Monday, August 31, 2015

Review of Waiter to the Rich and Shameless...

I used to wait tables in a fairly nice restaurant.  When I first started the job, I was completely clueless.  It took several months before I was a really competent server.  I never enjoyed the job much and was happy when I could leave it in my past.

By contrast, author Paul (Pauli) Hartford was a professional server in Beverly Hills for years.  In his book,
Waiter to the Rich and Shameless: Confessions of a Five-Star Beverly Hills Server, he writes about what it's like to work in "The Cricket Room", where he regularly waits on rich and famous people.  

Hartford didn't always want to be a server.  His big dream was to be a rock star.  He was in bands, wrote music, and moved to Los Angeles in a bid to make his musical dreams come true.  Alas, like many people who dream of turning their artistic talents into fame and fortune, he found that he had to take a day job to pay the bills.  So he cut his hair and cleaned himself up, then applied for the job at the venerable Beverly Hills restaurant where hamburgers cost $38.  

At first, Paul works as the daytime bartender.  The money is decent and the bar is his domain.  He serves drinks to big stars and people hoping to see stars.  Eventually, he becomes a waiter so he can make more money.  He goes from running his own show behind the bar to working as part of a team. In the meantime, he rubs elbows with the likes of Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Katy Perry and Russell Crowe.

This book is about what it's like to be a server, but it's also somewhat a coming of age story.  Hartford reminds readers that most people who wait tables think of the job as temporary, a way to make some decent money while working to achieve a different dream.  He also writes of waiter burnout, which is a big occupational risk.  With about ten years in the service industry, most of which he spends in The Cricket Room, Hartford is able to write effectively about his subject.  He also adds some funny stories about celebrities as well as his co-workers.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading Waiter to the Rich and Shameless.  I like books about celebrity sightings.  Yes, I know I should be concerned with more important things, but there is some value in reading about the stars.  For instance, I noticed that Hartford went from someone who was dazzled by his celebrity guests.  After awhile, he got used to them and was no longer impressed by them.  By the time he finishes his ten year stint, he seems to find celebrities appalling.  

Toward the end of the book, Hartford writes of Charlie Sheen coming into the restaurant and ordering two glasses of 57 year old scotch at $2800 a pour.  During dinner, he downgrades to two glasses of 30 year old scotch at $1000 a pour.  His bill is $7400 and he tips Hartford $1700.  Sheen has a date, a lovely woman who doesn't seem to mean much to him.  Hartford notes that Sheen only spent a couple of hundred dollars on her.  That's about when Hartford starts thinking life is too short for such a shallow existence.

On the other hand, Hartford notes that it's hard to give up the lucrative lifestyle of serving Hollywood stars.  When he's serving celebrities, Hartford has the money to eat out, travel, and enjoy the finer things in life.  He soon comes to realize that the money means less to him than doing what he wants to do with his life.  By the end of the book, Hartford has married and wants to spend holidays and weekends with his wife.  He wants to have more time and inspiration for his music.  And the money, while plentiful, just isn't enough anymore.

I could really relate to Hartford's plight.  I made decent money when I worked in a restaurant and it afforded me the ability to pay my own bills.  It also made me physically sick (I was never so sick so often as I was when I worked full time as a waitress).  It drove me into psychotherapy, which was a good thing, as I needed it before I waited tables.  It also drove me to go to grad school, which was ultimately rewarding, but now I'm an overeducated housewife paying back five figures in student loans.

Anyway, I mostly enjoyed Hartford's book.  Sometimes, he comes off a bit shallow, especially when he writes about some of his customers, but I would sort of expect that, given where he was working and the people he was coming into contact with.  There's a fair amount of sex, drugs, rock n' roll, and dirty language in this book, too.  Of course, I am not offended by those things, but realize that others might be.  If you've ever waited tables or find celebrities fascinating, I recommend reading Hartford's book.

Wife won't...

Last night, while sitting on the futon with Bill and Arran, watching An Officer and A Gentleman for the umpteenth time, my attention started to wander.  I had my iPad and decided to do a search for "wife won't go to the doctor".  Yes, I am that wife, but I also wanted to see if there were complaints about it on the Internet.  The results I got from my search were interesting.  As soon as I typed in "wife won't", Google started suggesting stuff I might be looking for.  The first two suggestions were:

"Wife won't go down on me."

"Wife won't lose weight."

I wasn't really surprised by the suggestion to lose weight.  I was a little surprised by the one about oral sex, even though it was at the very top of the list.  I guess there are a whole lot of frustrated men out there who aren't being properly attended to.

Next on the suggestion list were:

"Wife won't talk to me."

"Wife won't get a job."

Some men would love it if their wives wouldn't talk to them, though I know it would distress my Bill greatly if I suddenly became silent.  "Wife won't get a job" can be a serious issue, especially in this day and age when two incomes are often needed to keep families financially afloat.  On the other hand, I don't work outside the home and haven't for a long time.

The next two were "Wife won't go to church" and "Wife won't get out of bed."

I know there are a lot of religious people out there.  I would have thought women would complain about lack of church attendance than men, though.  A lot of men would prefer to sit at home and watch football than get dressed up and sit through a couple of hours of religious indoctrination.  "Wife won't get out of bed" suggests depression more than it does laziness.

When I typed in "Wife won't g", I immediately got more suggestions.  They, too, had to do with oral sex!

"My wife won't go down on me."

"How to get my wife to go down on me."

My God!  This blowjob dearth sounds like a really serious problem if you pay attention to Google.  What follows is a slew of articles about this earth shattering issue.

"Should I divorce my wife if she won't go down on me?"

"5 reasons why she won't go down on you"

"How can I make my wife give me head?"

"My wife used to go down on me a lot, now nothing."

If I type "Wife won't go," I get...

"Wife won't go on top."

"Wife won't go to counseling."

It's not until I type the whole sentence, "Wife won't go to the doctor", that I start finding things that are relevant.  However, most of the articles I find are about wives trying to get their husbands to go to the doctor.

So... what can we conclude about this little experiment?  There are a lot of men out there who are dying for their wives to go down on them.  And there are a lot of women trying to get their husbands to go to the doctor.  Interesting.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Church crotch...

In light of all the Josh Duggar sex scandals that have come to surface recently, I thought I would write a little about my own experiences with church.  Yes, there is a correlation between church and sex for me.  Actually, I should clarify.  I worked at a church camp for two summers.  I was the cook, which meant that I wasn't dealing directly with children.  I did have several teenagers working with me, though.  They were mostly boys.  I used to call them my "heathens".

Working with the heathens was a bit challenging at first.  The first year, it was just the three guys, one of whom was my assistant.  It took awhile before we became friends and worked together as a team.  I eventually came to like them very much, though, because they were a lot of fun.  And though they were a bit obnoxious, so was I.  The second year, it was the same three guys and a girl.  The girl was kind of a fifth wheel and wasn't much fun.

The camp where I worked was Presbyterian, which means it was fairly easy going.  Yes, we had prayers and vespers.  Of course, we sang songs around the campfire that had to do with Jesus.  But it was pretty laid back in terms of what people wore, what people talked about, and our activities.  There weren't any weird or intense discussions about faith.  There were no sexist rules about who was in charge.  It was mostly good, clean fun in a rustic setting.  I can honestly say I loved working there.  In fact, I even played spin the bottle for the first time ever while working at that camp... when I was 20 and 21 years old.

I used to cuss a lot in the kitchen.  I mostly got away with it, except for the second summer, when the teenaged girl was working with me.  She used to show up in the kitchen at the same time I did, early every morning.  It drove me nuts.  I tried to tell her I didn't need her that early, but unlike the boy heathens, she was intent on "impressing" me.  She was a bit intense and mixed up and she eventually ended up quitting; but not before she ratted everyone out for having a good time after hours.  We all used to get together in the hogans and play cards... and the odd drinking game.  On her way out, she told our boss.  He was pissed off, but really just yelled at us more than anything else.  Years later, he officiated at my wedding.

Three years ago, I shared this picture on Facebook.  Those two guys were two of my "heathens".

I have read a lot about Mormon church camp.  I never went to one, obviously, but I have heard that they can be pretty intense.  Everybody has to dress appropriately and act reverently.  There's no off color silliness or horsing around.  You'd never see two big guys like these two, jumping into the pool while grabbing their crotches.  In fact, I have heard that Mormon church camp (and I know there is a special name for it but I'm too lazy to go searching for it) is more about religious indoctrination than fun with nature.  But as I haven't been to a Mormon church camp, I won't speculate... too much, anyway.

Instead, I'll just look at the above photo and be grateful I was raised a Presbyterian.  What fun!  Sometimes I wish I could go back to these days, where I might see a couple of fun loving blokes jumping into an above ground pool while grabbing their nuts.  Try not to think too hard about the fact that they worked in the kitchen with me.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Continuing on with my crap theme...

When Bill goes away, I usually try pretty hard to stay sober.  I do that for a lot of reasons.  For one thing, it's just me and the dogs and I want to try to keep sharp in case something happens and I need to drive somewhere or otherwise take action.  For another thing, I drink a lot of beer and wine and I like to give my body a rest sometimes... and remind myself that I can go a day or two without alcohol.

I won't pretend that my lifestyle is particularly healthy.  It's not, really, especially with the number of alcoholics in my family.  But I will say one thing.  I am rarely constipated, especially when I drink dark beer.

Last night, I drank one of these... and a few more dark beauties.

It's funny that I wrote about enemas yesterday because I woke up this morning at about 5:30am and felt like my body was purging itself as it would after a good colon cleanse.  I mean, it took a good four rounds on the crapper before I was done and could go lie down again.  By that time, I was wide awake and going back to sleep was out of the question.

I intended to stay dry last night, since Bill is due home this morning (sans his garment bag, which got misplaced somewhere in Africa).  I got bored, though, and drinking beer is a way to pass the time.  So I started with a Lion Stout from Sri Lanka.  It was surprisingly good and didn't cost much.  I will be buying more.

Of course, once I had the first beer, I decided to follow up with another... and another.  My guess is that is what made me need to go so much this morning.  I was pretty distressed about it, too, because I could hear Zane's guts rumbling and knew he needed to go out.  I couldn't get up from the toilet as fast as I wanted to.

I guess I should feel lucky Germany has toilets instead of squat holes.  In Armenia, it was not uncommon to have to squat over a hole to go to the bathroom.  In my school, we had squat toilets for the students, though I think there might have been a real toilet for the adults.  Actually, sometimes it was better to squat because the toilets in Armenia could be extremely nasty.  But if you needed to go for awhile, you ran the risk of getting sore thighs... or maybe falling backwards into the mess.

Supposedly, squat toilets are better for you anyway.  When you sit, you kind of kink up the hose, as it were.  Squatting allows you to have a clean chute for the shit to drain out of.  I learned this by reading a book by Dave Praeger called Poop Culture: How America is Shaped By Its Grossest Product.  Maybe seven years ago, I went through a phase where I was reading a lot of books about poop.  They were pretty educational and entertaining.    

Supposedly, this is not as good for you as squatting is...

Anyway, who needs ExLax when you have dark beer around?  Maybe it's not chocolated like a laxative, but it's a lot more fun to drink good beer than take a pill or an enema.  Maybe I should submit a report to Poop Report.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Repost of my review of Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and The United States Marine Corps

Here's another book review I'm trying not to lose.  I really enjoy Frank Schaeffer's books.  Believe it or not, I first heard of him when I was hanging out on the now defunct message board on a site for former Pensacola Christian College students.  After I read Frank Schaeffer's novels, I became a fan of his non-fiction works.  I have read and reviewed many of them, but unfortunately, my reviews may be forever lost to cyberspace.  I am sharing this review again for those who may appreciate the story of a man coming to terms with his son's decision to join the Marines.

  • Frank Schaeffer learns how to let go...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      February, 07 2004
  • Pros: Honest, poignant, funny, a great read...
    Cons: Bashes the Army, sometimes shows Frank Schaeffer in an unflattering light.
    First off, let me preface by commenting that Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and The United States Marine Corps (2002) by Frank Schaeffer and his son, John Schaeffer, is a wonderfully honest and poignant book. Frank Schaeffer, an author of three novels (two at the time this book was published), is the father of three children. His older two, daughter Jessica, and son, Francis, had done what all of the other kids in Schaeffer's social class had done and, after graduating from private high schools, gone off to private colleges. Youngest son John had always been a good athlete and a talented writer (he specializes in poetry and aspires to one day own a bookstore and write for a living), but he was not a good student. Nevertheless, Frank and his wife, Genie, had always assumed that John would follow in his older siblings' footsteps and go to college, if not for academics, then for athletics. Instead, John decided to join the Marines, an entity that was totally foreign to the Schaeffer family. John Schaeffer wrote that he was not particularly concerned with what his parents thought about the direction of his life, although he did listen to what they had to say and respected their opinions. He had joined the Marines without consulting his parents. I got the feeling that this decision really hurt Frank Schaeffer's feelings, especially when he pictured his boy coming home in a casket, draped with an American flag.

    Frank Schaeffer confesses that he had always felt particularly close to John because his youngest boy had come along when he was "supposed to have children". The elder Schaeffer became a father for the first time at age eighteen. His second child arrived when he was twenty-one. John was born when Frank was fully twenty-eight years old "almost a grown up", he says. He got to enjoy his youngest child. I also got the sense that he shared a sense of adventure with John as well as writing talent. Frank Schaeffer grew up the son of American Calvinist missionaries based in Switzerland. He didn't learn to read until he was eleven years old, vacationed in Portofino, Italy every summer with his three sisters. Schaeffer chronicles his experiences in his novels, Portofino and Saving Grandma, both of which I have read and reviewed on Frank Schaeffer enjoys cooking, and his son John loves his father's Tuscan pizza. Frank enjoys his youngest son very much, but I got the feeling it went beyond the fact that they were merely blood. It seemed to me that they were also very good friends.

    This sense of friendship was apparent as Frank and John Schaeffer wrote about how they spent their last summer together before boot camp. John had a girlfriend named Erica whom Frank did not like. Frank found Erica cold and distant. She didn't want to spend any time with the Schaeffer family and Frank felt that she was taking his son away from him, especially since there was precious little time left before boot camp would begin. And this is where the honesty of this book comes in. Readers begin to read about situations in which Schaeffer behaved in ways that may seem, quite frankly, embarrassing. Many people would not want have wanted to admit to admit to some of the behavior that Schaeffer writes that he exhibited in the face of losing his son to boot camp. He comes across as, well, a father hen facing an empty nest.

    And then when John starts basic training, we get to read about Frank's angst at never hearing from his son and the constant letters that he sends his boy. We also read from John's side as he experiences life on Parris Island-- the constant harassment that he suffered as a Marine recruit-- the abuse that others suffered, especially those deemed "Fat Bodies or Diet Trays (overweight recruits)". John's letters home are painfully short with one or two lines of information and maybe a request or two. He asks for Power Bars and Gatorade, which Frank gladly sends on several occasions. The treats get stashed in a foot locker for the drill instructors to eat or dole out to all of the recruits. Some of the recruits get no mail at all, but John gets a lot of mail-- mostly courtesy of his father. He actually gets punished for this a few times.

    I found the description of the basic training fascinating. My husband has often told me tales of training, but he didn't enlist and he's in the Army. It was interesting to read another point of view. I also used to live in South Carolina, which is where Parris Island is located. I was living there when John Schaeffer was in basic training. In fact, he wrote of having to be evacuated for Hurricane Floyd. He didn't mention the storm by name, but I know that was the storm he was referring to because it had the distinction of causing one of the worst traffic tie ups in hurricane evacuation history-- and it never even really struck land.

    I also found John's stories of the Marines doing what they could to get their fellow recruits through the course inspiring. He wrote of one recruit who developed double pneumonia right before the final 52 hour test, called the Crucible. There was talk that the recruit would not be allowed to take the test. The other recruits, unbeknownst to the sick one, split up the heavier contents of his pack, and carried his load for him. The Senior Drill Instructor said he would get him through the Crucible if he had to carry him through it himself. In fact the recruit played the injured recruit during the Crucible whenever the test called for an injured recruit, and he ended up passing and becoming a Marine.

    We are also treated to several scenes where drill instructors dispense fatherly advice coated in profanity. For instance, they tell their recruits "not to get married and buy a bunch of stupid crap for Suzie Rottencrotch" the minute they get out of basic training-- instead they should hold off until they make rank and can afford it. They also advise their recruits that there will be plenty of sex to be had once they are Marines and a lot of women will want to "nail them." But they shouldn't try to "bang sixteen year olds" because they could go to jail for that in the Corps. And they add, "Fer Chrissakes, don't get any of 'em pregnant!"

    Interspersed within these inspiring stories are John's poems, stories of life at home in Massachusetts, and Frank's yearnings to hear from his son. At one point in the book, John writes home to tell his parents that he has decided to change his job once he gets out of training. The job change means that he will add another year to his contract. Frank is angry about this change of events and scolds his son for not consulting him first, or at least talking to the one person the family knows who is a Marine. Frank's reason for being angry is that the training will require John to move further away from him for a longer time. Originally, he would have trained in the DC area, but his new job would require him to go to Arizona and then Florida. He wrote an angry letter to his son about this development and then got in a fight with his wife... more embarrassing scenes that one would think might be too embarrassing to include in this book. But that's what makes this book so good. It's quite honest and Schaeffer shows his very human side. Incidentally, my first reaction to this scenario was that Frank Schaeffer was really in for a rude awakening. Service life is all about frequent moves and going wherever the government decides to send you. I'm sure Frank Schaeffer knows all of this now, though. And I'm sure he's allowed his son to grow up and distance himself a bit.

    As it turned out, once John graduated from basic training, he completed some training in North Carolina, then he ended up spending eighteen months in Arizona while he waited for his security clearance. He had left for Arizona four days after meeting Mollie, a woman to whom he really felt attracted. This part of the book was interesting, as John wasn't doing anything in particular but waiting. It was a time in which he proved his allegiance to the Corps, since he had injured his foot and had to have surgery. He had the chance to leave the Marines, go to college, be with Mollie. He stayed in, went to Pensacola, and became an exemplary example of a Marine, just in time for September 11th, 2001. According to the back jacket, John Schaeffer is currently serving in Maryland.

    As expected, this book does do some bashing of the other services, especially the Army. As the wife of a Soldier, I found myself getting a little annoyed at the generalization that all Army Soldiers are slobs. But then again, I know that the Marines have the toughest physical standards of all of the services. I know they take exceptional pride in their appearance. I'm also an Air Force daughter and I used to hear my dad bashing the Army, too (though not quite as much as this book did). I also found myself laughing aloud quite a lot.

    This is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as much as I have enjoyed Frank Schaeffer's novels. I read passages of it aloud to my husband, who also wants to read the book now that I'm finished. If you have a loved one serving in the Armed Forces, especially if he or she is a Marine, this book might be a worthy investment of your time.

    Frank Schaeffer has written two follow ups to Keeping Faith, Faith of Our Sons, and Voices From The Front. 

The day I learned about enemas...

I'd like to include a photo of an old fashioned enema for this post, but when I do a search for images, I come up with a bunch of pictures that are not safe for work.  So readers will have to form their own mental images as I share this special story from my youth.

When I was about eleven years old, I enjoyed reading Mad Magazine.  It should be no surprise that I was introduced to Mad by our neighborhood pervert, the man who referred to himself as The Home of the Whopper.  He had given me my very first issue of Mad.  

Photo courtesy of

There it is... December 1981's issue that I got from the guy who used to show me porn on a regular basis.  Besides introducing me to men's magazines and The Sex Atlas, he also introduced me to the brilliance of Alfred E. Neuman.  I got hooked on Alfred's snarky humor and started reading the magazine regularly.

One day, there was a feature on doctors and the running gag was a physician who would prescribe enemas for everything from a sore throat to hemorrhoids.  Naturally, as a somewhat sheltered eleven year old, I didn't know what enemas were.  I also didn't have access to Google in those days.  So I decided to ask my dad.

My dad was a somewhat formal guy.  He had a sense of humor and could be funny when the mood struck him.  But he was also very military and conservative and he didn't always approve of my raunchy sense of humor.  Still, I was totally innocent about enemas.  I had never heard of them and wanted to understand what they were so I could get the joke in my favorite magazine.

"Dad," I asked, "What's an enema?"

Dad put down what he was doing and said, "What?"

"What's an enema?" I repeated.

He got a strange look on his face and said in a rather matter-of-fact tone of voice, "An enema is a very uncomfortable and unpleasant procedure in which someone forces a tube up your behind and flushes out your bowels with liquid."

"Huh?" I asked, suddenly shocked and grossed out.

"It's very unpleasant." my dad reiterated.  I guess he hadn't heard of Fleet's, which are somewhat less horrifying than the old fashioned enema bags he was likely thinking of.  

I started thinking about it and wondered if my dad was speaking from personal experience.  He probably was, come to think of it.  But somehow, I knew better than to ask him more specific questions about enemas.  At least his reaction to this question was less dramatic than the reaction I got when I asked him about prostitutes.  I learned that word on the school bus when a couple of my classmates called me one.  I went home and asked my dad about it.

"Dad, what's a prostitute?" I asked.

"What?" He was pretty shocked at the question, since I was about eight years old.

"What's a prostitute?" I repeated.

"Where did you learn that word?" he demanded.

"I heard it on the bus." I replied.

My dad got a look of disgust on his face as he explained.  "A prostitute is a woman who sells her love to people."

I was a little confused, since love is supposed to be a good thing.  Selling is legal.  So is loving.  So is fucking, for that matter.  But I didn't press him for more details, because he looked kind of pissed.  My dad could have used this handy musical number from the folks at South Park.

"Sometimes a man needs to be with a woman..."

Josh Duggar can certainly educate his kids about prostitutes.  

I also asked my dad about hemorrhoids, but all he told me about that was that your intestines come out of your ass and bleed on your underwear.  That happens to be factually incorrect as well as disgusting.

I really could have used Google when I was growing up, but if I had, I wouldn't have these memories of asking my dad about inappropriate things like enemas.  At least I never asked him about douching.  And at least this post has taught me how to spell hemorrhoids.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

America is chock full of nuts...

More information has come out about Vester Lee Flanagan II (aka Bryce Williams), the racist, misanthropic asshole who shot WDBJ anchor Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward yesterday as Parker was conducting an interview on live TV.  It seems Mr. Flanagan, now thankfully deceased, perpetrated this crime because he was feeling oppressed in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.  Yep, that's right.  Flanagan blames Dylann Roof, another racist asshole, for shooting up a church.  And, apparently, life has been tough for Mr. Flanagan, who was both black and homosexual, but was once well regarded enough to find jobs in broadcast news.

When I read the news report that included tidbits from the manifesto Flanagan faxed to ABC news, I have to admit that it made me very angry.  My first reaction to the "reasons" given for yesterday's violence was not quite rage... it was more like disgust and disdain...  and frankly, fatigue...  The constant violence and stories about shootings in the United States have left me tired.  It's getting to the point at which this kind of thing is no longer shocking.  It's just disgusting.  It's a senseless waste of human life.  Who needs ISIS when your own countrymen are turning on each other?  No, we don't have a bunch of marauding men with AK47s kidnapping, raping women, and brutally murdering people with swords, but we do have crazed lunatics buying guns and shooting up random places.  How can anyone feel safe in the United States anymore?  You can't go to church, to school, to the movies, to a mall, or even do your job without risking being killed by a psychopath.

It's amazing the ripple effects that come from these acts of violence.  White guy Dylann Roof shoots up a church in Charleston, pisses off a gay black man in Virginia, who then takes it upon himself to target and kill two people in Virginia.  One person is shot on live television while doing her job, so millions of people get to hear her scream and try to run away before she's gunned down.  We see the camera being dropped as her co-worker is also brutally murdered on live TV.

I understand that Flanagan had a personal beef with Alison Parker and claimed that she made racist statements to him.  And that was one "reason" Flanagan decided that she needed to die.  Ward supposedly complained to human resources about Flanagan, which is the "reason" he needed to be killed.  Flanagan drew from the hatred that fueled Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho and put down a deposit on his murder weapon on June 19, 2015, two days after Roof's shooting spree.

Clearly, he wanted to be just like Roof and Cho and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and all the other crazy, violent, hate-filled people in the United States who think they have the right to decide who lives or dies.  These are the people who have helped make living in the so-called "Land of the Free" a very oppressive experience.  They have helped change our way of life, and definitely not for the better.  People like Flanagan steal hope and spread misery and hatred.  And we reward them with notoriety.  They become infamous for the things they do.  Everybody is going to be talking about Flanagan today.  People will remember his name.

If I stop for a moment and think about it, I can only guess that Flanagan was not a well man.  He claims he heard voices.  He killed his cats, perhaps as a way to work up the nerve to commit murder.  Maybe it was a sort of practice.  Maybe murder didn't come that easily to Flanagan, so he had to test his killer instincts on his cats.  

"Yes, it will sound like I am angry," Flanagan writes in his manifesto. "I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace....”

There is a side of me that wants very badly to feel some sort of compassion for Flanagan because he was obviously angry and very sick.  Knowing what I do about mental illness, I can only surmise that Flanagan really was suffering.  I think part of the reason we have so many gun slinging nuts on the loose is because it's easier to buy a gun in the United States than get decent mental health care.  Mr. Flanagan was obviously in dire need of services from a competent mental health professional.  He didn't need a gun.  He needed psych meds... and perhaps a bed in a locked facility somewhere where he couldn't hurt himself or other people.  

At the same time, Flanagan deliberately purchased a weapon two months ago and planned to kill two innocent people in cold blood.  These people had lives, loved ones, friends... all things that Flanagan evidently didn't have and apparently couldn't get for himself, even though he was once given opportunities to work in broadcast news that he pissed away.  He blames racism and homophobia for the fact that he was a loser.  He hated his victims for what they had, and he felt compelled to take it all from them... and everything from all the people who loved them... and all the people who didn't know them, but are still profoundly affected by this murderous act.

Ripple effects...  how many people are going to have nightmares because of what Flanagan chose to do?  How many children are going to be scared to go outside because there might be a gun wielding madman on the loose, ready to pick them off with a few random gunshots?  How many people are going to be outraged by the actions of an angry black homosexual male and decide that more people who happen to share those characteristics "need" to be killed?

We have a bunch of people wanting to become President of the United States in 2016.  Well, I truly hope at least one of them comes up with a strategy to deal with the angry, crazy, well-armed people we have running loose in our society.  Something needs to be done.        

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It keeps getting worse and worse for ol' Josh...

Well, it's been quite an interesting evening.  First, I heard about the two WDBJ employees, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were murdered live on television early this morning.  Since I'm originally from Virginia and many of my family members live not far from the Roanoke area, I know WDBJ.  I was pretty shocked to hear about the killings and the suspect, apparently a pissed off former co-worker named Vester Flanagan (Bryce Williams on the air) who tried and failed to kill himself as he fled the scene.

The guy may very well die anyway...  In a way, I kind of hope he doesn't.  He deserves a little Virginia style justice.  He's a coward.  I am still not a fan of the death penalty, though.  ETA:  Looks like he croaked.

It's really very sad.  Alison Parker was dating Chris Hurst, another anchor at the station, and was planning to marry him.  Adam Ward also had a girlfriend who worked with him.  Today was to be his girlfriend's last day on the job, as she had just been hired at a station in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I will probably post about this again as the story develops more.

Moving on, it seems Josh Duggar has checked himself into a long term treatment center.  I wonder if this time, it's a *real* treatment center and not just a place to do manual labor.  I truly hope he gets real help this time.  He has children who need him and a wife who seems bound and determined to stay married to him.  If Josh and Anna intend to stay married and raise their kids, Josh clearly needs to amend his behavior.

Frankly, I have my doubts that treatment will do much for him, but who knows?  Maybe he really wants to get better.  Maybe it'll be worth it to him to stop being such a pervert.  If he doesn't change, he's liable to end up in some very serious legal trouble.

Right after I read about Josh going into treatment, I read another story about a woman who supposedly had very rough sex with him.  Porn star "Danica Dillon" (aka Ashley Lewis) claims she met Josh at Gold Club in Philadelphia, where she was performing.  Josh allegedly purchased $600 worth of private lap dances and offered Dillon $1500 to have sex with him.

Although the sex was consensual, Dillon claims Josh Duggar was "very rough" with her and manhandled her.  She says she believes more women will come out in the future.  Is Dillon being truthful?  Probably.  I don't know for certain.  She could be someone looking for 15 minutes of fame.  My guess is that Josh's decision to get treatment may have something to do with the women he had sex with coming out of the woodwork.  While there is no real proof yet, my guess is that there was more than one clandestine tryst with a woman not Duggar's wife.  He has now joined Bill Cosby's club.

Memes and politics...

Yesterday, while messing around on my Facebook, I saw the following meme...

I thought this was kinda funny, so I shared it on my own page.

Little did I know that this meme would spark a debate about anchor babies.  One person wrote that the meme was "stupid" because Trump's exes weren't illegals.  Another person chose to define anchor babies for me.  Still a third person came dangerously close to trying to bait me into a political debate.

I certainly understand why many people think illegal immigrants and so-called "anchor babies" are a big problem in the United States.  And yes, I know what anchor babies are and didn't really need the term defined for me.  Even if I didn't know, there's always Google and I know how to use it like a pro.  

I honestly shared the above meme because I thought it was funny.  Donald Trump has made babies with two women who are immigrants and is himself the son of an immigrant.   Of course, Trump's mom and the mothers of his children are of the "white and delightsome" type immigrants, the kind that many politicians would prefer over those with darker skin and less money in the bank. 

Anyway, it really was supposed to be just a joke. Alas, my joke went *poof* at about 10:00 my time last night because that was when someone really took me to task for posting this photo.

At the time he made his comment, the photo had been up for hours and I was preparing to go to bed.  And, I have to admit, I found his condescending tone annoying.  So first I whined, "Can't I have a meme on my Facebook page without an argument? It was a joke."

My "friend" came back with a comment about how I don't want to "take responsibility" for what I post, which naturally pissed me off even more.  But he did say he'd "leave the joke there."  

So I wrote this, "If you had chimed in a few hours ago, maybe I'd entertain a debate with you. But it's getting late here and I'm going to go to bed. Aside from that, I really did post this because I thought it was a funny point, not because I want to argue politics. The truth is, it doesn't matter who Trump is married to at the moment or the parentage of his kids. I won't be voting for him and nothing anyone says will change my mind. So a debate with me would be pointless and would probably just piss me off."  In retrospect, I wish I'd just told him to fuck off.

Afterwards, I started thinking about online political debates and how they usually equate to something like this...

I mean, seriously, it's pointless.

Later, he came back and claimed that he wasn't trying to troll for Trump's presidential ticket.  He just thought my comments were "off base" and felt the need to publicly point that out to me.  Fine.  But I still have to wonder what his point was.  Did he think that telling me that the mothers of Trump's children weren't illegals and the comparison isn't the same was going to educate me somehow?  Did it make him feel better about himself to post condescending remarks and chastise me for posting "irresponsibly"?  Because honestly, all it did for me was make me think he's an overbearing jerk.

The older I get, the less time and patience I have for bullshit, especially when it's political bullshit.  Every once in awhile, I don't mind having a debate with someone, as long as the debate is civil and respectful.  Approach me with contempt, condescension, sarcasm, or derision and I'll quickly show you the door.  I don't have the time for that.


Interestingly enough, I have yet to see this film...  I agree with the sentiment conveyed in this clip, though.

I freely admit that sometimes I'm childish.  Sometimes I post stupid shit.  Sometimes I say and do things that beg for other people to call me on the carpet.  There was a time when I was more willing to engage people who wanted to argue or debate with me about things.  As I get older, I find have less patience for arguments or debates... or trying to convince people of my viewpoint or hearing them try to convince me of theirs.

As for my choice to post the above meme, the fact of the matter is, I think Donald Trump is very offensive and he's not someone I want to see leading the country.  I enjoy poking fun at him and making jokes about his penchant for fucking good-looking, white, immigrant women and wearing stupid hairstyles.  Other people may think he's just what the United States needs.  And that's fine.  They are entitled to their opinions and are free to vote whichever way they see fit.  That doesn't mean I want or need to be convinced of Trump's "brilliance".  In my view, he's a walking scrotum who ranks just below Mitt Romney.  I strongly doubt my opinion of him will change before the election.

So I will continue to post stupid memes on my Facebook and in my blog because I feel like it.  If you think I need to be educated or am off base or whatever, fine.  But if you choose to tell me so, especially in a condescending way, it's likely that I will simply politely invite you to fuck off because it's doubtful that I really give a shit.  Just so we're straight.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Reposted review of the dreadful film, Serious Moonlight...

I don't ordinarily repost my movie reviews, but read this one early this morning and decided I should preserve it. It's one of my more entertaining film opinions.

Serious Moonlight is seriously dreadful...

Review by knotheadusc

in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel

August, 25 2012

Pros: I can't think of any.

Cons: Where do I begin?

My husband Bill and I often watch Netflix movies on Saturdays. I had a couple of them sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks, so we decided we'd watch them today. The first movie we watched, A Serious Man, by the Coen Brothers was a winner. The second one was Serious Moonlight (2009), a "black comedy" by first time director Cheryl Hines and written by the late Adrienne Shelly. The movie is dedicated to Shelly, who was murdered at age 40. Given how horrible this movie was, I'm almost not surprised the writer is no longer among the living.

I'm not sure why I put this film in my Netflix queue. Maybe I was curious about the lead actors, Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, who had once been huge stars. I do like black comedies, too. So maybe I figured this film would make me laugh and give me the chance to see two well-regarded actors working together. Alas, this film is not funny and Ryan and Hutton don't have all that much chemistry. Indeed, this movie pretty much had me cringing from the time I pushed play.

The plot

After thirteen years of marriage to his workaholic, neurotic, lawyer wife, Louise (Ryan), Ian (Hutton) decides to get a divorce and run off to Paris with his gorgeous 24 year old lover, Sara (Kristen Bell). He plans to break things off with a note left in the farmhouse he shares with Louise, but she comes home early and catches him in the act of leaving. Not one to give up on love easily, Louise brains Ian with a flower pot and duct tapes him to a toilet while she tries to woo him back into wedded bliss with fresh baked cookies, a sexy dress, a wedding photo slide show, and a poorly sung and played love song.

Ian is bound and determined (snicker) not to fall for Louise's charms. But she refuses to let him go and heads to the market to pick up some special vittles for dinner. Meanwhile, the house is robbed by a brutal lawnmower riding man and his derelict posse, who, besides beating up Ian while he's taped to the toilet, take it upon themselves to have a little party, too. When Louise gets to their home, she too is duct taped and beaten, but at least that gives the couple time to talk about their issues and patch things up.

My thoughts

This film disturbed me on many levels. For one thing, I don't think it's funny for women to commit violent acts on men, even if they're jerks. In this movie, we see Louise hit Ian with two flower pots. He's duct taped to a chair, then to a toilet, while she desperately and crazily tries to get him to fall in love with her again. It makes her look like a violent lunatic with shit for brains. If the situation were reversed and Louise was the one taped to a toilet, people would likely be outraged. They wouldn't think it was funny at all to see some desperate guy trying to force her to love him. I just don't think that type of violence is funny, nor should it be encouraged.

Secondly, I thought the plot and ending were completely ridiculous and unrealistic. In fact, I'm not really sure what the point was supposed to be. Louise comes off as completely nuts. I can totally see why Ian would want to leave her. Even if she weren't crazy and violent, Meg Ryan doesn't look all that attractive as Louise. She isn't aging gracefully and throughout this film, looked like she needed to borrow a comb and cut back on Botox.

Ian doesn't come off as the best catch either. He cheats on Louise and blatantly insults and rejects her. Why on earth would she want him to stick around? I know. She tells us in an emotional monologue in which she says she refuses to be over 40 and lonely, addicted to ice cream, and hanging out with her female friends. Really? So Louise would rather be married to a cad who says he doesn't love her than take care of herself? How insulting to capable and rational women everywhere!

Kristen Bell is very cute as Sara, though she's not given much to do in this film. And she also ends up jilted and comes off as a bit of a bimbo. I guess this is the misanthropic message to potential homewreckers out there, that they will always end up losers if they have affairs with married men and they will always be thought of as bimbos. That may be true for many "other women", but I really don't think Sara is the one viewers or Louise should blame. She didn't make a promise to Louise; Ian did.

I hang out on a Web site called Shrink4men. It's basically a site for men who are victims of emotional abuse and domestic violence perpetrated by women, as well as the non-abusive people who love them. That site, which is run by a psychologist, has taught me that women who act like Louise likely suffer from a cluster B personality disorder. Guys who end up ensnared with "cluster B" women are basically in Hell... and the relationships that result from these pairings often end up hurting a lot of innocent people, including children. The very fact that this film trivializes this problem and makes it look like Louise wins with her craziness makes it a dreadful film in my book. It may be funny if you've never had to deal with this type of woman, but it's really not funny if your life has been affected by someone with no empathy and multiple screws loose. And this isn't to say that Ian is totally innocent, either. For sure, he comes off like an ass. In fact, no one in this movie is particularly sympathetic or likeable. That's another reason why it sucks so badly.

Don't show this...

Serious Moonlight is not a film for anyone, really. But it's definitely not a good choice for kids. There's a lot of swearing, plenty of violence, adult humor, and a little bit of kink. Ordinarily, the kink might be a turn on, but not when it's framed more like rape.

Other information

Serious Moonlight runs for an hour and twenty-five minutes, but it seemed so much longer than that. It's rated R.


What a pity Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, and Kristen Bell have their names on this turkey. I do not recommend it unless you're the type of person who enjoys watching women being depicted as unattractive loons and men as selfish, hedonistic cretins. However, I will say that this movie does make a good case study of what life can be like with a woman who has a cluster B personality disorder, right down to the fact that Ian gets "hoovered" back into the relationship with Louise, who finally manages to have a baby. Believe me, the way Meg Ryan looks in that film, I would never guess her character was still young enough to get pregnant without significant medical intervention.

The Duggar drama has shifted from TV to the Internet...

As Jessa Duggar posts a fitting and rather poignant Bible passage that appears to be aimed at big brother Josh and his zipper troubles, Anna Duggar's brother, Daniel, rips Josh a new one with a blistering comment about shame and disgrace.  Daniel even goes as far as to call Josh a "pig".  I wouldn't give Josh that much credit.  After all, pigs may be stinky and dirty, but they taste good and are supposedly very intelligent.  They even make good pets.  None of those things could be said about Josh.

No... if I were Anna's brother, I think I might liken Josh to a coyote rather than a pig.  Coyotes are thieves who skulk around, rob henhouses, terrorize domestic animals, and piss off farmers.  They are wily and sneaky and few folks think of them as friends...

Josh Duggar?  Maybe this is how he feels these days...

Anna's brother appears to be pretty pissed off about this situation to the point at which he uses some language that I would never expect to be associated with Duggars or their ilk.  Frankly, Daniel's use of profanity makes me like him.  I admire those who have the courage to break out of oppression, and while I wouldn't necessarily think that simply using swear words makes someone cool, I do when that person comes from a religious cult.  Often, it's the first sign that the person has started to use their brain rather than just pay, pray, and obey.

Anyway, Keller's rant was an entertaining read this morning after a nice night's sleep.  I went to bed early last night and even eschewed my usual boozing in favor of rest.  At about 7:30pm, the Apple TV went on the fritz and I didn't feel like going downstairs to reboot the router.  So I turned off all the lights and went to bed, where I read a few more chapters of a mindless book I've been reading about being a waiter to rich and famous people in Beverly Hills.  I expect to be done with the book soon, so there will soon be a review posted.

We had lots of rain yesterday, which is a good thing.  It cooled things off and I can see the ground starting to get green again.  Pretty soon, the burned patches of the lawn in the backyard will be looking less parched.

I can't communicate much with Bill because Uganda's internet service sucks.  It's frustratingly slow.  However, he did post a photo from the area where he is right now.  It's very green and pretty.  I have heard that despite the depiction of Uganda in The Book of Mormon Musical, as African countries go, Uganda isn't that bad at all.  I'm sure Bill will give me the lowdown when he gets back on Saturday.  For now, I will continue to entertain myself with ER downloads, reading, and minimal housework.

I'll probably be back later with a rant...  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday morning blues...

I didn't get much sleep last night because Arran woke up in the middle of the night to throw up.  Actually, it wasn't much of a vomiting episode.  It was probably more like spitting up than throwing up.  Still, he roused me from sleep to wipe up the mess and take him and Zane outside.  Then, I gave him a biscuit to settle his stomach.

It took a couple of hours to calm down and drop off to sleep again.  I was lying in bed, stewing and worrying over shit I have no control over.  Finally, Arran nestled his head into my shoulder and that comforted me somewhat.  I eventually closed my eyes and drifted off to dreamland.

I was awakened bright and early by the sun and the dogs' need to go out for a whiz.  After I fed them, I made coffee and used up the rest of the pancake batter I made yesterday for my usual Sunday breakfast.  Now the clouds and rain are back and I'm feeling sleepy.  I might go back to bed, since I have nothing better to do today.

The other day, I completed a duet with a guy on SingSnap.  He got all excited over it and has been sending me a bunch of private messages, wanting me to do other songs with him.  I am flattered that he likes my voice, but at the same time, it annoys me when I get repeated requests to do stuff that I'm not interested in doing.  Sometimes, the requests feel like an assignment, rather than a request.  Last week, one guy sent me a whole list of songs he wanted me to sing with him.  I ignored him.

It also annoys me when people turn songs that are meant to be solos into duets.  I know it shouldn't and there are things I can do to put a stop to it.  I hate to have to do that, though.  Every once in awhile, another person's added vocals improves a solo effort.  That doesn't happen very often, I'm afraid.  Most people can't sing that well, so they end up messing up a perfectly good recording.  Sorry, I know that sounds really conceited, but it's the truth.  And I hate feeling obligated to listen to them and make positive comments, while at the same time, I feel kind of bad when I choose to ignore them.

I'm really in a cranky mood today.  What can I say?  It's Monday and raining outside.  My husband is gone all week.  My stocks took a big crap.  I didn't sleep well and people are getting on my nerves.  So is my computer, which just informed me that I've managed to fill yet another hard drive.  I guess I'll spend some time today dumping old photos and stuff.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stepford sisters...

Okay, it's time I quit writing about the Duggar family and moved on to the next topic of interest.  Today, I'm going to write about sorority girls.

It so happens I attended a college where Greek life was huge.  Four national sororities were founded at my alma mater, which is really saying something, since Longwood University is not a big school, nor is it located in a metropolis of any decent size.  I didn't join a Greek organization myself, unless you count Sigma Alpha Iota, which is an international honorary music fraternity for women.  I've always been sort of fascinated by Greek life, though, which is why the below video on Tomo News interested me.

This news video is based on a recruitment video put out by the University of Alabama's chapter of Alpha Phi.

I am not familiar with Alpha Phi, since we didn't have it at Longwood in my day.  From the looks of this video, the ladies of Alpha Phi are overwhelmingly white and blonde with plenty of T&A.  Every school is different, of course, and so is every chapter.  These women look like they're having fun, though I definitely think you'd have to fit the mold to be accepted into their group... and based on the dazed looks on their faces, I get the sense they are a little "Stepford".

I liked the video.  I have to admit it... though I liked the video mostly for the funky music and Tomo News's snarky commentary.  The gyrating blonde women are more than a little creepy to me because they looked a bit like they were from a planet of blonde clones.  Man... I liked the music on Tomo News's video so much that I had to download it.  It cooks.  

The video sort of brings to mind an old Dr. Seuss tale...  I wouldn't ordinarily reference him, since he's Bill's ex wife's favorite author, but it does sort of fit the situation in more ways than one.

I look at the pretty young women in the video and wonder if there are any brains behind the blondeness.  I am sure there are some smart chicks in that sorority, but with all the glitter blowing and strutting around in football jerseys, it's hard to know for sure.  Anyway, at least they have their looks, which sadly counts for a lot in the world.  I'm sure they have a lot of fun in their group.  I hasten to add that not all sororities are like this.  In fact, there are times now when I sort of wish I'd rushed.  But then, I had neither the self-confidence nor the money to take the sorority girl plunge.

Below is a book review I wrote of Alexandra Robbins' 2004 book, Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities.  It gives insight to those who were never initiated into Greek life.  

  • It's not easy being Greek: the truth behind sororities

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      May, 02 2004
  • Pros: Entertaining expose of college sorority life.
    Cons: Robbins reveals too many secrets.
    I'm a graduate of Longwood College, which is now known as Longwood University, where four national sororities were founded: Kappa Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sig), and Alpha Sigma Alpha. Greek life, that is membership in a sorority or fraternity, was very big at Longwood when I attended. I have little doubt that being Greek is still a very important part of life on the Farmville, Virginia campus where I got my undergraduate degree.

    I vividly recall the hullabaloo surrounding Greek rush at the beginning of each semester. My freshman year, I lived with a woman who rushed Kappa Delta. Kappa Delta was full of pretty women-- KD ladies, according to my ex-roommate, who were among the most popular women on campus. When she had accepted her bid, her big sisters had decorated our door. Every time I walked into the room, I felt like I was walking through a throne. The whole door was covered in signs and decorations with KD colors and symbols all over it. And then my roommate was a pledge and she constantly went to parties, got involved in philanthropies and fundraisers, and spent all of her free time studying about the sorority and its mission. I witnessed firsthand some of the experiences Alexandra Robbins writes about in her 2004 book Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities.

    I remember wondering at times if being in a sorority would be fun for me. I did join a musical honorary fraternity for women and we did a lot of the same stuff the social sororities did, only our dues were less expensive, membership was based on GPA and the number of music credit hours we had, it wasn't as time consuming, and there weren't any parties (though there was also a men's music fraternity). According to Robbins, being in a social sorority is a major endeavor. First and foremost, there's the significant investment of time and money. Sorority ladies pay dues that generally cost several hundred dollars a semester, and they are expected to attend meetings and ceremonies. If they miss those ceremonies and meetings, they might be fined, even if they had a good reason like work or school. According to Robbins, there's a strong emphasis on looking a certain way and always behaving in a way that would reflect well on the sisterhood. There are mandatory study periods because many sororities have a minimum grade point average that sisters are expected to achieve. All of this sounds pretty positive until Robbins reveals the darker, more secretive side of sorority life.

    In order to write this book, Robbins had to go undercover at an institution she calls "State University", posing as a nineteen year old woman during the 2002-03 school year. She had the help of four sorority members: Vicki, Amy, Caitlin, and Sabrina (not their real names) who agreed to risk their memberships in the sororities in order to help her with this project. Vicki was a member of "Beta Pi" (not its real name) and the other three volunteers were members of "Alpha Rho" (not its real name). Sabrina was the lone black member of Alpha Rho. Robbins writes of Sabrina's experiences of being in a white sorority, where the sisters insensitively made racist remarks in her presence. Caitlin, the daughter of an overly involved mother, was the vice president of Alpha Rho who had been date raped by a fraternity member after a party. Vicki was the pretty, blonde, California girl who looked the part of a Beta Pi sister but had so far disappointed the other sorority members by being too shy and reluctant to socialize. And Amy was another "girl next door" type member of Alpha Rho whose twin sister had died. According to Robbins, Amy was looking for a sisterhood that might help ease the pain she experienced with the loss of her biological sister.

    As Robbins acted as a "fly on the wall" watching these four women over the course of the school year, she found out that most of the stereotypes surrounding sorority were actually true. Robbins claims that she witnessed eating disorders, racism, drug and alcohol abuse, psychological abuse, violence and extreme promiscuity. Worse, the abuses were inflicted by attractive, intelligent, otherwise successful women. Robbins balances these sordid stories with interludes about related news items related to sorority women, articles about hazing, date rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. She interviewed several hundred sorority members from campuses across the country, emphasizing that Greek life is most important in the South. It's taken so seriously that some parents hire rush consultants in order to guide their daughters through the rush process and into the "right" sorority.

    Robbins includes an interesting chapter on black sororities, comparing them to the white sororities-- one institutionalized part of college life that is still quite segregated. She also includes information about local sororities, that is sisterhoods that are not part of a national panhellenic group. One black woman Robbins wrote about started her own sorority having been twice rejected by the white sororities. The woman claimed that she wouldn't have fit in with the black sororities and that had she become a member of a black sorority, the sisters wouldn't have accepted her because she didn't "act black"; yet the white sororities wouldn't accept her because of her skin color.

    After I read this book, I found myself glad that I didn't join a social sorority. I had, and still have, a lot of friends who were members of sororities and I witnessed what happened to some of them after they joined Greek organizations. Most of the women were very nice, but as they became more involved with Greek life, they were a lot less involved with their "independent" friends. It was interesting to read Robbins' accounts of the peer pressure she witnessed. Robbins also includes a lot of information about so-called secret rituals. If you've always wondered about sorority passwords, secret ceremonies, or symbolism, you may really enjoy the section of the book where Robbins removes the shroud of mystery.

    The fact that Robbins does include secret passwords and information about secret rituals may be very offensive for those women who are members of sororities. Part of what makes the sisterhoods "special" is the emphasis on secrecy. Robbins destroys that secrecy with her expose, although I have to admit that I found the information interesting. On the other hand, I did wonder why she felt the need to include it in this book, especially since those secrets are part of what makes sorority life attractive. It was almost sad for me to read about the secrets that are held sacred by sorority women. Robbins also didn't make it clear how she got away with being "a fly on the wall", since she obviously didn't join either of the sororities she wrote of. I would think that the sisters would have gotten suspicious, even if most of the contact Robbins had with the four sisters she was keeping track of was via instant messenger.

    Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities is well written, thorough, and fairly well researched. For those who are not familiar with the great deal of jargon associated with Greek life, Robbins includes a glossary, but she also does a good job defining the elements of Greek life in the book itself. I found Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities an interesting read, although I doubt I'm a more enlightened person after reading about the sordid affairs that go on in sorority houses across the country.

    Robbins concludes this book by writing her suggestions of how national sororities could change for the better. I was glad to see this, since so many expose type books write only of the negatives and yet don't include any information about how the negatives could be made positive. She emphasizes the need for more "adult supervision", something I found curious since college students are supposed to already be adults.

    Robbins also believes that all women who rush should get into a sorority, a suggestion that I fear would defeat the purpose of sororities. After all, many people join Greek organizations so that they can be a part of something "special" with people who are like them. While I understand the reasoning behind this suggestion and actually agree with the sentiment (that Greek organizations are elitist), I doubt this suggestion would go over well. Robbins writes that the national offices are always interested in making more money and yet they are particular about who can be a member. This is another reason why she believes that sororities should be more open to all college women.

    This book wasn't entirely negative.  Robbins does include information about some of the positive aspects of sorority life, such as forming enduring friendships and business connections outside of college life, although the overall emphasis in this book is the negative side to Greek life.

    I believe that Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities might be useful for high school senior girls and their parents, however I also believe that what is written in this book should be taken with a grain of salt and balanced with other sources. If you aren't looking to go Greek but just want to read about sorority life, you might enjoy reading this book as well. Go to to order this book, though, and you will see many negative ratings contributed by indignant sorority members who are upset that Robbins has attacked an institution that they hold sacred. Still, I believe her account was fair, even if it was shocking.

Bill is on his way to Uganda this morning.  He will be there until Saturday.  Then, I can plan in earnest for our next trip.