-and-a-half years. He had married his wife, Shirley, very young and they were dedicated Christians. At that time of his life, Pat Boone was a member of the Church of Christ. His book is liberally peppered with religious dogma and homespun tales of growing up. Pat Boone's mother was apparently very much a proponent of corporal punishment, as was Pat himself. He writes on pages 30 and 31:

"I didn't become a good Christian overnight. In fact, I got my last spanking when I was seventeen... It never mattered to Mama who started fights. She finished them with the sewing machine belt and both of us [Pat and his brother, Nick] leaning over the bathtub."

Pat continues:

It had been a long time... since the last one and this time, neither of us cried. We were too old. That shattered Mama."

Both Cherry and Debby, Pat Boone's oldest and third daughters, have written about how Pat Boone spanked them until they were legal adults. In 'Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Boone makes it clear that he thinks spanking is the right way to discipline children. But as this book is for kids, not their parents, it seems odd that he would write so much about it.

Aside from his ruminations about the virtues of a good spanking, Pat Boone also dispenses advice on being "a good Christian", preparing for a happy marriage, dating, finding your life's work, and making appropriate friends. He offers tidbits on what he finds attractive about his wife, Shirley, whom he claims is a very natural beauty who doesn't swear. He also writes quite a lot about Rosemary, a cow he and his brother, Nick, took care of when they were growing up. Apparently, she supplied them each with the gallon of milk they drank each day. Having her was a "necessity", as were all the other animals the Boones cared for; they were not "gentleman farmers", you see.

My thoughts

Frankly, I kind of got a kick out of reading this short book Pat Boone wrote for teenagers. It seeems pretty hopelessly dated today and I'm sure it would shock a lot of parents. Most kids would not be able to relate to Pat Boone, even though he was quite young when he penned this book. Even as a young man, he's hopelessly "square". Curiously, he did get letters from young admirers in the 1950s, some of which inspired the chapters in this book. I thought it was pretty funny when, on page 106, Boone writes:

Too strict parents either literally don't remember their own youth at all, or seem to remember it too well with distaste and fear.

This is the same man who spanked his daughter, Debby, at age 19, because she took twenty minutes to buy candy from a hotel lobby vending machine. He also spanked his daughter, Cherry, for coming home later than expected. Since she was anorexic, there was little fat to cushion the blows and she was left with bruises. Boone also reportedly called his daughters' makeup "war paint" and would make his daughters scrub it off if he caught them wearing it. But maybe when Pat Boone was 24, he was still somewhat "hip" and empathized with young folks more than he apparently did when his daughters became teenagers.

Boone writes on page 107, "Do-as-I-say,-not-as I-do is poor bait for landing teen-agers." And yet, based on books by his daughters, he didn't exactly practice what he preached.


I don't think this book would be very relevant to today's readers. It's kind of fun to read if you're my age or older, though. It's a quick read and there are some pearls of wisdom that still resonate today, mainly the parts about personal hygiene. It's a quaint book, valuable mainly for nostalgia purposes, but not really for the teens of today.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thinking about cosmetic dentistry?

Just got back from the dentist with my new crown.  While I was there, I was reminded of this review I wrote about a book written by a former cosmetic dentistry.  It was a really good book, but I couldn't remember the title off hand.  I decided I'd repost it here, since I've had all my dental drama this year.  On the original post, I actually got a comment from the author, who seems like a really cool guy.  Suffice to say, if you want to get veneers done, you should read his book first.  It's a real eye-opener.

*Because this post is continually being spammed by cosmetic dentists peddling their wares, I have decided to close comments. I do recommend the book, though.

Thinking about getting some cosmetic dentistry done? Read this first...

 Jun 3, 2011 (Updated Jun 3, 2011)
Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:Very informative book about cosmetic dentistry.

    Cons:Zuk is very cynical.  Some sentences aren't spaced on the Kindle.

    The Bottom Line:If you're thinking about getting veneers for your teeth, read this book.

    I guess I can thank our recent return to watching television for introducing me to former cosmetic dentist Michael Zuk's 2010 book, Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist.  It was sort of a "one thing leads to another" thing.  I was watching Extreme Home Makeover and remembered that there used to be an Extreme Makeover show dedicated making over peoples' appearances.  I looked it up on and someone mentioned Zuk's tell all book about cosmetic dentistry.  I went to Amazon, noticed the reviews were pretty positive, and decided to download Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist to my Kindle.

    What's this book all about?  

    Back in the 1990s, Michael Zuk was bitten by the cosmetic dentistry bug.  He bought into the highly motivational speeches he heard about how cosmetic dentists can change peoples' lives for the better by giving them beautiful smiles.  So Michael Zuk became a cosmetic dentist and eventually added orthodontics to his practice.  He got into the business of overhauling smiles by giving his patients veneers, replacing enamel with porcelain, and bleaching teeth into brilliant whiteness.

    Somewhere along the way, Dr. Zuk lost his enthusiasm for cosmetic dentistry.  He started to notice how some of his overly aggressive colleagues were ruining their clients' teeth with veneers.  He also noticed that cosmetic dentists were raking in a lot of cash for procedures that might eventually ruin a client's perfectly serviceable, but not quite camera ready, teeth.

    Dr. Zuk also discusses orthodontic treatments and offers his opinions on some of the newer treatments that are available, such as Invisalign.  A lot of clients are attracted to so-called high speed braces, even if the treatment won't make that much of a difference.  Dr. Zuk explains why clients need to be more informed about their options and the potential risks that can come from cosmetic dentistry.

    My thoughts 

    I think Dr. Zuk has written a very interesting and useful book for the general public, especially those who might be tempted to undergo a cosmetic dentistry makeover.  Dr. Zuk is brutally honest about the effect some of the more popular procedures, especially bleaching and veneers, might have on a person's teeth.  He seems particularly against veneers, which are apparently especially damaging to some people.  It seems a lot of cosmetic dentists sugar coat what actually happens to natural teeth when they undergo cosmetic restorations.  Clients may be left with a big bill and teeth that eventually fall apart.  I was pretty shocked when Dr. Zuk wrote that he'd sooner trust a good family dentist rather than a cosmetic dentist.  He seems to think the cosmetic dentistry industry is all about money and, in fact, often comes across as quite cynical.  On the other hand, some of his comments are pretty funny, too.  I actually laughed out loud a couple of times.

    One thing I noticed about this book is that it seems to be somewhat poorly edited.  I don't know if it's because of the Kindle, but in many instances throughout the book, there was no spacing between words.  So I ended up reading several sentences thatlookedlikethis.  It got to be pretty annoying.  Another thing that might be off putting to some readers, particularly if they are in the dental profession, is Zuk's rather pessimistic attitude.  He makes a lot of comments about how cosmetic dentists are only in the business to fatten their wallets.  He claims that cosmetic dentists are constantly fixated on other peoples' smiles, looking for ways they could be improved at a pretty penny.    


    I am lucky enough to have pretty good teeth, so I have never been attracted to the idea of getting cosmetic dental treatment.  Nevertheless, I did learn a lot from Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who might be thinking about taking the cosmetic dentistry plunge.  I do wish the book were better edited, especially for the Kindle.

    Lindy Boone Michaelis's book, Heaven Hears...

    And finally, here's my review of Lindy Boone Michaelis's book, Heaven Hears.  Posting this here because it seems wrong not to, since I put her sisters' book reviews on my blog.

    Lindy Boone Michaelis testifies about the power of prayer...

     Jul 16, 2013 (Updated Jul 16, 2013)
    Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
    Rated a Very Helpful Review

      Pros:Inspirational story.  Lindy Boone Michaelis comes across as real.  Good ghost writing.

      Cons:Will likely appeal most to religious people.

      The Bottom Line:Lindy Boone Michaelis is a loving mother who is using a tragic event for good.  Her story is worth reading.

      First thing's first.  I am not a particularly religious person.  I wouldn't necessarily say I'm an atheist, but my churchgoing days are long over and I'm not much into prayer.  I do, however, have sort of an obsession with Pat Boone and his family.  I read his eldest daughter Cherry's book, Starving for Attention, when I was in high school.  I read his famous daughter Debby's book, So Far, as an adult.  When I heard that his second oldest daughter, Lindy Boone Michaelis, had written her book, Heaven Hears: The True Story of What Happened When Pat Boone Asked The World to Pray for His Grandson's Survival, I knew I had to read it.  So far, the only sister I haven't read a book by is youngester daughter, Laury.

      Goodbye, charmed life...

      Like her three sisters, Lindy Boone Michaelis grew up very privileged in Beverly Hills, California.  Her father, Pat Boone, was a very popular singer, author, actor, and television host in the 1950s and 60s and even today can be seen pitching products on infomercials.  Though Michaelis had her share of leaner times, she explains that she'd lived a charmed life.  Until one fateful day in 2001, Michaelis writes that she was almost embarrassed by how "trouble free" her life had been, even though her first marriage had failed.  Michaelis had married Doug Corbin, a good looking athlete she met at Pepperdine University, when she was still very young.  That marriage produced two children, Ryan and Jessica.  It ended after seven years.  Though she and her first husband, Doug, divorced, they remained cooperative and raised their two kids together.  Both remarried; Lindy married her husband, Mike Michaelis in 1985 and had another son named Tyler.

      All was well until a June day in 2001, when her adult son, Ryan, fell forty feet through a skylight.  Doctors did not expect Ryan to live.  Lindy and her husband and son had been vacationing in Spain when Lindy got a phone call from sister, Debby, telling her about Ryan's horrific accident.  They rushed back to California to be at Ryan's side.    

      The power of prayer

      It's no secret that Pat Boone and his family are very religious.  When Ryan Corbin fell through that skylight, the whole family banded together and took to the airwaves to ask for prayers.  With help from Larry King, one of Pat Boone's oldest friends, they took their message to the masses and the world responded.  Against all odds, Ryan Corbin began to recover.  He eventually came out of his coma and made huge strides toward reclaiming his life.

      With Ryan's recovery came other challenges.  Though Lindy Boone Michaelis and her husband are blessed with resources such as insurance and personal wealth, they soon found themselves struggling with financing Ryan's care.  Michaelis explains what they did to take care of Ryan's bills and how they formed Ryan's Reach, a charitable organization dedicated to helping individuals with traumatic brain injuries and their families.

      My thoughts

      I mostly enjoyed reading Lindy Boone Michaelis's book, Heaven Hears, which was ghost written by Susy Flory.  This book seems very personal, as if it's coming straight from Lindy herself; Flory did a good job of co-writing this book and giving it Lindy's voice.  This book does include some of Lindy Boone Michaelis's history; it's not really about Pat Boone or even Ryan Corbin, but rather it's a story that comes from Lindy and is her perspective as a mother whose beloved firstborn was gravely injured.

      What I like about this book is that Lindy is very honest and comes across as a very real and nice person.  For instance, she writes that she doesn't swear.  She was raised by Pat and Shirley Boone and was taught not to cuss.  But she knows that other people swear and she doesn't hold it against them.  And when her son, Ryan, started swearing because of his brain injury, she learned to adapt and understand.  I appreciated the way she explained how difficult that was for her.  She realized that he couldn't help it.  Swearing was a way he could express himself; it was not the way he would have talked before he was hurt, but it was effective nonetheless and somehow miraculous, since he was never expected to live, let alone speak again.  I like that Lindy comes across as someone down to earth and normal.  Yes, she's a Christian, but she's not a goody two shoes.

      I also like the fact that Lindy Boone Michaelis is so devoted to her family, yet is very real about them.  Yes, she's been divorced and a lot of Christians seem to judge her for that (if you read Amazon reviews, that is).  But no one is perfect.  I like that Lindy owns the fact that she's made mistakes and can only keep trying, just like anyone can.  She's a good mom and Ryan is lucky to have her... and the rest of his family.  Not everyone who suffers traumatic brain injuries is so lucky.  By the way, Lindy is very generous with positive comments about her husband and her ex husband, and even her ex's wife, Victoria.  Apparently, they've all banded together for Ryan's sake.  I wish all blended families could be so supportive and loving.


      Even though I'm not particularly religious, I liked Heaven Hears.  While I don't know that this book would top the reading lists of people who aren't into religion or prayer, I enjoyed reading about Ryan Corbin's recovery and the way people around the world prayed for him.  I'm not sure prayer is the only reason he's recovered as much as he has, but I have to agree that the mere fact that he's alive and talking again is nothing short of miraculous.  It's good to see that his family is using his accident to better the lives of others through Ryan's Reach.

      For more information:   

      Cherry Boone O'Neill's book, Starving for Attention...

      I was a bit obsessed with this book when I was a teenager.  It started a lifelong fixation with Pat Boone and his family.  Posting this here so it doesn't get lost and because I know a lot of people are interested in Cherry Boone O'Neill, based on the hits this blog gets.  For the record, I think this is a pretty decent book about eating disorders.

      The pressures of being Pat Boone's daughter...

       Aug 27, 2003 (Updated Sep 22, 2011)
      Review by   
      Rated a Very Helpful Review

        Pros:Interesting insight into what it was like being Pat Boone's daughter. Good story.

        Cons:Purely anecdotal. Not much medical information. Dated.

        The Bottom Line:Sometimes I thank God I'm not the child of a celebrity.

        For some reason, I recently decided to re-read Cherry Boone O'Neill's 1983 memoir Starving For Attention after reading it for a high school paper I wrote when I was seventeen. It was interesting to revisit this book again after all these years, mainly because I have a totally different perspective now. Right now, I'm an adult and, in a manner of speaking, I'm a mental health professional. Back then, I was a high school student who was interested in eating disorders and had to write a book report.

        Cherry Boone O'Neill is Pat and Shirley Boone's oldest daughter. She has three younger sisters-- her mom had four daughters in three and a half years! When Cherry was born in Denton, Texas in 1954, Pat Boone was just beginning his meteoric rise into teen idol status and attending college. Fourteen months after Cherry's birth, her sister Lindy arrived, born in New York City. In 1956, Debby Boone was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. Then in 1958, youngest sister Laury was born. In the midst of his burgeoning career and the quick expansion of his family, Pat Boone managed to graduate from Columbia University, earning a degree in English. It wasn't long before Hollywood beckoned and the young family moved to California.

        Cherry writes that she was always eager to please, and having grown up with very strict parents who were strong Christians, she was especially motivated to toe the line. She also felt very responsible for watching her sisters. Debby was the most rebellious of the four sisters, while Laury was a mischief maker. Cherry tried hard to bring home straight A's. The girls were also incorporated into Pat Boone's act, especially since he had a TV series, the "Chevy Showroom". The girls made their television debut on the last episode of that program. As they grew up, they made albums, went on tours, and appeared as guests on other television shows like the "Flip Wilson Show", "Merv Griffin", and "Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour".

        When she was a teenager, Cherry began to have emotional problems brought on by school pressures. Rather than face classes that gave her trouble, she would fake illnesses and stay home. While she was at home, she would eat high calorie foods and watch TV. Before too long, she realized she was gaining weight-- so much that her school uniforms no longer fit her. Horrified, she made the decision to control her body. She put herself on a sensible diet and ordered a couple of gadgets that were advertised in the back of teen magazines. One gadget was a pair of "Bermuda shorts" that hooked up to the vacuum cleaner-- it was supposed to suck the fat off of her body. Another was a pair of stretchy leg wraps that made her legs look thinner. She started exercising more. Gradually, the diet turned into anorexia.

        At first, Cherry's family was proud of her. Then they became concerned. Cherry writes about an incident that occurred one Christmas after Cherry skipped dinner and then binged and purged when she thought everyone was asleep.

        My distended stomach ached-- I must have looked six months pregnant. My food frenzy began to slow down when I could no longer walk without bending over. Did I get everything I wanted? I guess so-- besides I can't eat any more.

        But wait! Some chocolates! I'll chew on those on the way upstairs with a glass of punch.

        Once in my bathroom, I completed the now familiar ritual I'd begun this time with that first bite of turkey. I forced my finger down my throat. After several gut-wrenching heaves I regurgitated as much as I could until nothing but small amounts of bile tinged pink with blood, emerged. I wiped off the toilet and began rinsing my beet-red face when I was startled by a hard knock on the door.

        "Cherry, what's going on?" My father's voice was stern.

        My heart pounded. I'm just going to the bathroom. Why?" I quickly straightened my hair, straightened air freshener, turned off the water.

        "Open the door, Cherry. You know the rules about no locked doors in this house."

        "You and Mommy lock your door sometimes," I answered back.

        "Open this door, Cherry! Right now!"

        "All right! All right! Just let me get my robe on," I stalled, trying to open the window for fresh air. Then I calmly unlocked and opened the door.

        "It doesn't take you fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, Cherry."

        "I haven't been in here fifteen minutes," I lied.

        "I was outside after taking a sauna and I looked up and saw your bathroom light on. I waited, listened, and I know I heard you vomiting." His eyes glistened with anger.

        "I did not! I swear! I was just going to the bathroom and washing my face!"

        "Look here, Cherry," he said, gripping my arm and pulling me back into the bathroom. "Look at yourself! Your face is red, your eyes are bloodshot, the room stinks and you're telling me you didn't throw up?"

        "I didn't, Daddy! I promise I didn't! I was going to the bathroom. I've been constipated so my face gets red. Honest!" My voice quavered with fear. Tears welled up in my eyes.

        "Cherry, I don't understand this. I know you're lying, but it's late and I have to get up early. We should both be in bed-- it's been a busy day. But don't think we aren't going to discuss this when I get back from Chicago! Now go to bed, and don't you get up again-- for any reason!"

        Suddenly he was gone and I stood alone in front of the mirror. I stared at my gaunt face, then burst into tears. 

        Stories of family squabbles like this one pepper the book, first with Cherry's parents and next with her husband, Dan O'Neill. Cherry's family was very close and loving, but some might say they were overly strict-- to the point of being smothering. Corporal punishment was employed on the girls into their late teens.

        Cherry did do some shocking things while she was ill. One night, after enjoying a nice dinner with her fiance, she promised him she would go straight to bed. But as she walked through the kitchen, she noticed that there were a couple of lamb chops in the dog's dish. Cherry loved lamb chops, so without thinking, she got down on her hands and knees and started eating them, not realizing that her fiance was at the window, watching her... until he started rapping on the window!

        I enjoyed reading this book because it has the elements of a story that I enjoy-- biography (or autobiography as the case may be), a fair amount of drama, some trivia and anecdotal information, and a touch of comedy. However, there isn't a whole lot of medical information in this book and the little bit you do find is quite dated. After all, Cherry suffered from anorexia back in the 70s, when many doctors had never even heard of the disorder. If you want to read an autobiographical story about anorexia with more up-to-date information, you would do better to read Marya Hornbacher's Wasted. Even that book is a little dated-- the author was treated in the late 80s and early 90s and treatments have changed drastically since then.

        This book led me to believe that Cherry was never hospitalized for long for her anorexia (there is some brief detail provided about one hospital stay she completed as an adult). There are pictures included of her, however, when she was ill. One disturbing photo shows her at 82 pounds, right before her first appointment with Dr. Raymond Vath, a psychiatrist in Seattle who is credited with helping her get past anorexia. She looks positively skeletal in that picture, as well as in a couple of others that show her at 88 pounds, eating at a picnic. There are a couple of other pictures that show her performing with her family-- the illness is not as easy to discern in those.

        Starving for Attention has been out of print for some time and may be hard to find. You may be able to locate it at a public library or on I think it's a worthwhile read, although I don't believe it's the only book you should read if you want to learn about eating disorders. By the way, Cherry and her husband had given birth to their first child, Brittany, at the end of this book. As of now, Cherry has had five children, proving that those with eating disorders can eventually go on to have children.

        My review of Debby Boone's life story at age 25, So Far...

        Another very popular review, despite the fact that Debby Boone's life story was published in 1981!  I think people are interested in this review because Debby wrote about Pat Boone's penchant for spankings.  People are dirty.  ;-)

        Debby Boone recalls beatings and Bible verses...

         Sep 22, 2011 (Updated Jan 22, 2012)
        Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
        Rated a Very Helpful Review

          Pros:Some details about Debby Boone and her famous father, Pat.

          Cons:Shoddy writing.  Abrupt ending.  Reveals little, except for Pat Boone's fondness for corporal punishment.

          The Bottom Line:I don't think Debby Boone did herself any favors with this book.

          The other night, I posted a news article on Facebook about 50s singer Pat Boone, who is apparently a tried and true Tea Partyer.  Boone was in the news for saying that President Obama was not really born in Hawaii.  He claimed that he went to Kenya and "everybody there" told him that Obama was born there.  Therefore, in Pat Boone's mind, Barack Obama is not eligible to be our president.  The response to my link about Pat Boone got lively and that inspired me to re-read his daughter Debby Boone's 1981 book, So Far.

          This isn't the first book I've read by Pat Boone's offspring.  When I was in high school, I read Cherry Boone O'Neill's book, Starving for Attention, because I was learning about eating disorders.  Cherry Boone O'Neill, Pat Boone's eldest daughter, had suffered from anorexia nervosa in the 1970s.  At the time, I didn't know that much about 50s sex symbol/teen idol Pat Boone.  I had heard of his daughter, Debby Boone, who had sung the smash hit "You Light Up My Life".  But other than that, the Boone family was a mystery to me.

          I learned a bit about Pat Boone's family from reading Cherry's book.  I knew that Pat Boone was a very strict disciplinarian and that he and his wife, Shirley, had raised their four daughters to be obedient servants of the Lord.  In her book, Cherry had explained that she and her sisters had grown up in luxury, but their days were centered around being perfect Christians.  Besides being heavily involved in church activities, Pat Boone's girls had inherited formidable musical talent and performed quite a bit.  I wanted to learn more about them, so a few years ago, I picked up Debby Boone's 1981 book, So Far, for the first time.  Now that I've read it a second time, I think I can probably put this book back on the shelf for good.

          Debby Boone's life story circa 1981

          At the very beginning of her book, Debby Boone writes that writing has never come easily for her.  She doesn't know why she's writing her life story.  She explains that she had originally been skeptical that writing her story would be worthwhile.  Her mind changed when she started getting fan mail from people.  Evidently, the mail got to be too much for her to answer, so she figured it would be easier to write a book.  Of course, it's not lost on me that those who wanted to get Debby's response would be paying hard earned money for the book.  But nevertheless, I guess her fans appreciated it.

          Bear in mind that Debby Boone was born in 1956.  In 1981, she was just 25 years old.  Yes, she had done some exciting things in her then brief lifetime.  She had grown up in California with a famous father.  She later became very famous herself, when she released the radio version of "You Light Up My Life", a song that was originally recorded by the late session singer Kasey Cisyk for the film by the same name.  Debby Boone's version of the song was huge and it made her a household name.  So, I imagine in 1981, Debby Boone was still pretty famous.  Why shouldn't she have written a book while people still remembered her name? Well, I'll tell you why.

          There's just not much to this book

          Debby Boone freely admits that she's not much of a writer.  She admits that as a child, she often handed in work that was done by her three sisters, rather than her.  At age 25, she hadn't really lived yet, although she apparently did spend a lot of time turned over her father's knee.

          Debby Boone was a bad girl

          Evidently, Pat Boone spanked his daughters even after they had reached the legal age of majority.  Debby Boone frequently describes behavior that, frankly, probably warranted punishment.  In fact, there are a few times in the book that she basically admits to being a manipulative bully to her sisters and kids she knew in school.  She seems almost a little proud of her brattiness, as she describes how she got some poor little boy in trouble by falsely accusing him of swearing at her.  Her tone is almost gleeful as she relates how she conned her younger sister, Laury, into riding her bike naked around the front yard and how, more than once, Laury took one of Pat Boone's legendary beatings in her stead because Laury had a tender heart and hated to see her sisters cry.

          Speaking of beatings

          Pat Boone was spanked until he was seventeen years old.  Apparently, Pat Boone's mother had a way with a strap and would make his bum smart so much that he couldn't sit down for awhile.  Apparently not to be undone by his mother, Pat Boone was also fond of using implements to discipline his daughters.  Debby Boone writes that she and her sisters would often compare "war wounds".  Pat Boone would use a slipper, a belt, or any other tool that stung to make his spankings really hurt.  Consequently, after one of Pat Boone's spankings, his daughters were often left with bruises.

          In a chapter entitled "The Last Spanking", Debby explains that when she was 19 years old, her father got angry with her for taking too long to get a snack from a hotel vending machine.  Pat Boone caught Debby in the hotel lobby, talking to one of the musicians in their band.  It was late and she had been gone about twenty minutes.  He was "worried", so he grabbed her, marched her upstairs, and gave her "what for".  He meant to give her a spanking, but in the course of their fight, had accidently hit her in the head.  The blow caused a goose egg and the hapless musician Debby had been talking to in the lobby called Pat on the phone to cool him down.  I guess it was enough time for Pat to come to his senses.  Supposedly, he never spanked Debby again.

          The B-I-B-L-E... 

          Debby Boone writes of her experiences helping children with autism, visiting sick children in hospitals, and working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM-- pronounced "why wham").  She seems proud of her work with children, given that her older sister, Cherry, and Cherry's husband, Dan, also worked with YWAM and no doubt had a lot to do with her choice to work with that organization.

          She also writes of how she became Mrs. Gabriel Ferrer.  For those who don't know, Debby Boone's mother-in-law is the late Rosemary Clooney.  That means she is related by marriage to George Clooney.  Of course, George Clooney was a nobody in 1981.

          As they were with everything else in their daughters' lives, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Boone were heavily involved in Debby's romances.  Gabriel Ferrer had to ask for Debby's hand in marriage.  And it was a good thing he was a devoted Christian.  Apparently, Pat Boone would not have stood for anyone but a "believer" to marry his daughters.

          An abrupt ending

          So Far comes to a screeching halt when Debby and Gabriel Ferrer get married.  A year after the wedding, they had their first child, Jordan.  These details are at the very end of the book, which to me, seems odd.  It's almost as if the major life events of getting married and becoming a mother were almost an afterthought.

          My thoughts

          I think Debby Boone was very premature in writing her life story, even if she admits it was only "so far".  I have a feeling she wrote this book for the money, which is, I guess, a valid enough reason to write it.  But she comes off as a bit smug and self-congratulatory in this book.  She reprints a couple of thank you letters she got from the mothers of sick kids she visited in the hospital.  She writes very little about her childhood.  Indeed, this book seems to be more about her life as a young adult than her life story.  And other than the fact that her dad employed corporal punishment, wouldn't let his daughters date or wear makeup until they were 16, and took liberties with his daughters' love lives and finances, she doesn't reveal that much about her family.

          I got a lot more out of Cherry Boone O'Neill's book, Starving for Attention, which was a lot more interesting, better written, and much more complete.  Debby Boone does include some photos, but they are poorly edited and a couple of them were also in Cherry's book.

          Even if you are a Debby Boone fan, I'm not sure So Far is worth reading.  If you're actually curious about what it was like to be Pat Boone's daughter, I recommend Starving for Attention.  I think Cherry far outshone Debby in the book writing department, even if Debby will always be known for her one hit wonder.


          I don't expect a lot of people are looking for this book anymore.   For good reason, it's long out of print.  Plenty of copies are available on Amazon, again, for good reason.

          Debby Boone's Web site:

          Joyce McKinney and her unwilling LDS sex slave...

          This is a repost of Anthony Delano's cheeky book, Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon.  This review has the distinction of once earning me $54 in one month.  It happens to be a book review, which is all the more amazing.  Book reviews didn't typically make a lot of money on Epinions.  Anyway, it was my most popular book review… it was probably my most popular review, period.  So I have to repost it.  The reposts will probably stop soon, since every day Epinions is a little more dismantled and it's getting hard to access all these old posts.

          Comments are now closed for this post.

          The lurid case of Joyce McKinney and her unwilling LDS missionary sex slave

           Jan 15, 2010 (Updated Jan 18, 2010)
          Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
          Rated a Very Helpful Review

            Pros:Well written, well researched, and a fascinating story.

            Cons:Not sympathetic to victim. Author treats case more like a joke than a crime.

            The Bottom Line:
            I wonder when the karma bus is going to catch up with Joyce McKinney...

            Back in 2008, a weird news story was circulating about an American woman who had gone to Seoul, South Korea and had her pet pit bull, Booger, cloned. South Korean scientists took a piece of Booger's ear and turned it into five cloned puppies. Booger's owner, who was calling herself Bernann McKinney, was strangely familiar to a lot of people in Great Britain. British author, Anthony Delano writes in his 2009 book Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon that McKinney was a bit frumpy and middle-aged, but the face was unmistakable.

            It turns out that Bernann McKinney, owner of the cloned pit bull, was actually Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen and notorious perpetrator of a sex crime that occurred in England in 1977. There was a time when Joyce McKinney was big news in Great Britain; she had been accused of kidnapping a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson, chaining him to a bed, and raping him. McKinney and her male accomplice, Keith May, jumped bail before they were tried and went back to America, where McKinney has continued to live an odd life.

            As it so happens, I was actually living in England in 1977, though at that time I was too young to know or care about this case. I found out about Joyce McKinney by reading a messageboard for former Mormons. It seems that the story of Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson had become missionary lore among Mormons. A regular poster on the messageboard brought up McKinney's story along with a link. I found out about Delano's book by following the link to a news article about the case.

            Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon was priced at $17 and appeared to be published by a small time outfit. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the story for many different reasons and that is what led me to purchase this book, which, I will admit, has sort of a tabloid feel to it.

            A brief rundown of what happened

            Joyce McKinney, who was called Joy back in the 1970s, had grown up in Avery County, North Carolina. She was an attractive natural blonde with a thick southern accent, big boobs, and a flair for drama. Indeed, before she got involved with a Mormon missionary, she had earned bachelor's and master's degrees in theater.

            Joy converted to Mormonism after living with a Mormon family and observing how close and loving the family was. She had lacked that connection as a child and thought that becoming a Mormon would allow her to achieve that same closeness with other people. After Joy converted to Mormonism, she moved to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University (BYU) and study for her doctorate in theater. It was at BYU that 27 year old Joy met 19 year old Kirk Anderson.

            While they were in Utah, Joy and Kirk apparently had a "fling" that included sexual intercourse. Kirk felt guilty about the premarital sex and confessed to his bishop. The bishop's solution was to get Kirk sent off on a mission for the church. Kirk was originally bound for California, but in light of his problem with Joy, the church sent him to Britain instead.

            Joy was obsessed with Kirk. Evidently, he was the one man who wasn't willing to have sex with her. Oh, I'm sure there were other men out there who wouldn't bed Joy, but apparently in her mind, Kirk was the one man she couldn't have. So Joy resolved to fly to England and make Kirk marry her. She found a willing accomplice in Keith May, a man who had answered an ad she had placed for a "free trip to Europe". They went to the little town where Kirk was doing his missionary work and, using a fake gun, managed to kidnap him and take him to a secluded cottage.

            Joy McKinney and Keith May chained Kirk to a bed and held him hostage. Joy made him wear silk pajamas and then tore them off his body. She played sexy music, wore negligees, plied Kirk with liquor, and sexually assaulted him in an attempt to get pregnant. When Joy and her accomplice loosened the chains on Kirk Anderson after he had agreed to marry her, he escaped. Joyce McKinney and Keith May were later arrested, but when they got out of jail on bail, they fled back to the United States, where McKinney has had a few more scrapes with the law. She was later found in Atlanta, Georgia, but Britain declined to extradite her.  Shockingly, she was never punished for kidnapping and raping Kirk Anderson, though Britain did sentence her to a year in prison in absentia.

            My thoughts

            Author Anthony Delano presents the story of Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon in a distinctly "cheeky" way, using a writing style that is unmistakably British. I could practically "hear" a clipped British accent as I read this bizarre tale. Besides writing the story of what happened with Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson in the 1970s, Delano adds some insight into the workings of the British press and photographers, which had a field day with this story. He also explains a bit about Mormonism and what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe. He includes snippets from books about Mormonism as well as articles about McKinney.

            In addition to her obsession with Kirk Anderson, Joyce McKinney was also preoccupied with Wayne Osmond and the Osmond family. Delano actually includes some quotes from Olive Osmond, the late matriarch of the famous Osmond clan. Evidently, Joyce McKinney tried very hard to soil the Osmonds' squeaky clean reputation. McKinney tried to pass herself off as squeaky clean herself, but thanks to digging done by the press, McKinney was revealed to be anything but a typical Molly Mormon. Delano includes some of these juicy revelations in the book.  Apparently, McKinney now denounces Mormonism and considers it a cult.  Some of her quotes may be very offensive to Mormons.

            The whole thing is presented in a very gossipy, tabloid way that I have no doubt will be very titillating and entertaining for some readers. After all, it's quite a juicy story that had a lot of Britons wagging their tongues back when it was current news. Even today, it's an amazing story that is almost too weird to be true.  Delano mostly treats McKinney like an oddball character rather than the criminal and liar that she is.  I will admit, though, that many people probably see her that way, rather than someone who ought to be avoided.  She has actually been rewarded for her criminal misdeeds and, in fact, did try to profit from the story back in the 1970s.  What's more, according to Delano, this case supposedly caused a number of Britons to investigate Mormonism and later become members of the church.

            That being said... as titillating and fascinating as this story is, part of me was rather disgusted by it. Let's face it. There's a huge double standard when it comes to men and women, particularly regarding sex crimes. Had Joyce McKinney been a man who had kidnapped a sister missionary back in the 1970s, she would have certainly been prosecuted and, if convicted, might even still be in prison. No one with any class would be acting as if this case were a big joke. As it stands now, the seriousness of McKinney's crime has been reduced to locker room fodder. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Kirk Anderson, who had made it very clear that he wasn't interested in having a sexual relationship with Joyce McKinney. He was a victim of sexual assault and kidnapping, yet people behave as if he should have enjoyed the experience. Few people would have taken that attitude if he were a woman in the same compromising position.


            I do think that Anthony Delano did a good job writing this book, even if it is billed as the "ultimate tabloid story" by Trashfiction. It is well researched and entertaining to read.  Though I feel sort of ashamed for enjoying this book, I think it's worthwhile reading for those who are interested in this case.  At the very least, Joyce McKinney is a fascinating character, particularly for those who are interested in true crime or psychology.  My money is on her having at least one, possibly two character disorders.

            For a news article about this:

            Wednesday, March 26, 2014

            Interesting book about a British woman with anorexia nervosa...

            I'm reposting this review of Catherine because I reviewed it last year and it was a rather popular post.  This book is out of print, but people are obviously still interested in it.  Given that it was written at a time when there weren't a lot of books about anorexia, I think it's prudent to save this write-up from last year.

            Interesting story about a young British woman with anorexia

             Jun 16, 2013 (Updated Jun 30, 2013)
            Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
            Rated a Very Helpful Review

              Pros:Interesting look at a British woman with anorexia at a time when anorexia wasn't well-known.

              Cons:May be hard to find.  British slang may be hard to understand.

              The Bottom Line:Harrowing story about a woman with anorexia nervosa.  Worth reading for those interested in the subject.

              A couple of weeks ago, I happened to stumble across a pro-ana blog. Pro-ana, for those who don't know, is a movement that sees eating disorders as "lifestyles".  The author of the blog had posted a list of books and films she'd used for "thinspiration"; that is, she'd read or watch these books and movies to inspire herself to engage in anorexic eating habits.  I noticed her list of films and she'd included a film called Catherine, which was a made for TV film on BBC in the 1980s.  Someone posted Catherine on YouTube.  I watched it, then discovered that the film had been based on a book published in 1986 by Maureen Dunbar, Catherine's mother.  The book, Catherine: The Story of a Young Girl Who Died of Anorexia Nervosa, was based on the true story of Catherine Dunbar's seven year struggle with eating disorders at a time when a lot of people didn't know much about eating disorders.

              Catherine's story

              Maureen Dunbar begins by writing about how her 15 year old older daughter, Catherine, was sent home from boarding school in 1977 because her headmistress was very concerned about her.  Catherine had stopped eating and lost a lot of weight.  Catherine was accompanied by her younger sister, Anna, who was still healthy.

              Maureen Dunbar explains that she had four children, two older sons and two younger daughters.  She had weaned Catherine early from breastfeeding because her kids were all born close together.  She was exhausted trying to keep the breastmilk flowing.  From that time on, Catherine was a difficult eater, though she was basically normal and healthy until she hit her teen years.  It sounded a little like she blamed herself for her daughter's troubles, which was kind of sad to me.

              When Catherine came home from school that day, Maureen Dunbar had no idea of the seven year nightmare that was to follow.  Over the ensuing years, she would see her beautiful daughter lose weight until she became emaciated.  Catherine would be sectioned under Britain's Mental Health Act more than once.  She would run away from hospitals and refuse to cooperate with health care providers and family members.  Eventually, she would get to the point at which she just gave up on life and waited to die.

              Catherine Dunbar died at the age of 22 on January 2, 1984.  She weighed about 50 pounds.

              My thoughts

              This book is based on Catherine Dunbar's diary and her mother's own memories.  It's a very frank discussion of anorexia nervosa, with some family drama thrown in.  Maureen Dunbar was a more permissive parent, while her husband, John, was much more stern.  The two often butted heads over raising their children with John wishing to be stricter with Catherine, especially about her eating.  The Dunbars had marital problems, which were both exacerbated by and played into Catherine's illness.

              Maureen Dunbar mostly seems extraordinarily dedicated, except for one period in which she left home because she couldn't deal with the stress of being at home and her marital problems.  She eventually came back to tend to Catherine, who was both trying to launch an independent life and dealing with her severe eating disorder.

              This is a fairly short book.  I read it in a matter of hours while the power was out the other day.  Dunbar includes photos of her family and includes shots of Catherine, who was extremely thin toward the time of her death.  I managed to find a used copy of, though they may be hard to come by.  The book is now out of print. Someone has posted the film version on YouTube and it's somewhat close to the book's version of events.  I will warn American readers that it helps to be familiar with British slang; otherwise, you may not understand everything.


              Catherine is a very British book.  It's been out for many years so it may be hard to find.  But if you are interested in true stories of people who have suffered from eating disorders, it may be worth tracking down a copy of Catherine.  This account is wrenching; I really came away with an idea of how helpless Catherine's family must have felt as they watched their loved one wither away into nothing.

              This is a British made for TV movie based on the book.

              Two appearance related news stories that frost my buns...

              For the past few days, I've really been on a religion/adoption kick.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been  reading other news stories.  One of the main reasons I am so eager to move overseas again is that the United States is ever wackier as extreme people keep trying to take over the country.  We've got extremely liberal people trying to force everyone to be tolerant and politically correct about everything under the sun.  And we've got lots of extremely conservative people trying to force everyone to live by what they deem Biblical principles.  These two extremes in thought are constantly clashing and causing issues for those of us who are moderate and just want to get on with life with as little fuss as necessary.

              In the past few days, there have been two stories about kids going to private schools being refused admission for not fitting in the normal parameters of appearance.  I decided to post about them here, since they sort of fit in with the theme I've unofficially been running for the past few days.  

              The first story is about an 8 year old girl from Virginia who was attending a private Christian school.  Raised by her grandparents, Sunnie Kahle is a typical cute girl who likes sports, sneakers, jeans, and t-shirts.  She has short hair and looks like a tomboy.

              Sunnie's grandparents, Doris and Carroll Thompson, received a letter from Sunnie's school, Timberlake Christian School, indicating that she should attend a different school because she doesn't appear to accept her "God-ordained identity" as a girl.  The powers-that-be at this school apparently think little Sunnie isn't feminine enough.

              What is the purpose for an 8 year old child to look girly?  What is that all about?  Isn't looking girly all about being attractive to boys?  At 8 years old, isn't Sunnie kind of young for that kind of pressure?

              I get that it's a Christian school and many Christians are not all that tolerant of people who don't fit their rigid ideas of what's right and what's not.  But hell, lots of girls don't like wearing dresses.  Lots of women don't like wearing makeup or bras.  It doesn't mean there's anything "weird" about them.  I'm guessing this is more about Sunnie being a bad influence toward other little girls because she's not as feminine as they are.  Obviously, they are afraid Sunnie might be gay and will turn other kids gay.  And that's just a bunch of nonsense.  Nobody chooses to be gay.

              Sunnie's grandparents took her out of the school and they say she's very upset about not attending since all her friends go there.  I'm hoping she gets to go to a better school where people are a little more tolerant of people who are different.  The folks at Timberlake Christian School seem to need a lesson in what Jesus would do rather than applying their legalistic moral code to the way they think an innocent 8 year old child ought to look.

              ETA: Since I posted this, Timberlake Christian School has issued a press release which doesn't say a whole lot and actually left me with a worse impression than the original media coverage did.  I have a friend who lives near where this school is and knows someone who knows the family involved.  As usual, the press has done some spinning and there is a lot more to the story that what has been reported. Based on what my friend tells me, it sounds like Sunnie may be transgendered.  If that's the case, she should definitely be in another school.

              Moving on, in Grand Junction, Colorado, 11 year old Kamryn Renfro decided she wanted to show support to her bald, cancer-stricken, best friend, 11 year old Delaney Clements.  In a generous show of solidarity rare in kids, Kamryn decided to shave her head.  Delaney loved what her friend did.

              But then Kamryn tried to go back to school at Caprock Academy and was not allowed in.  Why?  Because her bald head violated the school's dress code.  Caprock Academy appears to be a charter school, which means that it's a tuition free alternative to public school.  In this case, it appears that school administrators have a policy that is intended to keep order and they applied it without using common sense.  That's a common issue in education today.

              I can see why school officials don't want to have kids doing extreme things to their appearances.  While having a shaved head is probably okay for little boys and must be fine for cancer patients, it's definitely noteworthy when a girl does it.  I can understand why they would hesitate to encourage that, since it very well might cause a commotion that detracts from the learning environment.  On the other hand, it's just hair… and the reason Kamryn did it is beautiful and ought to be encouraged.  It's rare for a child to show that kind of selfless compassion toward a friend.  I think that is a much bigger issue than the risk that Kamryn's bald head might briefly cause a ruckus at school.  The kids will get used to the baldness anyway.

              This isn't a case of a kid trying to attract attention to herself by getting a bunch of tattoos, dying her hair hot pink, and wearing a nose ring.  It's about a girl being very kind and empathetic to her friend and supporting her in her illness.  At least the officials at Caprock Academy seem to be applying common sense now, which is more than I can say for the folks that run Sunnie's former school.