Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Goldie Hawn's snot nosed brats...

Forgive me...  Oliver and Kate Hudson, adult children of Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson, are certainly not kids anymore.  Maybe I shouldn't call them snot nosed brats... although I do think Oliver Hudson's recent Father's Day stunt was an example of snot nosed brat like behavior.  It pissed me off to read about it.

Like so many other fathers out there, Bill Hudson has a rocky relationship with his two eldest children.  He has been estranged from them for many years, though unlike my Bill, Bill Hudson has had the chance to see them over the years.  Perhaps it's because they're all in the public eye?

Anyway, on Father's Day, Oliver Hudson posted a photo of himself and his sister, Kate, with their biological father with the caption Happy Abandonment Day @katehudson.  They both then posted intimate photos of themselves with Hawn's ex lover, Kurt Russell, addressing him as Pa.  Naturally, all of this shit quickly went viral and Bill Hudson's phone started ringing off the hook, ruining the Father's Day he was celebrating with his youngest child.  Hudson responded by saying that his eldest kids are now "dead to him" and he no longer considers them his children.  He adds that they should refrain from using his last name.  At least my Bill's kids got their names changed.

I always cringe when I see these kinds of posts because I know the comments are going to be brutal.  I was surprised when I saw many comments supporting Bill Hudson, perhaps even as many supporting the Hudson siblings.

The first article I read about this was on Yahoo!, so it was pretty short on details.  I sought out the longer Daily Mail article about the Hudsons.  As I read about Bill Hudson's relationship with Goldie Hawn and Oliver and Kate, I couldn't help but relate.  The pain he described reminded me a lot of my own husband's pain as his kids abandoned him in favor of their mother's third husband.  I can't tell you how many times I have listened to my husband sob over his lost kids.  And maybe while it would be more adult for me to simply try to understand that they have been manipulated, I can't help but be pissed off.  

This isn't the first time I've read about Bill Hudson and Oliver and Kate.  I think the strife has been going on for a long time.  And frankly, while I never want to hear about a parent disowning their kids, I completely understand why Bill Hudson said what he said.  When you have two kids who refuse to have anything to do with you, treat you with contempt, and smear you publicly, it gets progressively more difficult to turn the other cheek and continue to take the high road.  Moreover, Oliver and Kate Hudson are now well into adulthood.  I might expect this kind of behavior from a teenager, but adult children in their 30s should behave better.  They should have taken this dispute private.

I realize I look at this from the perspective of someone who is married to a guy whose kids disowned him.  I have seen firsthand how hurtful that behavior is.  I don't necessarily condone Bill Hudson's decision to publicly disown his two oldest kids, but I do understand why he did it.  My guess is that he just wants the pain to stop.  He wants peace.  What Oliver Hudson did was aggressive and unnecessary and completely classless.

I read that Bill Hudson removed all the pictures of Oliver and Kate from his home, along with other reminders of them.  I can relate to that.  In 2013, when we moved to Texas, I stumbled across a box of photos of my husband Bill's ex and the ex kids.  I also found a couple of sweet cards Bill wrote to her, promising that he would change and be a better husband to her.  The cards made me feel sick because I know he wrote them in a desperate bid to keep his marriage going.  I also know that he wasn't the one who needed to change his behavior.  

Despite my husband's best efforts and attempts to make his ex wife happy, the whole thing fell apart anyway, and all Bill had left to show for it was a box of shitty memories.  I am proud to report that like Bill Hudson, Bill threw it all away.  He also told his father that he's not interested in hearing reports about his daughters on the rare occasions they make contact, mainly because his father can't seem to refrain from telling Bill that his daughters don't want to talk to or about him-- but they do apparently still want to maintain contact with part of Bill's family.  I wouldn't say Bill considers his kids dead to him, but he no longer hangs on to the hope that they can have a normal, loving relationship.  And it's not because he didn't want to have a relationship; this was entirely their decision and their doing.  I know Bill is not the only man in this situation.

Parental alienation is a terrible thing for everyone involved.  On one level, I feel sorry for kids like Kate and Oliver and Bill's daughters who are caught in the middle of a divorce.  On another level, I think targeted parents of parental alienation have the right to reclaim their lives, especially when the divorce has been final for decades as it has between Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson.  Parents shouldn't have to tolerate being publicly harassed, belittled, and bullied by their estranged children.

Oliver Hudson is a grown man who needs to get the fuck over himself.  If he wants to be Kurt Russell's son, he certainly has the means to make that happen legally.  I would suggest he pursue an adoption or a legal name change and leave Bill Hudson alone.  If he and Kate appreciate Kurt so much as their "Pa", they should simply be grateful and stop with the inflammatory Instagram photos of Bill Hudson.  If Bill Hudson is such a shitty father and terrible person, why would they want to engage him with nasty Instagram posts?  My guess is that it's because deep down, they still care.  Enough is enough, though.  Shit or get off the pot.  Either hash it out and make amends or just go the fuck away.  

"U-G-L-Y and you ain't got no alibi, you ugly!  What? What?  You UGLY!"

Monday, June 29, 2015

Facebook fatigue... and slavery

Yesterday was fairly pleasant.  Bill and I did some Sunday shopping at the PX and commissary and we stopped by our favorite local Irish pub for lunch.  Then we came home and I put my feet up because one of my ankles has been persistently swelling with pitting edema.  I watched old Family Ties episodes for a few hours.  Then Bill shared an article on Facebook about Irish slaves.  I had not seen it before and thought it was interesting, though I wasn't absolutely sure how factual it was.  So I shared it with the comment "interesting read".  This is pretty much the article I shared, though it came from a different Web site.

Within minutes of sharing it, I got a comment from a guy I barely know who said it was an interesting read, but had largely been debunked.  My response was "Thanks for your input".

I'm sure he realized that he had annoyed me, because he quickly added that someone else had shared it and he was curious.  He did some research and decided that the article got things wrong.  I wrote back, "I don't disagree with you.  I just thought it was an interesting read."  And that was the truth.  I didn't call anyone to action for the way Irish people had been mistreated-- and it is a verifiable fact that Irish people were mistreated and enslaved by the British.  I just said I thought the article was interesting, a comment that one could take in a number of ways, though most people would probably assume I wholly agreed with it.

I don't know if I totally agree with the content of the article or not.  I would need to do more reading and research.  I am a big believer in reading Snopes before spreading bullshit to the masses.  I checked Snopes for articles about Irish slaves or Irish slavery and found nothing posted.  I did find this and this.    

I finally told the guy that perhaps it wasn't a bad thing to share an article that makes you want to do more research about a subject.  I was going to leave the article up for more comments.  But then, about ten minutes later, I decided to delete the post because I didn't want a mass of people arguing with me over the veracity of the claims, especially since racism is such a hot topic right now.  The last thing I wanted to wake up to this morning was a bunch of comments on Facebook asking me how I dare to share an article about Irish slavery when everyone knows African slaves had it so much worse.    

Whether or not the Irish slave story is, in fact, a myth, this incident brought to mind a secondary effect of living in a Facebook world.  It used to be home was a place where one could mostly escape being challenged by other people.  In the days before Facebook, you'd go out into the world to work or school, interact with people, and then come home where you might have peace and quiet if everyone in your household got along.  You'd have your dinner, get into your pajamas, and go to sleep.  Hopefully, the next morning you'd awake refreshed and ready to deal with more annoyances from the outside world.  

Nowadays, people are plugged into Facebook 24/7.  Sometimes that's a good thing.  You can keep in touch with family and friends and get to know people you otherwise would never know.  I have made a number of friends that way myself.  But there's also an adverse effect of using Facebook in that there is a higher probability that people are going to conflict with and irritate you and you may end up "fatigued" sooner.  Since I am highly susceptible to being irritated by others, it's probably not a good thing that I stay on Facebook.   

The guy who responded to my post is someone I rarely interact with.  I met him on Epinions.  He's a music buff and, rumor has it, he's a talented singer.  I know he's very liberal and gay and probably very sensitive to race issues.  I have nothing against that, although I do think that sometimes Americans forget that black people are not the only people who have been mistreated, exploited, and enslaved.  Sometimes they also forget that slavery that existed in the 19th century is not the only slavery that has existed in America.  

The fact is, slavery as a government endorsed practice ended in the United States during the 19th century, but slavery still goes on today.  According to the Global Slavery Index, there are more slaves today than there have ever been...  although I don't know how they could ascertain that given that data collection methods have evolved a lot in recent years.  If you don't have accurate data from earlier generations, how can you know how many slaves were really out there?

I guess I could be grateful that I'm even thinking about this stuff instead of the other stupid crap that gets posted on Facebook.  After all, most people waste their time oohing and ahhing over kitten videos.

This is about YouTube, but I think it applies to Facebook, too.

I think another reason why this situation irked me is because in my pre-Facebook life, it would be much less likely that some guy I barely know would publicly call me out in that way.  Being behind a computer screen emboldens people.  Sometimes that's not a bad thing, but other times, it sort of leads to a loss of civility.  Of course, in my pre-Facebook life, I probably never would have stood in the town square, held up an article about Irish slaves, and opened myself up to commentary.  If I had done that, maybe a practical stranger would have dressed me down publicly.  Somehow I doubt it, though, because confronting someone in person is more intimidating than confronting them online.     

Maybe I'd be less exasperated if the guy who called me out was someone I interacted with regularly.  I probably would have been annoyed regardless, but if it was someone I talked to often, we could discuss it on a more even field.  I suppose I could have engaged further with the guy, but having someone say right off the bat that the article has been "debunked" kind of shuts down the discussion.  And then I further shut it down when I told him I didn't necessarily disagree with his comments.  Because if someone doesn't disagree with you, that doesn't exactly promote debate.

I wasn't exactly looking for debate anyway.  I just thought it was an interesting article and shared it.  But that's another aspect of Facebook that is annoying, because every time you post something, you invite someone to interpret it or argue with you about it.  Things can get ugly even on the most innocuous postings because you can't control how other people will react to things.  That's yet another reason why Facebook fatigue exists.  You can post something that you know is pretty safe and be bored... and boring.  Or you can post something more controversial and risk heated debates with other people.        

Maybe I would have liked to have discussed the topic of Irish slaves with some of my friends, but I think it's a topic best left alone right now, at least on Facebook.  Or, at least it's a topic that is best left alone by ME right now, because I am not interested in heated debates with people I barely know on Facebook.  Which reminds me... maybe it's time to prune my friends list again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The God Warrior...

I don't use Twitter very much.  I am far too wordy to avail myself of its limited capacity for posting and I have no patience for reading Tweets.  So I don't have the Twitter bug and really only look at it every once in awhile.  

Several years ago, when I was searching for an appropriate avatar for Facebook and didn't want to use my real photo, I found this funny meme of Marguerite Perrin, aka The God Warrior.  Perrin is so named because about ten years ago, she appeared on a reality show called Trading Spouses and completely freaked out, creating unintentional comedy gold.

God Warrior!

I laughed my substantial ass off watching this, so I decided to adopt Perrin's meme as my avatar.  I think it suits me.  I later changed my picture on other social media sites, but never bothered to on Twitter.  Today, Alexis commented on how funny it was, so I directed her to Marguerite on YouTube, where she can check out the madness for herself.

I could easily make fun of Marguerite because she is a bit nutty.  But she's actually had a rather tragic life.  On September 25, 2007, after this show aired, Marguerite's daughter Ashley died in a car accident.  Also, I think Marguerite was genuinely upset about her experience on the show, though she later was more light-hearted.  She even made a rap song.

Marguerite's song... "Why Can't You Be Sweet?"

I was thinking maybe I'd write something serious today.  I actually have a few things on my mind right now.  But it's such a beautiful day and I don't want to spoil it by getting serious.  So here it is... my God Warrior post.  Marguerite Perrin sure made things easy for the writers on Trading Spouses, though I don't think that show is on the air anymore.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Congratulations to all my gay and lesbian friends! And more dependa bashing....

And I do have a lot of them.  Yesterday's Supreme Court decision to allow same sex marriage in all 50 states is an amazing victory.  I want to go on record as being very pleased.

There's so much I could write about this morning.  Sure, I could wax poetic about gay and lesbian rights and how great yesterday's Supreme Court decision is, but not being homosexual myself, I doubt there's much I could say that would really resonate.  I am happy that more people now have the right to marry and show their love to the world.  For now, I'll just leave it at that.

I could write about the exciting news that Richard Matt, a convicted murderer who escaped from prison with fellow killer, David Sweat, was shot and killed yesterday.  I have been following the case, mainly because of Joyce Mitchell, the former prison tailor who helped them escape and is now facing prison.  I find her a rather pathetic character...  I actually feel a little sad for her, too.  But I think I'll have time enough to write about that case as the search for David Sweat continues.

Nope...  I think today I will revisit yet another favorite topic of mine.  Behold...

This was posted on Facebook by Fort Benning MWR...

I suspect this meme was created in part because this week, the Military Times published an article about military spouses being called "dependapotamuses".  It's not the first time this topic has come up, either in the news or in my blog.  I wouldn't write about it today, except that I thought the above photo presented an interesting perspective on what it means to be a military spouse.

Now, for me personally, the above meme doesn't work.  I don't have kids and Bill was mostly never in jobs that required him to work extremely long hours.  I never had to suffer through any extended deployments.  Yes, I will go on record as saying that I had it very easy as an Army wife.  I am not complaining, either.  The Army was good to Bill and to me by proxy.  To be honest, Bill takes care of me more than I take care of him.

However, for many spouses, the above meme does work.  They do take care of everything on their own, especially if they have children.  Being a spouse can be difficult, especially when you are also dealing with people who are bullies.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of bullies in the military community who love to trash spouses, even though only a small percentage of them are actually what one could call "dependas".  It's like a sport for some of them, looking for spouses to pick on and harass.

Every time this topic comes up, there are people who defend the practice of dependa bashing.  They say they are calling out the entitled spouses who are simply milking a paycheck.  But what about the shitty service members who put on a uniform but simply collect their paychecks?  They exist, too.

According to some of my service member friends, these folks don't get off easy.  In fact, they supposedly get "hazed" worse than so called dependas do.  I should probably just detach from the military environment, but that can be hard to do when it's the source of one's livelihood... or, in my case, my husband's livelihood.  He graciously lets me mooch.  :D

I'm sitting here thinking about it and it occurs to me that this issue would make for an entertaining PSA on the Armed Forces Network (AFN).  Anyone who has been affiliated with the military or the government knows about AFN.  They provide radio and TV services for Americans overseas.

When we lived in England, my family didn't get AFN.  We got British TV.  But when I was in the Peace Corps, I became very familiar with AFN because there was a TV in the U.S. embassy restaurant and bar.  Armenia was such a close knit community that volunteers mingled with people that worked in the government.  I ended up seeing  a lot of AFN propaganda and took note of their ridiculous PSAs intended to get service members to straighten up and fly right.  And, of course, I have seen AFN in Europe, too.  We don't get it at our house, but anyone who lives on an installation can get it.  For me, the only reason to watch AFN is for the shitty PSAs, which are in their own class of entertainment.

An example of a PSA on AFN...

And another...

Hee hee hee... I could totally make one, couldn't I?

Perhaps if I were a little more camera ready, I might make a spoof of a dependa bashing PSA for AFN...  Maybe the next time I get really bored.

Friday, June 26, 2015

You know what bugs me?

Actually, a lot of things bug me.  It's part of my charm.  Apologies to those who realize today's post is a bit of a rerun, but this issue just keeps popping up time and again.

Last night, as we were finishing dinner, Bill and I started talking about the recent Confederate flag controversy.  We are both from the South, so the flag was part of our upbringing.  I was a kid when The Dukes of Hazzard was on TV and I've seen Gone With The Wind many times.  I went to graduate school in South Carolina and happened to be there in 2000, when the flag was taken off the Statehouse.  In 2000, the Confederate flag was a hot issue.  I remember a lot of people had bumper stickers on their cars that read "Take it down."  The flag was taken down and relocated to the Statehouse grounds.  Frankly, I kind of thought that was worse because it made it much more visible.  When it was on the dome, it looked small.  On the ground, it was up close and personal.  I remember when they first moved the flag, a state trooper was dispatched to guard it 24/7.  Seemed like a huge waste of taxpayer funds.

Since Dylann Roof's tragic decision to shoot up a Charleston area church and kill nine black people, the Confederate flag issue has been raised yet again.  I understand that Roof is a racist who embraced the Confederate flag.  What I don't understand is how that flag is blamed for what he did.  If the flag was no longer around, would that make Roof not racist anymore?  Somehow, I doubt it.  I think he would be racist regardless.  The flag is just a symbol, not a cause, of his racism.

Now... I completely understand why many people think the flag should be put in a museum.  I'm at the point now that I agree with taking it off government property.  Hell, we can't even have Christmas decorations on government property anymore so why should the Confederate flag be any different?  But is the flag really the cause of someone's deep seated racism?  I don't think so.  I think that attitude came from something far more sinister than a flag.  It doesn't seem like most people are talking about that.  They're talking about burying a symbol, which only has meaning because people gave it meaning.

It seems like whenever something like this happens, people have a knee jerk reaction that involves making new laws or limiting peoples' right to express themselves.  If you've been reading this blog, you may already know how I feel about banning words and symbols.  I think it's wrong.  The reason I think it's wrong is because people will always find a way to be insulting and unkind.  Ultimately, banning words because they hurt feelings is futile because it does nothing to address the attitudes and ignorance that cause people to be hurtful and cruel.

It's very easy to ban words and symbols that are offensive.  The word retard is offensive and mean?  Fine.  Let's ban it.  Let's make it unacceptable to use that word in public because some people are offended by it, even though the word retard actually has a number of useful definitions and is, in and of itself, innocent.

The Confederate flag is offensive?  Let's ban it.  Let's make it unacceptable for people to fly it on their personal property and automatically label those who dare to racists, even if we don't know them and have never had a discussion with them about why they display it.  The article I linked actually pissed me off a bit because the author apparently was never bothered by his neighbor's flag until Dylann Roof shot people in South Carolina.  Suddenly, his neighbor's Confederate flag enraged him.  It wasn't a problem until some guy in South Carolina, not even in the same state the author lives in, decided to kill people.  Then it was suddenly a problem.    

Does burying symbols and demanding that people change the way they communicate change attitudes?  I don't know.  When I was growing up, a lot of people openly used the n-word.  Nowadays,  you don't hear it so much because it's become taboo.  But we still have a big problem with racism.  In fact, it almost seems worse now than it was in the 70s and 80s.  Of course, that could be because we have news 24/7 now.  The media is forever stirring the pot and getting people riled up about issues.

Personally, I think words and symbols are mostly innocent.  It's the asshole who is using it to be hurtful to other people who needs to be dealt with.  But most people don't want to be confrontational, so instead of simply dealing with the people who are offensive, they campaign to ban words... And often even words that sound like an offensive word end up being taboo, too.

Last fall, I got into it with a Facebook friend about the word niggardly.  Niggardly sounds like a terrible word, but is actually completely innocent.  It has absolutely nothing to do with racism.  It's not even spelled the same way as the racist epithet and has different origins that actually pre-date the n-word.  My position is that it shouldn't be taboo.  Granted, I don't use it myself because so many people think it's an epithet and don't know what it means.  I've got better things to do with my time than get into it with someone who doesn't know that the word niggardly basically means stingy or miserly.  But I also think it's on those who don't know what the word niggardly means to get out a dictionary and get educated, not expect those with more evolved vocabularies to change the way they express themselves.

Of course, my "friend" disagreed and felt that the word should be banned because it sounds offensive and therefore upsets people.  What amazes me is that this guy is a teacher, for Chrissakes!  I don't think teachers should go out of their way to be offensive, but I do think they should educate their students.  If you use the word niggardly in an appropriate way, people should not be offended because it's not an offensive word.  If they are offended, they should be educated.  If they still choose to be offended, then that is on them.  I don't think people should look to be offended when no offense was intended.  In a way, being offended over someone's use of an unlucky word like niggardly is as bad as intentionally being offensive by using overtly racist language.  It creates unnecessary hostility and strife.

I don't think banning words and symbols is the answer to dealing with problems involving hurt feelings.  I think a respectful person tries hard not to use language that is offensive; but not everyone is going to be respectful.  Trying to bury language and symbols and forcing people to change their vocabulary won't suddenly make disrespectful people kind and decent.  In fact, I think campaigning to ban so-called offensive language and symbols will really only make things worse because then the words and symbols become "forbidden fruit".

You can tell people to stop using offensive language, but only the ones who give a shit about other people will listen to you.  Those who are actually causing the problems are probably not going to change.  And now, instead of just being upset about a person's racist and ignorant attitudes, you're also upset because of the taboo language he or she uses despite peer pressure that attempts to stop them.

I think words and symbols are the least of our problems... but they are the quickest and easiest things to change.  It's easy to get on a soap box and tell people that words like retard and fag are taboo and need to be stricken from our vocabularies.  It's much harder to tackle the real issues behind those words that cause people to want to use them.  Until we focus our attention on what's really important, things won't change, whether or not the Confederate flag flies at the South Carolina Statehouse.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Northern Virginia... where doctors can be assholes...

Actually, doctors anywhere can be assholes.  It's just that in northern Virginia, two doctors were caught being assholes while tending to a patient under sedation who was also recording them on a smart phone.  Having lived in northern Virginia for a few years, it kind of doesn't surprise me that this incident occurred there, although I'm sure it could have happened anywhere.

Back in April 2013, a Vienna, Virginia man was at a same day surgery center having a colonoscopy done.  He was concerned about post op instructions, so he used his phone to record the procedure.  Now, in the Washington Post article I linked to, it says the man only wanted to get instructions and was surprised he got the whole procedure.  I find that part of the story a little strange.  Wouldn't you know you were going to be recording everything if you pressed the record button before you went under?  But anyway, the end result is that the guy ended up recording two doctors, Tiffany M. Ingham, an anesthesiologist, and Solomon Shah, a gastroenterologist, making very rude and inappropriate comments about him.

I'm not going to rehash exactly what was said because you can read any of the number of articles already posted about that.  By clicking the video above, you can even listen to an abridged version of the recorded nasty comments that convinced a jury to award the patient $500,000.  I just want to comment that what these two doctors did, while perhaps understandable to a small degree, could have a chilling effect on the development of trust between doctors and patients.

If you read this blog regularly, you may already know that I never visit doctors unless I am about to croak.  I have serious trust issues with them, mainly because a military doctor I saw in the 90s traumatized me.  I understand that I should see doctors.  I know intellectually that they could prolong or save my life.  I just have a really hard time putting myself in a doctor's care.  This case does absolutely nothing to make me want to trust healthcare providers.

Imagine how this man must have felt when, as he was coming out of his anesthesia induced stupor, he heard a recording of his doctors viciously trashing him as they perform a very intimate procedure on him.  This man was in a state of extreme vulnerability, yet his doctors were callously making comments about his penis and wondering if he was gay because of where he went to college (an excellent Virginia school, by the way).

I don't know what this guy is like in person.  Maybe he is annoying.  Maybe he does ask more of his medical care providers than they think is warranted.  It's natural to want to mock people who get on your nerves.  I do it myself.  However, there is a time and a place for mocking others.  If you are a healthcare professional and people are trusting and paying you to take care of them, you need to be especially mindful of your behavior.  

What I think is especially sad is that these two doctors have presumably spent many years preparing for their professions.   I believe Dr. Ingham has been a military doctor, which means she may not have had a shit ton of school loans to repay.  Still, when you think of the blood, sweat, tears, and expense that goes into becoming a physician, it's amazing that she would risk ruining her career over trashing a sedated man.

How many people who have read yesterday's news are now going to be willing to let these two doctors take care of them?  Moreover, how many people are now going to think twice about trusting their doctors or avoid seeing them altogether?  Maybe a lot of people won't notice or care that these physicians are in the news... but there will definitely be some who will.  I bet many doctors will also forbid patients to have their phones with them while they are sedated.

Anyway, I'm glad the plaintiff has prevailed in this case.  I am sure it will be appealed, though I think the plaintiff is entitled to something for the way he has been treated.  And I think, in the end, these two doctors will find that their loose lips will sink their careers.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nagging bitches...

The other day, while Bill and I were in The Netherlands, I did something I hate to do.  I nagged Bill about his declining physique.  You may think I'm a hypocrite for doing that.  You'd be right.  I am in no position to nag anyone about their body.  But I did last week.  We were sitting at the table and Bill's gut was protruding a bit.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I mentioned it.  He flushed and was immediately embarrassed.  He said now he was going to starve himself.

I said, "There is no need to do that.  I think you just need to go back to the gym."

When Bill was on active duty, going to the gym was part of his job.  He had to work out to continue to meet weight standards.  Now that he's retired, he doesn't have to do that anymore.  So he goes to work earlier than he needs to, works hard all day, comes home, fixes dinner, and drinks beer.  It's all starting to pile up in his gut.  I worry about that because his father has had heart issues and Bill has high blood pressure.  I also think working out will help him relax and sleep better.  Indeed, Bill said this morning he walked 3.5 miles in the countryside near where he works and it got the day off to a good start.  Heh heh heh.... that reminds me of the "Good Start Grow Smart" program I used to have to know about when I had a job.

Now... having said all of that, I realize that the same advice applies to me, except for the working hard part.  I have been trying to walk the dogs more because it's good for all of us and it helps me clear my head.  When we were in The Netherlands last week, we did a lot of walking.  Bill even started paying attention to the number of steps recorded on our iPhones.  Even after all the walking we did, I still need to do more and consume less.  It's unlikely I will ever be skinny, but it would be nice to be less round.

Speaking of nagging bitches, I called my mom yesterday because she's planning to visit us next month.  Actually, mom has mellowed out a lot in the last couple of years.  I even told her about trying marijuana while we were in Haarlem.  She was okay with it and even had a laugh as I described my giggling fit in a Croatian restaurant.  I explained that me on marijuana was like an intensified version of myself while being very silly.  I'm sure if I indulged while depressed, my depression might intensify.  But I was in a good mood in The Netherlands, so I had a good time.  In fact, I think Bill likes me better under the influence of pot than booze.  Booze occasionally makes me angry... or less inhibited about expressing my anger.

Anyway, my mom is excited about her big trip.  I am certain she will have a blast because she'll be on her own on a ship where she will be pampered ridiculously.  I am jealous because I want to go with her.  After she finishes in Budapest, she will stay in a really nice hotel that Bill and I enjoyed a few years ago.  Then she will visit us.  I told her it may be a rude awakening.  Actually, she's only staying four nights and by then, she may be ready to relax.  Right now, she says she wants to visit cute little towns.  We got a lot of those around here, so I think I may be able to oblige.  In fact, I have a feeling my mom will love Germany.

I suppose I ought to comment on the whole Confederate battle flag debate that's going on right now.  The truth is, I grew up in a place where that flag was everywhere.  I grew up in a time when it was glamorized by shows like The Dukes of Hazzard.  I went to grad school in a place where it flew over the Statehouse... until it was taken down in 2000.  Now it's in front of the Statehouse and people are calling for its removal.

I understand why people want to see the flag removed.  I can see why people are offended by it.  At the same time, I don't think banning the flag will do much more than drive up the prices on eBay.  When it comes down to it, the Confederate flag is a symbol and a part of history.  I don't think it's relevant anymore and it probably belongs in a museum rather than on the grounds of a government building.  However, simply removing the battle flag is not going to stop racism.  It will make people some money on eBay.  Oops... I stand corrected about eBay.

Actually, this mess in South Carolina makes me glad I live in Germany.  Today's Time Hop reminds me that a year ago, I was hating life in Texas.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One less Dick in the world...

RIP Dick Van Patten... you were one of a dying breed, if only because of your name.

Repost of my review of Mommie Dearest...

I wrote this review for Epinions in October 2007.  We were living in Germany the first time and I needed stuff to do.  So I watched Mommie Dearest and reviewed it.  Here it is reposted for your perusal.

Pros: Amazing makeup, set, and costumes.
Cons: Over the top acting turns serious subject into a joke.
I wonder how many kids dream about growing up the child of a movie star. On the surface, it seems like it would be such a sweet life of untold indulgences. After all, movie stars don’t have problems. They all live in mansions and never have to think about money or consequences for their actions. They’re surrounded by people who come at their beck and call. Surely it must be the same for their children, right? Of course not. As CNN shows us with its daily reports on Britney Spears’ legal troubles, stars have their problems, too. And their children often have to deal with the aftermath.

Christina Crawford is the late Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter. In 1978, she published a tell-all book about her experiences having Joan Crawford as a mother. The 1981 film Mommie Dearest, based on Christina Crawford’s book of the same name, is the dramatized story of what Christina endured growing up in Hollywood’s glare. Mommie Dearest, the book, made quite a controversial splash back when it was first published. Three years later, the film version, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, made a very different kind of splash. Even though a lot of critics panned Mommie Dearest, it still gets regular airplay today. Certain audiences, most notably homosexuals and transvestites, love this film and have made it a cult classic.

I have seen Mommie Dearest dozens of times, first on HBO, then on regular cable, and finally on my own DVD. I recently purchased the Hollywood Royalty Edition of the Mommie Dearest DVD. At $9.95, it was a steal and a great way to kill time until my husband and I can move out of our German hotel room and into our new home. I watched Mommie Dearest again last night. Every time I see it, I notice something new.

Thanks to Crawford’s book and Dunaway’s over the top portrayal of Joan Crawford in the movie, Joan Crawford has become sort of a poster child of child abusers. Indeed, there are several infamous scenes in this movie that can be, depending on how the viewer takes it, either very disturbing or hilarious. Take, for instance, the “wire hangers” scene, the scene for which Mommie Dearest is perhaps best known. Dunaway, as Crawford, comes into young Christina’s room to say goodnight to her sleeping daughter and make sure that everything is in its place. Wearing cold cream and a headband, Joan goes into Christina’s closet and starts thumbing through her clothes, all neatly hung on satin hangers. Suddenly, the movie star comes across a dress on a wire hanger. Enraged, she snatches the frilly creation off the rack and cradles it in her arms. Then, at the top of her lungs, she screams “NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER!”

Sure, lots of people make fun of that scene. Dunaway’s cold cream mask and wild hair make her look like an outraged modern day Michael Jackson. She tears all of the clothes off the rack, dumps them in a pile, and forces Christina out of bed. Then, completely out of control, she starts beating the crying child with the wire hanger. The scene is totally over the top and yet it always sends a chill down my spine. When I look in Dunaway’s heavily made up eyes, I see fury that makes me believe that she’s an angry, abusive mother and Mara Hobel, very impressively playing the young version of Christina Crawford, is her terrified little girl.

Diana Scarwid, who plays the teenaged and adult Christina, is also very compelling in her role. Somehow, she’s able to convincingly demonstrate the paradox that affects children of abusive parents. She hates her mother, yet she also loves her. As she grows up and her mother inevitably starts to lose power over her, viewers still see that love/hate struggle. She knows her mother is crazy, yet she can’t bear to lose her. She faithfully puts up with her mother’s insanity, seemingly unable to cut the ties. Then, when Joan Crawford dies and the will is read, Christina and her brother, Christopher, learn that she didn’t leave them a cent “for reasons well known to them.”

Mommie Dearest was produced by Frank Yablans and directed by Frank Perry. Yablans also wrote the screenplay. According to the special features that are included with the Hollywood Royalty version of Mommie Dearest, Yablans originally meant for Anne Bancroft to play Joan Crawford. But Bancroft’s Joan Crawford didn’t seem to be working. Faye Dunaway wanted the part and when she was made up, looked just like the star. I wasn’t around when Joan Crawford was a big star, but I have seen pictures of her. Dunaway is a dead ringer. Moreover, the makeup and costumes in this movie are fantastic. The sets are also incredibly authentic. Whenever I watch this movie, I often forget that it was made in 1981. It really does evoke the glamour and style of the 1940s. It’s not until the very end of the movie that I remember that the film adaptation of Mommie Dearest was made less than thirty years ago.

Despite the fact that I love this movie for its sheer camp factor, there are a few things about it that I don’t like. First of all, the movie isn’t entirely true to the book. Of course, Mommie Dearest is a dramatization based on a book, but it leads viewers to believe that Joan Crawford only had two children when, in fact, she had four. Her adopted daughters Cathy and Cindy wanted nothing to do with the film, so they aren’t mentioned at all. Also, Dunaway’s performance is often really outrageous, so much so that it draws attention away from the very serious topic of child abuse and almost turns it into a joke. Is it funny to see Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford so outraged by being called “box office poison” that she feverishly destroys a rose garden with a pair of hedge clippers? Sure. But imagine being a child in real life watching something like that. Dunaway’s performance is so crazed that a lot of audiences react with laughter instead of shock.

Ditto the scene in which Dunaway, as Joan Crawford, brings Christina (played by Scarwid) home from her boarding school in a snit because Christina got caught kissing a boy. When Christina openly defies her mother, declaring that she’s not one of her fans, Dunaway, as Crawford, tackles the girl, grabbing her around the neck and choking her. It’s a grotesque, disturbing scene that, again, is so over the top that people make fun of it. It turns what should be a tragic scene into something that’s funny. While I agree with comedian George Carlin’s assertion that a person can make a joke out of anything, somehow it seems wrong to do it with child abuse.

The Hollywood Royalty version of Mommie Dearest consists of the movie, which is rated PG and runs for 128 minutes, commentary by campy filmmaker John Waters, three features that explain how the movie was made and include interviews with the movie’s makers and actors, a photo gallery, and the original theatrical trailer. Although I saw this movie many times when I was a child, if I were a parent, I would probably think twice about letting a young child see it. Although I counted only two swear words (including one use of the f word), there are several violent scenes that involve children that might be frightening for them.

Loved or hated, Mommie Dearest is rarely ignored or forgotten. I’m proud to have it as part of my personal movie collection. And, after watching this, I can’t help but remember that movie stars and their children have problems too.

Freak accidents...

I am going to be somewhat evasive with this post because it involves someone I know offline.  I don't know this person very well; I'd call her an acquaintance.  I've seen her in person exactly three times and the last time we saw each other was about ten years ago.  We initially met online in 2003 when she commented on some of my writing.  At that time, we lived somewhat close to each other and had the chance to meet in person at a bar along with some other writers.  I initially thought she was funny, charming, and very friendly.  I could see that she was also very popular among others in our group.  For the purposes of this post, I will call my acquaintance Zelda.

From the very beginning, Zelda was extraordinary.  Or, at least she made herself seem extraordinary.  She told me she'd enjoyed a long and prestigious career and claimed she had studied at excellent schools.  At first, I believed her because I didn't know her well.  She is very bright and convincing and probably could have enjoyed a great career had she wanted to pursue it.  And maybe I am wrong when I say that I can't believe she was telling me the truth about her lofty career.  Because once I met her and started reading some of the things she wrote, I started smelling bullshit.  Her claims just didn't ring true to me.  But she remained funny, engaging, personable, and charismatic as well as popular with others.  They all seemed to believe her... or at least acted like they did.

The first night we met, she was positively energetic with extraversion.  Her daughter, at that time maybe about 19 or so, was also there.  Her daughter had the same kind of weird charismatic energy Zelda did.  I have to admit to being a little creeped out when Zelda said my husband was "cute as hell" and fake drooled over him.  Fortunately, he was resistant to her charms.  In fact, he was a bit repelled by them.

Zelda claimed that she'd had cancer for over twenty years and was "kicking its butt", while constantly smoking cigarettes.  She had no teeth and occasionally referred to herself as a "toothless hag".  I had to laugh at that, since the moniker fit.  Over the years, I watched Zelda try to make it as an online writer and/or artist.  Her writing was generally entertaining because she was frequently snarky and funny.  Her art was primitive and not all that inspiring to me, but she had an online "store" anyway.  I don't know how successful that venture was for her, though I do know she was a successful online writer because she had a lot of people reading and commenting.  Even today, though she claims she doesn't write, she holds court online very effectively.

As time went on, I started noticing other signs that perhaps Zelda wasn't who she claimed to be.  When we met in 2003, she had a boyfriend and seemed to be very serious about him.  But then they broke up and she took up with another writer, a man who grew up in the same town I did.  At one point, they were engaged to be married and Zelda had enthusiastically invited people to attend her nuptials.  I noticed she had occasionally started using his last name on the Internet.  Then, maybe a week before they were going to get married, the relationship was suddenly over, the wedding called off, and she was moving.

Less than a year after her breakup, Zelda met and married a European and moved to his country.  She wrote of wanting to renounce her US citizenship.  She posted a lot of political rants about the United States and the United Kingdom.  There was some drama about her being about to be kicked out of her adopted European country over immigration hassles, but somehow that got ironed out.  She claimed that fighting cancer out of pocket drained all her savings, hence another reason she moved to Europe and got married.

I later had the chance to talk to the guy she'd been planning to marry-- the second guy of the three I've known about since Zelda and I met 12 years ago.  I didn't ask too many questions because I didn't want to be rude, but my curiosity was killing me.  I needed to know if my instincts about Zelda were right.  After talking to him, I am convinced they were dead on.  As Zelda's former boyfriend told me a little about the aftermath of their relationship, I said that I thought maybe he'd dodged a bullet.  Ruefully, he said, "Actually, it's more like I got grazed."  She had left him with a big pile of bills to pay.  At the time, I remember being surprised that he knew so little about her and a little relieved that he hadn't married her.

I noticed that Zelda would occasionally get into online flame wars with people who commented on her writing and said they didn't believe some of her more outlandish claims.  I had to admit that I had my doubts as well, but I kept up with her because she was so fascinating to me.  She was very convincing to most other people, but those who disbelieved her were soundly rebuked.  She also made a point of writing very controversial pieces and would become very dismissive, rude, and downright nasty to anyone who was adversarial toward her.  But to everyone else, she was effervescent and witty.  People seemed to love her and no one else smelled a rat... or at least no one else openly said anything about smelling a rat.

For about nine years or so, Zelda has been living in Europe with her husband.  I keep up with her on Facebook.  Based on her posts, she spends a lot of time resting and watching movies because she has some kind of pain disorder.  She would sometimes mention her husband, who apparently traveled a lot.  Not long ago, she posted about wanting to go to Belgium or Switzerland to be legally euthanized because of her pain.  She said finances stopped her from taking the plunge.

The day before my birthday, Zelda posted that she needed help because her husband had been in some sort of accident.  A little later, someone posted that Zelda had gotten some "sad news".  Next thing I hear, her husband has died suddenly.  While I was sorry to hear it, I have to admit that this news arouses my suspicions a bit.  He wasn't an old man and the death is so sudden and completely unexpected.  And Zelda has been on Facebook the whole time, telling people not to try to comfort her with platitudes.  Instead, she has asked for jokes...  and though she claims to be an atheist, there are posts about how her suddenly dead husband is leaving her "signs".  Her tone seems to me to be less of sadness and grief and more of annoyance and inconvenience.  Moreover, over the years I've noticed her enjoyment of money and buying stuff.  

I have to say this.  If Bill suddenly died in a car accident, I doubt I'd be on Facebook.  If I was on Facebook, I would probably be wailing in grief.  At the same time, I understand that people grieve in different ways.  Maybe Facebook is the only way Zelda can reach out in her grief.  Maybe cracking jokes and demanding that people not try to console her with talk of his "being in a better place" is truly what she wants and needs.  And I don't know what her relationship with her husband was really like... but I do know I've been following her for over twelve years and I frequently smell bullshit when it comes to her stories.  And I have to admit this situation is very weird to me and I'm feeling a bit hinky about it.  I have a feeling there's more lying going on.

It will be interesting to see what information comes to light in the coming days.  I feel kind of bad about my suspicions, but I can't deny that I have them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We're back...

It was a long ride from The Netherlands.  We got up early, ate breakfast, and made the long trip.  I ate a space cake for the ride.  I also ate one yesterday, but yesterday's space cake seemed a bit weaker than today's and my birthday's.  I didn't notice much of an effect at all.

Today, on the other hand, I definitely experienced an enhanced sense of taste and appreciation for music... as in, I was enjoying Coca-Cola more than I have in years and really getting into the music on my iPod.  I also felt very mellow and calm throughout the ride and time seemed to pass rather easily.  I didn't start getting really antsy until we were almost home.

All in all, I'd say my first experiences with marijuana were pretty positive.  It's not something I'd want to do all the time, but if I'm back in Amsterdam or Haarlem and it's easy to get some space cakes, I will happily partake.

The dogs just got home and are happy to be reunited with us.  I missed them a lot and they apparently did fine at the Hunde Hotel.  I was a little worried about Arran because he's been a little moody lately.  The Dutch love their dogs, so there were a lot of them around.  Seeing them made me miss my boys.  On the other hand, I really had fun in Holland.  I could definitely live there.

I'm kind of glad to be home, though.  I needed to do laundry and I've missed being able to write with ease.

Yesterday, I looked up our old house in Texas.  It looks like someone purchased it.  Better them than us.  I hated that house with a fiery passion and was very happy to be out of it last year.

I guess I'll spend the next couple of days catching up on stuff.  Right now, I feel like writing a quick Dungeon post...  Maybe I'll be back later.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

knotty rides The Great Space Coaster...

An 80s era kids show that I may or may not have watched back in the day...

Yesterday, I tried marijuana for the first time in my life.  I turned 43 yesterday, which means I waited a really long time to try pot.

I hang out on the RfM message board pretty often and maybe once a week, someone posts about trying alcohol for the first time.  I am sure people would post about marijuana if pot wasn't illegal in most parts of the United States.  If you post about drugs on RfM, your thread is doomed.  But this is my blog and I tried pot in The Netherlands, where it's totally legal to toke.  Anyway, I figure my experience with pot yesterday is a little like a typical ex Mormon's first experience with booze.  I knew nothing about it, other than what I'd heard.  I was very curious and I wanted it to be a good experience.

When it comes to marijuana, I am as innocent as Lawrence Welk.

Our hotel in Haarlem happens to be located very close to a coffeeshop.  A coffeeshop in The Netherlands is a place where one can purchase weed, either to smoke or ingest.  The one near our hotel, which gets good ratings, by the way, also has music and pool tables.  After our short trip to Amsterdam, Bill and I were headed back to the hotel.  I was feeling a bit stressed from all the crowds and commotion of Amsterdam.  As we approached the coffeeshop, I turned to Bill and said, "It's time.  Let's do this."

Bill suggested that we go to the hotel room first and drop off the small bag of souvenirs I bought and our jackets.  But I said no because I knew he was stalling and this was something I really wanted to pop my cherry on during this trip.

This particular coffeeshop requires you to climb stairs to the second level.  A guy was leaving as we were entering and he kindly held the door open as we started up the steps.  The smell of pot was overwhelming, sort of a sweet and sour smell that reminded me of tomatoes somewhat.  I had always thought it smelled like burning hay, but I wouldn't describe it that way now... or, at least that's not what it smells like in Holland.  Coffeeshops do not sell alcohol, but they do typically have coffee and tea.

A young guy was behind the counter, joking with a couple of other guys about peep shows.  There was a neon menu with names and prices of different pot one could purchase.  Since I don't like smoking, I decided to have a space cake.  Bill said to the guy, "She would like a cake."

He smiled and said, "Five euros, please." as he pulled one out of a plastic ziplock bag and put it in a smaller ziplock bag for me.  I put the cake in my bag of souvenirs.  Bill asked how I should consume the cake, since it was my first time.  The guy advised me to eat half, then wait another 45 minutes to eat the other half.  We thanked him and went back to the hotel room.

Where we purchased my space cake...

I pulled the little cake out of the baggie.  It looked a little like a poppy seed cake.  I could definitely smell the marijuana in it.  It had the concentrated weed smell of the coffeeshop.  The cake was chilled and hard to cut in half.  Bill had to use the end of a spoon to divide it for me.

It was pretty small...  maybe two inches across, but very dense.

I took about ten minutes to eat the first half.  The cake was sweet and not unpleasant, though I could definitely taste the pot in it.  After another five minutes, I decided to eat the rest of the cake.

It takes awhile before ingested marijuana has an effect.  I had a fairly full stomach when I had the space cake, so it was about two hours before I started feeling the effects.  I laid down on the bed and felt really mellow and relaxed, like I could drop off to a really nice sleep.  But Bill wanted to go have dinner, so we decided to walk to a Croatian restaurant near the train station.  By the time we got close to it, I was feeling decidedly under the influence.  Very calm and relaxed, though not like I feel when I'm drunk.

As we were eating French bread and garlic butter, the pot kicked into high gear and I started giggling a lot.  Things seemed hysterically funny to me and I literally could not stop laughing for a few minutes.  I also felt a little self-conscious, like the people around me were noticing how silly I was being.  The reality, according to Bill, was that they didn't seem to notice me more than they might have.  The giggling part of the experience was rather enjoyable, if only because I have also gotten this way while not stoned.  The difference is that when you're stoned, you don't really care as much that you're cracking up in front of people, even if you may be more self conscious about it... if that makes any sense.  I mean, I felt like people were watching me, but I didn't care that much that they were because I was having a really good time.

The next thing that happened was that I got really absorbed by my phone.  The restaurant had free WiFi and I can't resist that, so I logged on to Facebook...  People were wishing me a happy birthday and I got absorbed in that.  Then I suddenly put the phone down and said to Bill, "Oh my God, how rude...  I'm sorry, Bill."

He said, "Don't be ridiculous.  You've only been looking at your phone for a minute."

"Really?  It seems like longer than that." I said.  Apparently, time fuckery is another side effect of pot use.  I drank wine with dinner, but that didn't seem to have much of an effect on me, other than I started giggling after the first couple of sips.

We enjoyed dinner.  I can't say that I got the munchies, but dinner was nice enough.  As we left the restaurant, I was still feeling really mellow and relaxed, yet not sloppy.  We got back to the hotel and I took a wonderful shower.  Then... uh... I was a little horny.  But we fell asleep before anything sexual happened.  Bill used to live with guys who smoked pot a lot.  He said my reaction was different from theirs.  They used to get really lazy and unambitious.  But then, they also used pot very frequently.

This morning, I woke up feeling really relaxed and comfortable.  And yes, after that, there was a round of sex.  I also noticed... TMI... that my morning deuce smelled heavily of pot.

I think we'll take it easy today.  Bill has some schoolwork to do and it's raining outside.  But I may have another space cake just because I can.  It's definitely been a fun experiment.

So far, I think pot makes me a more intense version of myself.  Giggly and silly, yet very mellow (which I don't tend to be naturally).  Bill says I'm different high than I am drunk.  When I'm drunk, sometimes I get angry.  When I'm mildly high, I'm just happy and relaxed.  Or, at least that was yesterday's experience.  Perhaps I will experiment some more before we go home tomorrow.  I am ready to go.  I miss my dogs.

BTW:  I read this before partaking in my first space cake.  Very informative and helpful reading for the non initiated.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bye 42

I am in Haarlem now.  It's my birthday.  And I am surrounded by architectural charm, booze, and pot. Should be fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My review of Going Clear by Lawrence Wright...

I have spent the past few days here in The Netherlands reading all about Scientology.  Lawrence Wright, author of 2013's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, was recently made into a documentary for HBO.  I am not in a position to watch the documentary, but I could certainly read the book.  I've had a lot of time on my hands, too, which gave me the ability to really pay attention.  A lot of people know next to nothing about Scientology.  I have been following it for awhile, mainly because my husband, Bill, got interested in it.  Bill is a former Mormon and there are some interesting similarities between Scientology and Mormonism, as Wright points out in his book. Both "religions", for instance, were founded by blatant liars and con men.  Both cost a lot of money to be a member.  And both can very punitive toward members who go astray.

Lawrence Wright offers a very complete and fascinating history of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.  As a kid, I used to see television ads for Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard's "bible" for Scientologists.  Back in the 80s, it was regularly hawked for sale on TV.  I remember my former best friend wanting to read it as a kid...  talk about dangerous advertising.  L. Ron Hubbard was a talented science fiction writer and the religion he founded definitely offered a way for him to sell his books.  As a prolific writer, Scientology offered Hubbard a way to make a lot of money... and a lot of money he did make.  Scientology was founded in 1954 and it's a burgeoning religion, especially among entertainers.

I remember this ad so well.

Wright explores the whole weird premise behind Scientology, how it was received by people around the world, and how celebrities came to embrace it.  He writes extensively about Tom Cruise and John Travolta, two very high profile Scientologists.  He has less to say about Scieftologist celebrities like Will Smith and Kirstie Alley, but then Travolta and Cruise offer plenty of material for a book.  There are discussions of the church's scary legal attacks on critics, political pressure on governments to recognize Scientology as a legitimate religion, and mysterious physical attacks and murders that occurred under shady circumstances.  Suffice to say if you aren't a celebrity, your experience as a Scientologist is not going to be like that of Tom Cruise's.

Going Clear is fascinating reading.  As I paged through it, I found my mouth dropping open.  More than once, I told Bill that L. Ron Hubbard was completely psycho.  I said more of the same about David Miscavige, the current leader of the church, whose wife Shelly has been missing since 2007.  Based on what was reported in Going Clear, it wouldn't surprise me if Shelly isn't locked up somewhere kept under guard.  Indeed, I have new respect for Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman, although Kidman was apparently blindsided by her divorce from Tom Cruise.

I will admit that I wasn't totally surprised by what I read in this book.  I have read a lot of books about Scientology and a lot of what is in Going Clear was in those other books.  On the other hand, a lot of what is in Going Clear surprised me.  I mean, I knew it was a nutty belief system, but Wright drives home just why it's nutty and why it's really dangerous.  It amazes me that in 2015, we have belief systems that get away with some of the blatant criminal activity that is evidently going on in the Church of Scientology.  I'm talking about practical slavery and unlawful detention of people.

Wright includes pictures as well as lots of juicy tales about weird shit that went on on the ships Scientology sailed around the world.  He includes lots of stories about how Hubbard hoped to take over countries and introduce his belief system around the world.  I know religious beliefs are one of those things people tend to respect a lot.  Those of you who read this blog regularly already know I have little respect for Mormonism and now I have even less respect for Scientology.  It's a load of hooey.

Anyway, I highly recommend Going Clear.  It's very well-researched, well-written, and fascinating.  Let me just put it this way.  I got to about 62% on my iPad when I was done with the book.  The rest is all notes.  It's very well-documented reading and will give you plenty of follow up reading should you require it.

If you've ever been curious about Scientology, you should read this book...



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being a tourist...

I was one today.  Tomorrow, I will travel blog about it.  One thing I did notice today is that Dutch folks apparently like to put their hands down their pants.  I got three on camera within one hour.

I also visited Paleis Het Loo (The Woods Palace) today.  Had a good time.  Saw nature, waterfowl, and lots of old furniture.

Being bored is fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reposted review of Meredith Baxter's Untied

I posted this review on Epinions in 2011.  Since it is connected to another review in this blog and my old Epinions reviews are slowly disappearing, I am reposting it here.

Pros: Well-written, photos, will speak to readers dealing with alcoholism and homosexuality.

Cons: Baxter is bitter and occasionally wishy-washy.

As a child of the 1980s, I would have had to have been living under a rock not to know who Meredith Baxter is. The beautiful blonde actress had made her mark back in the 70s with television shows like Bridget Loves Bernie and Family, but I knew her as Elyse Keaton, feminist matriarch of the Keaton family on NBC's hit sit-com, Family Ties. In those days, she was known as Meredith Baxter-Birney, having married her Bridget Loves Bernie co-star, David Birney. Baxter and Birney later divorced; recently, Baxter made headlines by coming out as a lesbian. I learned about all of this and more by reading Baxter's brand new memoir, Untied: A Memory of Family, Fame, and Floundering (2011). I purchased this book for my Kindle last week and found it a quick and interesting read.

Meredith Baxter's beginnings

After a brief introduction, explaining how she came out as a lesbian, Baxter begins describing her childhood. Meredith Baxter's mother was an actress named Nancy Ann Whitney, who later came up with the stage name Whitney Blake. From a very early age, Baxter was required to call her mother Whitney, because Whitney didn't want people thinking she was a mother. Baxter's father, Tom Baxter, was a sound engineer specializing in live television and radio. Though her parents were married for ten years and had three children, their union ended when Baxter was just five years old. After the divorce, Tom Baxter remained a very small part of his children's lives. Meanwhile, Whitney remarried twice.

Baxter grew up in southern California on the fringes of show business. Her first stepfather, Jack Fields, was an agent who helped Whitney Blake get parts that later blossomed into a successful career on television. Baxter describes Fields as cruel, manipulative, and strict, but it was Fields who helped Baxter with her own foray into show business when she was a child.

A complicated life

Though Meredith Baxter grew up to be a beautiful young woman, she comes across as a bit mixed up. In confessional prose, she admits to dabbling in drugs and alcohol, half-heartedly attempting suicide, and getting married for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, she was both lucky and talented and eventually started working as an actress. She had two children with her first husband, Robert Bush, and three with her second husband, David Birney.

Bitterness toward Birney

Meredith Baxter has a lot to say about her second marriage to David Birney. Baxter was married to Birney for about 16 years. Their union lasted three times longer than her marriages to Robert Bush and Michael Blodgett. However, the added length of the marriage seems to have tripled Baxter's pain. She makes some very unflattering comments about David Birney and basically describes him as an abusive narcissist.

A book about Meredith Baxter, not Family Ties...

Though Meredith Baxter does dish quite a bit about being on Bridget Loves Bernie, Family, and Family Ties, as well as a few of her better known made for television movies, I want to make it clear that this book is really about her life. And she has led a very complicated but interesting life, fraught with struggles, including alcoholism, breast cancer, and coming to terms with her homosexuality. But while there were times I kind of cringed while reading this book, I do think that ultimately, Baxter has put out a very positive memoir.

Toward the end of the book, Baxter writes about what it was like to meet and fall in love with her current partner, Nancy Locke. Though she is "out of the closet", I still get the feeling that being out is kind of hard for her. She very candidly explains how difficult it was for her to admit and accept her feelings for women. She also explains how hard it was for her to come out to people she loves... and how their reactions to her big news were surprisingly low key. Untied also includes plenty of pictures.


I enjoyed reading this book, mainly because I'm a child of the 80s and I love biographies. I think Meredith Baxter did a fairly good job writing her life story. She really comes across as extremely human and somewhat down-to-earth. I do think she's still in some real pain over her relationship with David Birney, but she seems to have learned from the relationship as well. I think Untied is worthy reading for those who are interested in Baxter's life story.

Lazy day...

Woke up still tired from last night.  Had breakfast with Bill, then wrote a couple of blog posts.  Went to the pool area where I dozed and read Going Clear (about Scientology) to give the housekeeper the chance to clean the room.  Left the pool area about two hours later when two women showed up.  Room was clean, so I took a nap for about an hour.  Then I had a leisurely lunch.  Now I am back in bed, watching Say Yes To The Dress.  Bill should be back in a couple of hours.  Then he will drive me somewhere for dinner.

Yes, it's been a very lazy day.

By the way, L. Ron Hubbard was definitely psycho.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My body hurts...

I walked to and from the Centrum today.  It was a long walk.  Afterwards, I had lunch and a swim.

When Bill got back from his conference, he wanted to walk to the Centrum too.  I wasn't feeling it, but he wanted to do it.  So we walked... and we went in a direction that took us on a very long detour. We eventually got to the Centrum, but by the time we got there, I was exhausted and in pain.  I was afraid if I sat down, I'd have trouble getting up again.

So we walked back to the hotel...  My body hurts.  My nose is stuffed up and my eyes itch...

Ready for my space cake now.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Let's all give her a hand...

The other night, Bill and I were at a little steak and music joint in our town.  We had friends with us.  It was a fun night which I documented in my travel blog.  One thing I did not mention about that night was a few minutes of embarrassment that occurred as we listened to live music.  I wasn't actually involved in the few minutes of embarrassment, which is an amazing thing.  I came on the scene right after things got embarrassing.

I had gotten up to use the restroom.  On my way back to the table, I was stopped by the lead guitar player and Gunter, the harmonica playing guy.  As we discussed my weird version of "Little Wing", another female singer took the stage.  She was an attractive young woman who chose to wear tight black pants that accentuated a rather prominent camel toe.

Someone at my table said, "Nice pants..." then immediately made the realization that the woman who had taken the stage only had her left hand.  Her right hand was missing for some reason.

Instantly, my companion felt badly about the comment about the woman's tight pants.  So did someone else at my table, who had thought and expressed the same things about the pants until it was apparent that the singer was missing a hand.

The one-handed woman was singing the poignant and melancholy classic, "Killing Me Softly With His Song", a number that was famous when I was a baby and sung by Roberta Flack (and many years later by The Fugees, who butchered it with their hip hop version).  The one-handed singer had a pretty decent voice, but didn't seem to get the concept of the word "softly".  She sang rather loudly and in an emotion that didn't suit the lyrics too well.  Still, she had gotten up on stage to sing, while her hecklers had not.

Now... I actually missed most of this incident.  By the time I sat back down, the lady was halfway through her song.  I hadn't even noticed that she was missing a hand until my friends made an oblique comment about it.  Later, as Bill recounted what happened, he reminded me that he felt really bad for the one-handed woman.  I couldn't blame him for that.  I probably would have too, had I been one of those who made the comment.

Then I thought about it for a minute and asked, "Do you think she would be happy to know that her having one hand makes you pity her so much that suddenly you're now sorry about making fun of her pants?"

Bill said no.

I continued, "Seems to me that she probably just wants to be treated normally.  Why would you be more ashamed of 'picking' on her just because she has only one hand?  Obviously, having one hand doesn't embarrass her enough to stop her from singing in front of people.  I bet she'd rather you'd treat her the way you'd treat anyone else."

Bill said he hadn't thought of the situation in quite that way.  Neither had I until just that moment.  Must have been the fresh squeezed orange juice from the Dutch Texaco I had just enjoyed.

I don't think a person should feel like they have to be extra kind to the one-handed singer simply because they know it's not nice to comment on peoples' disabilities.  Of course making fun of people is not nice... but the comments made among my friends had nothing to do with the woman's handicap and everything to do with her presentation as she got up to sing.  Had she had two hands, they probably would not have thought twice about laughing at her pants, the camel toe, and the fact that she was singing "Killing Me Softly" in a strangely ironic harsh manner.  But apparently, because she is missing a hand, she somehow "deserves" extra pity and sensitivity.

I'm sorry that accidents happen that cause people to be disfigured or disabled.  I don't know what happened to the Roberta Flack fan's hand.  She may have been born that way or there may have been some kind of accident that caused it.  But she was still brave enough to sing and she did a decent job of it.  She made no effort to hide her missing appendage and likely hoped her voice was a suitable distraction from it.  I'm sure, like any other normal person, she wouldn't have wanted to hear the snark about her pants or her camel toe, but I'd bet she'd rather hear that and not have people notice or comment about her missing hand than have people feel sorry for her or treat her differently because she's disabled.

If this post doesn't make sense, I apologize.  I started it about ten minutes before I crashed into a deep sleep.  Traveling is so tiring.