book reviews, celebrities

Repost: A look at Linda Gray’s The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction

Here’s an as/is repost of a book review I wrote for my original blog. It appeared on February 6, 2017. I was reminded to repost this review after watching The Love Boat, yesterday. Juliet Prowse was a guest star and they showed off her fabulous legs. I was reminded of Linda Gray, writing about her “stems”.

Lately, I’ve been watching old episodes of Dallas.  They offer a flashback to my youth, a time when I didn’t care about things like politics.  I was very young when Dallas first started airing and a young woman when it finally went off the air.  So, I guess for that reason, Dallas is a comfort.

Many people know that actress Linda Gray played a pivotal role on Dallas.  She was Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R. Ewing’s long suffering alcoholic wife.  Later, Gray starred in Models Inc., an Aaron Spelling spin off of the 90s hit Melrose Place, which was itself a spin off of Beverly Hills 90210.  Models Inc. flopped and was cancelled after one season.  But in 2012, a reboot of Dallas came along and Gray was able to be Sue Ellen again for three seasons.

I like life stories, so that’s probably why I decided to download Gray’s 2015 book, The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction.  I finally got around to reading it and finished it yesterday while in my sick bed.  It’s basically Linda Gray’s life story mixed with the odd recipe, cute anecdotes, and Gray’s self help philosophies.  I understand the book was written to commemorate Gray’s 75th birthday.  She still looks good.

I learned some new things when I read this book.  I never knew that Gray had polio when she was a child.  She spent several months in bed and almost ended up in an iron lung.  Fortunately, that treatment ultimately wasn’t indicated and Gray eventually recovered.  Gray is also the daughter of an alcoholic.  Her mother, who was apparently a very talented artist with a great sense of style, drank to numb the boredom of simply being a wife and a mother.  I’m sure growing up with an alcoholic mother gave Gray some cues as to how she should play alcoholic Sue Ellen.

There are a few anecdotes about Dallas, as well as a couple of funny stories about Larry Hagman, who was one of Gray’s dearest friends.  Gray also writes about how she came to capture the part of Sue Ellen.  Although she’d been a model and commercial actress for years, at the time she got her big break, she was married, 38 years old, and the mother of two kids rapidly approaching adolescence.  Her husband had not wanted her to work, but Gray was finding life as a housewife unfulfilling and boring.  She went against her husband’s wishes and soon became a star.  The marriage fell apart, but Gray finally found a purpose other than being a mother and a housewife.  She thrived.

I did take notice when California born and bred Gray wrote about learning how to speak like a rich woman from Dallas.  She writes that she met Dolly Parton, who told her to just emulate her.  Gray said Dolly didn’t sound “Texan”.  She asked Dolly where she was from and claims Dolly said “Georgia”.  Um…  Dolly Parton is not from Georgia!  She’s from Tennessee!  I guess Gray isn’t a fan of country music.  Gray ended up finding a voice coach who taught her some tricks.  She also hung out at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas a lot, to see how rich women from Dallas behaved.

I mostly enjoyed Gray’s book.  It looks like she wrote it herself, with no help from a ghost writer.  I think she did a fairly good job, although there are a few small snafus like the one I mentioned in the previous paragraph.  I liked that Gray came across as very normal and approachable. 

On the other hand, toward the end of the book, she offers some advice to her readers that I don’t think she herself takes.  For instance, she writes about how off putting it is when people brag.  She kind of does some bragging herself.  Not that I wouldn’t have expected her to brag somewhat; she is a famous actress who has had an unusual life.  But it does seem disingenuous when an actress tells her readers about how annoying she finds braggarts right after she writes about her “come hither” eyes and “amazing stems” (legs).  Acting is not exactly a profession for people who aren’t a little bit self-absorbed (although I am sure there are exceptions).  Self help advice from a celebrity often rings hollow anyway.  A little bit goes a long way. 

At the end of the book there are pictures.  Many of them are too small to see, at least on an iPad. 

I probably could have done without the self help sections, with the exception of Gray’s life “principles”, which were cleverly conceived and included funny anecdotes.  She also includes a couple of recipes– one for a conditioner she uses on her hair and another for some kind of meat pie she made for her kids, which doesn’t seem to jibe with her advice to eat clean.

I give this book 3.5 stars on a scale of 5.  It’s not bad, and parts are interesting and enjoyable.  But self help advice usually puts me off, anyway.

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Ex, lessons learned, mental health, narcissists, psychology

On not being alone at the narcissist’s chasm…

You might say that today’s post is a continuation of the one I wrote on Sunday. In that post, I wrote about how a new and mind blowing insight hit me as I listened to a very familiar story Bill told me about how his narcissistic ex wife made him feel. If you haven’t read that post, this post may make less sense than it could. On the other hand, maybe it will make perfect sense. The first post has some of the backstory that led to the revelation that is spawning this morning’s post… which I don’t expect everyone to care about. It just helps me to write these things down, both for reference, and because it’s kind of fascinating to me.

Next month, Bill and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Throughout the course of our marriage, I’ve repeatedly heard the story about how Bill decided that he would agree to his ex wife’s demand for a divorce. He realized that she’d drawn a metaphorical line in the sand. She wanted him to cross it. But if Bill crossed that line, he would lose part of himself. It also would not have taken long before he was back on the wrong side of the line. Somehow, he realized that it was pointless to keep trying to appease his ex wife’s demands. He agreed to the divorce, even though it wasn’t actually what she’d wanted. What she wanted was to regain control.

Bill is a kind and sensitive man. He tries very hard to make other people happy. His ex wife was never an exception. He wanted to love her and care about her. She couldn’t, and didn’t, return the sentiment. She wasn’t driven by love. She simply wanted security and control.

In Ex’s defense, I suspect that the reason she wasn’t “driven by love” is because she grew up in a chaotic home, where she was taught lies and forced to accept abuse. Somehow, as she came of age in that home where she was never valued, she never quite matured beyond adolescence. She probably never had time to grow up, since she was probably focused on survival– or perhaps that was just the perception she had. Somehow, she never got the message that real love isn’t supposed to be a contest. It also goes both ways.

I don’t think Ex even really knows what actual love is, beyond the most primal passions and urges. Her version of love doesn’t include respect, kindness, or gentleness. It doesn’t include trust, or the ability to relax and enjoy another person for who they are. She is constantly testing people, keeping them on their toes to prove their loyalty to her. But it’s not a two-way street. She expects people to fight for her, but she won’t do the same for them, except in a bid to own them somehow.

When Ex’s victims inevitably quit trying to please her, she accuses them of abandonment… when really, they are simply exhausted and defeated. They get tired of trying to win a contest that can’t be won. In essence, they realize that they can’t cross the chasm and shouldn’t want to cross it. Crossing the chasm means losing themselves and becoming someone who isn’t authentic. They become a shell of who they are.

Last night, Bill and his younger daughter Skyped for the first time in awhile. During the discussion, Bill decided to test my theory that he was not alone at the “chasm” he had frequently described to me over the course of our relationship. He asked his daughter if she ‘dever felt like she was standing on one side of a chasm, while everyone else important to her was on the other side with Ex. Sure enough, she identified.

They talked some more, and Bill pointed out that, in Ex’s world, no one is supposed to talk to anyone else. This is especially true when there’s trouble or someone is being shunned.

It occurred to me that people in Ex’s realm are like spokes on a wheel. If you look at spokes on a wheel, you see that they all connect to the middle, but they don’t touch each other. Imagine the narcissist as the middle of the wheel and the spokes as all of the people in the narcissist’s realm. They all support the narcissist and keep the wheel turning. But if they ever touch each other, that means they’ve broken, and the narcissist gets less support, just as a wheel does. What do you do with a broken spoke in a wheel? You repair or replace it.

I have learned that no one in a narcissist’s life is indispensable. They are always looking for someone to support them. It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as they’re up to the job. A spoke in a narcissist’s wheel has to be willing to focus all of its attention to the narcissist. It’s a thankless job, but crucial to the narcissist’s existence. And when the spoke inevitably bends or breaks from the pressure, it has to be replaced– discarded… or maybe repaired– punished and “re-educated”.

That’s where the nonsense about coming across the chasm comes in. The narcissist looks at the victim and says, “You don’t have be alone. All of these other people are here with me. Just do what I want you to do, and you can partake of the feast with us.”

But there is no feast… it’s all an illusion. It’s a mirage. Moreover, those people who seem to be on the narcissist’s side, are really on your side of the chasm. It’s as if you all wear blinders, forcing you to look directly across the abyss. You don’t see each other. You’re all focused on the narcissist– the center of the wheel. Somehow, the narcissist makes you think the center is where you really want to be. But the only person who can be in the center of the wheel is the narcissist. Everyone else is a spoke, and necessary to keep the narcissist’s wheel spinning. When one of you breaks, the wheel falters. Swift action must be taken to keep the wheel spinning. Otherwise, the whole thing falls apart. There is no time for a party on the other side of the chasm. There’s too much work to be done.

A good song for this… and I wish I still had this album. It’s out of print.

Why did it take me twenty years to see this? I think it’s because for so long, we didn’t have other perspectives. Many of the people in Ex’s wheel weren’t speaking to us, so we didn’t realize that she was treating them just as badly. It really did seem like Bill was being singled out as someone who wasn’t able to cross the chasm because of his perceived (and falsely attributed) character defects. I think we eventually assumed others were being mistreated, but we didn’t know for sure, because no one was communicating with us, except Bill’s mom. And Bill’s mom was probably the first one to get to the edge of the chasm, because she was the first one to threaten Ex’s perceived position of authority. Ex did her very best to separate Bill from his mother. When that didn’t work, she cast out Bill, too, and led them both to believe that they were awful people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is, in Ex’s world, everyone is defective. She, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Or, if she does do wrong, it’s only because people mistreated her. She’s “owed” the right to be an asshole, because other people were assholes to her. By that logic, being a narcissistic asshole is like a contagious disease– maybe we could even call it “narcissistic COVID”. Of course, Ex would never agree that other people have the right to mistreat her, even though she mistreats them.

Actually, the wheel metaphor isn’t new to me. That thought occurred to me at least ten years ago. I realized that Ex had all of these people working so hard to do her bidding. I wondered why people were so concerned with keeping her satisfied. Of course, now I know that I was on the outside of the wheel. I wasn’t a spoke. She tried to make me one of her spokes when she invited me to my own in-laws’ house for Christmas in 2004. I refused, which made me too dangerous to interact with the family. So she did what she could to lessen my influence and make me out to be a “bad person”. She told egregious lies about me and Bill, and she compelled Bill’s daughters, ex stepson, and even tried to compel his parents to cast him out.

Not long after I started thinking of Ex’s world as a wheel, I realized that everyone in her system was triangulated. She filtered and spun all of the information among everyone in the wheel; like spokes, they didn’t touch or speak to each other. She kept them all distrusting each other, focused solely on her, and competing for her attention. She also misrepresented the thoughts and opinions of other people.

For instance, Ex told my mother-in-law things like, “Bill and I don’t think you’re an appropriate grandmother figure for the kids.” Of course, Bill never thought or said anything of the sort. But by including Bill in that comment, she made it seem like he was on the other side of the chasm with her, when he was really standing right next to his mother, hearing things like “The kids don’t think you know them well enough to buy them presents they actually want.”

Meanwhile, Ex would tell Bill’s stepmother, who doesn’t like Bill’s mom, things like “Bill’s mom is smarter than you are…” or “Bill’s mom sends the children better gifts.” Or any number of other statements that are designed to isolate, alienate, or make the other person feel insecure, misunderstood, and not good enough. And Ex would slip in little comments that made it seem like other people shared her warped opinions, when, in fact, they didn’t.

Bill, his mom, and his stepmother, were on the same side of the chasm, looking over at Ex, who seemed to have everybody on her side. The reality was, no one was really on Ex’s side. Everyone was on the same side of the divide, thinking they were alone. But they weren’t alone at all… Ex had fooled them into thinking they were, and tricked them into focusing on pleasing her, when they should have been taking care of themselves and each other.

She would get people so spun up and angry that they wouldn’t speak to each other directly. They would just keep talking and listening to Ex, who would keep them agitated and misunderstanding each other. This was all done to keep her in charge. Got to keep the wheel spinning, you see… there’s no time for a party on the other side of the chasm. No time to build bridges to a place where everyone understands, respects, and simply LOVES each other. And Ex doesn’t want people to love each other. She wants them to admire and worship her. I don’t think even she wants to be loved. I think she simply wants to be adored. Maybe that’s what love is to her.

That was how Bill lost contact with his daughters. She told Bill they hated him. She told her daughters that Bill was an abusive bastard who cheated on her. Bill and his daughters never had the opportunity to speak to each other and learn the truth. Meanwhile, Ex did everything she could to remove Bill from their lives. He was a broken spoke who could no longer be trusted to do the work she required. She couldn’t risk him breaking the other spokes with the burden of the truth. She sure as hell didn’t want the kids to think of me as someone who might be “good” or could offer them love, or anything else. That was too threatening for her.

As I sit here thinking about this– all this crazy imagery– another image pops into my head. Did you ever see the 1976 movie, Carrie? It was based on Stephen King’s book about a teenager who has telekinetic powers. She’s a mousy girl, timid and shy, and raised by a weird mother who belongs to a religious cult. The other kids make fun of her. When Carrie gets angry, she turns into a demon from hell, whose rage kills.

In that film, just before Carrie’s final act of rage at the senior prom, a sympathetic character named Sue, who had tried to show Carrie kindness and understanding, shows up to watch Carrie and Sue’s boyfriend, Tommy, be crowned prom king and queen. Sue is initially happy for them… but then she notices a slender rope that runs under the stage. There are two mean kids there, waiting to pull the rope, which will dump pig’s blood all over Carrie. Sue has a perspective that no one else has. She’s not a part of the wheel. She tries to warn someone, but the others, thinking she’s just there to cause trouble, refuse to hear her warnings. So Sue is banished… much like I was. And then, the carnage begins.

Sue knows what’s going on… but no one will listen to her.

Brian DePalma does a masterful job showing all of those perspectives. He shows what Carrie imagines to be happening. He shows Sue realizing what is actually happening. And he shows all of the other doomed people at the prom, not realizing that they’re about to be slaughtered. In fact, DePalma even shows these perspectives in a wheel that spins.

Naturally, this situation with Ex isn’t just like Carrie. So far, Ex hasn’t killed anyone with her narcissistic impulses. In fact, I don’t think Carrie was a narcissist. She was enslaved by her rage, which caused her to be destructive. Maybe if she hadn’t died at the prom, she would have had something more in common with the Incredible Hulk– a mild mannered scientist who turns into a green monster when he gets angry. The point is, in Carrie, there’s someone who has the perspective of seeing what’s happening. She’s not in the wheel. She tries to speak up, but no one hears her. Sue ultimately escapes, but everyone else stays trapped… until Sue lets her guard down in a nightmare and tries to bestow one more act of kindness toward Carrie, who betrays her by trying to pull her into Hell.

There’s so much to this last scene…

Hmm… maybe being friends with a narcissist is kind of like being friends with Carrie, after all. I still don’t see Carrie as a narcissist, though. Maybe given time, and enough cruel treatment by others, she might have become a narcissist. She might have become hardened and cruel, rather than misunderstood and sheltered. Maybe when she was much younger, Ex was more like Carrie, and turned into who she is because of abuse, abandonment, and cruel mistreatment from other people. Somehow, she got to the point at which she turned into someone who is directed by her destructive rages. Anyone who upsets her, threatens her, or doesn’t follow her orders has to be figuratively destroyed.

Anyway… I suspect Bill will have a lot to talk about with his Jungian analyst tonight. But I know he felt better after talking to his daughter, and realizing that, yes– they’ve all been standing on the edge of the chasm, unable to cross, and looking over at the illusion of everybody else, standing with Ex. If they’d only thought to trust each other enough to talk amongst themselves… The healing could have started a long time ago. But I understand now why they couldn’t, and didn’t. They were too focused on keeping the wheel spinning. They were too convinced that if the wheel stopped spinning, disaster would strike. That’s how it works in the narcissist’s world. Somehow, they manage to trick people into thinking that there will be hell to pay if they aren’t satisfied.

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complaints, musings, poor judgment, YouTube

What happened to Britt?

I’m having some trouble coming up with a fresh topic this morning. I’m not sure why that is… Maybe it’s because I don’t want to write about what’s really on my mind today. Let’s face it. Things are kind of dark these days. It’s especially depressing to read all of the embarrassingly unscientific whining I’ve seen from people I used to think were really smart. But anyway, today’s post is kind of on two themes that are sort of loosely connected. I am all for freedom of expression and airing of opinions. Sometimes they lead to deep thinking and good conversations. And sometimes, they lead to head shaking and scratching.

For instance, there’s a guy I knew in school who went to an excellent university and went on to become an architect. Obviously, science and math are strengths of his. But yesterday, he shared a post about how Southwest Airlines’ pilots deliberately called in sick as a protest to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Um… I don’t think so.

I did consult Snopes about this post. Snopes says this is bullshit. Stop and think about it for a moment. A whole lot of people in the airline industry were laid off in 2020. Now, things are opening up again, and airlines, like a lot of other would-be employers, are scrambling to hire people. Moreover, SWAPA, the union for Southwest Airlines’ pilots, had this to say…

Hmm…

I find it particularly interesting that the author of the first post I screenshot cites that “80% of Southwest’s pilots are ex-military” (in my experience, there’s no such thing– that indoctrination doesn’t wash out in most people). Anyone who has served in the military knows that when you join up, Uncle Sam owns your ass, and you WILL be taking any and all vaccines that are required, unless you have a damned good and mostly medically based reason not to. That’s just how it is. Those who refuse the vaccine will likely end up discharged or they’ll get a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, or GOMOR, which is usually a career killer.

At least for part of any servicemember’s time in the military, there will be indoctrination and a temporary loss of freedom. It’s hard for me to understand how so many people in the military are so politically conservative, when their jobs basically require them to submit to the government and all of its requirements for service– everything from staying at the right weight and health standards, to not mouthing off at your boss, to going wherever in the world Uncle Sam sends you (and sometimes your family).

Aside from that, the military offers quite a few programs that, if you think about it, are pretty socialist… especially if you happen to live on a military installation. Maybe a few pilots or staff members are striking over vaccine mandates, but I don’t think this is a widespread thing… and even if it is, the writing is pretty much on the wall worldwide. The vast majority of people are most likely going to have to be vaccinated if they want to be employed.

My husband has had to prove he’s gotten the vaccine, as have all of his co-workers. His company even stated that anyone who doesn’t want to get vaccinated will have a tough time moving to another company, because all of the contractors are requiring that employees get the vaccine. Why? Because the government is also requiring it. The U.S. government is my husband’s company’s client, and they want everyone to get the shot(s). So everyone is either getting vaccinated, or looking for new work.

I know that’s not what some people want to hear, but it’s the way of the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I suspect that if COVID-19 isn’t under control soon, people who refuse to cooperate may find themselves in the same situation that many people who don’t cooperate with tuberculosis vaccines and treatments are in… basically detained, so they can’t spread their sickness to everyone else.

Someone else I know shared this post…

This lady’s mom was my chemistry teacher. She also taught my sister. Apparently, my friend and her mom, a science teacher, are against the vaccines, even though they evidently complied.

My friend had COVID-19, and posted that it was horrible for her. She writes that she had to go to the ER more than once. And yet she evidently thinks that the vaccines are solely about making money. I am as skeptical about the motives of Big Pharma as a lot of people are, but so far, the vaccines have been offered to the general public (at least in the USA) for free. Yes, the pharmaceutical companies are charging governments for the vaccines. Someone has to pay the cost of employing scientists and the materials that go into making the vaccines. And I also agree that natural immunity certainly has its place… although when it comes to COVID, people didn’t have natural immunity, which is why so many have gotten very sick and/or died.

I might have been alright with taking my chances with COVID-19 before the Delta variant came along. At this point, count me among those who are glad there’s a vaccine.

Anyway… on with the title of this post. I promise, the first paragraphs relate to it.

Three years ago, before all of this COVID crap started, people were mostly talking about Brett Kavanaugh, who is now a Supreme Court Justice. I was one who was against his confirmation, mainly because I didn’t think he was worthy of the job. Donald Trump was talking about how “scary” it was to be a man in 2018. In response, a singer-songwriter named Lynzy Lab wrote a cute song called “A Scary Time”.

She’s got a point.

Somehow, I found a woman named Britt’s response to Lynzy Lab’s ditty. Britt was young and pretty, and she made a video on YouTube about how Lynzy Lab’s song was mostly fallacious. Her overall point was that all of the things Lynzy claimed she can’t do because she’s a woman were, in fact, things she could do if she wanted to. Britt did allow that some of the things Lynzy sang about were things that might be riskier for a woman to do, like walk alone at night. But yes, if Lyzny really wanted to, she could walk alone and likely wouldn’t be accosted.

Of course, we all know that when it comes to doing things like walking alone at night or leaving a drink unattended or getting a little drunk, women are statistically at a higher risk of being victimized. Lynzy was simply pointing out that Donald Trump and his ilk had no business complaining about being “scared” to be men, when guys like Brock Turner can rape an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster, get sentenced to just six months in jail, and then be released before the six months had passed!

I noted in my post about this subject that Judge Kavanaugh was outed for being a drunken boor in high school and college, but he still gets to be a Supreme Court Justice. He has a sweet gig for the rest of his life, even though there’s compelling evidence that he has hurt women in the past. It’s not such a scary time for Kavanaugh…

And Donald Trump, who is a well-known and admitted abuser of women, got to be the President of the United States for four regrettable years! People STILL want him to be president, even though he has publicly stated that he admires dictators and would happily kiss, caress, and grab beautiful women by the pussy, because he’s entitled as a “star”. Not such a scary time for him, either, is it?

I guess the one thing these guys all have in common is that they’re all privileged white men with access to money and political connections. And at no time in U.S. history has it been “scary” for privileged white people (especially the ones with penises). That includes people like the ones I posted about above, who feel quite free to lament the COVID-19 vaccines because they think the pandemic is a bunch of hooey. These are people who, statistically speaking, will probably fare better if they’re wrong about COVID. They’re more likely to be able to access medical treatment and have adequate support as they recover. Although sadly, even some of those who are privileged are still dying of the virus.

So anyway, about the YouTuber named Britt. I initially didn’t want to listen to her video in October 2018, because I disagreed with her, and found her singularly unlikable. But back then, I was glad I heard her out, because some of her comments, at least on the surface, made some sense. I used to be more like her when I was much younger. Or, at least I had similar political views, even if I wasn’t as camera ready. What can I say? I grew up in a small, southern town in Virginia, and the vast majority of people there are southern conservatives. Most of them are basically good people, but they have deeply ingrained views about politics and religion, and they don’t trust alternative perspectives. They see no reason to change their views, which to me, now seem pretty limited. I will admit, though, that there was a time when I was with my southern conservative friends and neighbors. It took getting out of that environment to change my perspectives.

This morning, I noticed that Britt’s rebuttal to Lynzy’s song was no longer available, so I visited Britt’s channel. I see that even though she still has over 83,000 subscribers, she currently only has three videos available to the public, with about 16 more that are now private. All three public videos are basically about how women have unrealistic expectations about dating. She also doesn’t like fat acceptance, and she evidently thinks women in America need to stop embracing body positivity when they’re “fat”.

I disagree with Britt’s take on overweight women, and how she apparently conflates body positivity/fat acceptance with feminism and being “unattractive” (see today’s featured photo, which appears on Britt’s channel). But I will agree that obesity can exacerbate health problems and can cause or worsen a lot of mental health issues. People should try to be as healthy as possible, and for a lot of people, that means that weight loss is a very desirable thing (as is vaccination). I just don’t like the way Britt presents her message, which is just offensive, snarky, and shitty. I can see that Britt is very young and pretty, at least circa 2016, and I remember she was still young and pretty when she made her video about Lynzy Lab, back in 2018. I seem to recall she was in college at that point. I wonder how Britt will feel when she’s a bit older and life kicks her in the ass a few times.

I also wonder where the rest of her videos went. Obviously, she was once a very popular v-logger. She has a link to Instagram, too. But I see that her Instagram is now completely defunct. What happened? Maybe she migrated to Parler? Maybe she got sick or fat? Maybe she ended up with COVID? Hard to tell… but I do remember that back in 2018, she stated that Democrats need to be “voted out” of office. Why? So we can have more misogynistic, power hungry creeps like Donald Trump running things?

I don’t disagree that sometimes feminists and, in fact, people on the left, go a little too far. Personally, I’m much more of a political moderate than a liberal. I don’t embrace all liberal concepts. I do, however, believe that compassion is severely lacking in today’s society. I think Britt’s content lacks compassion and understanding, and while I can see that she was popular before her channel’s content got so severely reduced, I notice that many of her followers are spewing the same mean spirited and unkind things she says.

I remember being young and cocky. I agree that a lot of young people, at least until today’s current weirdness, were probably a bit “soft”. On the other hand, I think we should try to be kinder and more understanding to each other, whenever possible. A lot of people are hurting… even, and maybe even especially, young people like Britt, who appear to have everything to live for. Just this morning, I read about how the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has canceled classes today, because one person on campus committed suicide and another attempted it. Things are looking bleak for many people.

Britt probably ought to thank a feminist for the fact that she was able to go to college, and can now publicly present her conservative, feminist shaming, and fat shaming opinions on social media. If Trump and his ilk had their ways, women would be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, listening to Trump supporting guys like Reid Baer singing songs like this to them…

Jesus Christ!

I will close this post the same way I closed the last one I wrote about this particular YouTuber…

I hope Britt wakes up and smells the “covfefe” soon… (but maybe she has, since most of her videos are either private or gone…)

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condescending twatbags, Duggars, rants

Nurie’s new baby, why the WSJ sucks, and disrespectful jerks…

Wow… I have a lot to write about today. I could write several posts, or I could just stick with one. Since I’m feeling kind of lazy, I think I’ll just stick with one post. I see Jetpack’s SEO tester likes my title and gave me the “green light”.

First thing– I know a lot of people find my blog because I occasionally keep up with fundies. My posts about Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller get a lot of hits. I noticed a lot of hits last night, as Nurie’s nutty mom, Jill, announced that Nurie delivered her son, reportedly named Nehemiah, on October 11th. Mother and son appear to be healthy and happy, which is a good thing. Jill also shared many photos and reported that Nurie and her husband, Nathan, will be going live to discuss all of the details of the birth.

Nurie and Nathan and their new arrival in a shot publicly shared by Nurie’s mom, Jill.

Personally, I think if I were a brand new, first-time mom, I’d want to take a few days to rest up and recover before going on camera to talk about birthing. But evidently, Nurie is raring to share her precious bundle of joy with everyone. So if you’re interested in the details, you can tune in on Facebook at 4pm– I assume eastern time– and hear all about it. Or you can just follow the Duggar Family News page and/or group, like I do. If not for them, I probably wouldn’t know anything about the Rodrigues family.

I seem to remember that Nurie was due October 12. Looks like they were very accurate in predicting the lad’s arrival.

I’m glad for Nurie that she has a healthy son. She looks genuinely happy, radiant, and beautiful in the post pregnancy photos I’ve seen. I don’t really follow her family, but I know a lot of people think they’re interesting. I wish health and happiness to the Kellers… and I hope they keep their son away from his Uncle Josh Duggar. But I suspect that won’t be too much of an issue, as Josh’s trial looms next month.

Speaking of the Duggars… I also learned that Jill Duggar Dillard, wife of Derick and former fundie Kool-Aid drinker, just had a miscarriage. I am genuinely sorry to hear about that, especially since I know that she and Derick very responsibly waited before trying for another baby after their son, Sam, was born in 2017 in what was reportedly a medically dramatic fashion. I hope they will soon have a rainbow baby, if that’s what they want.

Very sad news for the Dillards.

As for Anna Duggar, she’s reportedly ready to give birth any day now. As far as I know, her due date hasn’t been publicly announced, but based on the pictures I recently saw of her accompanying Josh to a court proceeding, she looks ready to pop. Hopefully, this baby will be her last… particularly with Josh. But, as they say, God only really knows.

Now… on to the next topic.

A year ago, I decided to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It was late October 2020, we were locked down, and there were articles I wanted to read. They were offering a good deal, and I don’t mind supporting journalism, even though the WSJ is a bit more right wing than I am. Little did I know when I subscribed, the Wall Street Journal makes it fucking difficult to unsubscribe. Like– it’s SO easy to subscribe to the paper online. No issues whatsoever. But, unless you live in an area with local laws that require businesses to allow people to unsubscribe in the same way they subscribed, you have to fucking CALL the WSJ to get them to turn off your subscription.

Fuck this noise.

I became aware of this issue a couple of weeks ago, when the paper sent me a notice that as of the end of October 2021, the WSJ would start charging me by the month. I didn’t like that option. I prefer to pay for subscriptions by the year, if I can. Also, I noticed that the monthly charge was significantly higher than what I paid when I signed up. I don’t mind paying more for content if I use it, but I almost never read the WSJ. I pay monthly for the New York Times, and it’s pretty expensive. But I use it all the time, can share articles with my friends, and have even shared the subscription with Bill and my mother-in-law. I can’t do any of that with the WSJ.

I was originally going to pay by the year if I could, but even that required me to call the fucking customer service center. The WSJ does have an office in Germany, but that would mean having to deal with language barriers. I don’t even enjoy calling people in the United States. I really hate doing it in Germany, where my terrible German skills are of even less use on the phone.

Then I realized that it doesn’t sit well with me that the WSJ basically forces subscribers to waste time running the gauntlet of long phone queues and high pressure sales tactics by requiring them to speak to a person in order to deal with their subscriptions. If their paper was really worth a damn, they wouldn’t have to resort to these kinds of shady maneuvers to get people to keep paying for their content. I mean, one of the best votes of confidence for a product is when it sells itself. If you have to make it super annoying and inconvenient for people to opt out, that kind of says something about the quality of the product you’re offering.

I’m sure the WSJ offers a good product to people who are right wing and want expert finance news. But I am neither of those things. I occasionally like some of their travel pieces and it’s sometimes fun to read the comments on some articles. Otherwise, I rarely use my subscription, and I don’t like being stuck paying for subscriptions because it’s inconvenient to call and cancel. Although we can easily afford the 10 euros a month, I decided that I don’t want a subscription to a paper that employs annoying and deceptive sales tactics to keep people paying.

I asked Bill if he wouldn’t mind helping me call the German call center, since his German is better than mine is. But then I did some research and found a way to turn off the auto-renew. It involved a little duplicity, but it was ultimately effective. By the way, as I was researching how to unhook myself from the WSJ, I discovered another subscription service that might be useful to some. It’s called DoNotPay, and it bills itself as a “robot lawyer”. If I’d wanted to, I could have subscribed to that service and they would have fixed this WSJ problem for me. The fact that there’s a dedicated page on the DoNotPay Web site for unsubscribing to the WSJ is really telling, isn’t it?

As it turned out, there actually is a really easy way to unsubscribe without having to call. All you have to do is change your billing address to a place where the ability to unsubscribe online is required by law. When you do that, you’ll get the option to unsubscribe online. So that’s what I did. The WSJ really should make this option available to everyone, especially since we’re in the 21st century, and calling people on phones is becoming an obsolete practice. It’s the decent thing to do. But– as this is a paper that caters to Trump supporters– I guess I can understand why wringing money out of people by inconveniencing them is the way they do business. What a pity.

And finally, disrespectful jerks on the Internet…

Apologies to those readers who hate it when I complain about commenters on Facebook. I’m gonna do it again today. I’ll try to be brief.

I genuinely like to read news articles and editorials. I genuinely enjoy reading what other people think of items that are shared on social media. What I don’t like, however, are the disgusting and disrespectful comments left by so many people. It really does irritate me, because I wonder if those people are that obnoxious and rude in person.

Here’s an example of what I mean. This morning, Rachel Maddow shared an opinion piece about why religious exemptions should not be allowed for the COVID-19 vaccine. I thought it was a good article. It made a lot of sense. I understand why some people want to be allowed to opt out of taking the vaccine. Personally, I think doing so for religious reasons is kind of absurd.

There are plenty of things a person can’t do in the name of religion. What if you belong to a religious group that requires human sacrifices as a condition of being a believer? Should society allow such a religious organization to carry out those human sacrifices in the name of their religion? How about if a religion promotes the idea that people shouldn’t wear clothes, since clothes aren’t from God? Should we just allow people to walk around naked in public everywhere, because that’s the way God made them?

Over the past 19 months or so, it’s become very clear that COVID-19 spreads through the air. Everyone has to breathe. A person can be infected with COVID-19 and not know they’re infected. They can spread the virus to people who will die if they get sick with it. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are. If you’re a human being, you can spread COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to help limit the spread and severity of COVID-19. And we’ve seen plenty of “religious” people swearing off the vaccine, only to die of COVID. Seriously, all you have to do is Google.

A lot of the people who are against the vaccine are politicians and religious people, and also conservative talk show hosts… How fitting is it that these people who are using their lungs to spread misinformation and hate are winding up dying as their lungs fail, thanks to a rogue, novel virus that so many of them will admit is very real?

So… on to the disrespectful jerks… I noticed a woman wrote something along the lines of, “There shouldn’t be religious exemptions for anything in the 21st century.”

She got a few “angry” reactions to that comment. But one guy– a southern, Christian, God fearing MAGA zealot, complete with a pretty blonde wife and a love of hunting and fishing– posted “How much did your husband pay when he ordered you?”

I hadn’t yet had more than a couple of sips of my morning coffee at that point. I almost responded in kind to the guy, but instead, I wrote “What a disgusting and disrespectful comment. Shame on you.”

What prompts people to write such personal and insulting comments to total strangers, anyway? It just makes me wonder if this man was ever taught anything good by decent people. Is this how he speaks to people in person? Is that how he got his pretty wife to marry him– by insinuating that she’s a mail order bride?

If you disagree with someone’s opinions, why not just write that and explain why, instead of insulting them and insinuating that they’re a mail order bride? The original commenter, by the way, appears to be a well-educated young mother who lives up north. I didn’t see any reason why anyone should suspect her of being a mail order bride. I think if a person is going to be snarky and rude, they should at least be astute. That MAGA loving zealot didn’t even hit the mark of being insightful about the commenter. I wonder how he’d like it someone insulted his wife in such a way.

Yesterday, USAA posted a meme in support of “National Coming Out Day”. USAA is a bank and insurance company that is well-known for serving military and government employees. It’s also based in Texas and has come out publicly in support of Greg Abbott, the infamously medieval governor of Texas. So lots of commenters were pointing out that it’s tone deaf to be in support of the LGBTQ community, while also supporting a governor who wishes to deny fundamental medical rights to women. Others were annoyed because they think USAA is “virtue signaling”.

I noticed a few people were making anti-abortion statements. One guy made a comment about how some people “enjoy aborting babies”. Once again, I had to interject. I wrote, “No one ‘enjoys aborting babies’. What a crappy thing to write.” I think it would be a very rare individual who took any joy or pleasure in having or performing an abortion. It’s just something that needs to be done in some regrettable situations. Either way, it’s no one else’s fucking business. Especially when so few people who are supposedly pro-life care about supporting the lives of people who have already been born… for example, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or not toting their guns to places where people can be easily shot and killed. When the so-called pro-lifers start giving more of a damn about people who are already born and have a concept of life and death, then I might pay more attention to their lame protests about abortion.

Sigh… well, it’s time to end today’s post. I have some research to do. We’re going to attempt to take a trip at the end of the month. Also, I have to put in my guitar practice. So I leave you with my wishes for a happy Tuesday. May you not encounter any disrespectful jerks today.

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Netflix, TV

We fell into Squid Game over the weekend…

In spite of the beautiful fall weather we had over the weekend, Bill and I ended up staying home on Saturday. I was sitting on the bed, flipping through Netflix, when I landed on Squid Game. I didn’t know much about it, although had seen a lot of press about it. I was initially kind of turned off by it, even not knowing anything about the story. I could see a lot of weird colors and settings in the photos and I had a feeling it was going to be bizarre.

The trailer…

But anyway, since we didn’t have anything else to do, I decided to press “play”. The show began, and Bill quickly joined me. It’s not that often that I land on something he really wants to watch. Bill is a typical guy, and he likes action and violence more than I do when he watches TV or a movie. We watched five episodes on Saturday and the remaining four last night. I thought I would have nightmares, like I did after I watched The Handmaid’s Tale. To my great surprise, no bad dreams haunted me last night or the night before, although I do remember that Saturday’s dreams were pretty busy and vivid.

At first, I wasn’t sure that I’d be interested in Squid Game, even as the series began. But then I was intrigued by the very American sounding voices that were dubbed into the original Korean. And then, the actual premise hooked me, even as I was absolutely horrified by the violence and dark themes.

There they were, all of these Koreans, basically tricked to going to a hellhole, where they are forced to play children’s games. They were there because almost all of them desperately needed money to pay off debts they otherwise could never repay. The payoff for success is a huge pot of money, dumped into an enormous piggy bank that is suspended over the players. Not succeeding means death– quick and sure, with a single shot to the head or chest. It’s brutal and shocking, and ultimately kind of sad. But then there are interesting quirks and twists, and a few comic elements. Plus, there’s a lot of symbolism and uses of color to make the show even more visually appealing and intriguing.

I don’t want to get too much into the plot about this series, because I know a lot of people are still watching it or haven’t seen it. I don’t want to spoil the ending. Do I think you should watch it? Well, that all depends…

In some ways, I think Squid Game is as dark and dystopian as The Handmaid’s Tale is. It’s certainly very violent as it makes a point about the relentless pursuit of wealth. I had some flashes of depression and shock as I watched the players suffer and the tensions build as each one was dispatched, with no thought at all for the people left behind and the witnesses. With each death, a cheery female voice announces that the player has been eliminated. It’s jarring, and surreal.

But on the other hand, as the story progresses, some depth and wisdom emerges. The main character, who was kind of a careless loser at the beginning of the series, develops some decency and turns into a man. It wasn’t unlike the character of Zack Mayo in An Officer and a Gentleman. He starts off as a callous jerk, who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. By the end of the film, he’s developed heart, courage, leadership, and decency. That part of the story appealed to my heart, even as it was broken watching all of the carnage.

Indeed, at the end of the series, we see that the game continues, with new players… not unlike officer’s training school continues in An Officer and a Gentleman, when Gunnery Sergeant Foley delivers his spiel to new recruits. The difference is, of course, most people either get through officer’s training just fine, or they decide to quit. Losers in Squid Game die. And it’s all for the mighty pursuit of money.

I had no idea how serious the debt problem in South Korea is. I suppose that’s another reason why so many Americans are drawn to this series. I think debt is a serious problem in the United States, too. It’s so easy to fall into it, and so hard to get out of it. I could see how some people would be attracted to play a game that would lead to their early deaths. Of course, there were a few times when I had to suspend disbelief. For instance, I wondered how the game could continue, when so many people played it and suddenly disappeared. Wouldn’t people wonder where hundreds of their friends and family members disappeared to with each new round?

Teasing is fun sometimes.

But I also know that people love a good fantasy… Squid Game is a good fantasy, I guess. Some of it is downright creepy and weird, and I marveled at how someone came up with this story, with its twists and turns and special effects. I also thought the actors were great. I found myself wanting to learn more about Korea. The series made it look like such a cool culture.

I was once offered a job teaching English in South Korea. I decided not to take it. There were a few reasons for that. I did kind of feel sad about turning down the job, since I thought it would be exciting and interesting. But I had student loans to pay, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it on what the school would pay me. Also, I didn’t know if I would appreciate the lifestyle in South Korea, or the culture. Now that I’ve watched Squid Game, I think I’d like to know more.

Anyway… I definitely think Squid Game is an interesting series. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is disturbed by gratuitous violence. I’m glad I watched it. I’m not sure if I would want to watch another season of it… I wouldn’t be surprised if one materializes, though, since I think it’s going to make Netflix a lot of money. But the creator has already said that if he does make another season, he would use other writers and directors. I’ve seen what happens when new people come in and change a show’s vision. It’s not always good. On the other hand, Bill told me the director lost six teeth making the first season. Teeth are a terrible thing to waste.

Now that I’ve seen Squid Game, I may have to learn more about that part of the world… I’ve already read a lot about North Korea. Maybe it’s time I read more about the southern part of the Korean peninsula. I still don’t know if I want to visit, though. I definitely wouldn’t want to be playing Squid Game myself. It’s amazing what’s coming out on television these days. I grew up in an era when we were all happy with cookie cutter sit-coms.

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