celebrities, reviews, videos, YouTube

Repost: Teen Steam! Teenaged Alyssa Milano works out!

Here’s an old review I wrote for Epinions.com about Alyssa Milano’s laughable Teen Steam workout video. I reposted it on my Dungeons of the Past blog, but I’m also going to post it here so it doesn’t disappear. I like to preserve my Epinions reviews when I can, and I am probably going to discontinue the music blog at some point in the near future. This review is AS/IS– it has not been edited or updated. So please read this as if it’s 2009, not 2022.

Did you know Alyssa used to be a pop star in Japan?  I like her better as an actress.

Yikes! I’m sure she’d like to forget about this project.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie’s plot.

Ah 1988… What a year that was for people born in 1972. Our birth year may be the one and only thing Alyssa Milano and I have in common, besides being female. As a kid, I used to love watching her on Who’s The Boss, an ABC sitcom in which she played Tony Danza’s daughter, Samantha. And, of course, I’d seen her play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the 1985 film, Commando. Back in 1988, all the girls admired her and a lot of the hormonally crazed boys wanted to do her. Naturally, that meant she should put out an exercise video. Perhaps that’s how Teen Steam, starring Alyssa Milano, produced by her mom, Lin Milano, and featuring music by her dad, Tom Milano, came to be.

I will be honest. Back in 1988, when this video was selling via television ads, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in it… not even for the “stylish” Teen Steam digital watch that was thrown in to sweeten the sale. All I remember was seeing Alyssa Milano on those ads, dressed in a spandex shirt and torn up jeans, hawking her exercise/dance video and singing a very annoying but catchy theme song. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I finally ended up getting the chance to watch the thing. And now, some enterprising soul has posted the whole video in its entirety on YouTube for the whole world to see.

The video

Teen Steam is definitely a low budget affair. Currently only available on VHS, it’s now out of print. Used copies are available on Amazon.com. Judging by some of the comments left by reviewers on that site, I’m guessing that this video might have been meant for teenaged girls, but actually appeals more to adult men. It runs for 30 minutes and is not rated. Below is the actual video, which is still available on YouTube.

I read a comment from one guy who said this video made him shoot “huge loads”. Sounds like he’s using Teen Steam for “off label” purposes.

The “plot”

Okay… actually, Teen Steam doesn’t have much of a plot. Basically, the video starts off showing Alyssa in her bedroom, dressed in spandex biker shorts and a tight fitting white tank top that ends just below her budding bosom. She’s listening to her answering machine and gets a message from a girl named Tiffanie (Tiffanie Poston) who claims she’s having a major problem and asks Alyssa to call her back. Then the phone rings and it’s a girl named Michelle (Michelle Simms), who evidently tells Alyssa that she’s also heard from Tiffanie, but Michelle’s problem is even worse than their mutual friend’s. Alyssa, obviously the most level headed one in this group, invites them both over to her house so they can “work it out” together. Given that this video is a “workout” video, I guess that was sort of a lame play on words. On the other hand, maybe it was an unintentional play on words.

Alyssa heads over to her “hi-fi” stereo and puts in what looks like a mix tape. She presses play and suddenly the room starts to pulsate with some 80s era techno dance music. Alyssa says forlornly, “Another one of those days. I can feel the steam rising.” Suddenly, she’s joined by Michelle who complains that she can’t go out that weekend because she has to babysit her little brother. Then Tiffanie gripes about being grounded for bringing home a D on her report card.

Alyssa turns to the camera and says she likes to work out the stress by working out. Then she rattles off an obviously scripted spiel about how warming up is the most important part of the workout. The three girls start to work out to the increasingly lame techno music as Alyssa directs them, gamely trying to sound just like a pro.

I’m not a horny teenaged guy, so I don’t get into watching Alyssa Milano work out. I suppose I might have gotten into watching this if, as a teen, I really looked up to Alyssa Milano. But she’s my age, so I didn’t see her as a role model back when this video was on the market.

The girls do some obligatory chit chatting as they do stretches and basic dance moves to a soundtrack that sounds like it was inspired by the jungle. I don’t really get the feeling that these girls are friends in real life, but they look nice enough on camera. Speaking of the camera, it pans around to show Alyssa’s face as she sweats and gyrates to the music. Just when I think it can’t get any cheesier, Alyssa and her buddies start to rap sort of half-heartedly. Afterwards, Alyssa giggles and says the next exercise is hard to explain, so we should “follow her”.

Alyssa then leads her buddies in floor exercises. She claims she’s already done her exercises for the day, so she’ll just play coach. Alyssa sits between the two girls and counts, offering constructive criticism every so often. It’s at this point that the music threatens to overtake the girls’ chattering. Between the music and the constant giggling, it’s hard to make everything out. Although Alyssa does a good job of keeping things moving, she’s not very convincing as an exercise leader. But I get the feeling that most of the people who would seriously want to watch this won’t care about that. 

When the floor exercises are over, Alyssa joins her buddies in stretches. She begins with an exercise she calls “pretzel thingies”. Then she tells her audience that if they still have energy left, they can “dance it out” with her and her friends. She faces the camera and reassures viewers that the steps are easy and they probably do them all the time when they’re dancing with their friends. Then she tells them if they get lost, they can either rewind the tape or come up with their own steps. Finally, she offers a half-hearted encouragement, saying “Let’s do it!” as she walks through her bedroom mirror. Real helpful, Alyssa!

The next part of the video is the dance segment. As Alyssa walks through her mirror, she ends up in what looks like a dark alley. She’s dressed in ripped acid washed jeans, high tops, a pink spandex shirt that shows off her midriff, and a jean jacket. She’s joined by a bunch of dancers who gyrate to the cheesy electronic music, but Alyssa’s workout buddies are nowhere to be found. This part of the video is sort of set up like a music video, complete with a loosely told story. It’s really pretty hokey. Alyssa Milano isn’t the best dancer in the world. In fact, she sort of emulates Tiffany’s “hand jive” moves that were kind of popular back in the day. But I’m guessing that most people who would really want to watch this video won’t care about that. 

When Alyssa’s done dancing, she walks back through her mirror, once again dressed in her biker shorts and tiny tank top. Suddenly, we see Alyssa’s friends again. They appear to be doing exercises in fast forward. Alyssa says “Oops” then snaps her fingers. The friends act as if they were stuck in some kind of time warp. At this point, Alyssa does something truly cringeworthy. She appears to try to emulate Dana Carvey’s Church Lady as she sneers, “Well… wasn’t that effect… special?” It’s enough to make you want to jump out of your skin.

At this point, we’ve seen Alyssa work out, play exercise coach, and dance. Now it’s time to hear her sing. That’s right, folks. Alyssa Milano sings too. Apparently, she had a number of hits in Japan back in the day. She walks over to her tape deck and turns over the cassette. I’m suddenly surprised that she doesn’t have a machine with auto-reverse. I would think with the way her career was going in the 1980s, she could have afforded it.

The punchy electronic theme song to the video starts and suddenly Alyssa’s in the recording studio, dressed in her ripped jeans get up. Holding an earphone to her ear, Alyssa starts to sing the following prize worthy lyrics:

“My parents want an angel, my teachers want a brain, my friends all want to party and it’s driving me insane”

She looks like even she thinks the song is stupid, but ever the professional, she sells it as best she can. The lyrics to this song are pretty inane and seem inappropriate for a girl Alyssa’s age, but she has a passable singing voice and the melody is catchy enough. If you’re not careful, it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. After about three minutes of this, the credits mercifully start to roll, the irritating theme song playing all the while.

Overall

I don’t think I would have liked this video when I was a teenager. I will admit it’s kind of fun to watch it 21 years later, but only as a lark. To be honest, it’s not a very interesting video and Alyssa doesn’t seem that invested in it. I got the feeling that she was doing it just for the money. Come to think of it, she probably was.

That being said, I will comment that this video seems to be popular among men, especially those who admired Alyssa Milano when she was a teenager. She was a very good looking girl and has blossomed into an attractive woman. I’m sure this exercise video was meant for adolescent girls, but I think it’s more appealing to men… and that makes me wonder what the hell her parents were thinking when they got involved with this project! In fact, I also wonder why Alyssa Milano needed to do an exercise video. She hasn’t seemed to have gone through that cursed transition to adulthood that a lot of childhood actors do. I don’t think she ever had an ugly duckling phase.

Anyway… I don’t think I’d recommend this video to anyone who plans to take it seriously. It’s fun to watch for nostalgic purposes and, judging from some of the comments on YouTube and Amazon, some people also watch it for sexual purposes… but remember, Alyssa was only 15 years old when this video was made. Tsk tsk tsk…

Recommend this product? No

Not that I think many people want a VHS cassette of Alyssa Milano’s cheesy exercise video, but here’s the link to Amazon in case anyone does. I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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book reviews, celebrities

A review of Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir by Wil Wheaton…

As a card carrying member of Generation X, I grew up watching a lot of cable TV. Sometimes, I also went to the movies. In fact, I went to the movies a lot more often in those days than I do today. In any case, at some point in my adolescence, I saw the 1986 Rob Reiner film Stand By Me. Based on a spooky novella by Stephen King, Stand By Me was a coming of age film starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell. They were four 1959 era twelve year old boys from Castlerock, Oregon, who set out on a mission to see a dead body. On their way to find the body, the boys bond and have some near misses with both nature and technology.

Stand By Me also had a great soundtrack.

As most of Stephen King’s stories are, this one– originally known as “The Body”– was very poignant, compelling, and sometimes even funny. It also had four teenaged stars in it who were about my age. Most of my peers loved River Phoenix, who was an up and coming star. Tragically, he died in 1993 at just 21 years old, a victim of a drug overdose in Los Angeles. I was telling Bill last night that if River had lived beyond young adulthood, he would have been an enormous star.

I liked River fine, but Wil Wheaton’s performance in Stand By Me was the one that always stuck with me. He played the sensitive, thoughtful, aspiring writer, Gordie Lachance. I identified with Gordie, because I had my own aspirations of becoming a writer. In those days, I wrote a lot of fiction. Also, my journalism teacher in tenth grade was named Mr. LaChance, and I liked him, and that class. I probably should have stuck with journalism.

Stand By Me was probably the only vehicle of which I’ve seen much of Wil Wheaton’s acting, except for maybe guest spots on 80s era television shows. I see he was a guest on Family Ties, which was one of my favorite shows, back in the day. He was also on St. Elsewhere, although I didn’t really watch that show, because it was on past my bedtime. He was on Tales from the Crypt, which was a great HBO show I watched when I had the opportunity, and he voiced Martin in the film, The Secret of NIMH. Wheaton also famously played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Apparently, Wesley Crusher was aptly named, because based on Wheaton’s book, Still Just a Geek, it seems that he wasn’t very well received in that role. I have no opinion on that, since I never watched the original Star Trek, let alone the reincarnations. I don’t know why I never watched it. Bill is a huge fan. Star Trek just never appealed to me.

Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher.

Some time ago, someone turned me on to Wil Wheaton’s Facebook page. I started following it, and decided I kind of liked Wil. He seems like a basically normal, decent man who happens to work in the entertainment industry. He’s also a writer and award winning narrator. And, as a fellow child of 1972, I relate to a lot of what he posts on social media. We’re from the same era.

I was following Wil’s page when he started promoting his book, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir. I ended up downloading it around the time it was released last spring, but I didn’t get around to reading it until I read Jennette McCurdy’s book, I’m Glad My Mom Died. I figured Wheaton’s book would be a good follow up to McCurdy’s book about her “crazy” mother and chaotic upbringing in show business, against her will. Wil Wheaton has openly said that he went “no contact” with his parents, and had never actually wanted to be a child actor. Wheaton has maintained that it was his mother who had wanted to be an actress, and she pressured her children to go into the business. Wil happened to have talent, just as Jennette McCurdy did, and in the mid 80s, he was a household name. But what he really wanted to do was be a kid. He’s also found that writing is his true passion, just as Jennette has.

So anyway, it was Jennette McCurdy who prompted me to read Wil’s book, Still Just a Geek. Still Just a Geek is based on Wil’s first book, Just a Geek, which came out in 2004 and apparently didn’t sell well. He includes the original book in this book, along with annotations– explanations, contextual notes, and sometimes revised opinions of his that have changed since 2004. After the first book, Wheaton continues with chapters about his life today. A lot has changed since 2004, which it’s bound to do. In 2004, he was a young man, married to his wife Anne, and stepfather to her young sons from another relationship. In 2022, he’s still married to Anne, and has legally adopted Anne’s now adult sons, Nolan and Ryan. They changed their last names and everything. Wil has also stopped drinking alcohol– circa 2016– so some of what he wrote in 2004 doesn’t apply to his lifestyle today.

To be honest, I’m left with some mixed feelings about this book. I thought it was mostly very well written. I appreciated how candid Wheaton is, although there were times when I wish he’d shared more of the original stories that prompted some of his conclusions. For example, in the original book, it’s clear that Wil sees himself as his sons’ stepfather. He refers to himself in that way, although he also mentions that their bio father was a real jerk. He vaguely mentions that their bio father kept taking Anne to court for custody, and implies that he’s a shithead for doing that. Now… I don’t know much at all about Anne, other than seeing her in some photos with Wil, and reading his gushing comments about her. And, God knows, I totally understand about being the second spouse of someone who has a narcissistic or abusive former spouse.

Because I’m a second wife, I am not so quick to automatically accept what people say or write about their exes (and just to be clear, I get that not everyone believes me when I rail about Ex in my blog). In my case, I wasn’t allowed to be a stepmother to my husband’s daughters, and he wasn’t allowed to be his kids’ “everyday dad”. And he was painted as a horrible, abusive monster to his daughters, which just plain isn’t true at all. Wil never explains much about Anne’s ex, other than to write that he’s a bad person. And, for all I know, he really is a shitty person, and Nolan and Ryan were totally right to ask Wil to be their legal dad.

On the other hand, Wil is himself estranged from his own father, claiming that his dad has always been abusive and negligent toward him. He doesn’t write a lot about that, either, at least not in this book. However, Wil did write a few passages that indicated to me that his father wasn’t all bad. Like, for instance, he wrote about his father’s touching reaction to Wil’s grandfather’s death, and how Wil realized that one day, he would be mourning his own father’s passing. That was in 2004, though, before he had ceased contact with his dad. So, I guess I just wish he’d provided more context to both of those stories, and the one involving his stepsons who are now his sons. Maybe it’s not my business– but if it’s not my business, it probably shouldn’t have been included in this book. I can, by the way, also relate to Wil’s having a rocky relationship with his dad. I had a rocky relationship with my dad, too, although we were never really estranged. I understand that going “no contact” is sometimes necessary for one’s sanity, but I also think it’s something that should be done as a last resort.

The footnotes were a bit distracting for me, although reading on Kindle gives readers the choice to read them or not. I enjoyed Wil’s notes, especially when they were funny or provided context. Sometimes, though, I found some of Wheaton’s comments a little annoying and self- indulgent. It stands to reason that people try to present themselves in the best possible light, even when they admit to not being their best. Wheaton provides quite a few examples of when he sometimes acted like a jerk, as we all do sometimes. However, there were a few times when I wanted him to just state, “I was a jerk,” and not make any excuses for being a jerk. He apologizes a lot for acting the way most of us did in less enlightened times. It gets tiresome after awhile, and doesn’t always ring as sincere. Sometimes, it felt like he was trying too hard to be sensitive and “woke”, and it came across as a little fake to me. I sense this on his Facebook page, too, especially when he posts about certain issues– like the pandemic, and how we should all be handling it. Some of his comments come across to me as more like what he believes he “should” be thinking instead of what he actually thinks, if that makes sense.

But that early career helped launch his current career… if he hadn’t been a child star, where would he be today?

I did enjoy reading about Wheaton’s experiences making Stand By Me, which I still think is a fabulous film. I couldn’t relate to his comments about Wesley Crusher, although I do know who William Shatner is. Reading about his encounter with Shatner made me cringe a bit for Wheaton… Shatner was allegedly quite the asshole to Wil. Reading about his encounter with Shatner made me glad I was never a Star Trek fan. I also liked reading about Wil’s experiences being a computer geek in the 80s. I wasn’t a computer geek then, but I did have a friend who was one. And some of what he writes about his experiences with BASIC and other computer languages remind me of the time when I still counted my former friend as my best friend. Those were fun times, before reality set in, and I realized she wasn’t actually a good friend, after all.

At the end of the book, Wheaton includes some interviews and speeches he’s given, along with a couple of “Ask Me Anything” posts he did. To be honest, I kind of skimmed through most of that stuff, because speeches are meant to be heard, and aren’t that much fun to read. I did notice that the fresh content of this book comprises only about thirty percent of the book. The rest of it is old stuff cobbled together into this volume. That was okay for me, since I never read the first book, and I’ve not followed his career closely. Super fans who pay a lot of attention to what Wil’s been doing his whole life might be disappointed by Still Just a Geek. I see some Amazon reviewers have given Wil low ratings and claimed he’s not a good writer. I disagree with that. I think Wil’s writing is fine. I just wish he’d written something fresh, and included fewer footnotes, which can be very distracting. And I wish he’d just write his story and explain why he has so much animosity toward his parents and his wife’s ex. I get that they’re personal stories, and maybe he’s already explained elsewhere. But in Still Just a Geek, he makes many references to those people without really explaining his feelings behind the negative comments. I was left a little confused and wanting more information.

And finally, I admire Wil for reinventing his career, doing what he wants to do, making healthy choices, and loving his wife and sons so much. I’d give this book 3.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend it to those who haven’t read Still a Geek and are interested in Wil Wheaton’s story. I think it will particularly appeal to those who care about Star Trek, which I don’t. But I was sincerely interested in the parts about Stand By Me, and enjoyed reading those sections.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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celebrities, royals, YouTube

Dueling divas… It takes one to know one?

Happy Friday, everyone. I’ve spent the week watching the news in astonishment, as Donald Trump’s legal woes get deeper, and Republicans are starting to realize (too late) that their misogynistic policies and alignment with Trump may very well fuck up their midterm plans for US domination.

I was delighted to see that Sarah Palin lost her bid to get back into politics. I’ll admit, when I first heard Sarah Palin speak– in fact, she was debating Joe Biden back in 2008, when John McCain and Barack Obama were running for president– I found her somewhat impressive. But my opinion of her plummeted when she quit being the Governor of Alaska to become a political pundit. I should also add that I liked John McCain. He was a decent man with a backbone, and he was NOT a Trumper. He was one of the Republicans I respected very much. I’d like to see more like him, instead of people like Trump and his delusional minions.

But as exciting as the many political bombshells have been this week, I just don’t have the gumption to devote a whole blog post to them today. Instead, I think I’ll chat about Meghan Markle, who has finally launched her podcast on Spotify. I don’t subscribe to Spotify myself, so I don’t tune in to Meghan’s podcast, called Archetypes. Last week, her first guest was her “bestie”, Serena Williams. This week, it was Mariah Carey. I watched a few YouTube videos about how the show went down, and it sounds like it might have been entertaining. Mariah Carey basically called out Meghan on her bullshit. I actually heard what Mariah said, too, and the way she said it. It was hilarious! H.G. Tudor did a funny video about it.

At least Mariah actually has something to be a diva about, right?

I don’t love Mariah Carey’s music, but I completely acknowledge how genuinely talented she is. She has an extraordinary singing voice, a huge range, and she has written hit songs. She overcame a difficult childhood, has been through a couple of divorces, and while she may sometimes act like a narcissistic fool, she can back up some of that behavior with actual goods. Meghan, on the other hand, seems to be more of a “poseur“… as we would have put it back in the 80s.

Meghan has tried to be the second coming of Harry’s mother, Diana. That hasn’t worked out at all, and it seems that a lot of Brits find her completely insufferable. So now, she’s bragging about how some South African guy in the cast of The Lion King said that when she married Prince Harry, South Africans were rejoicing in the streets, the way they did when Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. Naturally, people are rolling their eyes at that, too. Seriously? And now, reporters are starting to fact check everything she says. In Australia, they’re being particularly brutal. Check out the below video– just one of several by the Aussies and their disdain for Harry’s wife.

I don’t know if this is how all Australians feel, but the reporters on The Bolt seem to think that Meghan is full of shit.

You can hear Mariah laughingly tell Meghan that she gives us “diva moments”. I can practically visualize Mariah rolling her eyes as she calls bullshit on Meghan’s claims that she’s not really a diva. Mariah’s comments are delivered in a way that is good-natured. She’s laughing as if she’s joking, and she even sounds kind of complimentary toward Meghan, but I can tell Meghan is kind of taken aback by Mariah’s unabashedness. Mariah is an unapologetic diva, though, and sees nothing wrong with it. She even flat out says, “I don’t care.”, as Mariah is pretty proud of her diva persona. Mariah probably figures Meghan ought to just own it, like she does.

Bwahahaha… Mariah sets Meghan straight.
I think Mariah p’owned Meghan.
Meghan’s acting skills failed.

Being called a “diva” likely goes against Meghan’s desired image for herself. She wants to be seen as kind, humble, compassionate, and genuine, as Diana, Princess of Wales, was– even if Diana really wasn’t necessarily always those things. Diana could pull off those qualities, though, because she wasn’t a narcissist. Diana was reportedly a borderline, and there’s a big difference between the two conditions, even if they do sometimes overlap. As Dr. Grande notes, Diana was quite neurotic and manipulative, yet she also had a great deal of genuine empathy and compassion for others. She was one of the very first famous people to interact with people suffering from AIDS, which was considered very brave at a time when many people were confused about how AIDS was spread, and an AIDS diagnosis was considered a death sentence. As Dr. Grande points out, it’s not actually known if Diana really did have Borderline Personality Disorder, although he does notice that she exhibited a lot of the signs and symptoms.

Dr. Grande examines Princess Diana’s life, death, and mental health.

Dr. Grande also analyzed Meghan Markle. Below is a video he made about a recent article that was published about Meghan in The Cut. He seems to be yet another person who finds Meghan insufferable.

Grande’s thoughts on Meghan seem somewhat less charitable than they were toward Diana. He’s pretty droll.

In any case, I think a lot of people were rooting for Meghan when she first came on the scene. I was glad to see that Prince Harry had found a wife, and delighted it was an American woman who had stolen his heart. In spite of Meghan’s convictions that people have behaved in a racist manner toward her, I think a lot of people had high hopes for her relationship with Harry. But it seems like everything went to shit pretty quickly, and I think it’s because she was putting on an act that she could not maintain. Moreover, there are so many stories about her problematic behaviors that it’s getting harder and harder to believe that she isn’t an actual “diva” in the more negative sense of the word.

Jesus Enrique Rosas offers his thoughts on the podcast… He spares no snark.

When most people think of the word diva, it’s not necessarily always a bad thing, anyway. Yes, divas are usually described as entitled, narcissistic, and temperamental. However, they are also often considered extremely talented, especially in music, and very beautiful. After all, a diva was originally the female star of an opera. Diva is the Latin term for “goddess”. And what woman wouldn’t want to be considered a “goddess”? Especially an ambitious person like Meghan, who seems to be very determined to be rich and famous. However, her efforts to social climb have become very obvious and distasteful. Yes, we could ignore snarky comments from guys like Piers Morgan, who doesn’t have much room to talk when it comes to being narcissistic. But I know I started to pay attention when it came out that Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry. Kate Middleton has always been the epitome of poise and grace. Even if, behind closed doors, she’s not actually an extremely classy person, Kate can pull off that appearance flawlessly… and personally, I think she is genuinely an effortlessly graceful and gracious lady. For Meghan, being classy and graceful, like Kate naturally is, is hard work– and it shows.

Meghan takes things very seriously… and I think if she wants to get back into the public’s good graces, she’s going to have to rent a sense of humor, and stop taking herself so seriously. But I don’t think that is going to happen, because narcissists, as a general rule, lack a sense of humor… especially when it comes to their images. And Meghan’s clearly negative response to Mariah’s comments is very telling, in my opinion. Her “slip is showing”… as in, that self-centeredness and perpetual victimhood attitude is coming out and taking a bow. And people are noticing, because they are giving Meghan just what she’s always wanted… ATTENTION. I think she’s realizing that attention is a double edged sword that cuts both ways. She wants attention for the “right” reasons… but she keeps saying and doing things that give her negative attention. While negative attention is better than NO attention, it still causes narcissistic wounds. Unless Meghan somehow learns to control her obviously wounded reactions, as she simultaneously stops spreading ridiculous lies, it’s only going to get worse.

River’s astute observations about the podcast. I find River very entertaining!

But, if you want a somewhat quick and dirty look at Meghan’s most recent shenanigans, you might check out Jesus Enrique Rosas’ 6 Worst Takeaways from her interview on The Cut.

Yikes!

Meghan still has her fans, of course… but more and more, I’m seeing some increasingly vitriolic responses to Meghan’s behavior. Below is a video that actually took me aback, as the guy actually drops the c-bomb regarding Meghan. I don’t think those over-the-top responses are very helpful, as they only lend credence to Meghan’s assertions that the press is hateful to her, even if this dude is just a YouTuber.

Trevor tells us how he REALLY feels.

Well… I’ve been working on this post forever, and I’m getting tired… so I’m going to sign off, for now. I’m sure some people won’t like this post. I know I have a couple of friends who like Meghan Markle. Personally, though, I am pretty horrified by this recent stuff that’s come out… especially the part about Nelson Mandela. It’s just incredibly tone deaf. And I think it’s going to get worse. I can’t believe she’s managed to get herself in the situation she’s in… and frankly, I feel sorry for Prince Harry, because he’s going to have a hell of a time extricating himself from this mess. Especially if he wants to maintain contact with his children. Trust me… I know this from my own husband’s experiences.

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celebrities, Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology

The latest big dream “job”…

The featured photo is one I took when Bill and I visited Venice, back in 2013… Ex probably could have had that herself, if she hadn’t been so hellbent on “punishing” Bill for not dancing to her tune.

It’s Tuesday, and once again, I’m finding myself reluctant to write too much about current events. I’ve been consuming all kinds of “news”/infotainment about politics, and the aftermath of Trump’s time as our “POTUS”. I just don’t feel like going there today. My mind is still on Jennette McCurdy’s book, and how much it resonated with me. I am fortunate, in that my own mom wasn’t like Jennette McCurdy’s mom was. It resonated with me, because I think Bill’s ex wife is a lot like Jennette’s mom was.

A really good interview about Jennette McCurdy’s book, I’m Glad My Mom Died.

No, none of Ex’s kids have been professionally involved in show business. But I do remember when the kids were young, we would hear stories about her hopes for them to enter showbiz. We’d hear about her wanting ex stepson or one of Bill’s daughters to audition for movies, or get involved in the performing arts. Recently, she’s been tweeting celebrities about her youngest daughter wanting to become an actress and hoping to go to a “conservatory”. I think I’ve included those tweets in earlier posts here, so I’m not going to repost them in this entry. But yes, she’s posted about that, and she’s included comments about how she wants one of her daughters to marry Keanu Reeves or someone similar. She is fixated on fame and what she thinks is “quick money”. Bonus if it’s someone else doing the work, while she enjoys the benefits of being the “mom”.

Recently, Ex has gotten back to posting on Instagram. A few days ago, she posted a few new agey “positive” memes. On the surface, the memes appear to be very nice and edifying. I’m sure the strangers who look at them, and know nothing about her, think she’s just this really kind, loving person. Below are a few recent examples:

I don’t pay a lot of attention to Ex’s Instagram, although sometimes, I do check out the comments. I definitely stopped in my tracks when I read the comments on the one about traveling before retirement… Behold:

Now… there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about travel. I did it for years, before Bill and I could finally make the dream come true. However, given the life that I have with her ex husband, it does strike me as crazy that Ex is now posting pictures of memes that reference Italy, and wistfully commenting about how much she’d love to travel with her youngest child, who has “severe autism”. She has repeatedly posted that he runs away, and for that reason, she needs a fence for her backyard. More than once, in this year alone, she has posted crowdfunding attempts to get money to finance building a fence. She has posted repeated claims that no local charities can help her, and no gadgets or gizmos designed to stop her son’s escapes have worked.

It’s possible that Ex’s post about wanting to travel is just “shit” she posted** for whatever reason** just to get a reaction– any reaction at all– from her followers. Still, I can’t help but pause. She’s commenting that she’d like to travel the world with her son, who has severe autism and, she claims (falsely, I think), that he doesn’t speak at all. Someone suggests that she start a blog about traveling with her autistic son. Her response is, “Yes… I’ve been giving it serious thought… but I need money to make it happen.”

I smell another kickstarter… and probably one that will go as far as her fence fund has.

I reflect on the stories I’ve heard from Bill and younger daughter, about the money Ex pisses through, buying worthless crap online, or taking road trips, often to see her unsuspecting victims. Then, she will try to grift, as she did last spring, when she brought Bill’s older daughter to his stepmother’s house and asked for money and “heirlooms”. Bill’s dad died in November 2020, so his stepmother has been grieving. I’m sure she’s pretty vulnerable right now. To her credit, she did tell Ex that she couldn’t help her with money. That was when Ex gave her boxes to put things in that she’d like to “pass down”. My guess is that anything Ex got from SMIL would end up on eBay.

Let’s also not forget that the only reason she even knows SMIL is because of Bill, yet she completely denied Bill any access to his daughters, from 2004 onwards. It’s only been a few years since he and his younger daughter reconnected online. He has managed to see her in person just once since then– in March 2020, just before the pandemic hit with a vengeance. He has met his older two grandchildren. Both he and his daughter CRIED when they reunited, and younger daughter explained that she was forced to send a letter disowning Bill. She says her mother literally stood over her and dictated what she would be writing. And she removed all traces of Bill from their possession, and goaded them into legally changing their names when they turned 18. But there she is on Instagram, posting memes about what speaking kindly to a human can do. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

It’s hard to know where the truth lies regarding anything Ex says. She posts these “lovey” comments about her son, and how much she adores him. Then she posts about how he breaks her heart and makes her life difficult. She posts about how her son needs a fence to stop him from escaping home. Then she posts about how she wants to take him around the world and write about how he sees it. And she doesn’t post as if it’s a pipe dream, per se. She actually states that if she could fund it, she’d do it…. again, with a teenaged boy with severe autism whom, she claims, runs away?

Based on what we’ve heard, it’s true that her son runs off. That was confirmed by a more truthful source. So how awesome would it be if she and her son went to– say– Venice, Italy, and he decided to run off into the many vast crowds that descend there? It would definitely make for an adventure. Maybe it would be one she could write a good story about… Would the stress be worth it? I don’t think so, but I’m not Ex. We clearly have vastly different priorities in life.

Bill told me that Ex has always had a lot of “big dreams”. She often starts working on her dreams, using money and resources from other people. Bill did, for example, fund Ex’s forays into Mary Kay and Nutrisystem. He said she actually was doing okay with Mary Kay for awhile, but then abruptly decided the organization exploits women. So she quit selling Mary Kay, and she sold her inventory back to the company, at a substantial loss. The same thing happened with Nutrisystem. She decided after buying the food that it was too much about victimizing women. More money down the drain.

This would all be fine if it only affected Ex. But, as you can see, there are other people in Ex’s life who are impacted by her whimsical decisions. Four of her five children are legal adults now, but one is still in that gray time period between adolescence and adulthood, when someone can vote, but not drink a beer. Two of the three other adult children have moved out on their own, but one still stays at home and figuratively wipes Ex’s ass for her. And then there’s the baby of the family, the lad with autism, who is the star of so many of Ex’s pleas for money and assistance.

Speaking of assistance… what about the therapy dog she’s been posting about? More than once, she’s written about how pricey therapy dogs are, and how she can’t wait to train one to serve her son. If they’re jetting off to Italy so she can be an autistic mommy travel blogger, won’t it be difficult to get a dog and train it? Yes, therapy dogs are used in Europe, but they aren’t as widespread here as they are in the US. Moreover, there are places here where therapy dogs– even the ones that are genuinely certified, and not just “emotional support animals”– are not allowed.

I’m sure that Ex has heard, or maybe has even seen, the lifestyle Bill and I enjoy. We seem to have a lot of what she wants, except we don’t have children. It’s mainly because of her that we don’t have children, since she convinced Bill that he should give up his fertility because pregnancy was so “hard” for her. Obviously, it wasn’t that hard, since she subsequently had two more kids with her third husband. And she’s never going to change. She’ll always be chasing her dreams at other people’s expense. Or her dreams will abruptly change, and she won’t feel like she should answer for that.

Jennette McCurdy has said that her mother had wanted to be an actress. Jennette’s grandparents wouldn’t put her mom in acting when she was a child, nor would they support her career aspirations. So, when she was a helpless child at age six, Jennette’s mom decided that her daughter would be an actress, whether she wanted to be or not. Jennette happened to have the looks and talent to make her mother’s dream a reality. And she was put upon to keep working to keep the dream going, so mom could enjoy the perks and the money that came in. I see Ex as very similar to Debra McCurdy. Someone with big dreams that she can’t really fulfill… but is always looking for someone out there to make something happen for her. And then, inevitably, it won’t be enough, and she’ll have no qualms about tearing that person to shreds. Meanwhile, she’ll put it out to the masses what a “great” loving mother she is… and what a fantastic empathic humanitarian she would like to be. It’s one hundred percent bullshit, isn’t it?

I just hope the damage to Ex’s children won’t be too severe, as it was to Jennette McCurdy when her mother died, and she realized the truth.

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book reviews, celebrities, LDS

But wait– there’s more! My review of Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died…

Yesterday, I wrote my first post about Jennette McCurdy, a former Nickelodeon star who just wrote a book called I’m Glad My Mom Died. I bought that book on August 9th, and started reading it a few days ago. I just finished it a few minutes ago. Before August 9th, I didn’t know the first thing about Jennette McCurdy. Now, I feel like I know her. We have some things in common. Actually, if I’m honest, I think she has things in common with my husband and his younger daughter.

A couple of hours after I shared my first post about Jennette McCurdy on Facebook, an old friend commented that she looked forward to my review. She wrote that she had to read the book. Now that I’ve finished it, I agree with her. She should read it. I think she will relate to Jennette McCurdy’s story, too. I think a LOT of people will, in spite of the shocking title that some will feel is in poor taste. Some people think that anyone who gives birth is automatically some kind of angel. And some are just as quick to judge someone who has given birth. Our society tends to look at mothers as people who are always either way above reproach, or people who can be condemned to the depths of hell for making the simplest mistakes. A lot of us forget that moms are people, too. In fact, they are just people, first and foremost.

Jennette McCurdy grew up thinking that her mother was amazing in all ways. Debra McCurdy had a vision for her only daughter’s life. From the age of six, Jennette was expected to share in the dream, as her mom made her audition for commercials, take acting and dance classes, and be cute and charming for casting directors. Debra McCurdy had breast cancer; it was diagnosed with Jennette was two years old. Debra was not above using cancer to get sympathy and preferential treatment, either for herself, or her daughter. Jennette loved her mother, and she hated to disappoint the people she loved. She was a natural people pleaser, trained since early childhood to make other people happy, regardless of her own needs or desires. Later, when she became an adult, she became co-dependent, settling on bad relationships with toxic people instead of holding out for people who were better, and weren’t abusive to her.

So Jennette went along with her mother’s vision for her life. She smiled for casting directors, and put up with her mother’s intrusive and weird behaviors. She didn’t complain when her mother hoarded things, and forced her and her three brothers to sleep on mats. She wasn’t confrontational when her mother used the money she earned to pay her mortgage. And even though she didn’t like being an actress, she didn’t want to upset her sick mom. She she acted and became successful, portraying Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam and Cat. It almost destroyed her. Life in show business is toxic. Add in a toxic mother, and you have a recipe for lifelong issues. People don’t realize it, but fame and money aren’t tickets to happiness. Some of the most miserable people are wealthy, famous people.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a few of the more shocking things that happened when Jennette was growing up. Here’s a quick and dirty list.

  • At age six, Debra McCurdy forced her daughter to audition for agents. She had a knack for acting, but she hated it. Her mom made her act, anyway.
  • At age eleven, Jennette started growing breasts. Breasts weren’t good, because they made her look mature. Looking young was good for Jennette’s career, especially on Nickelodeon. So Debra taught her eleven year old daughter how to restrict calories. She noticed when Jennette gained weight and chastised her. She wouldn’t let her eat pineapple, because it was high in sugar.
  • As a young teenager, Jennette still sat in a booster seat in her mother’s car.
  • As a teenager, Jennette’s mother showered her, using her prior experience as a beautician as an excuse– to make sure her hair was pretty for the casting directors. Sometimes, one of her brothers would be forced to join her in the shower.
  • Jennette’s mother discouraged her from being a writer, because she said writers dress frumpy and get fat. She didn’t want Jennette’s “peach butt” to turn into a “watermelon butt”.
  • Jennette’s mother criticized Jennette’s father, Mark, for not working hard enough and being lazy. And she said it was hard for her to have to rely on a child to pay the bills.
  • Jennette’s mother sent her endless abusive text messages, emails, and voicemails calling her filthy names and accusing her of “giving her cancer”. Then, she signed off with “love”, and demanded money for a new refrigerator.
  • Jennette’s mother didn’t have an appreciation for her daughter’s likes and dislikes. She bought her inappropriate gifts and expected her to be delighted with them.
  • Jennette’s mother never told her who her “real” father was, or that the man she thought was her father, wasn’t actually her dad. She never told her that her biological dad had wanted to be in her life.
  • Jennette’s mother was a NARCISSIST.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I write a lot about narcissists. I strongly suspect my husband’s first wife is a narcissist. I’ve written many– some would say– inappropriate blog posts about my husband’s ex wife. I probably shouldn’t do that. It might put me at risk. But, I figure that there’s not much more she can do to us, since she deprived Bill of a relationship with his daughters for many years, and she tried hard to ruin his relationships with his family of origin. If I hadn’t immediately recognized her as the abuser she is, she probably would have tried to ruin our marriage. This is another thing that Jennette has in common with Bill and his daughters. You see, Jennette’s dad– Mark– was not actually her father. Debra McCurdy had an affair with a trombonist and he was the biological father of three of her four children. She never told her daughter. And, just as Ex did her best to sever the relationships her first two husbands had with Ex’s three eldest children, Debra McCurdy did the same to Jennette’s bio dad.

Jennette McCurdy doesn’t mention the word “narcissist” until the very end of the book. I was glad to see she recognizes that extreme behavior for what it is. But, as I read the book, even recognizing that she was a celebrity, I could relate so much. Not because I was raised by narcissists, but because I’ve been the second wife of a man whose ex wife is almost assuredly one. The behavior is VERY familiar. It’s also not hard to see where Debra McCurdy’s behavior came from, as Jennette writes about her equally narcissistic grandmother, whose levels of entitlement are off the charts.

A different interview than the one I shared yesterday about Jennette McCurdy and her explosive new book.

It may seem I’ve given a lot away in this post. Actually, the meat of the story really comes after Debra dies, in 2013. As I sit here, reflecting on that year, I realize that 2013 was some time ago. It doesn’t seem like it was nine years ago. I guess that’s what happens when you turn 50. Nine years doesn’t seem like it was so long ago. Jennette is now only 30. She lost her mom when she was just launching into true adulthood. Debra’s death came after many false alarms– “dress rehearsals”– as Jennette puts it. When her mother died, she was devastated. She still believed the fake version of her life story. It wasn’t until later that she got the truth, and that’s when Jennette’s life was endangered. She turned to bulimia, alcoholism, binge eating, and anorexia. She had lots of bad sex with inappropriate partners, and engaged in codependent behaviors. She abandoned Mormonism, for the most part. I wouldn’t necessarily think that was such a bad thing, except it was the one place where she got comfort as a child and had a few somewhat healthy role models (and knowing what I know about Mormonism, that is, in itself, a sad statement).

I think the part where I was the most stunned and gleaned the most insight was when Jennette’s very first therapist– an earth mother therapist/life coach named Laura– delivered a truth bomb that Jennette simply could not handle at the time. Laura was the first person to point out to Jennette that the idealized version of her mother– a fantasy version that did not exist– was fake. And that all of the things Jennette believed her mother did to “help” her, were in fact, toxic, abusive, and exploitive. Laura was right, of course, but even though she delivered the truth very gently, Jennette still couldn’t take it. It wasn’t until later that she was ready for therapy, this time with a male eating disorder specialist named Jeff. I think I would have liked Jeff more than Laura. Women who act like nurturing “earth mothers” usually annoy me. I seem to relate better to men… as long as they don’t try to control me.

I read a large portion of this book aloud to Bill. It spawned a very interesting and insightful conversation. I think his daughter should read I’m Glad My Mom Died, but I know she’s very busy with Mormonism and her young family. I also fear that reading this book could be triggering for her, because I suspect she will identify with a lot of it. I, for one, found this book very enlightening. I don’t share all of Jennette’s issues, but I relate to much of what she writes about eating disorders and alcoholism. And again… I’ve been married to a man whose Ex is a lot like Debra McCurdy on MANY levels. Ex wasn’t my spouse or my mom, but she’s affected my life, just the same. And it’s all so familiar. As I read this story to Bill, he agreed that it was all so very familiar.

One thing I liked about this book is that Jennette’s chapters are short, well-edited, and easy to digest. I think the short chapters are good, because she drops a lot of “bombshells” that could be shocking for many readers. Her writing is sometimes brutally honest. She uses profanity, and there are some very frank descriptions of sexual encounters, bulimia episodes, and alcoholic escapades. I would caution anyone who has suffered from eating disorders to be cautious about reading this book, because some of Jennette’s stories might be triggering.

My heart kind of broke for Jennette, as she wrote about giving her very first blow job as a consolation to a much older boyfriend, because she wasn’t ready for sex. It broke again as she wrote about her actual first experience with intercourse, with someone who didn’t deserve the honor. And then the guy with whom she had much chemistry turned out to be not so good, either. All I could do was think about how useful it would have been for Jennette to have had a good, stable, loving role model in her mother… or, at least someone who saw her as more than a wallet and status symbol. I’m sure that when the truth hit Jennette, she realized that she wasted a lot of time, money, and affection on someone else who didn’t deserve it… and how heartbreaking it is that the person who probably deserved her love the least, was the person who was responsible for her very existence.

Most of the Amazon reviewers have given I’m Glad My Mom Died good ratings. I’m glad to see that. I think we live in a time now when more people are seeing mothers as fallible, and we’re learning that they can be held accountable. However, I have a feeling there will people who will dislike this book only for the title. They will see it as disrespectful, mean, and shocking. It’s kind of “in your face”, not unlike the Reddit “Am I the Asshole” columns. I would urge anyone reading this book to forget that Debra McCurdy was Jennette’s mom and “deserves” respect and love simply for being her mom. Debra McCurdy was an abusive liar, grifter, and leech. And while she no doubt had mental health issues to go with her cancer, that’s no excuse for stealing her daughter’s childhood and encouraging her to be unhealthy and unhappy. Mothers, ideally, should always put their children ahead of themselves– at least as long as their children are actually children. Debra failed in her mission, and it’s a blessing that her daughter has recognized that she’s worthy of better while she’s still young and can recover her health.

I give I’m Glad My Mom Died a full five stars and a hearty recommendation. But please be advised… this story isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be triggering. It can be offensive. You will probably find yourself gasping in shock, surprise, and dismay a few times. And you will probably laugh a few times, too.

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